Bethesda Dam IBA is a man-made reservoir in the south-eastern part of the island, just north-west of Bethesda village. The reservoir is surrounded by grass and scrub covered hills to the west and south, and an agricultural area to the north. Bethesda Dam was constructed (by the government) in the 1970s to provide irrigation water for the agricultural area. Water levels vary, but during the rainy season the reservoir covers c.5 ha and provides good feeding and cover for waterbirds.
This IBA is significant for its populations of the Near Threatened Caribbean Coot Fulica caribaea (up to 110 have been recorded) and Vulnerable West Indian Whistling-ducks Dendrocygna arborea. During 2006-2007, 204 whistling-ducks were seen at the reservoir. The species can be highly mobile, but is usually present and does breed at this site. Four (of the 11) Lesser Antilles EBA restricted-range birds occur in the shrublands around the reservoir.
Non-bird biodiversity: This reservoir was one of the first places where an invasive alien species of reed was observed. The reed has since spread rapidly to other freshwater sites.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Bethesda Dam is state owned (the dam was a government project, built on government land), but it not protected in any way. There is no conservation management or action on-going at this site. However, the Environmental Awareness Group (a national NGO) does undertake some informal monitoring of the waterbirds. Hunting takes place within the IBA, posing a threat to the whistling-ducks and other waterbirds. Also, villa construction and landscaping associated with a bar/ restaurant has impacted the preferred roosting area of Dendrocygna arborea. Bethesda village is close to the eastern side of the reservoir. Villagers do frequent the IBA, often resulting in disturbance to the birds.
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Bethesda Dam. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 25/11/2020.