Valley Church Bay IBA is on the west coast of Antigua, close to Jolly Harbour and its associated tourist developments. This area was once a large swamp. However, a road has cut it off from the sea, preventing any exchange of water, turning the area into a shallow coastal salt pond encircled by a narrow fringe of mangroves. The area is bordered on the east by a major road and on the west by a narrow beach and seagrass beds. On the seaward side of this IBA are a number of restaurants and a large hotel (which occupies part of the original mangrove). A road divides the pond to give access to the restaurants from the main road.
This IBA supports populations of four (of the 11) Lesser Antilles EBA restricted-range birds that occur in Antigua. However, it is primarily notable for its waterbirds including important populations of the Vulnerable West Indian Whistling-duck Dendrocygna arborea (96 adults and 38 duckling in 2006 is a maximum count) and Near Threatened Caribbean Coot Fulica caribaea. Regionally significant populations of Brown Pelican Pelecanus occidentalis, Laughing Gull Larus atricilla and Least Tern Sterna antillarum occur. Good numbers of Neotropical migratory shorebirds use this IBA. Masked Duck Nomonyx dominica has been recorded.
Non-bird biodiversity: The Critically Endangered hawksbill Eretmochelys imbricata and leatherback Dermochelys coriacea are known to occur in the bay.
Authors: Joseph Prosper, Victor Joseph, Andrea Otto, Shanee Prosper (Environmental Awareness Group)
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Valley Church Bay. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 28/01/2023.