On the Quill Trail, it is highly recommended to take a small detour to the viewpoint. Just turn left at the clearly marked junction before taking the path up to the crater rim (right). Beautifully framed by trees, you can see all the way down towards Oranjestad and Signal Hill. In the distance, Saba rises out of the deep blue ocean. The highest peak, Mount Scenery, is often covered in clouds. On this day, however, the cloud cover lifted to present the whole outline of the island.
In the clip showing the Quill Trail, Courtney and Steve take a little rest on the bench, before the last climb up towards the crater rim and the gorgeous view inside the dormant volcano, the Quill: https://youtu.be/zhzqrlx7jqY. The whole path is clearly marked, well-maintained, and mostly shaded. Hikers start at the top of Rosemary Lane (140 meters above sea level) and after 1.6 km reach the crater rim around 400 meters above sea level. The difficulty of this hiking trail is moderate. It is best to plan for 2-3 hours (round trip) to have enough time to enjoy nature and take pictures and videos.
Tourist tree / gum tree (Bursera simaruba)
This is one of the first tall trees you can spot along the Quill Trail. The gum tree (Bursera simaruba) is easily identified by the reddish-brown bark which exfoliates in thin, small flakes. As this looks very much like a tourist who spent too much time in the Caribbean sun, this tree is locally called the tourist tree.
The trunks of younger trees often have a green colour underneath which sets a wonderful contrast to the red flakes - especially when the sunlight shines through. When photographing or filming, play with different angles and views to create your very own unique travel memories. Book a guide to learn more about the flora and fauna along the hiking trails of St. Eustatius: statia-tourism.com/contact.
Gum trees can grow up to 30 meters and attract birds and butterflies. In this case, the tree trunk is used by termites. Termites are a group of insects which consume a wide variety of decaying plant material from wood via leaves to soil humus. This is an important ecosystem service (decomposing). They are often called white ants, even though they are not related to ants. You hardly ever see them out in the open as they create their own protected path - just like a tunnel. All you see, are the black lines along the trees like in this picture.
A forest dreamland is waiting for you on St. Eustatius. This small Dutch island offers some of the best hiking opportunities in the Caribbean. Every trail has its own charm, and offers different views and nature experiences. Visit Statia to get enchanted. Discover all the trails and more: statia-tourism.com/plan-your-trip/find-your-way/.
The Quill Trail starts off in the scrubland. While hiking up the dormant volcano, the vegetation goes quickly over to mountain thickets. Dry evergreen forest is changing into semi-evergreen seasonal forest after you entered the protected zone of the national park at 250 meters above sea level. The further you venture up, the taller the trees get. Often their roots are not just holding themselves firmly in the ground, but the roots of one tree are holding onto the ones of another. After all, the forest is one big living symbiosis. Feel its energy!
Paper wasps: Jackies
Paper wasps (Polistes sp.) can be found attached to branches or trunks along the trails in the Quill national park on Statia. Also known as jackies they are harmless when left alone. However, they do have a stinger and will use it when pushed into a corner or feeling the need to defend their nest.
The nests are the reason Polistes are called paper wasps. First, the insects gather fibers from plant stems and dead wood. Then, they mix these fibers with their saliva. Finally, they use this grey or brown papery material to construct their nests.
The cells of the open comb are used for brood rearing. On the back, there is a stalk which attaches the nest to a branch or other structure. Interesting detail according to Wikipedia (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paper_wasp): "Paper wasps secrete a chemical which repels ants, which they spread around the base of the anchor to prevent the loss of eggs or brood."
In general, lots of insects are threatened by human activities in particular the way we industrialized our agriculture. Pesticides, fungicides, herbicides and fertilizers are killing blindly. Same as in the sea, a lot of creatures and their functions aren't even known or their role within the ecosystem understood.
We are not only part of nature, we also depend on functioning ecosystems and stable conditions for our survival. Survival of the fittest doesn't mean there will be a last species standing after killing off the rest. It emphasizes how adapting and evolving create roles and links within nature and life on this planet.