THEY STOOD in the area where the island’s first inhabitants once rowed ashore and later lived.
They watched as a few egrets waded in the brackish water of one of the island’s remaining and protected wetlands.
And they saw what some Barbadians still do with their unwanted appliances and pieces of furniture.
It was all part of the Barbados Museum and Historical Society’s first Natural History Walk for the year, from Long Beach to the Chancery Lane Wetlands and through surrounding neighbourhoods yesterday.
Starting at the location of the former Long Beach hotel, where the only remaining indicators of its existence were
the roundabout in the driveway, the steps leading onto the beach and some hardy flowering plants, assistant curator of natural history Kerron Hamblin gave participants a brief history of the hotel and the area.
A trek down some worn smooth steps, along the pristine white sands of Long Beach and into the brush, the walkers came face-to-face with Chancery Lane’s seasonal wetlands.
Expressing disappointment that there weren’t more migratory and local wading birds in the area – “We do have some egrets even though there were a lot more egrets [yesterday] morning” – Hamblin explained the wetlands and its inhabitants were now protected under the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance.
The sport of bird shooting was, therefore, outlawed in the area.
The area, he explained, was also important for the archaeological finds it contained.
“You can see a cave there in the distance. There was an archaeological dig in the cave and they found a lot of material,” he revealed.
“The area known as Chancery Lane swamp now, actually used to all be one marine inlet and that would’ve been around 100 AD,” he said.
“But with the movement or direction of the waves carrying sand across the inlet, there was a sand spit that started to develop and then there was a sand bar that completely blocked one end of the inlet to the other and that sand bar is, right now, partially the sand dunes,” he explained.
The trapped water became marshy and eventually it was drained and the land developed.
And if you wondered how the area “Inch Marlow” got its name, Hamblin said the developer used a combination of the Celtic/Irish word “Inch” which translates to “island” and “Marlow” from Marlow House in Tipperary, Ireland.
The assistant curator also showed the walkers where the first Amerindian inhabitants of the island would have lived, based on where numerous artefacts had been discovered.
Chancery Lane resident Laura McClean remembered the area as wetlands from her childhood.
“I remember seeing all this water, not that many birds, but people shooting,” she said.
However, the walk also highlighted the perennial problem of illegal dumping with a pink upholstered chair, old appliances, and empty discarded buckets littering the grass.
The next natural history walk will be on April 5.