National Geographic : 1967 Feb
In my revisiting of remembered places, I did not omit Ardastra Gardens, where dozens of flamingos still perform precision drills to the commands of trainer Hedley Edwards. To my amazement, the flock even stopped on command to pose for photographs.* "When you were last here, they wouldn't allow anyone but me to approach," said Mr. Edwards. "Now they let little girls near them. They will tolerate boys and adults if I insist, but they're partial to little girls." At one time the flamingo-national bird of the Bahamas-faced extinction here. To save the species, conservation-minded citizens formed the Society for the Protection of the Flamingo, now part of the Bahamas National Trust. Through its president, Oris Russell, I 236 met Alexander Sprunt IV, research director of the National Audubon Society and adviser to the trust. Together we arranged a visit to the flamingo colony on Great Inagua. At Matthew Town, photographer Jim Stan field and I piled into a jeep with our guides, Sam and James Nixon, brothers who had worked together as wardens for 15 years. Soon we turned onto a stone dike to cross a lake. At the far side the road vanished. We drove across an area of baked mud, cracked like the scales of a huge prehistoric monster. Limestone outcroppings and dead, twisted trees pushed through the mud in meaningless patterns. I began to gag on the clouds of corrosive salt dust. *In "Ballerinas in Pink," NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, October, 1957, Mr. Mitchell described this extraordinary flock of performing flamingos in Nassau.