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TRINIDAD & TOBAGO
30 December 2002 - 9 January 2003
by Susannah Morris
12/31 Asa Wright trails
01/01 Aripo/ Arena with Dave and Oilbirds
01/02 Blanchisseuse and night birding with Ramdas
01/03 Flight to Tobago
01/05 Tobago: Speyside and Little Tobago
01/06 Tobago: Speyside
01/07 Back to Trinidad: Pax Guesthouse
01/08 All day birding with Dave: sewage ponds, rice fields, Waterloo
and Caroni Swamp
Ffrench, Birds of Trinidad and Tobago
Hilty, Birds of Venezuela
Rough Guide to Trinidad and Tobago
This trip was a combination delayed honeymoon/ birding trip.
my husband isn’t into birding, we compromised and spend most of the
in Tobago on the beach. Since we were with guides most of the
in Trinidad, we did not rent a car there; however, we did rent one on
since we were more independent there. The guides were excellent
I highly recommend both Ramdas and Dave. Their prices are very
and they are excellent birders; hopefully they will have a website up
so that travelers can pre-arrange trips directly through them. We
at Asa Wright for four nights and enjoyed the birding on the grounds,
other birders whom we inevitably encountered in other places, and
the oilbirds. We were in room #2, in the main house, and it was very
to sleep due to the noise in the corridors, so if you’re a light
ask for a room outside the house. Since it is so expensive,
I would recommend to other birders on a budget to stay the three nights
to see the oilbirds and then move on to an inexpensive B&B or Pax,
continue to have Dave and Ramdas as guides. Pax is much more
and the personal attention from Oda and Gerard really makes it unique.
As far as books, I had bought the Adventure Guide to Trinidad and
to begin with, but the Rough Guide has far more information and seems
169 bird species
(somewhat disjointed because I am summarizing what I wrote)
Woke up at Asa Wright and made for the feeders. The birds that
to become the “usual” absolutely floored me. Green and purple
were everywhere. But here’s the list:
Asa Wright offers an introductory tour with one of their guides, so we
the trails at 8 am with a lovely guide and saw BARRED ANTSHRIKE, COCOA
TROPICAL PEWEE, WHITE-BEARDED MANAKIN (lekking), CRESTED OROPENDOLA,
TROGON, GRAY-FRONTED DOVE, NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH, and YELLOW
The most exciting sighting was BEARDED BELLBIRD male, who sat
in a very good spot for about 5 minutes, calling frequently and making
wattles jiggle. We also saw the nest of the ORNATE HAWK-EAGLE,
other birders saw the juvenile roosting but we never managed.
along the trail saw ORANGE-WINGED PARROTS in an Immortelle tree and a
In the afternoon, we hiked up the driveway to Clear Pool. Along
way, saw LITTLE HERMIT just by the house. It was pouring down
for a while. We hiked the Bamboo Valley Trail, which was steep
slippery after the rain, but very productive. Saw one snake about
inches long, which will have to be identified from the photos.
the rain stopped, we were going downhill into a valley and at eye level
the treetops, where we saw BAY-HEADED TANAGER, BLUE-HEADED PARROTS
quietly in a tall tree, and BOAT-BILLED FLYCATCHER. Near the main
we ran into a little group of basking Southern Tegu, which are large
In the afternoon at the feeders, added a few new birds:
Walking down Discovery Trail, found one very agitated LONG-BILLED
1 January: Aripo/ Arena Forest with Dave
Loud party last night up the road! Didn’t get much sleep.
Departed at 6:30 am, stopped along the winding road:
Near Verdant Vale:
More along the road:
Southern rough-winged swallow
Aripo Savannah and WWII airfield:
Fork-tailed palm swift
And one gray hawk near Asa Wright.
Went on the oilbird walk, where we saw a few adults and two
Surprisingly large birds. Also saw some tent-making bats safely
under a big leaf. Got a great photo.
2 January: Blanchisseuse with Ramdas
At Asa Wright, from the verandah, a large flock of LILAC-TAILED
came in and stayed for a while. Also a SQUIRREL CUCKOO.
We were actually in a car with Jerry, following Ramdas who had a family
four on the tour. This tour goes along the road to Blanchisseuse,
the northern coast. You have the option of going all the way to
coast for a dip, but we opted out.
Only listing new birds now because this report is way too long!
Collared trogon—5 males, very close looks.
Night birding with Ramdas and Dave, who had two crazy Brits in tow:
On the way to the airfield:
At the airfield:
Fork-tailed palm swift
Tropical screech owl
Ramdas took us to the airport. I got “doubles” at the cart just
the airport—they’re eggy pancakes with potato and chickpea curry
and they’re delicious.
Got to Tobago and went to the beach. Another street food
potato and channa roti at Miss Esme’s on the beach. Mmmmm.
at Kariwak Village in Tobago, which turns out to be a haven for British
with young children.
Morning on the beach at Canoe Bay, which is fairly secluded.
In the afternoon, we visited Grafton Bird Sanctuary at feeding time (4
Bananaquits by the dozen
Blue-crowned motmots—5 eating on the table inside the pavilion
Red-crowned woodpecker drinking from hummingbird feeder
I also saw a Venezuelan flycatcher along the trail.
Dinner at Under the Mango Tree in Black Rock. EARED DOVE on the
Drove from Crown Point to Speyside, where we stay at Speyside Inn. We
in Scarborough to go to the market, but very few stalls were open
it was Sunday.
Got on the 2 pm boat to Little Tobago. Frank’s glass-bottom boats
two tours, 10am and 2pm, from Blue Waters Inn. The tour includes
on Little Tobago and snorkeling just off Goat Island. It costs US
17 per person.
At Little Tobago, the highlight is the breeding colony of RED-BILLED
which are present in the hundreds. Just gorgeous. The guide
us down to peek into three nests; I felt that this was unethical, but
birds seemed fairly undisturbed. Could also see BROWN BOOBIES
lower, near the water.
Snorkeling was fabulous, and I wish I were better at identifying
We definitely saw parrotfish, hogfish, and bluefish.
I was very seasick on this boat despite taking Bonine. If you are
to seasickness, do NOT look through the glass bottom at all.
Arrived at Pax and stared at the feeders.
On the balcony in the morning:
Oda had said that they often see white hawk in the morning, but I had
David picked us up at 8:30.
Little blue heron
Masked duck (1 female)
Witnessed a Hindu cremation, which was interesting. The temple is
beautiful; although it is closed on weekdays you can see inside through
large stained glass windows.
Of course the highlight was watching about 1,500 scarlet ibis come in
roost on a small island in the swamp. No picture can do them
those birds in the sunlight is just awesome. Looked for
cardinal along the way with no luck.