This trip was organised for us by Motmot Travel. Overall a very relaxing and trouble free holiday, where the accommodation and organisation was hard to fault. The chief highlights were the Oilbird, Red-billed Tropicbirds and the Leatherback Turtle, with seeming unlimited opportunities for photography.
Photos from the trip can be viewed at www.flickr.com/photos/neiljulianthomas/sets
2nd April. We left Britain in brilliant sunshine, and so were able to enjoy a scenic flight along the English south coast, with great views of Land’s End and the Isles of Scilly, as well as the Azores in the mid Atlantic. A brief stop in St.Lucia gave a bird list of one species (Cattle Egret) before we resumed our flight to Trinidad. We were met by a driver from Asa Wright, together with Roger and Pam Croft, who were making a first visit to sample South American wildlife.
Trinidad and Tobago is definitely a good place for this as one can see a good range of bird families, without being totally overwhelmed by the diversity one encounters in places like Peru and Venezuela.
After fighting our way through rush hour traffic along the main east-west highway we turned up a twisting road through hill forest to the Asa Wright Nature Centre, arriving too late for much birding, but not too late to enjoy the ritual of the evening rum punch.
Asa Wright nature centre was a beautifully sited and fairly luxurious location in the forested hills, and as Trinidad is a relatively small island one can easily visit all the key sites from this one centre.
A range of common Trinidadian species were seen on the drive from the airport – Carib Grackles in the Airport carpark, then Cattle Egrets, Little Blue Heron, Ringed Kingfisher, American Black Vulture, Silver-beaked and Blue-grey Tanagers, Yellow-headed Caracara, Palm tanagers, Crested Oropendulas, Smooth-billed Ani, Orange-winged Parrot, Great Kiskadee, Tropical Kingbird, Tropical Mockingbird, Grey-fronted Dove, and White-winged Swallow.
3rd April. At dawn Ferruginous Pygmy Owls were calling before the songs of thrushes added to the dawn chorus. While enjoying coffee on the balcony at the restaurant at Asa Wright we could enjoy easy if extremely dude birding opportunities as a wide variety of hummingbirds, thrushes and tanagers came to the spread provided. White-necked Jacobins, always pugnacious, dominated the hummingbird feeders, but sneaking in were Tufted Coquette, White-chested Emerald, Blue-chinned Sapphire, and Copper-rumped Hummingbird. Colourful Green Honeycreepers outnumbered Purple. Other Tanager species were White-lined and Bay-headed. Other decorative species were Squirrel Cuckoo, House Wren, Northern Waterthrush, Violaceous Euphonia, Cocoa and Yellow-eyed Thrushes.
A selection of raptors drifted over during the day, the best being an unexpected Black hawk-eagle, as well as Peregrine, Turkey Vulture, Double-toothed Kite, Short-tailed hawk, American Swallow-tailed Kite and Common Black hawk.
Joining the birds on the veranda were numerous Agoutis, far less shy than any others I have seen, as well as some impressive monitor niche fillers in the shape of Tegus.
A leisurely post breakfast stroll (the Orientation tour) down the main trail to the Golden-headed Manakin lek then followed. In the area of the lek perhaps 15 of the tiny males sat around, but with bursts of calling and dancing being triggered when a female arrived, the males sliding sideways on branches in extraordinary style. The other avian highlight of this walk was excellent views of several Bearded Bellbirds calling from the sub-canopy, each one putting a huge amount of energy into producing a loud croaking as well as slightly softer calls like an anvil being struck (one to proclaim territory, the other to attract females).
A variety of other birds seen in the lush second growth, bamboo and lianas included Golden-olive Woodpeckers, Long-billed Gnat-wren, American redstart, Grayish saltator, Red-crowned Ant-tanager, and Scaled Pigeon. Several day-flying bats along the rides were apparently the Greater White-lined Sac-winged Bat.
Thoroughly orientated we returned for lunch, then explored the Chaconia and Bamboo trails in the afternoon. As might be expected in mid-afternoon the forest was quiet but a rail like Black-faced Ant-thrush walked away over the forest floor. We had more success just waiting by the entrance to the centre, where in an hour or so we viewed Lineated Woodpecker, Tropical Pewee, and Turquoise Tanagers among others, and walking back we had close views of Blue-crowned Motmot, White-tailed Trogon, and Great Antshrike before we celebrated our first full day in Trinidad with rum punch.
4th April. The day was more overcast and humid than yesterday, with light showers, but still plenty of sunshine. The day started with 40+Orange-winged Parrots around the centre, and an overflying Hawk Eagle, this time the more expected Ornate, before we headed off to our appointments with the Oilbirds in Dunstan Cave. On the steep path down to the cave forest species included Collared and White-tailed Trogons, White-necked Thrushes, White-lined Antwrens, and Rufous-breasted Hermit, as well as the fabulous Morpho butterflies.
The trail led to a cliff lined gorge, that narrowed into a ravine that was close enough to a cave to tempt the Oilbirds. Space in the cave was restricted so we crept in three at a time and could view about 15 Oilbirds scattered on the cliff ledges. They were far from inactive, and several were seen in flight, the birds echo-locating as they circled around, as well as giving vent to raucous calls.
In the afternoon I walked along the road, then down the bamboo and chaconia trails.It was hot and humid but some sightings made the effort worthwhile, with Channel-billed Toucans as iconic birds of the neotropics, as well as Cocoa and Plain-brown Woodcreepers (the latter following an ant swarm), and Golden-fronted Greenlets. From my balcony on my return I could view a smart pair of Bat Falcons decorating a dead tree, as well as a striking Grey-headed Kite seen perched and in flight.
We then headed south to the Arripo Livestock Station, a grassland area with some scattered scrub for our ‘night-birding’ excursion, on the way stopping to view Toucans, Short-tailed and Common Black Hawks.
Arriving in daylight we could view Green-rumped Parrotlets, Red-breasted and Yellow-hooded Blackbirds, Blue-black grassquits and Anis, before we enjoyed (to my astonishment) our rum punches and a hot dinner of excellent quality. Setting out after dark we soon found Tropical Screech Owls, observing one to eat a cricket, and finding a fledged, but still downy juvenile in a tree. Along the track were several Pauraques and White-tailed Nightjars, but a calling Rufous Nightjar did not oblige by showing itself. A bird perched on a post proved to be a Common Potoo, its eyes amazingly reflective as it flew short sorties, presumably after moths. On our return journey a Chevroned Tarantula was viewed close to its hole.
5th April. In the morning failed again to find the Ferruginous Pygmy Owl, but used my unreliable flash to get some nice pictures of a Motmot before we headed off for the Arripo Livestock Station. Our guide for this and the next four days was Dave Ramlal. All the guides at Asa Wright seemed very sharp, but Dave was definitely in the ‘ace’ category, as well as being unfailingly enthusiastic and helpful.
A good selection of open country species were seen from the various tracks, with delightful Green-rumped Parrotlets peering out from a hollow tree, Savannah Hawk, Grassland yellow Finch, Pied Water Tyrant, White-headed Marsh-tyrant, Shiny Cowbird, Yellow-chinned Spinetails, Grey-breasted martin and Yellow-bellied Elaenia. Small channels and drying pools held many Wattled Jacanas, and a trio of American waders in Solitary, Spotted and Least Sandpipers.
By the entrance we could view a Pearl Kite feeding the young on its nest, and a Small Indian Mongoose boosted the unimpressive mammal list. Trinidad is certainly not the easiest place in the neo-tropics to view mammals.
We then set off through heavy traffic to the sea at Manzanilla, but the journey was enlivened by stops to view Blue-headed Parrots, that Turkey Vulture look-alike, the Zone-tailed hawk, and a swirling mass of Plumbeous Kites displaying their aerial mastery. We had lunch at the beach at Manzanilla, with Magnificent Frigate Birds overhead, and Brown Pelicans cruising along the coast, but no other seabirds were seen before we headed along the coast road, before turning onto tracks that took us through what was nominally a marsh.
The coconut groves along the coast road gave good views of a number of raptors including a fine Grey Hawk eating a lizard, Yellow-headed caracara and Crested Caracara.
Sadly at this time of year Nariva Swamp was more a swamp in name, with the presumably seasonal floods now dry areas of long grass, with the only water in narrow channels along the tracks, and accordingly wetland species were scarce, although we added American Purple Gallinule, Striated Heron, Great and Snowy Egrets to the list, with an Anhinga flying in the distance.
A mangrove lined creek produced American Pygmy Kingfisher, although I missed the Green, while in the humid and mysterious world of the mangroves David lured in with his tape the Silvered Antbird, Golden-fronted Greenlet and Black-crested Antshrike. I was surprised to see many Pufferfish in this brackish environment.
Our final stop, complete with rum punch, was a disused US airforce base. This was apparently at one time one of the most lawless and dangerous places on Trinidad(the airstrip being used by drug-runners), but is now securely guarded with the result the savannah here is a tranquil sanctuary for a variety of scarce bird species. In the rich dry deciduous woodland patches with Moriche Palms we found their namesake theMoriche Oriole, as well as Sulphury Flycatcher, Red-legged Honeycreeper, with Palm and Short-tailed Swifts in numbers overhead.
6th April. The day started at dawn with an Oilbird seen flying around palms and cecropias, looking rather like a giant moth as it hovered below the canopy, and the Ferruginous Pygmy Owl finally consented to show itself. In our pre-breakfast walk I viewed the White-bearded manakins at their lek in the presence of a female, the males projecting their’beards’, and leaping frantically from side to side, as well as getting pleasing photos of Motmot and White-tailed Trogon.
More forest species delayed our departure from Asa Wright, as we stopped to view Guianan Trogon, the gemlike Tropical Parula, and Cocoa Woodcreeper. In the lowlands the first stop was made at Caroni Rice fields, with the most productive site being a shallow lake covered with duck, all of which were however, Blue-winged Teal. There were also Common Moorhens and a Peregrine overhead, while a perched Long-winged Harrier did not oblige by taking wing.
One tourist attraction I had not expected to see in Trinidad was a Hindu Temple- before our visit I had no idea how large the south Asian community is in the country, but there was a huge statue of Hanuman and a temple that resembled a giant iced wedding cake to prove the point. In the grounds of the temple saw Yellow Oriole and Common Ground Dove.
Along the coast we stopped at the mudflats at Waterloo Road. The extensive mudflats were fringed by mangroves and the air was foetid with the rich aromas of sewage mingled with decaying fish. Once we has acclimatised to this assault on our olfactory senses the birds could be viewed, which included Osprey, Semi-palmated Sandpiper, Semi-palmated Plover, Willet, Hudsonian Whimbrel, Greater Yellowlegs, Turnstones, Black Skimmer, Yellow and Large-billed Terns, Flamingo, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Royal Terns, hundreds of Brown Pelicans, and thousands of Laughing Gulls. Out on the mud were various herons, mostly Little Blue and Snowy Egrets. The most unexpected bird of all, however was my first ‘reverse’ trans-atlantic vagrant, in the form of a Grey Heron. Many of these birds were hunting the strange Four-eyed Fish, schools of which could be seen on the water surface.
I would have liked to spend longer in this unlikely paradise, but we moved to a picnic site further along the coast, where Saffron Finch was seen before we arrived at the visitor centre at Caroni Swamp. The time waiting for our boat was well spent as we viewed a roosting Tropical Screech Owl and a pair of calling Clapper Rails.
We set out at 4.00 pm to explore the mangroves, seeing Smith’s Tree Boas, Ringed Kingfisher and Bicoloured Conebill, before viewing the spectacle of 1000+ Scarlet Ibis coming in to roost, turning the mangroves into an apparent reflection of the setting sun. As well as the Ibis there were numbers of Tricoloured and Little Blue Herons, Snowy Egrets, and Striated Herons, while Yellow-crowned Night-herons headed in the opposite direction.
At night JC and I wandered out with the spotlight accompanied by Roger and Pam. I warned them to expect little, but we found tarantulas, phasmids, crickets and most interestingly a specimen of Peripatus. One does not often have the opportunity to tick a whole new Phylum!
7th April. Hot and humid with patchy cloud. Walked along the road in the morning, seeing Waterthrush, but little else before we left to explore the Blanchisseuse Road. Two splendid White Hawks were seen soaring over Asa Wright. We then headed up the Arima Valley, though generally intact primary forest to stop along a track. Channel-billed Toucans flew around the taller trees and a duo of Woodpeckers were located in the form of Chestnut and Red-rumped. We then resorted to the tape lure, something I always feel a little ambivalent about, but it brought in two Black-faced Ant-thrushes and a White-bellied Antbird, all of which gave superb views and photo ops, in spite of the gloom of the forest.
Other birds seen on opportunistic stops were Rufous-tailed Jacamars, and Common Black Hawks, before we stopped in a village to view a colony of Yellow-rumped Caciques, while in luxuriant second growth we found Greyish Saltator, Rufous-browed Peppershrike and Streaked Flycatcher.
A single cecropia tree provided challenge and interest with a several species active in the canopy; Blue Dacnis, Red-eyed Vireo, Turquoise, Bay-headed and Palm Tanagers, Trinidad and Violaceous Euphonias, Purple and Green Honeycreepers and Tropical Pewee to name but a few. At the end of the day David’s persistence paid off with views of Speckled Tanager.
8th April. Hot, humid and generally sunny, with patchy cloud. We left Asa Wright at 6.30 and headed down the Arima Valley to the Arripo Savannah. We stopped on the lower slopes and viewed Yellow Oriole, and a Ferruginous Pygmy Owl being mobbed by a variety of birds, with a Grey-headed Kite drifting above. Other new species seen here were Rufus-breasted Wren, Forest Elaenia, and Golden-crowned Warbler.
We then traversed an area of scrub, forest patches and cultivations and in some verdant vegetation we saw Masked Yellowthroat, and had good views of the elusive Striped Cuckoo. Prodigious numbers of Black Vultures circled over a tip, and other birds seen were Grey hawk, Savannah Hawk, and Piratic Flycatcher. At the Pearl Kite site the bird was seen in flight, and a singing White-winged Becard was seen and photographed, as well as red-eyed (chivi) Vireo and Black-crested Antshrike. The rest of the morning was a little anticlimactic, but it was nice to view Plumbeous Kites.
In the afternoon I summoned up energy for a walk, seeing Golden-olive Woodpecker, White-flanked Antwren and Ochre-bellied Flycatcher, before we set out at 4.00pm to Matura in search of one of the world’s most extraordinary animals, the Leatherback Turtle. There was quite extensive primary forest to traverse before we reached the beach and I was quite impressed with the level of protection given to the site – probably better wardened than the average tern nesting beach in the UK!
On the way to the beach I finally got good pictures of Plumbeous Kites illuminated by the setting sun, and an Osprey drifted by. Rum Punch was accompanied by a fantastic firefly display, before we went onto the beach at twilight. The beach was steep to, with perhaps just 20m between the surf and the strand line. It was as at 7.45 when a gigantic black shape could be seen hauling itself out of the sea and making its laboured way up the beach. The turtle seemed truly enormous but was only an average sized animal of 160cm carapace length and a mass of 350kg. At the top of the beach the turtle re-orientated herself towards the sea and began to excavate the nest chamber. The turtle showed extraordinary dexterity as it used its rear flippers as shovel, spoon and depth gauge to create an inverted vase shaped chamber of about 50cm depth. Into here were delivered c100 eggs, including small yolkless eggs that apparently act as spacers to improve oxygen supply to the clutch. After this the female slowly filled in the hole with alternate scoops of sand, carefully packing each one down, and then finally spreading sand over the area with sweeps of her metre long front flippers. Another turtle was seen emerging as we left.
On the way back Pauraque, White-tailed Nightjar and Barn Owl enlivened the journey, which was rather longer than hoped with drunk drivers, accidents and traffic jams galore.
9th April. We left Asa Wright early for the short scenic flight to Tobago, and arrived at 10.20, but although the the island is only 12 by 7 miles it took well over an hour along the twisting coast road to reach Speyside. I had envisaged Blue Waters Inn as some sort of Holiday Inn set in a town, so was more that pleasantly surprised to find its rather idyllic setting, overlooking an azure bay with fringing reefs, and an island studded bay, the smaller Goat Island nearby, and the vegetation covered Little Tobago in the distance.
One obvious faunal change was seeing hundreds of Caribbean martins, this species being absent from Tobago. Islands always pose fascinating questions about animal and plant distributions, and one wonders why some of the most common species on Trinidad are completely absent from Tobago, such as Black and Turkey Vultures, Ringed Kingfisher and Great Kiskadee.
We immediately met up with our guide on Tobago, the inimitable Newton George, who had an intimate knowledge of the island and its habitats and managed to find almost all the key species in the very limited time we had on the island. In the afternoon Newton whisked us off to Little Tobago. On arrival we climbed up the steep path to various viewpoints, where we could view seabirds. Numbers of Red-billed Tropic Birds circled around the cliffs, these exquisite birds often being harried by Frigate birds, than showed a blistering turn of speed, not apparent as they slowly circle overhead. Two species of Booby were nesting, and presumably have increased because of protection, with Red-footed Boobies nesting in trees, and Brown Boobies on the ground.
Laughing gulls were also present in large numbers, but the only example of another nesting species, the Audubon’s Shearwater was a chick.
Newton found a White-tailed Nightjar that gave stunning close range views, and just before we left the island the rare Scaly-naped Pigeon came flying past. On the way back we stopped for a brief snorkelling session. To my eyes the reef looked in good condition, with little evidence of algal invasion, and spectacular sea fans and brain corals to explore. Fish identified were White-spotted File-fish, Black Durgeon (in large schools), Blue tangs, Stoplight Parrotfish, Sergeant Major, Caribbean Chromis, French Angelfish, Yellow Goatfish, Bermuda Chub, French Grunt, Schoolmaster Snapper, Grouper sp , Blue-spotted Cornet fish and Squirrelfish sp.
In the evening Agoutis were seen in the grounds of the Blue Waters Inn.
10th April. Mostly sunny, hot and humid on Tobago. From 6-8.00 am I walked down to the stream close to Blue Waters Inn, and then along the dirt road that wound itself along the hillside above the resort. Over 100 Frigate Birds drifted overhead and a Peregrine put in an appearance. By the stream I was able to photograph Yellow-crowned Night Heron and displaying Rufus-vented Chacalacas.
I spent a few hours snorkelling during the day – at the end of the promontory at the edge of the bay the wave washed sediments were absent and visibility was 20-30m, and a good selection of common Caribbean fish species were seen. New species were Doctorfish, Queen Parrotfish, Princess Parrotfish, Spanish Hogfish, Yellowtail damsel, Dusky Damsel and Jack Crevalle.
Unfortunately at least two Hawksbill Turtles that frequented the bay and were seen several times on the surface were always in the turbid water and it wasn’t possible to view them underwater.
In the afternoon further walks gave Red-crowned Woodpecker, Scrub Greenlet and Broad-winged Hawks, and when we borrowed a sea kayak for an excursion out to sea we found Belted Kingfisher along the cliffs.
11th April. Quite windy, hot and humid around midday, but more tolerable early and late.
We made an early start with Newton, heading out to the Main Ridge Forest reserve, but making several stops along the road in this beautiful area.
While viewing a Red-crowned Woodpecker at the nest we could view Broad-winged Hawks and American Swallow-tailed Kites ( a rarity on Tobago) gliding overhead, and we found an obliging White-tailed Sabrewing, a near threatened species, as well as Ruby Topaz, Cocoa Woodcreeper and Rufus-breasted Wren among others.
At our breakfast stop we could view a lek of the Blue-backed Manakin, and we were fortunate enough to view the display of this charismatic bird, the two males performing synchronised leaps, the birds passing in the air, as well as persistent hovering over the lek. The cause of this excitement, the considerably duller female was seen here.
We explored two trails through the forest, and with effort and Newton’s expertise a range of forest species were encountered, such as White-necked and Yellow-legged Thrushes (whose mournful but rather beautiful song seemed appropriate for the forest gloom), Venezuelan Flycatcher, Stripe-breasted Spinetail, Tawny-breasted Hermit and Jacamars. We visited another lek for the Blue-backed Manakin, but although birds were seen here they did not perform. On the way back brief stops were made to view Motmots and Great Black Hawks.
In the afternoon I went snorkelling, but unfortunately the wave action meant I had to swim out much further to reach clear water, where I could view, among other fish, Bar jacks and schools of Black Durgeon.
A stroll in the afternoon gave views of Yellow-crowned Night Heron predating a chick, and I found a massive and presumably venomous centipede. White-fringed Ant-wren and Broad-winged hawk were seen to end the day.
12th April. Weather – patchy cloud, 32’C around midday, humidity not excessive. At 7.00 am we were picked up by Newton George and taken on our Island Tour. At the west end of the Island we entered a swish hotel complex named ‘Plantations’, where we could view a large artificial lake. Around the margins were a variety of herons – Great Blue, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Black-crowned Night-heron, and Green Heron, as well as Anhingas and a single Spectacled cayman. On the water were Least Grebes, as well as Anhingas with just their necks emerging like periscopes from the water.
A little further on a small lagoon held a breeding colony of Cattle Egrets, as well as a few pairs of Little Blue Herons, sporting an astonishingly blue bill in their breeding plumage. American Purple Gallinules clambered around the reeds and Green Herons nesting in an overhanging tree. An Osprey flew past with a fish, while the surface of this lake was broken by fish rather too large for any Osprey, in the shape of Tarpon. We then entered the sewage works, which proved to be a surprisingly scenic locations with large lagoons covered with water-lilies. Birds here were astonishingly tame and we could view Blue-winged teal, Masked Duck, Black-bellied Whistling-duck, and White-cheeked Pintail at very close range, as well as more Purple Gallinules, Lesser Yellowlegs and Jacanas.
We then spent some time in search of one of Newton’s target birds, the Mangrove Cuckoo, which we dipped on, but in the bushy savannah habitat we saw Black-crested Antshrike, White-fringed Antwren, Eared Dove, and Blue-rumped parrotlets. After a pleasant lunch at Pigeon Point we dropped in at Plymouth, where Frigate Birds and Laughing Gulls were feasting on discarded sardines, offering un-paralleled photo opportunities, with distraction in the form of Cayenne Terns and Brown Pelicans on moored boats.
We visited a further sewage treatment works, but here Pistia had covered the entire water surface, and apart from Great Egret, Green Heron and Solitary Sandpiper little was to be seen.
We walked some trails through forest at the Grafton Estate, where I dipped on the elusive Olivaceous Woodcreeper, but I did see Cocoa Woodcreeper, Yellow-bellied flycatcher, Fuscous Flycatcher, and Blue-backed Manakin.
Finally we made a relaxing stop at the ‘Adventure park’ where feeders pulled in five of Tobago’s six hummers, and we could take photos of the stunning Ruby Topaz, as well as viewing Red-crowned Woodpecker, Motmots, Antshrikes, doves and Blue-grey Tanagers at very close range.
The day was not quite over, as we returned to Speyside via the coast road on the Caribbean side, as stops were made to view a perched great Black Hawk, Streaked Flycatcher,Red-rumped Woodpecker, and a neat pair of Green Kingfishers by a stream. Newton released an illegally trapped Violaceous Euphonia from a cage trap – the only sign I saw of persecution on birds in Tobago.
13th April. On our final day in Tobago I went for a pre-breakfast walk, getting nice flight shots of the Great Black hawk, we then went snorkelling on the reef at Speyside. A number of new fish species were seen – Barred hamlet, Smooth Trunkfish, Clown Wrasse, Yellowhead Wrasse, Night Sergeant, Caesar grunt, Porkfish and Lane Snapper. A hawksbill Turtle was seen on the surface. While we ate lunch we could view a Peregrine making repeated unsuccessful stoops on Laughing Gulls. I finished our day with taking pictures of Sally Lightfoot and Ghost Crabs before we were picked up and taken to the airport for a trouble free flight back to the UK.
Little Tinamou Crypturellus soui. One heard calling along the Blanchisseuse Road, as usual impossible to see.
Rufous-vented Chacalaca Ortalis ruficauda. Common in scrub around Speyside. Noisy groups heard calling chiefly at dawn and dusk, with 15-10 seen daily.
Black-bellied Whistling-Duck Dendrocygna autumnalis. Some 31 seen on the sewage ponds at ‘Plantations’, with another 4 among waterlilies on an ornamental pool. Like other duck in Tobago they were remarkably tame.
White-cheeked Pintail Anas bahamensis. Some 20 examples of this neat and crisply marked duck seen at the sewage ponds at ‘Plantations’.
Blue-winged Teal Anas discors. The only duck seen on Trinidad, with c300 on a lake at Caroni rice fields, with just one seen on Tobago at Plantations sewage ponds.
Masked Duck Nomonyx dominica. Three were seen on the sewage ponds at ‘Plantations’. Like all the duck they allowed a very close approach and great photo opportunities.
Least Grebe Tachybaptus dominicus. Some six seen on lakes and sewage ponds at ‘Plantations’. A nesting bird left the floating nest at even slight disturbance, firstly covering the eggs with plant material.
Audubon’s Shearwater Puffinus lherminieri. Nesting on Little Tobago, where a chick was found not in a burrow, but under a tunnel of tree roots. Is it permissible to tick a chick? (it was very cute).
Red-billed Tropicbird Phaethon aethereus. This stunningly beautiful species was seen on the east coast of Little Tobago where up to 80 circled around the cliffs, with pairs flying in synchrony, and other birds arriving from the sea being harassed by Frigate Birds. Some had lost their tail streamers as a result of these attacks. A few birds were nesting on Goat Island, and could be viewed from Blue Waters Lodge.
Magnificent Frigatebird Fregata magnificens. Small numbers of birds seen over the beach at Manzanilla and Waterloo Road on Trinidad (c10), but much more numerous on Tobago, with hundreds seen every morning at Blue Waters, as they drifted over from St Giles Island, and otherwise nearly ubiquitous along the coast. Seen chasing Tropic Birds on Little Tobago, and snatching pilchard sp from the surf at Plymouth.
Brown Booby Sula leucogaster. Some 20 birds seen on Little Tobago, including a close bird with a chick. There would be far more birds than this nesting on the Island, as most of this ground nesting species would be hidden under trees. Birds were regularly seen in the bay from Blue Waters, perhaps suggesting this species is more of an inshore forager than Red-footed Booby.
Red-footed Booby Sula sula. Nesting birds could be seen in trees on Little Tobago, the breeding population here has massively increased in recent years and some 30 birds could be seen – there are now apparently several hundred pairs. Only a few birds seen from mainland Tobago.
Brown Pelican Pelecanus occidentalis. A few birds seen along the shore at Manzanilla, but large numbers seen around Waterloo Road and Plymouth, with hundreds mostly roosting on moored fishing boats; sometimes every available inch on the boat was covered with Pelicans.
Neotropic Cormorant Phalacrocorax brasiliensis. A few birds seen at Caroni Swamp (5 birds) and at ‘Plantations’ on Tobago.
Anhinga Anhinga anhinga. Single birds seen at Nariva and Caroni Swamp on Trinidad, with c10 on the lakes around ‘plantations’. Some sun basking birds were extremely tame and could be viewed and photographed from less than 10m.
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea. A single example of this bird, which is a transatlantic vagrant was seen at Waterloo Road.
Great Blue-Heron Ardea herodias. Just a single bird seen by the lake at Plantations.
Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis. Fairly common in the lowlands of Trinidad, with up to 100 seen daily, also seen regularly on Tobago, with c100 crowded onto a small nesting island on a lake at Plantations.
Little Blue Heron Egretta caerulea. The largest numbers were seen at Caroni Swamp, with c100 flying in to roost at dusk, and odd birds seen elsewhere. Up to 5 pairs were nesting with Cattle Egrets at Plantations on Tobago. The bare skin around the bill on the breeding birds had the intense blue of a Morpho butterfly.
Snowy Egret Egretta thula. Several birds seen on the mudflats at Waterloo Road, but the largest numbers were seen flying to roost at Caroni Swamp, with 50+ seen.
Great Egret Ardea alba. Small numbers of this cosmopolitan species seen on Trinidad and Tobago.
Tricolored Heron Egretta tricolor. The largest numbers seen flying to roost in Caroni Swamp, with c50 seen. Small numbers were seen along ditches in Tobago, with some tame birds allowing close range photography.
Black-crowned Night-Heron Nycticorax nycticorax. Two examples of this cosmopolitan species seen flying around the lake at Plantations.
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron Nycticorax violacea. Five birds seen flying out from roosts at Caroni Swamp, and small numbers seen at various locations on Tobago, with some very tame birds around the stream at Speyside. A juvenile bird caught a fledgling bird, and eventually swallowed it. Always a very smart bird when seen well.
Scarlet Ibis Eudocimus ruber. This stunning bird was seen in small numbers at Waterloo Road, with the largest numbers flying in to roost in the mangroves in flocks of 10-50 birds, with probably over 1000 birds seen – a breath-taking sight, and I for one would not dispute this is one of the world’s great ornithological spectacles.
Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus ruber. A group of four seen feeding along the tideline of the mudflats at Waterloo Road.
Black Vulture Coragyps atratus. Very common on Trinidad, with the largest numbers (c500) circling in thermals over the tip. Seen eating the most truly disgusting fish refuse at Waterloo Road.
Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura. Widespread on Trinidad, although less abundant than Black Vulture, with c20 seen daily.
Osprey Pandion haliaetus. Birds seen at Caroni Rice Fields, at Matura, and fishing over lakes in Tobago.
American Swallow-tailed Kite Elanoides forficatus. For sheer elegance in flight, this is perhaps the ultimate raptor, with one seen over Asa Wright, and another on Tobago, over Main Ridge. It is a scarce bird on Tobago – this was the first Newton had seen for 2 years.
Pearl Kite Gampsonys swainsonii. This tiny raptor was nesting near the Arripo Livestock Station, and we could view an adult feeding its chick, with birds seen in rather falcon like flight.
Double-toothed Kite Harpagus bidentatus. This kite bears a strong superficial resemblance to an Accipiter, one was seen soaring over Asa Wright on 3rd April, with a perched bird seen above the Oilbird cave at Asa Wright.
Plumbeous Kite Ictinia plumbea. Flocks of this bird were seen hawking insects at Manzanilla, and near the beach at Matura, with 20-30 in each flock. This was a really beautiful sight, the birds flight having elements of both hobby and marsh tern, but always manoeuvring with extreme elegance.
Grey-headed Kite Leptodon cayanensis. Having dipped on this species in Belize, when one apparently flew over a tree I was standing under, I was pleased to have two sightings of this species at Asa Wright – a fairly unmistakeable raptor with its broad wings and striking grey, black and white plumage.
White Hawk Leucopternis albicollis. A pair of this fine raptor were seen soaring over Asa Wright on the morning of 7th April.
Zone-tailed Hawk Buteo albonotatus. Sailing on upturned wings this dark raptor does bear a remarkable similarity to Turkey Vulture. Two were seen en route to Nariva Swamp, with another at Caroni.
Short-tailed Hawk Buteo brachyurus. There were five sightings of this compact Buteo soaring over the forested hillsides around Asa Wright at Trinidad.
Broad-winged Hawk Buteo platypterus. Although it occurs on Trinidad this bird was only seen on Tobago, where it was reasonably common, with 1-3 birds seen daily.
Common Black Hawk Buteogallus anthracinus. Certainly quite common on Trinidad, with 2-5 birds seen daily, either perched by roadsides, or soaring over the forest. We were shown crabs predated by this species at Asa Wright.
Savannah Hawk Buteogallus meridionalis. Four were seen perched on fence posts or pylons at Arripa Livestock Station. This species has very long spindly legs, presumably for seizing prey in long grass.
Great Black Hawk Buteogallus urubitinga. This species was seen on Tobago, with one birds regularly seen soaring above Blue Waters, and we had very close views of a juvenile perched above the road along the Caribbean side road in Tobago.
Long-winged Harrier Circus buffoni. One was seen perched by a lake at Caroni rice fields.
Ornate Hawk-eagle Spizaetus ornatus. One example of this handsome raptor cruised over Asa Wright, early in the morning of 4/4. Definitely an iconic species of neo-tropical forest.
Black Hawk-Eagle Spizaetus tyrannus. One was seen on two occasions soaring over Asa Wright on 3rd April. After reading about the status of this species on Trinidad it seemed an unlikely sighting, but I photographed this bird, and although it is only a poor record shot there is no doubt it was this species.
Northern Caracara Caracara cheriway. A pair and presumably their juvenile were seen foraging in ploughed ground amongst coconut groves at Nariva.
Yellow-headed Caracara Milvago chimachima. Small numbers seen daily in savannah and farmland in Trinidad, this being a species that benefits from deforestation.
Peregrine Falco peregrinus. Singles seen over Asa Wright, and at Caroni Rice Fields, with other sightings at Blue Waters on Tobago, this bird putting in several unsuccessful stoops at Laughing Gulls.
Bat Falcon Falco rufigularis. A pair of these handsome raptors were seen perched together on a dead tree next to the lodge at Asa Wright.
Merlin Falco columbarius. One shot over a lagoon at Caroni Swamp, to complete a reasonably impressive list of raptors.
Clapper Rail Rallus longirostris. This species proved quite easy to lure out of its mangrove habitat with a tape, and birds were seen at Waterloo Road, and we had crippling views of a pair calling together by the visitors centre at Caroni Swamp.
American Purple Gallinule Porphyrula martinica. This splendidly colourful species was seen at Nariva Swamp, but we had much better views on the lily covered sewage ponds at ‘Plantations’, with at least five seen, some at very close range.
Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus. Some 20 seen at Caroni rice fields, and 5 on Tobago.
Spotted Sandpiper Actitis macularia. With its ability to use a variety of habitats always a widespread species in small numbers, with birds seen at Arripa, Nariva, Caroni and several locations on Tobago.
Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres. Small flocks of 5-10 birds seen along shorelines at Waterloo Road, and at Blue Waters beach on Tobago.
Least Sandpiper Calidris minutilla. Three seen on freshwater creeks at Arripa Livestock Station.
Semi-palmated Sandpiper Calidris pusilla. A bird seen at close range and photographed on the mudflats at Waterloo Road would appear to be this species, based on bill length, and an absence of rufous tones to the plumage.
Willet Catoptrophorus semipalmatus. Two seen on the mudflats at Waterloo Road.
Hudsonian Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus. Three examples seen trying to catch small crabs on the mudflats at Waterloo Road.
Lesser Yellowlegs Tringa flavipes. Two seen on the sewage ponds at Plantations, on Tobago.
Greater Yellowlegs Tringa melanoleuca. Two examples of this lanky wader seen on the mudflats at Waterloo Road; got some near perfect flight shots of the birds coming in to land.
Solitary Sandpiper Tringa solitaria. Three birds seen on freshwater creeks at Arripo Livestock Station, and two more on creeks near Pigeon Point on Tobago.
Wattled Jacana Jacana jacana. This species was common at Arripo Livestock Station, with birds even feeding around cattle yards, at Nariva Swamp, Caroni rice fields, and at the lakes and sewage ponds at ‘Plantations’ on Tobago. Up to 50 were seen at these locations, and males were frequently seen with chicks.
Semipalmated Plover Charadrius semipalmatus. Just one seen on mudflats at Waterloo Road.
Southern Lapwing Vanellus chilensis. A fairly common species in open grassland with scattered pools, and up to 20 birds seen daily on Trinidad in places such as Arripo, Nariva, Matura. The largest numbers (50+) were seen on the wetlands on Tobago. Many birds were remarkably tame, certainly compared to Northern lapwing.
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus.One first winter bird seen roosting on a fishing boat at Waterloo Road.
Laughing Gull Larus atricilla. A fairly abundant species in some parts of Trinidad with 1000+ on the mudflats at Waterloo Road, and also seen in large numbers in Tobago, with hundreds on many beaches such as at Plymouth. Many birds seen around Little Tobago, where apparently the species breeds.
Large-billed Tern Phaetusa simplex. I had previously seen this species along rivers in South America, so I was quite surprised to see fair numbers along the coast, with many roosting on wooden piling, perhaps 90 birds seen on 6th April in Trinidad. The wing pattern in flight is very distinctive, almost recalling a Sabine’s Gull.
Black Skimmer Rynchops niger. Some 30 were seen along the coast at Waterloo Road, either roosting with Laughing Gulls, or skimming which brought some success as I saw them catch Four-eyed Fish.
Royal Tern Sterna maxima. Five birds seen roosting with Laughing Gulls at Waterloo Road mudflats.
Cayenne Tern Thalasseus eurygnathus. Some five examples of this new species were roosting on fishing boats near Pigeon Point on Tobago, with others seen in flight, revealing a very close similarity to Sandwich Tren.
Yellow-billed tern Sternula superciliaris. As with Large-billed I had seen this species along river systems in SA, but two were seen on the coast near Waterloo Road in Trinidad.
Pale-vented Pigeon Columba cayennensis. Just one seen at Nariva on Trinidad, but more common on Tobago, with 5-10 seen daily around Speyside.
Scaled Pigeon Patagionas speciosa. Just two birds seen flying over the forest at Asa Wright.
Scaly-naped Pigeon Patagionas squamosa. A very localised species in SA, confined to a few offshore Islands, with one seen flying over Little Tobago, just as we were leaving.
Common Ground Dove Columbina passerina. Not very common on Trinidad, with just 4 seen, two being at the Hindu Temple.
Ruddy Ground Dove Columbina talpacoti. A characteristic bird of waste ground around village in both Trinidad and Tobago, with c20 seen daily in the lowlands.
Grey-fronted Dove Leptotila rufaxilla. One to three birds seen daily at Asa Wright.
White-tipped Dove Leptotila verreauxi. Separation of this species from the similar previous species was simplified because this species is confined to Tobago, where it was fairly common with 5-10 seen daily around Speyside.
Eared Dove Zenaida auriculata. A single bird was seen at Caroni Swamp on Trinidad, but it was fairly numerous in the west of Tobago with 60+ seen in coastal scrub.
Green-rumped Parrotlet Forpus passerines. This diminutive parrot was seen at Arripa Livestock Station, where nesting birds peering out of tree holes gave great photo opportunities, with another 10 seen in Tobago, with some birds again going in and out of hollow trees.
Orange-winged Parrot Amazona amazonica. A fairly common species on both Trinidad and Tobago, generally so noisy it was impossible to miss when flying overhead. Seen in a variety of habitats from savannah to forest, 5- 40 birds seen daily.
Blue-headed Parrot Pionus menstruus. Just one group of 4 birds seen in forest near Manzanilla on 5th April.
Squirrel Cuckoo Piaya cayana. We had two sightings of a single bird around the lodge at Asa Wright.
Striped Cuckoo Tapera naevia. One example of this rather elusive species was seen in savannah at Arripo, it took quite a long time to pin down the calling bird. It was also heard calling at Arripo Livestock Station.
Smooth-billed Ani Crotophaga ani. This species was seen in small parties, often around cattle in open habitats, and was fairly common on Trinidad, with up to 40 seen daily, and also reasonably common on Tobago.
Barn Owl Tyto alba. One was seen along the roadside as we drove back from the Leatherback Turtle expedition in Valencia. David considered this species has severely declined in Trinidad.
Tropical Screech Owl Otus choliba. An adult with two fledged chicks was located as soon as we started our spotlighting at Arripo Livestock Station. A little further on another bird gave great views as it posed by the track, with a cricket in its bill. A roosting bird was found in mangroves at the visitor centre at Caroni Swamp.
Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl Glaucidium brasilianum. This species was heard calling in many locations in Trinidad, both by night and day. Birds were seen twice at Asa Wright, and also further down the Arima Valley. Calling birds in the daytime often attracted an assortment of mobbing birds, such as flycatchers and mockingbirds.
Oilbird Steatornis caripensis. This was the most hoped for bird in Trinidad, so it was a sense of anticipation that we trekked down to Dunstan Cave at Asa Wright. With the spotlight about 15 of these extraordinary birds could be seen scattered around cliff ledges. Several birds flew around the chamber, loudly echo-locating as they did so, with these and other birds giving vent to raucous calls. I was pleased to be able to view one bird hovering below palm fruits at Asa Wright before dawn on 6th April.
Common Potoo Nyctibus griseus. One was found while spotlighting around Arripo Livestock Station, its huge eyes astonishingly reflective as it posed on fence posts. It was obviously not too inconvenienced by being spotlighted, as it launched several sorties after moths as we watched it.
White-tailed Nightjar Caprimulgus cayennensis. Four birds were seen on tracks around Arripo Livestock Station, with another seen at Matura after viewing turtles. A roosting bird on Little Tobago could be viewed from just a few yards.
Rufous Nightjar Caprimulgus rufus. Only heard calling at Arripo Livestock Station.
Pauraque Nyctidromus albicollis. About five birds seen along tracks at Arripo Livestock Station, with one more at Matura.
Short-tailed Swift Chaetura brachyura. With its distinctive silhouette some 10 were seen at the disused airfield, with another 20 over the Arripo Savannah on 8th April.
Grey-rumped Swift Chaetura cinereiventris. It was very difficult to separate this and the next species. Both were identified over forest in the northern range, but most of the small Chaetura were unidentifiable.
Band-rumped Swift Chaetura spinicauda. Some of the small swifts seen over forested hills were of this species.
Fork-tailed Palm –Swift Tachornis squamata. Several seen over the disused airfield on 5th April.
Green Hermit Phaethornis guy. Only one was definitely identified, seen in forest along the Blanchisseuse Road.
Rufous-breasted Hermit Glaucis hirsuta. A few of this retiring hummingbird were seen in forest at Asa Wright, and also on Tobago. Birds briefly visited feeders at the ‘Adventure Park’.
White-chested Emerald Amazilia chionopectus. A few birds seen around feeders at Asa Wright.
Copper-rumped Hummingbird Amazilia tobaci. One of the most common hummingbirds around Asa Wright, with up to 5 around feeders. Also seen at small numbers on Tobago.
Black-throated Mango Anthracothorax nigricollis. Regularly seen around feeders at Asa Wright, and also in scrub around Speyside on Tobago.
White-tailed Sabrewing Campylopterus ensipennis. Some three examples of this globally threatened species were seen in Main Ridge on Tobago. This species does not occur on Trinidad.
Ruby-topaz Hummingbird Chrysolampis mosquitus. One was seen on Main Ridge on Tobago, while several could be viewed at feeders at the Adventure Park. This bird showed amazing variation in perceived colour as the angle of light changed, the bird could appear black, then changing to gold, crimson and orange.
White-necked Jacobin Florisuga mellivora. This showy and pugnacious hummingbird dominated the feeders at Asa Wright with birds ever present. Birds were also seen at the Adventure Park on Tobago.
Tufted Coquette Lophornis ornatus. This tiny but highly decorative hummingbird was regularly seen feeding on vervain flowers at Asa Wright, also got nice pictures of a stunning male perched on a branch.
Blue-chinned Sapphire Chlorestes notate. Three to five birds seen regularly around flowers and the feeders at Asa Wright.
Collared Trogon Trogon collaris. Four birds seen along the trail to Dunstan Cave on 4th April was the only sighting.
Amazonian Violaceus Trogon Trogon violaceus. Although Trogons are often difficult to locate in the canopy, when finally found features like the broken yellow eye-ring of this species can be viewed critically. Singles were seen at the entrance to Asa Wright on two occasions.
Amazonian White-tailed Trogon Trogon viridis. This species was the most common Trogon at Asa Wright, with birds regularly seen along the main trail.
Belted Kingfisher Megaceryle alcyon. One example of this winter visitor was seen on Tobago as we tried sea-kayaking!
Ringed Kingfisher Megaceryle torquata. One seen at Caroni rice fields on 2nd April, with a second seen at Caroni Swamp.
American Pygmy Kingfisher Chloroceryle aenea. One flew along a mangrove lined creek near Nariva Swamp; I got this bird, but missed the Green Kingfisher here.
Green Kingfisher Chloroceryle americana. A female was seen perched by a bridge over a forest stream on Tobago (along the road to Speyside), and as we watched it the male appeared with a fish in its bill, held with the head pointing out, presumably making it easier for the female to swallow it.
Blue-crowned Motmot Momotus momota. Birds were seen regularly in the forest around Asa Wright, sometimes coming to eat fruit at the feeding stations. The species seemed quite widespread on Tobago, with birds seen around BlueWaters, Main Ridge and elsewhere. Flash pictures of this species make the colours appear quite fluorescent. Birds on these islands have rich rufous underparts (ssp. Bahamensis).
Rufous-tailed Jacamar Galbula ruficauda. A pair of this apparent cross between a bee-eater and a kingfisher was seen along the Blanchisseuse Road on Trinidad, but probably more common on Tobago, where pairs seen at Main Ridge, Grafton Estate and around Speyside.
Channel-billed Toucan Ramphastos vitellinus. I had not seen this toucan before, which is the only species on Trinidad. Birds were seen at Asa Wright, with a pair calling from a tree further down the valley. Others were seen along Blanchisseuse Road, but sadly none of them were close enough for an acceptable photograph.
Golden-olive Woodpecker Piculus rubiginosus. Birds were seen at Asa Wright, with photogenic birds in trees around the balcony.
Chestnut Woodpecker Celeus elegans. One appeared in response to a tape lure in forest along the Balanchisseuse Road on Trinidad, and another drumming bird was seen briefly at Asa Wright.
Lineated Woodpecker Dryocopus lineatus. This rather spectacular woodpecker was seen at Asa Wright and along the Blanchisseuse Road, with a total of six birds being seen.
Red-rumped Woodpecker Veniliornis kirkii. A pair was seen along the Blanchisseuse Road on Trinidad, with a single bird being seen and photographed by the roadside on an opportunistic stop on Tobago.
Red-crowned Woodpecker Melanerpes rubricapillus. This species is only found on Tobago, where it was fairly common, with nesting birds seen along Main Ridge and in the east of the Island. This species was often very tame, and a series of pleasing photos were taken.
Stripe-breasted Spinetail Synallaxis cinnamomea. This secretive forest species was seen creeping through forest floor undergrowth along Main Ridge in Tobago, some four birds in total. A nest was seen, an amazingly large construction for a small bird.
Yellow-chinned Spinetail Certhiaxix cinnamomea. This is a spinetail of wet grassland, and birds were seen at Arripo Livestock Station, and at Nariva Swamp.
Cocoa Woodcreeper Xiphorhynchus susurrans. A fairly common species in a variety of forest habitats in both Trinidad and Tobago, to judge from the number of times we heard it plaintive calls, but birds were also regularly seen around Asa Wright, and along Main Ridge and Speyside in Tobago.
Plain-brown Woodcreeper Dendrocincla fuliginosa. Just one was seen at Asa Wright, following an ant swarm – surprisingly the only bird to do so.
Olivaceous Woodcreeper Sittasomus griseicapillus. I missed this species, but Jane saw it at the Grafton Estate on Tobago.
Great Antshrike Taraba major. Very reminiscent of an African Boubou, this species was quite often seen working through tangles of vegetation at Asa Wright, with five birds seen in total.
Barred Antshrike Thamnophilus doliatus. Birds seen in a variety of forest edge habitats in both Trinidad and Tobago, and also many calling birds heard calling. With its deliberate movements and pauses it has something of the jizz of a wryneck.
Black-crested Antshrike Sakesphorus canadensis. A pair was seen in mangroves near Manzanilla, with another bird in scrub at Arripo Livestock Station.
White-flanked Antwren Myrmotherula axillaris. A pair was seen in forest at Asa Wright on 4th April.
White-fringed Antwren Formicivora grisea. This species is confined to Tobago, with birds seen at Speyside, and in scrub around Pigeon Point on that Island.
White-bellied Antbird Myrmeciza longipes. A male of this species was seen well as it ferreted through forest floor vegetation along the Blanchisseuse Road on Trinidad.
Black-faced Ant-thrush Formicarius analis. The sight of one sneaking off a trail at Asa Wright was a typical view, but we had crippling views of a pair along the Blanchisseuse Road, with these rail-like birds scuttling around our feet, eating worms and calling.
White-headed Marsh-Tyrant Arundinicola leucocephala. A conspicuous species of wet grassland and marshes, several were seen around Arripo Livestock Station, and Nariva Swamp.
Fuscous Flycatcher Cnemotriccus fuscatus. A rather scarce species of forest edge, one bird was seen at the Grafton Estate.
Tropical Pewee Contopus cinereus. One seen in a mixed species flock in a cecropia along the Blanchisseuse Road.
Olive-sided Flycatcher Contopus cooperi. Two were seen along forest edges at Asa Wright.
Yellow-bellied Elaenia Elaenia flavogaster. Regularly seen in scrub and forest edges in both Trinidad and Tobago, with 1-5 seen daily.
Pied Water Tyrant Fluvicola pica. A rather striking species, several were seen at Arripo Livestock Station, Nariva Swamp, and Caroni rice fields.
Piratic Flycatcher Legatus leucocephalus. Some five were seen in scrub in the Arripo savannah on 8th April.
Yellow-breasted Flycatcher Tolmomyias flaviventris. Although this is supposed to be a common species, just one was seen on Tobago along forest edge at the Grafton Estate.
Slaty-capped Flycatcher Leptopogon superciliaris. One seen along the chaconia trail at Asa Wright.
Boat-billed Flycatcher Megarynchus pitangua. A number of birds (c5) seen along the Blanchisseuse Road.
Ochre-bellied Flycatcher Mionectes oleaginous. Three sightings of birds working foliage around the lodge at Asa Wright.
Brown-crested Flycatcher Myiarchus tyrannulus. Singles were seen near Main Ridge and at Speyside on Tobago, the latter bird caught and ate a katydid.
Venezuelan Flycatcher Myiarchus venezuelensis. One example of this canopy species heard singing and eventually seen on Main Ridge on Tobago.
Streaked Flycatcher Myiodynastes maculatus. Singles seen along the Blanchisseuse Roadon Trinidad and close to Speyside on Tobago.
Forest Elaenia Myiopagis gaimardii. One seen along the Blanchisseuse Road in Trinidad.
Great Kiskadee Pitangus sulphuratus. A common species on Trinidad, with numbers seen daily in open habitats, villages etc, but completely absent from Tobago.
Sulphury Flycatcher Tyrannopsis sulphurea. This species could have been dismissed as a Tropical Kingbird, but three were identified at the disused US airbase.
Grey Kingbird Tyrannus dominicensis. Small numbers seen most days in savannah and forest edge habitats on Trinidad and Tobago.
Tropical Kingbird Tyrannus melancholicus. A widespread and common species in open habitats on both Trinidad and Tobago.
Bearded Bellbird Procnias averano. The astonishingly loud croaks and calls like an anvil being struck were characteristic sounds of the forest at Asa Wright. The birds called from the canopy, and were not always easy to locate, but we viewed five calling birds on 3rd April, and took reasonable photos of this species.
Golden-headed Manakin Pipra erythrocephala. This charismatic bird had a lek at Asa Wright. Several males could generally be observed, usually quietly perched, but becoming animated when a female appeared, with the birds sliding along branches in extraordinary style.
White-bearded Manakin Manacus manacus. This species also had a lek at Asa Wright, and again birds were seen displaying when a female appeared, the males puffing out their throat feathers, and flying from sapling to sapling with loud wing-snaps. About 10 males were frequently the lek.
Blue-backed Manakin Chiroxiphia pareola. Birds were seen at two locations along Main Ridge on Tobago, and also on the Grafton Estate. We were fortunate enough to see the display in response to the arrival of a female, with the pair of males ‘dancing’ together, performing leaps and crossing in the air, then one of the males hovering over the lek site – fabulous to see.
White-winged Becard Pachyramphus polychopterus. We had good views of a singing male at the entrance to the Arripo Livestock Station.
Rufous-browed Peppershrike Cyclarhis guianensis. A single bird seen in typical scrub/forest edge habitat along the Blanchisseuse Road on Trinidad.
Red-eyed (chivi) Vireo Vireo olivaceus. Three birds seen in scattered locations on Trinidad.
Golden-fronted Greenlet Hylophilus aurantiifrons. A few birds seen around Asa Wright, and along the Blanchisseuse Road. This canopy species was probably overlooked.
Scrub Greenlet Hylophilus flavipes. This species only occurs on Tobago where small numbers were seen around Speyside.
White-winged Swallow Tachycineta albiventer. A very neat hirundine, small numbers seen daily in the lowlands of Trinidad, with 5-10 seen daily.
Southern Rough-winged Swallow Stelgidopteryx ruficollis. Small numbers seen in villages down the Arima Valley, and also at Asa Wright.
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica. Some six birds were seen over the Caroni rice fields.
Grey-breasted Martin Progne chalybea. This species was quite common over towns and open country in Trinidad, but was absent from Tobago.
Caribbean Martin Progne dominicensis. It does seem something of a mystery that this species is abundant on Tobago, but does not occur at all on Tobago. Up to 100 seen daily on the island.
Long-billed Gnatwren Ramphocaenus malanurus. One was seen working through tangles of undergrowth at Asa Wright.
Rufous-breasted Wren Thryothorus rutilus. Singles were seen along the Blanchisseuse Road, and one on Tobago along Main Ridge.
House Wren Troglodytes aedon. A few birds seen around Asa Wright and Blue Waters on Tobago.
White-necked Thrush Turdus albicollis. This rather secretive forest species was quite easy to see at Asa Wright, where very tame birds along the main trail allowed a close approach for photography.
Cocoa Thrush Turdus fumigatus. Several birds were present around Asa Wright, often coming to feeding stations.
Bare-eyed (Spectacled) Thrush Turdus nudigenis. Fairly common and widespread in both Trinidad and Tobago, with 1-5 birds seen in a variety of locations. Several birds seen around Asa Wright.
Yellow-legged Thrush Platycichla flavipes. Three examples of this blackbird lookalike were seen along Main Ridge. The beautiful song of this forest species was often heard in these areas.
Tropical Mockingbird Mimus gilvus. A common and widespread species in open habitats in both Trinidad and Tobago.
Red-crowned Ant-Tanager Habia rubica. Three examples of this species of the mid-forest story were seen at Asa Wright, with another pair along the Blanchisseuse Road.
White-shouldered Tanager Tachyphonus luctosus. Two seen at Asa Wright, the female initially confusing me as she is very different from the jat black and white males.
White-lined Tanager Tachyphonus rufus. A frequent visitor to the feeding stations at Asa Wright, with c10 birds in view at any point.
Silver-beaked Tanager Ramphocelus carbo. An attractive bird with its swollen silvery bill, and rich wine red plumage, it was common in second growth in the forested hills of Trinidad, with 5-10 birds seen daily around Asa Wright.
Blue-grey Tanager Thraupis episcopus. Seen commonly in second growth and degraded habitats in the lowlands, although less numerous than Palm Tanager.
Palm Tanager Thraupis palmarum. Probably the most common Tanager in both Trinidad and Tobago, with birds seen daily in a wide variety of habitats.
Turquoise Tanager Tangara mexicana. This showy species was seen in small numbers at the entrance to Asa Wrright, and in mixed species flock along the Blanchisseuse Road.
Speckled Tanager Tangara guttata. Dave made great efforts to locate two of this canopy species along the Blanchisseuse Road, eventually tracking down two birds.
Bay-headed Tanager Tangara gyrola. A few examples of tis canopy species were seen most days at Asa Wright, 2-5 birds seen daily, often in mixed species flocks.
Bananaquit Coereba flaveola. A very common bird in both Trinidad and Tobago, and was seen daily in a variety of habitats.
Green Honeycreeper Chlorophanes spiza. Both the fluorescent turquoise males and mossy green females were rather showy, and there was ample opportunity to study and photograph them at Asa Wright, this being a very common visitor to feeders.
Purple Honeycreeper Cyanerpes caeruleus. Another showy species, not least because of its brilliant yellow legs, this was frequently seen at Asa Wright , but was less common than Green Honeycreeper.
Red-legged Honeycreeper Cyanerpes cyaneus. Just one seen in Moriche palms at the disused US airfield on 5th April.
Bicoloured Conebill Conirostrum bicolor. Two birds were seen working through mangrove foliage, during our boat trip into Caroni Swamp.
Trinidad Euphonia Euphonia trinitatis. Locating this species was something of a challenge, but eventually three were seen in a mixed species flock along the Blanchisseuse Road in Trinidad.
Violaceous Euphonia Euphonia violacea. Pairs were seen on three days around Asa Wright.
Common Waxbill Astrilda astrild. This intro was seen on at ‘Plantations’on Tobago.
Grassland Yellow Finch Sicalis luteola. This species is a recent colonist in Trinidad, we caught up with it at Arripo Livestock Station, where 3 birds were seen.
Saffron Finch Sicalis flaveola. A few birds were seen in grassland area with scattered trees along the coast near Waterloo Road.
Black-faced Grassquit Tiaris bicolor. A few birds seen by the stream at Blue Waters.
Sooty Grassquit Tiaris fuliginosa. Just one seen along the Blanchisseuse Road.
Blue-black Grassquit Volatinia jacarina. Small numbers seen in sites such as Arripo Livestock Station, also fairly common around Blue Waters in Speyside.
Greyish Saltator Saltator coerulescens. Three birds were seen in second growth along the Arima Valley, usually drawing attention to themselves by characteristic calls.
Tropical Parula Parula pitiayumi. One bird was seen at Asa Wright.
Masked Yellowthroat Geothlypis aequinoctialis. One example of this smart warbler was located in reeds and rank grassland in th Arripo Savannah.
Northern Waterthrush Seiurus noveboracensis. I was surprised how few North American warblers were seen, but apparently most have already departed. Four examples of this species were seen around Asa Wright, typically along streams.
American Redstart Setophaga ruticilla. A single bird seen at Asa Wright was the only other North American passerine seen on Trinidad.
Golden-crowned Warbler Basileuterus culicivorus. Two birds were seen in forest along the Blanchisseuse Road in Trinidad.
Crested Oropendula Psarocolius decumanus. A common and conspicuous species in the all forested areas on Trinidad, and also on Tobago. Many nesting colonies were seen.
Moriche Oriole Icterus chrysocephalus. This is a very localised species on Trinidad, but we saw two examples at the only known site, which is among the Moriche Palms on the disused US airbase.
Yellow Oriole Icterus mesomelas. Birds were seen in thickets and second growth near Caroni Swamp, and also in the Arima Valley, close to the Yellow-rumped Cacique colony.
Yellow-rumped Cacique Cacicus cela. Several birds were seen around a nesting tree along the Arima Valley.
Yellow-hooded Blackbird Chrysomus icterocephalus. A colourful species that proved to be common at Arripo Livestock Station, at Nariva Swamp, and along creeks near Caroni Swamp.
Carib Grackle Quiscalus lugubris. A rather bold species, characteristic of grasslands, villages, and particularly coastal areas on Trinidad.
Red-breasted Blackbird Sturnella militaris. Several examples of this showy Icterid were seen in the grasslands of Arripo Livestock Station.
Giant Cowbird Scaphidura oryzivora. Six examples were seen on a football pitch!, near Manzanilla, with a few birds seen on Tobago. Certainly plenty of hosts for this species in the form of Oropendulas on both islands.
Shiny Cowbird Molothrus bonariensis. Fairly common on both Trinidad and Tobago. Birds seen most days around Asa Wright.
Mammals – not a very extensive list!
Red-rumped (Brazilian) Agouti Dasyprocta leporina. This species was common and easy to see at Asa Wright with habituated animals regularly visiting the feeding stations to scavenge for scraps, or quietly slipping through the forest elsewhere. Two individuals were also seen at Blue Waters on Tobago.
Greater White-lined Bat Saccopteryx bilineata. This day flying species was seen flying circuits in deep forest in Asa Wright.
Red-tailed Squirrel Sciurus granatensis. A few examples seen in forest edge in both Trinidad and Tobago.
Small Indian Mongoose Herpestes auropunctatus. One example of this undesirable alien seen at Arripo Livestock Station.