American Pygmy Kingfisher -Trinidad by Simon Thompson Blue-chinned Sapphire -Trinidad by Simon Thompson Oilbirds -Trinidad by Simon Thompson Porch View Asa Wright -Trinidad by Simon Thompson Scarlet Ibis -Trinidad by Simon Thompson Silver-beaked Tanager -Trinidad by Simon Thompson White-necked Jacobin -Trinidad by Simon Thompson White-tailed Sabrewing -Tobago by Simon Thompson Yellow Oriole -Trinidad by Simon Thompson

 

Trip Report

 

Trip Report for Venture to
Trinidad and Tobago

November 16 – 25, 2013

 

November 16   Arrive in Port of Spain late in evening, Trinidad; drive to Asa Wright Nature Centre
November 17   Asa Wright Nature Centre; trails and verandah; Aripo Livestock Research Centre PM
November 18   Verandah Birding AM; rest of day along the Blanchisseuse Road
November 19   Verandah Birding AM; Aripo Livestock Research Centre, Manzanilla Beach, Nariva Marsh

                     and Wallerfield Airstrip
November 20   Aripo Savannah; Asa Wright Oilbird Caves PM
November 21   Verandah Birding AM & Discovery Trail; Yerrette Hummingbird House and Caroni Swamp PM
November 22   Verandah Birding AM; left for 11:30 flight to Tobago;

                     Crown Point & Bon Accord, Tobago Plantations and drive to Cuffie River Nature Centre
November 23   Drive to Blue Waters Inn, Speyside; boat trip to Little Tobago; Main Ridge Rainforest PM
November 24   Birding around Cuffie River Lodge and morning walk; afternoon free         
November 25   Morning birding at lodge; drive to Crown Point and flight to Trinidad and home

 

American Pygmy Kingfisher -Trinidad by Simon Thompson

 

Thanks to the airlines, we were only 11 hours late in getting to Asa Wright Nature Centre in Trinidad, but thanks to a little bit of coercion in the Miami Airport, we at least managed to have a few hours of sleep before our 5:30 AM (!) departure the following morning. Some of us were very smart (or was it lucky?) and got to Port of Spain on an earlier flight and spent several hours birding and enjoying the lodge while the rest of us slowly made our way south. I can add that those of us who were delayed managed a beautiful Long-winged Harrier as it quartered the grasslands just outside the airport. Surprisingly this was the only one seen during the tour. Of course what we did not know is that Dave and Mukesh had planned some owling our first night……with 3 hours of sleep the night before. Oh well! We did manage to stay awake for a great complement of Tropical Screech-Owls, White-tailed Nightjars and Common Pauraques.


Blue-chinned Sapphire -Trinidad by Simon Thompson

The Asa Wright Nature Centre has probably one of the finest birding verandahs in the world, whether it is early in the morning for coffee or later in the day as we sipped a rum punch and watched the hummingbird feeders. The most abundant feeder bird has to be the Bananaquit, which arrives en masse to dominate all of the nectar bottles. A good number of stunning Purple Honeycreepers also come in to feed, the males and females being dramatically different in their plumage. Some of us thought the female to be even more attractive than the male, although that was open to debate. Spectacled Thrush, Crested Oropendola and a bevy of Tanagers also came to the feeders to feed on the papaya, bananas and other fruit that was put there every morning. Several Agoutis also fed under the feeders and a single Northern Waterthrush came along every morning to pick up scraps; not your normal feeder bird.


Oilbirds -Trinidad by Simon Thompson

The Asa Wright Nature Centre has probably one of the finest birding verandahs in the world, whether it is early in the morning for coffee or later in the day as we sipped a rum punch and watched the hummingbird feeders. The most abundant feeder bird has to be the Bananaquit, which arrives en masse to dominate all of the nectar bottles. A good number of stunning Purple Honeycreepers also come in to feed, the males and females being dramatically different in their plumage. Some of us thought the female to be even more attractive than the male, although that was open to debate. Spectacled Thrush, Crested Oropendola and a bevy of Tanagers also came to the feeders to feed on the papaya, bananas and other fruit that was put there every morning. Several Agoutis also fed under the feeders and a single Northern Waterthrush came along every morning to pick up scraps; not your normal feeder bird.


Scarlet Ibis -Trinidad by Simon Thompson

The Blanchisseuse Road runs past Asa Wright and climbs high into the forests of the Northern Range. We birded our way slowly up through bamboo forests looking for Speckled and Bay-headed Tanagers and many other deeper woodland species, such as Long-billed Gnatwren and Streaked Xenops. A nice surprise was a Gray-throated Leaftosser which flew into the roadside bamboo thicket allowing us all to get great views of this shy species. One of the day’s many highlights was the “Tanager Tree”, a tall dead tree alongside the road where almost every local tanager and flycatcher sat up to have its picture taken; great stuff with most birds being out in the open. We ended the day slightly lower in elevation where we enjoyed a very active Yellow-rumped Cacique colony with its own attendant Piratic Flycatcher. A flock of Blue-headed Parrots was also feeding in a nearby tree.

The next day found us back at the Aripo Livestock Station where we scanned the pastures, field edges and wet marshes for lowland birds. Wintering Solitary and Least Sandpipers joined resident Southern Lapwing and Wattled Jacana in the muddy pools and flashy little Pied Water-Tyrants took insects from the barbed wire fences. Savanna Hawks flew over the grasslands and a Peregrine Falcon looked for prey in the open country. This was an easy birding experience and a great start to the day. Lunch was down at a somewhat decrepit resort on the beach where we dodged rain showers before driving along the beach towards Nariva. This vast wetland has been considerably impacted by humans, but is still a great place to see freshwater species. Both Yellow-headed and Crested Caracaras flew over and Purple Gallinules, Limpkin and Yellow Orioles fed in the marshes. Our target bird was the White-tailed Goldenthroat, a hummingbird that seems to be restricted to these marshy edges. After a few fast “whizz-bys”, we managed to get decent views of 1 as it fed in the flag blossoms.


Silver-beaked Tanager -Trinidad by Simon Thompson

We raced a little against the clock and ended the day at the disused Wallerfield Airstrip to see if we could find the local Red-bellied Macaws. 2 flew over as we were getting out of the cars, but these were the only ones we saw that evening. Other Moriche Palm specialties included the Moriche Oriole, Fork-tailed Palm-Swift and Sulphury Flycatcher.
The next morning found us again in the lowlands near Aripo and “mopping-up” on a few of the forest edge and scrub species, such as White-winged Becard and Southern Beardless-Tyrannulet. A nice surprise was a female Hook-billed Kite sitting in a tree near a somewhat scruffy house. This was a very rare sighting and only the second ever for Mukesh, our local guide. The rain showers came and went in the afternoon as we walked down to the famous Oilbird cave. This made the rocks and muddy trail a little slippery, but the sight of the incredible Oilbirds made it all worthwhile.
It was raining a little (surprise!) in the morning, so we hung around the verandah and watched the feeders. Some of us hiked on the Discovery Trail and eventually found the Bearded Bellbirds singing high in the canopy; while others stayed around the flowers taking photos of the hummingbirds. Talking of hummers; our afternoon visit to Yerrete, a new birding spot near Port-of-Spain, was incredible. The owner has 45 hummer feeders which attract hundreds (thousands?) of birds at any one time. Almost every species that occurs on Trinidad has been reported here and needless to say, the Ruby-Topaz stole the show. At least 5 of these little gems were coming to the feeders allowing us to see their amazing colors. The slide show presentation was simply incredible and the photography of the hummers was some of the finest I have ever seen and completely worth the time to sit and enjoy the work. It was then off to what I consider one of the finest birding spectacles in the world- the evening flight of Scarlet Ibis into the mangrove swamps. Couple this with an evening sunset, a couple of rum punches and you get a terrific birding event. Tricolored Herons and Snowy Egrets flew in low to avoid predation from Peregrines and the Ibis dropped in like bunches of colored lights festooning a Christmas tree. Just sitting in our boats watching the evening flight was certainly one of the highlights of our tour and we avoided all of the rain showers that were going around the area.
It rained heavily the following night and we awoke to clouds and misty conditions at the lodge so we birded from the verandah before leaving immediately after breakfast for our flight to Trinidad’s sister island of Tobago. It was starting to rain again so we knew that we would have delays before our short crossing. We eventually got to Tobago around 12 Noon when we were met at the airport by our local guide. We picked up some of the local roadside birds at the local park where we grabbed a sandwich and a cold drink. Eared Doves and Black-faced Grassquits fed on the grass and Magnificent Frigatebirds soared overhead – welcome to the islands! Gladwyn started by taking us all around the western end of Tobago winding our way through the neighborhoods checking out ponds and wet areas. A small flock of White-cheeked Pintail allowed us some great views and a nice surprise was a Glossy Ibis feeding along the roadside. This individual was one of the very few records for Tobago and had been here for a couple of weeks. We also got both Yellow-crowned and Black-crowned Night-Herons and every pool had more than its fair share of Anhingas. A stop at The Plantations was very profitable with Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, Blue-winged Teal, a single White-rumped Sandpiper and, best of all, a female Masked Duck who allowed us great scope views and even some fine photo ops. We arrived at the very pleasant Cuffie River Resort by the late afternoon in time for a glass of wine and to watch the very active bird feeders. We were soon to find out that the food at Cuffie River was delicious and something we looked forward to every evening.
White-necked Jacobin -Trinidad by Simon Thompson

 

A visit to Little Tobago is another “must do” when birding here so we left Cuffie River early in the morning bound for Blue Waters Inn and the boat dock. Our glass-bottomed boat took us across for a short walk across the island to the tropicbird overlook. Red Junglefowl greeted us at the boat dock and were obviously looking for a handout. Junglefowl have been feral on Little Tobago for over 100 years and seem so countable. Watching the White-tailed Tropicbirds soaring over the cliffs and wooded hillsides is a wonderful experience, especially as they go around in circles waiting for the right wind to land at their burrow. Red-footed and Brown Boobies also flew below us and we had great opportunities to distinguish between the different ages and plumages. Lunch was on our way up to Gilpin Trace; one of the oldest protected forests in the West Indies. Blue-backed Manakins and White-necked Thrushes fed in the dense forest and we had glimpses of the rare White-tailed Sabrewing. Rumor had it that these large hummers were now coming to the feeders at Cuffie River Resort and next morning we were very pleased to confirm this fact. Several photographers in the group managed to get excellent photos of this very uncommon hummer that is absent from Trinidad. Our last day on Tobago was spent walking along the road with local guide, Desmond and relaxing around the lodge. Some of us went birding; others took photos around the feeders or simply relaxed by the pool; a great way to finish our great visit to Trinidad and Tobago.

 

Simon Thompson


Birds seen on our Venture to
Trinidad and Tobago

November 16 – 25, 2013

 

 

Little Tinamou
Least Grebe
Red-billed Tropicbird
Magnificent Frigatebird
Brown Booby
Red-footed Booby
Anhinga
Brown Pelican
Black-bellied Whistling-Duck
Masked Duck
White-cheeked Pintail
Blue-winged Teal
Tricolored Heron
Snowy Egret
Little Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Cattle Egret
Striated Heron
Green Heron
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron
Black-crowned Night-Heron
Scarlet Ibis
Glossy Ibis
Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture
Osprey
Grey-headed Kite
Hook-billed Kite
Plumbeous Kite
Long-winged Harrier
Common Black-Hawk
White Hawk
Savanna Hawk
Broad-winged Hawk
Gray-lined Hawk
Short-tailed Hawk
Zone-tailed Hawk
Black Hawk-Eagle
Ornate Hawk-Eagle
Crested Caracara
Yellow-headed Caracara
Merlin
Peregrine Falcon
Rufous-vented Caracara
Purple Gallinule
Common Gallinule
Limpkin
Wattled Jacana
Greater Yellowlegs
Lesser Yellowlegs
Spotted Sandpiper
Solitary Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper
White-rumped Sandpiper
Ruddy Turnstone
Southern Lapwing
Ring-billed Gull
Royal Tern
Rock Pigeon
Scaled Pigeon
Pale-vented Pigeon
Eared Dove
Ruddy Ground-Dove
White-tipped Dove
Red-bellied Macaw
Green-rumped Parrotlet
Lilac-tailed Parrotlet
Blue-headed Parrot
Yellow-crowned Parrot
Orange-winged Parrot

Squirrel Cuckoo
Smooth-billed Ani
Greater Ani
Striped Cuckoo
Barn Owl
Tropical Screech-Owl
Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl
Oilbird
Common Potoo
Common Pauraque
White-tailed Nightjar
Band-rumped Swift
Grey-rumped Swift
Short-tailed Swift
Fork-tailed Palm-Swift
Rufous-breasted Hermit
Green Hermit
Little Hermit
White-tailed Sabrewing
White-necked Jacobin
Brown Violet-ear
Green-throated Mango
Black-throated Mango
Ruby-Topaz Hummingbird
Tufted Coquette
Blue-chinned Sapphire
White-tailed Goldenthroat
White-chested Emerald
Copper-rumped Hummingbird
Long-billed Starthroat
Green-backed (White-tailed) Trogon
Collared Trogon
Guianan (Violaceous) Trogon
Trinidad (Blue-crowned) Motmot
Ringed Kingfisher
American Pygmy Kingfisher
Rufous-tailed Jacamar
Channel-billed Toucan
Red-crowned Woodpecker
Red-rumped Woodpecker
Golden-olive Woodpecker
Chestnut Woodpecker
Lineated Woodpecker
Plain-brown Woodcreeper
Olivaceous Woodcreeper
Straight-billed Woodcreeper
Cocoa Woodcreeper
Pale-breasted Spinetail
Stripe-breasted Spinetail
Yellow-chinned Spinetail
Grey-throated Leaftosser
Streaked Xenops
Great Antshrike
Black-crested Antshrike
Barred Antshrike
Plain Antvireo
White-flanked Antwren
White-fringed Antwren
Silvered Antbird
White-bellied Antbird
Black-faced Antthrush
Bearded Bellbird
Golden-headed Manakin
Blue-backed Manakin
White-bearded Manakin
Ochre-bellied Flycatcher
Slaty-capped Flycatcher
Southern Beardless-Tyrannulet
Southern Scrub-Flycatcher
Forest Elaenia
Yellow-bellied Elaenia
Yellow-olive Flycatcher

Yellow-breasted Flycatcher
Bran-colored Flycatcher
Fuscous Flycatcher
Euler’s Flycatcher
Tropical Pewee
Pied Water-Tyrant
White-headed Marsh-Tyrant
Bright-rumped Attila
Brown-crested Flycatcher
Tropical Kingbird
Gray Kingbird
Sulphury Flycatcher
Boat-billed Flycatcher
Piratic Flycatcher
Great Kiskadee
Black-tailed Tityra
White-winged Becard
Rufous-browed Peppershrike
Golden-fronted Greenlet
Scrub Greenlet
Yellow-legged Thrush
Cocoa Thrush
Spectacled (Bare-eyed) Thrush
White-necked Thrush
Tropical Mockingbird
Rufous-breasted Wren
Southern (Tropical) House-Wren
Long-billed Gnatwren
White-winged Swallow
Gray-breasted Martin
Blue-and-white Swallow
Southern Rough-winged Swallow
Tropical Parula
Yellow Warbler
American Redstart
Northern Waterthrush
Masked Yellowthroat
Golden-crowned Warbler
Masked (Red-capped) Cardinal
Bananaquit
Blue Dacnis
Purple Honeycreeper
Green Honeycreeper
Red-legged HSoneycreeper
Bicolored Conebill
White-lined Tanager
Red-crowned Ant-Tanager
Summer Tanager
Silver-beaked Tanager
Blue-gray Tanager
Palm Tanager
Turquoise Tanager
Speckled Tanager
Bay-headed Tanager
Grassland Yellow-Finch
Blue-black Grassquit
Black-faced Grassquit
Sooty Grassquit
Grayish Saltator
Crested Oropendola
Yellow-rumped Cacique
Moriche Oriole
Yellow Oriole
Yellow-hooded Blackbird
Red-breasted Blackbird
Carib Grackle
Shiny Cowbird
Giant Cowbird
Trinidad Euphonia

Violaceous Euphonia

 

 

Mammals

 

 

Reptiles & Amphibians

 

Insects
(Butterflies and others)

 

 

Others

 

Commpn Opossum
Red-tailed Squirrel
Red-rumped Agouti
“Nectar-feeding” Bat
White-lined Sac-winged Bat
Tent Bat sp
Proboscis Bat sp
Free-tailed Bat sp

Spectacled Caiman
Tegu Lizard
Ameiva Lizard
House Gecko
Coal Snake
Boa Constrictor
Cook’s Tree Boa
Cane Toad
Trinidad Stream Frog

Leafcutter Ants
Red Anartia (Peacock)
White Peacock
Tropical Buckeye
Tiger Heliconian
Postman (H.errato)
Monarch
Swallowtail sp
Long-tailed Skipper sp
Cloudless Sulphur
Yellow sp

Land Crab
Tarantula sp
Scorpion sp