Copper-rumped Hummingbird @ Asa Wright Long-billed Starthroat @ Asa Wright Male White-lined Tanager @ Asa Wright Purple Honeycreeper (male) The View from Little Tobago Tufted Coquette (male) @ Yerett White-chested Emerald rain bathing @ Asa Wright
  • Copper-rumped Hummingbird @ Asa Wright
  • Long-billed Starthroat @ Asa Wright
  • Male White-lined Tanager @ Asa Wright
  • Purple Honeycreeper (male)
  • The View from Little Tobago
  • Tufted Coquette (male) @ Yerett
  • White-chested Emerald rain bathing @ Asa Wright

 

Trip Report


Trip Report for Trinidad & Tobago: The Best of the West Indies

December 7 - 16, 2015

 

Copper-rumped Hummingbird @ Asa Wright

 

    WWe all arrived at Asa Wright at various times on the night of Dec 7, with some arriving quite late. Our first morning began right outside our cottage, with a Green Hermit buzzing the heliconias a few feet away. A pair of Great Antshrikes showed well, and on the walk up to the Veranda we got good looks at Red-crowned Ant-Tanagers, Northern Waterthrush, Orange-winged Parrots and Channel-billed Toucans. At the Veranda, the morning activity around the feeding stations was astounding. Hordes of Bananaquits and Purple Honeycreepers came and went along with smaller numbers of Green Honeycreepers, White-lined and Silver-beaked Tanagers, and Crested Oropendolas. The hummingbird selection was excellent as well with Copper-rumped Hummingbirds, White-chested Emeralds, White-necked Jacobins, Blue-chinned Sapphires, Long-billed Starthroats, and both Green & Rufous-breasted Hermits all in attendance. Several of us even got glimpses of a female Tufted Coquette – one of the world’s smallest birds – visiting the verbena flowers in the garden below us.

Long-billed Starthroat @ Asa WrightLong-billed Starthroat @ Asa Wright

 

    After breakfast, we met up with our local guide Mukesh for Asa Wright’s orientation and a walk around the grounds. Our trail of choice took us right by several manakin leks, and we were treated to excellent views of displaying male Golden-headed and White-bearded Manakins. We had heard Bearded Bellbirds calling all morning, but our morning walk got us some of the best views of the trip. We watched in awe as 2 male Bellbirds called and hopped around on opposite sides of the same tree – right above the trail. As the world’s 2nd loudest bird, the sound of their calls while standing right underneath them was almost painful to listen to!

 

     An afternoon/evening trip out to Aripo was next on the agenda, and soon after arriving we found a flock of Green-rumped Parrotlets and quite a few Yellow Warblers feeding in the tree tops along the road. Grey-breasted Martins cruised overhead and Tropical Kingbirds were a common sight, flycatching from fence posts. A few minutes before sunset we found a Pied Water Tyrant showing well in the late afternoon light. The rum punch was brought out shortly after, which meant it was time to take a break from birding and get ready for dinner. Dinner was packed tonight – and it was absolutely delicious! After our appetites were sated, it was back to the birding! Now darkness had fell, owls and nightjars were our targets, and it wasn’t long before we were looking at a couple of Tropical Screech-Owls. Driving along these dirt roads turned up countless Common Pauraques and White-tailed Nightjars, as well as Barn Owl, Southern Lapwing, a Peregrine Falcon with prey (possibly a Tropical Mockingbird), and a distant Common Potoo.Male White-lined Tanager @ Asa Wright

    

     We spent the next full day exploring Blanchisseuse Road, which traverses through the rich mountain forests of the Northern Range. The treetops along the road were abuzz with hummingbirds and tanagers – lots more White-chested Emeralds and Copper-rumped Hummingbirds, plus Speckled, Turquoise and Bay-headed Tanagers. Other highlights included Black-faced Antthrush, Trinidad Euphonia, our only Red-legged Honeycreeper of the trip, Blue-headed Parrots, Yellow-billed Cacique, Piratic Flycatcher and wonderful looks at a male Rufous-tailed Jacamar.

 

 

Purple Honeycreeper (male)

     Our next 2 days were divided among Aripo Savannah, Arena Forest Reserve and Nariva Swamp. Aripo is excellent as a stop first thing in the morning (before it gets too hot) and our morning there was no different. Masked Yellowthroat and Yellow-chinned Spinetails were our first birds of the morning, skulking amongst the shrubs along the field edges. We also got closer looks at Pied Water Tyrant, as well as White-headed Marsh-Tyrant, Savannah Hawk, Wattled Jacana, Red-breasted and Yellow-hooded Blackbirds, and quick looks at uncooperative Grassland Yellow Finches as they flew overhead. We got quite close to a White-bellied Antbird in Arena, but only a few of us got fleeting glimpses through the vegetation at this skulky species. Probably the highlight of our Arena trip was finding a beautiful Spot-legged Wood Turtle in a large puddle by the edge of the forest. An afternoon spent exploring the freshwater marshes of Nariva yielded quite a few new birds for our trip, including a Plain-breasted Ground-Dove, White-tailed Goldenthroat, Black-crested Antshrike and Yellow-crowned Parrot. We also had quite a few Yellow-headed Caracaras, common raptors in this landscape. We had heard there was a Rufous Crab Hawk hanging around the area, a rare bird in these parts. We did not find the Crab Hawk, but we did find a rare raptor of our own – a beautiful Crane Hawk.

 

The View from Little Tobago

    The next day was one we were all very much looking forward to, and was packed with stops to excellent birding locations. We began with a hike down to Dunstan Cave for the weird and wonderful Oilbirds. On the way down we found a Golden-crowned Warbler in addition to all the usual tanagers, honeycreepers and euphonias. We could hear the Oilbird’s strange and eerie vocalizations even as we approached, a cacophony of screeches and clicking sounds. Peering into the cave opening with the help of a spotlight, we could see these large birds perched along the ledges. Though this is a smaller colony (about 70 birds) it is one of the most accessible in the world, and we all got excellent looks. After breakfast, we headed to Maracas Valley and Yerette, the Hummingbird House. We were welcomed by the buzzing sound of a dizzying number of hummingbirds, visiting the countless feeders set up in this yard. It wasn’t long before we had found several new additions amongst the masses of hummingbirds – both Green-throated and Black-throated Mangos and Brown Violet-Ear. A male Tufted Coquette cooperated long enough for some excellent photo opps. Ruby-topaz Hummingbird was undoubtedly high on our wish list, and Mukesh had briefly seen a female a few moments before. Minutes before leaving, a few of us finally saw a beautiful male visit a feeder before darting off, not to be seen again.

 

     We then were off for our evening boat ride through the mangrove swamps of Caroni, to witness the spectacle of thousands of Scarlet Ibis and other waders coming in to roost. On the way we had excellent looks at Red-capped Cardinal, Bicolored Conebill, and Straight-billed Woodcreeper along the canal. We found lots of Cook’s Tree Boas as well, coiled up in the branches overhanging the water. An obliging American Pygmy Kingfisher was another highlight, and we were able to creep quite close to this diminutive species before it flew deeper into the mangroves. We arrived at the roost site at the perfect time – lines of Scarlet Ibis, Snowy Egrets and Little Blue Herons were already flying into roost. From our excellent viewing position, and with no shortage of rum punch, we sat back, relaxed, and enjoyed the way the evening light illuminated the brilliant red plumage of the Scarlet Ibis. This experience was not only the highlight of the day, but certainly one of the highlights of the trip. An additional find was a Pygmy Anteater curled up in the mangroves on our ride back to the dock, showing up as nothing more than a tiny ball of fur.

 

White-chested Emerald rain bathing @ Asa Wright

     After a wonderful last full day on Trinidad, we took a late morning flight over to Tobago and began the last leg of our Venture. We met our local guide Gladwyn and we made our way to the Bon Accord wetlands, which we found positively packed with birds. White-cheeked Pintails and Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks were the most numerous birds here, and we were surprised to find 2 American Coots and American Wigeon – excellent and rare birds on Tobago! Another highlight was a Little Egret, an old world species that has become a bit more reliable at this location over the past few years. Afterwards, we continued on to the beautiful Cuffie River Nature Retreat, our base for the remainder of our trip. White-tailed Sabrewings were crowded around the hummer feeders as we drove up, and some of us were surprised to see a pair of Red-crowned Woodpeckers visiting the feeders as well. It rained on us a little this afternoon, and we were more than happy to relax and enjoy the comforts and delicious food of our lodge for the rest of the day.

 

     The next morning we departed to Speyside for our boat ride out to Little Tobago. While waiting on the boat we had 2 Great Black Hawks circling high above the Blue Waters Inn. A Broad-winged Hawk circling close by gave us great comparative looks and a sense of just how ‘great’ in size the Black Hawks are. The water was a bit choppy, but we made it out to Little Tobago without incident, and enjoyed wonderful looks at Brown and Red-footed Boobies along the way. Taking the trail to the overlook at the top of the island we found Brown-crested Flycatchers and Trinidad Motmots in good numbers. From the overlook we marveled at the aerial prowess of Magnificent Frigatebirds and the clumsy landings of the Red-billed Tropicbirds. Ocellated Geckos can be found on the island, and we got great looks at both the male and female of this colorful species. Our boat ride back to Speyside took us through a reef, and our glass-bottom boat provided a window into the colorful marine life below us. After lunch, we visited the famous Gilpin Trail and were rewarded with up-close views of a male Blue-backed Manakin coming down to the stream to drink and bathe. We also managed to find Yellow-legged and White-necked Thrushes, Olivaceous Woodcreeper, Stripe-breasted Spinetail and Golden-olive Woodpecker.

    Tufted Coquette (male) @ Yerett           

     Our final full day on Tobago was a relaxing one! Several of us went into town for some shopping, while the rest of us stayed behind for more birding around Cuffie River. Trinidad Motmots and Rufous-tailed Jacamars were everywhere, and we picked up Scrub Greenlet, White-fringed Antwren, and Ochre-bellied and Fuscous Flycatchers on our final walk around the grounds. We relaxed the rest of the day, and enjoyed a lovely final dinner. After missing it the previous few nights, we finally got to see the Common Potoo hunting insects under the streetlight just out front of the lodge. We watched for hours in awe as the bird preened and chased moths, caring little that we were there. There were several White-tailed Nightjars around as well – another added treat and a wonderful way to end the tour! We ended our T&T venture with 198 species and lots of great memories.

 

Aaron Steed

 

Birds seen or heard on our

Trinidad & Tobago: The Best of the West Indies Venture
December 7 - 16, 2015

 

 

Little Tinamou (heard)
Least Grebe
Audubon’s Shearwater
Red-billed Tropicbird
Magnificent Frigatebird
Red-footed Booby
Brown Booby
Anhinga
Brown Pelican
Black-bellied Whistling Duck
American Wigeon
White-cheeked Pintail
Blue-winged Teal
Tricolored Heron
Little Blue Heron
Snowy Egret
Little Egret
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Cattle Egret
Striated Heron
Green Heron
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron
Black-crowned Night-Heron
Boat-billed Heron
Scarlet Ibis
Glossy Ibis
Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture
Osprey
Long-winged Harrier
White Hawk
Crane Hawk
Common Black-Hawk
Great Black-Hawk
Savannah Hawk
Gray-lined Hawk
Broad-winged Hawk
Short-tailed Hawk
Zone-tailed Hawk
Black Hawk-Eagle
Yellow-headed Caracara
Merlin
Peregrine Falcon
Rufous-vented Chachalaca
Purple Gallinule
Common Gallinule
American Coot
Wattled Jacana
Greater Yellowlegs
Lesser Yellowlegs
Solitary Sandpiper
Spotted Sandpiper
Ruddy Turnstone
Least Sandpiper
Black-bellied Plover
Southern Lapwing
Laughing Gull
Royal Tern
Rock Pigeon
Scaled Pigeon
Pale-vented Pigeon
Eared Dove
Plain-breasted Ground Dove
Ruddy Ground Dove
White-tipped Dove

 

Gray-fronted Dove
Green-rumped Parrotlet
Blue-headed Parrot
Yellow-crowned Parrot
Orange-winged Parrot
Squirrel Cuckoo
Smooth-billed Ani
Greater Ani
Striped Cuckoo
Barn Owl
Tropical Screech-Owl
Spectacled Owl (heard)
Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl (heard)
Oilbird
Common Potoo
Short-tailed Nighthawk
Common Pauraque
White-tailed Nightjar
Gray-rumped Swift
Short-tailed 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
Ringed Kingfisher
American Pygmy Kingfisher
Trinidad Motmot
Rufous-tailed Jacamar
Channel-billed Toucan
Red-crowned Woodpecker
Red-rumped Woodpecker
Golden-olive Woodpecker
Lineated Woodpecker
Olivaceous Woodcreeper
Straight-billed Woodcreeper
Stripe-breasted Spinetail
Yellow-chinned Spinetail
Great Antshrike
Black-crested Antshrike
Barred Antshrike
Plain Antvireo
White-flanked Antwren
White-fringed Antwren
White-bellied Antbird
Black-faced Antthrush
Bearded Bellbird
Golden-headed Manakin
Blue-backed Manakin
White-bearded Manakin
Ochre-bellied Flycatcher
Southern-beardless Tyrannulet

Forest Elaenia

 

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