TRAVELLING NATURALIST TRIP REPORT

TRINIDAD & TOBAGO

23rd September - 7th October 2000


Leaders:
Keith Grant

DAILY DIARY:

Saturday 23rd Sept: Arrival

Warm with light drizzle

Arrival at Asa Wright Nature Centre in time for dinner.

Sunday 24th Sept: Asa Wright

Warm, very humid with torrential rain at times

Gathering on the veranda before breakfast, we were struck as always by the sheer diversity of birds before us. Six species of hummingbirds and five species of tanagers as well as a whole bunch of Bananaquits (if that's the right collective name!) kept us spellbound as they came and went from the feeders and tables. A pair of Channel-billed Toucans appeared on their normal tree further down the valley, and a bit later we found four together.

A morning stroll up the main drive towards the road added further new birds - Tropical Pewee and Streaked Flycatcher to name just a couple, with Common Black-hawk and Turkey Vulture overhead. A list of 41 species before lunch was quite impressive!

After lunch, we then explored some of the trails through the forest, though because of the wet weather, this was very quiet except for a single Plain-brown Woodcreeper. Excellent views of parties of Grey-rumped Swifts with just a few Band-rumped Swifts circling low and close in front of the veranda made a very satisfactory end to our first full day's birding with everyone, I think, rather over-loaded with new birds and new names!

Monday 25th Sept: Blanchisseuse & the north coast

Hot, sunny & humid, cloudy at times with heavy showers

We saw Long-billed Starthroat and Chestnut Woodpecker from the veranda before breakfast. Then, driving over the northern range and stopping every so often on the way, we added a whole range of new species with Black Vultures much in evidence overhead and parties of small birds being surprisingly varied. Tropical Parula, several American Redstarts, Speckled Tanagers and a pair of White-flanked Antwrens at one spot, and Rufous-browed Peppershrike, Golden-crowned Warbler, Chivi Vireo, Golden-fronted Greenlet, Ochre-bellied Flycatcher, and both Yellow-bellied and Forest Elaenia - we didn't quite know where to look next! At one spot there were good numbers of Orange-winged and Blue-headed Parrots feeding quite close on fruiting trees, with Blue-chinned Sapphire and several Golden-headed Manakins nearby. Over lunch, we were watching Brown Pelicans and Magnificent Frigatebirds over the sea and a party of Sanderling with Semipalmated Plovers and Semipalmated Sandpipers on the beach. A pair of Tropical Mockingbirds and various Carib Grackles also shared lunch. Stopping for tea on the return journey, we had excellent views of Rufous-tailed Jacamar and then Turquoise Tanagers and Blue Dacnis. Home in time for the rum punch!

Tuesday 26th Sept: La Laja Rd (am), Asa Wright (pm)

Bright & sunny, cloudy spells (but no rain!)

The Lilac-tailed Parrotlets again left in a hurry but reappeared in the trees around the veranda allowing good views through the telescope. First stop after breakfast along the main valley road below the Centre produced both White-tailed and Collared Trogons, with cracking views of the latter. We were then distracted by a Black-faced Ant-thrush, which very obligingly walked across the forest floor in front of us, looking very like a crake with its grey plumage and cocked-up tail. We then worked our way up the La Laja Road, stopping en route at various points. A Grey-throated Leaftosser came to investigate our 'Pygmy Owl' whistles and in the end perched up in full view, singing loudly (my best view ever! [KG]). We also had good views of Rufous-breasted Wrens and another Golden-fronted Greenlet. The butterflies were not to be outdone with Red Anartia, Cloudless Sulphur and Emperor (the huge blue Morpho species) all recorded, together with various unidentified species. After lunch and a rest, we again explored the Discovery Trail down the main valley from the gardens. All three thrush species were much in evidence, and we found a Buff-throated Woodcreeper (or Cocoa Woodcreeper as the Trinidad subspecies is called) near the manakin lek. Walking back along the Bellbird Trail, whose namesakes were very quiet, we again had excellent views of Black-faced Ant-thrush walking past us, and both Red-rumped and Chestnut Woodpeckers were also seen. We returned to the veranda in time for tea.

Wednesday 27th Sept: Asa Wright

Sunny with occasional cloud, one brief shower during morning

A walk to the Oilbird cave in the morning was, as expected, superb. Excellent views were obtained of these remarkable birds. A White-lined Sac-winged Bat was flying around the chasm, as well as a Chestnut-collared Swift sitting tight on its nest on the rock wall. After lunch and a rest, we walked up the main drive. A Violaceous Trogon was sitting out on a branch, and Tropical Pewee and both Boat-billed Flycatcher and Great Kiskadee were all hawking insects at this spot. We also had brief views of Euler's Flycatcher low down under one of the thickets alongside the drive. We then explored the Bamboo Valley Trail. Golden-fronted Greenlet showed well but views of a Dusky-capped Flycatcher were rudely interrupted by a swarm of black stingless wasps which tried clinging on to us! We again returned to the veranda in time for tea!

The night walk after dinner took us partway up the main drive. Two Tarantula species, a Trinidad Chevron and several Pink-kneed Tarantulas, were found. Various bats were hawking insects around the lamps, and we found roosting Grey-fronted Dove and Great Antshrike.

Thursday 28th Sept: Aripo, Manzanillo & Nariva Swamp

Overcast & rain (am), brightening (pm)

We explored the Aripo Agricultural Research Station during the morning, adding another swathe of new species - Wattled Jacana immediately inside the main gates, Yellow-hooded & Red-breasted Blackbirds, White-winged Swallows, Pied Water-tyrant and White-headed Marsh-tyrant all much in evidence. A Great White Egret was waiting amongst the Cattle Egrets and the Savannah Hawks were sitting, sulking in the wet weather, on fence posts and tree stumps. A Collared Plover was found near the cattle sheds, standing right beside the vehicle. Nearby, a recently ploughed field contained large numbers of Pectoral, Least and Solitary Sandpipers, Greater & Lesser Yellowlegs, and a large Tigre snake curled up on a mound, presumably waiting to snatch a bird but itself in danger from the Savannah Hawks.

We moved on for lunch on the beach at Manzanillo and the afternoon exploring Narivo Swamp. On the way, pairs of Squirrel Cuckoo, Black-crested Ant-shrikes and Silvered Antbirds stand out, as do the Yellow-headed Caracara amongst the palms on the coast road and, of course, those excellent Red Howler Monkeys loafing in the mangroves. At Nariva, both Purple and Azure Gallinules were stunning, as were two Pinnated Bitterns trying to hide in vegetation which was thankfully far too short! The wonderfully elegant Fork-tailed Flycatchers gave excellent views whilst we waited at the Red-bellied Macaw roost. Only two of these birds appeared - we were in the midst of their breeding season and the usually large numbers were presumably scattered across the swamp at their breeding trees.

Friday 29th Sept: Aripo savanna & Arena Forest

Very hot, some cloud over the hills

We made an early start to explore the areas around the old Wallerfield airfield before it became too hot. Good numbers of Fork-tailed Palm-swifts showed well together with the much larger White-collared Swifts. We also explored the agricultural areas nearby, between here and the Arena forest. Excellent if brief views were obtained of a number of small birds, including Rufous-browed Peppershrike, Southern Beardless Tyrannulet, Forest Elaenia, Yellow Warbler, Long-billed Gnatwren, Streaked Xenops, Chivi Vireos, etc. Two special birds were very elusive, the White-bellied Antbirds who crept around the forest floor, and a Little Cuckoo which just happened along! We had lunch on the edge of the Arena Forest.

After a few hours rest back at Asa Wright, we then returned to Aripo for a picnic dinner where there were at least 30 Green-rumped Parrotlets going to roost in the trees nearby. Then back on to the old Wallerfield airfield to spot-lamp owls and nightjars - superb views of several White-tailed Nightjars. Three Pauraques were dazzled briefly and a Potoo eventually showed well.

Saturday 30th Sept: Trincity, Waterloo and Caroni Swamp

Hot & sunny with an occasional shower

We stopped briefly at Trincity sewage ponds to find the gate closed and locked. However, we did manage to view two of the pools and found Black-necked Stilts together with several other shorebirds. A Moorhen was new for the list. We moved on, finding a superb Long-winged Harrier quartering the newly harvested rice, and at the coast at Waterloo, we were greeted with close views of Ospreys, Willet, Laughing Gulls and good numbers of both Large-billed and Yellow-billed Terns, amongst which we found several Least Terns. Other shorebirds included large numbers of Semipalmated Sandpipers, close views of Western Sandpipers and rather more distant views of White-rumped Sand-pipers, showing their white rumps as they raised their wings. Several Knot were a surprise and the Whimbrels were the American race which completely lack the white rump of our birds. Caroni Swamp was, as usual, superb with Red-capped Cardinal at the boat jetty. As we explored the creeks, we found several Cook's Tree-boa roosting in the overhanging mangroves and a small party of Bi-coloured Conebills. We then moored along the edge to watch parties of Scarlet Ibis coming in to roost. They looked unreal with their scarlet plumage positively glowing. There were good numbers of juveniles indicating a good breeding season, and a continuous count revealed at least 800, probably more, coming into the roost before we departed in the fading light. This was a really fitting end to our stay on Trinidad.

Sunday 1st Oct: Transfer to Tobago

Tropical storm Joyce! Heavy overnight rain, clearing briefly

A leisurely breakfast and we arrived in good time at the airport for our flight to Tobago. Having checked in and passed through into the departure lounge, I thought it strange when the passengers on an Air Caribbean flight that had just boarded all suddenly disembarked back into the lounge. It was then announced that, due to appalling weather conditions, Tobago Airport was closed indefinitely! As it happened, by the time we found a BWee official, the weather cleared and flights resumed. Both the Air Caribbean flight and our own got away, albeit somewhat delayed. Transfer to Blue Waters Inn.

The weather closed in again during the afternoon but we were treated to the sight of several hundred Magnificent Frigatebirds overhead, riding out the storm, while we had our beers watching the Turnstones searching for crumbs around the bar stools!

Monday 2nd Oct: Little Tobago Island, Blue Waters

Weather clearing, sunny with occasional squalls

Our pre-breakfast walk took us up the main drive and we had our first views of the Rufous-vented Chachalacas. There were also White-tipped Doves and excellent views of a pair of Barred Antshrikes. We took the glass-bottomed boat to view the reef just offshore and spent the rest of the morning on Little Tobago Island. Walking up the forest path, we found a Blue-crowned Motmot and brief views of Brown-crested Flycatcher. From the viewpoints, we could look down over the far side of the island, watching both Brown and Red-footed Boobies and having excellent views of Red-billed Tropicbirds. Two white and downy Brown Booby chicks were visible on the far cliff, and a large party of Brown Noddies was also offshore.

Returning for a swim and lunch, we had several hours at leisure on the beach before taking a walk up the track behind the hotel. Blue-black and Black-faced Grassquits showed well, as did a Yellow-breasted Flycatcher. As we returned, three Broad-winged Hawks were playing in the updraft overhead and we saw a pair tumble down in the air, talon-grappling. An Osprey joined them briefly as the light began to fade.

Tuesday 3rd Oct: Buccoo Reef, Grafton Estate, Buccoo Marsh

Sunny, light breeze, occasional squall

We quickly found Grey Kingbird and Yellow-bellied Elaenia during our pre-breakfast walk. Then on reaching the river bridge, a juvenile Little Blue Heron (in its all-white plumage!) showed well, as did a spotted Spotted Sandpiper (with remnants of breeding plumage) and a Northern Waterthrush. Brief views also of Green Kingfisher and White-rumped Sandpiper.

We then made our way to the other end of the island for our trip to Buccoo Reef. We first of all cruised slowly over some of the inner reef, viewing through the glass bottom of the boat. Snorkeling just inside the outer reef was made very difficult by the strong current and lack of flippers [note for all future clients to bring their own!]. Even so, numerous reef fish were found and the boatman even coaxed a Nurse Shark from its lair. Our final swim in a lovely sandy 'pool' was just what we wanted. Several squalls had blown by, but even so, we saw Laughing Gulls and both Royal and Sandwich Terns flying past and roosting on a sandbar.

Returning to shore, we met up with Adolphus and drove the short distance to the Grafton Estate for lunch. A short walk along the forest trail gave us excellent views of Rufous-vented Jacamar and a lovely male Blue-backed Manakin. Another rain squall rather quietened the forest birds here, so we gave up and tried Buccoo Marsh. Our short walk here was really excellent with good views of everything on offer - White-cheeked Pintail, Blue-winged Teal, Short-billed Dowitcher, both Semipalmated and White-rumped Sandpipers, Caribbean Coot and Anhinga. Return to Blue Waters for dinner.

Wednesday 4th Oct: Gilpin Trace & the rainforest

Overcast and drizzle, clearing steadily after lunch

During an early breakfast, a very nice Yellow-crowned Night Heron sat on the tree overhanging the beach just outside the bar. It suddenly took off, landed on the beach and rushed into the sea to grab a large crab. We all then spent the next ten minutes watching it struggling to subdue its breakfast before swallowing it.

The Main Ridge was overcast with torrential rain when we arrived. We waited a little while to let it ease before heading off down the Gilpin Trace, a trail heading east through the rainforest. Despite the rain, this wasn't too muddy until we got beyond the waterfall. Birds were very quiet and very difficult to find here, due really to the weather. We did eventually obtain excellent views of Yellow-legged Thrushes, White-tailed Sabrewing, Stripe-breasted Spinetail and a further Buff-throated Woodcreeper and Golden-olive Woodpecker. Somehow we never felt the earth tremor which shook the island during the morning! We had lunch as usual at the lookout, overlooking The Sisters rocks and Bloody Bay on the Caribbean side of the island. During the afternoon, we walked down the road through the forest, finding Rufous-tailed Jacamar, an excellent pair of Collared Trogons, several Red-legged Honeycreepers, Chivi Vireo, and very brief views of Rufous-breasted Hermit and Plain Antvireo. Blue-backed Manakins were very numerous, and we returned to Blue Waters in time for a swim before dusk.

Thursday 5th Oct: Trail overlooking Kings Bay (am), Blue Waters (pm)

Fine & sunny, one heavy shower

An 8am start and Adolphus drove us up to the Speyside Lookout. From there we walked a trail which overlooked a wonderful vista towards Kings Bay. We managed to obtain good views of various species including Brown-crested, Ochre-bellied and Streaked Flycatchers, Red-crowned Woodpecker, Yellow-bellied Elaenia, Rufous-tailed Jacamar and both Kingbird species. At last we managed to find a nice pair of White-fringed Antwrens. After lunch and an afternoon at leisure (i.e. swimming, sun-bathing and/or at the bar!) we walked over the top to the river bridge at Speyside. The juvenile Little Blue Heron was joined by an adult, and everyone had good views of the male Green Kingfisher. As is always the way, we now had further good views of White-fringed Antwrens, and a family group of Chachalacas gathering to roost on a roadside tree.

Friday 6th Oct: Blue Waters & departure

Fine and sunny

Our early morning walk to the river provided further excellent views of Barred Antshrike, Scrub Greenlet, Yellow-bellied Elaenia and Brown-crested Flycatcher. Both Semipalmated and Grey Plovers were at the river mouth, and as we returned to the bridge, the female Green Kingfisher flew downstream, perching nicely on an overhanging tree. This made an nice finale to the trip.

After lunch, we departed for the airport and our overnight flight home.

BIRD LIST: (AW = Asa Wright, BW = Blue Waters)

Red-billed Tropicbird: Noted only on 1 day, c.8 on Little Tobago Is on 2nd.

Red-footed Booby: Noted only on 1 day, 4 off Little Tobago on 2nd.

Brown Booby: Noted on 5 days with up to 8 off BW each day & c.20 including 2 white downy young on Little Tobago on 2nd.

Anhinga: Noted only on 1 day, 3 at Buccoo Marsh on 3rd.

Brown Pelican: Noted on 8 days, max at least 40 on 30th.

Magnificent Frigatebird: Noted on 9 days, max c.300 over BW in bad weather on 1st.

Tricolored Heron: Noted on 2 days with 4 at Waterloo on 30th, 1 at Buccoo Marsh on 3rd.

Little Blue Heron: Noted on 5 days with at least 50 on 30th, up to 3 (2 juvs, 1 adult) at Speyside river mouth on 3rd-6th.

Snowy Egret: Noted only on 1 day, at least 20 at Waterloo & Caroni Swamp on 30th.

Great [White] Egret: Noted on 2 days with 2 on 28th, at least 6 on 30th.

Cattle Egret: Noted on 8 days, particularly numerous in agricultural areas.

Striated Heron: Noted on 2 days on Trinidad with 5 on 28th, at least 25 on 30th.

Green-backed Heron: Noted only on 1 day on Tobago, 1 briefly at Buccoo Marsh on 3rd.

Yellow-crowned Night-heron: Noted on 3 days with 1 juv at Waterloo on 30th, a nice adult at Pigeon Point on 3rd and another adult at BW eating a crab on the beach on 4th.

Pinnated Bittern: Noted only on 1 day, 2 at Nariva on 28th.

Scarlet Ibis: Noted only on 1 day, c.800 to roost on 30th.

Fulvous Whistling-duck: Noted only on 1 day, 5 flying over the ricefields on 30th.

Black-bellied Whistling-duck: Noted on 2 days with 7 on 28th, at least 14 at Buccoo Marsh on 3rd.

White-cheeked Pintail: Noted only on 1 day, at least 3 at Buccoo Marsh on 3rd.

Blue-winged Teal: Noted only on 1 day, at least 3 at Buccoo Marsh on 3rd.

American Black Vulture: Noted on 5 days on Trinidad, max at least 500 on 29th.

Turkey Vulture: Noted each day on Trinidad.

Long-winged Harrier: Noted only on 1 day, 1 quartering the rice fields on 30th.

White Hawk: Noted only on 1 day, 1 briefly overhead on 25th.

Common Black-hawk: Noted on 3 days with 2 (ad & imm) on 24th, 1 briefly on 25th, 1 on 28th.

Savannah Hawk: Noted on 2 days with 10 on 28th, 3 on 29th.

Grey Hawk: Noted only on 1 day, 2 on 28th.

Broad-winged Hawk: Noted only on 1 day, 3 over BW on 2nd.

Osprey: Noted on 2 days with singles over the rice fields, at Waterloo and at Caroni Swamp on 30th, 1 over BW on 2nd.

Yellow-headed Caracara: Noted only on 1 day, 2 in palms near Nariva on 28th.

Rufous-vented Chachalaca: Noted each day on Tobago with max at least 30 at BW incl several downy young on 2nd, also at Grafton, Main Ridge & Kings Bay.

[American] Purple Gallinule: Noted on 2 days with 5 at Nariva on 28th, at least 40 on 30th.

Azure Gallinule: Noted only on 1 day, excellent views of 1 at Nariva on 28th.

Common Moorhen: Noted on 2 days with 1 at Trincity on 30th, 3 at Buccoo Marsh on 3rd.

Caribbean Coot: Noted only on 1 day, 1 at Buccoo Marsh on 3rd.

Limpkin: Noted only on 1 day, 2 flushed from ricefields on 30th.

Wattled Jacana: Noted on 4 days with at least 18 incl a downy chick on 28th, 10 on 29th, c.10 at Trincity on 30th and at Buccoo Marsh on 3rd.

Black-necked Stilt: Noted only on 1 day, 6 at Trincity on 30th.

American Golden Plover: Noted only on 1 day, 3 on ploughed field at Aripo on 28th.

Grey Plover: Noted on 2 days with 2 at Waterloo on 30th, 1 at river mouth on 6th.

Semipalmated Plover: Noted on 9 days with ones or twos on most beaches.

Collared Plover: Noted only on 1 day, 1 really close to the vehicle at Aripo on 28th.

Southern Lapwing: Noted on 5 days with at least 10 on 28th, at least 30 on 29th, 6 at Trincity on 30th, several near airport on 1st, at least 40 at Buccoo Marsh on 3rd.

Common (Wilson's) Snipe: Noted only on 1 day, 1 of this American race briefly [KG] on 28th.

Whimbrel: Noted only on 1 day, 2 at Waterloo plus 3 at Caroni Swamp on 30th. This American race lacks the white rump of our bird.

Greater Yellowlegs: Noted only on 1 day, 3 at Aripo on 28th.

Lesser Yellowlegs: Noted on 3 days with 1 on 28th, c.8 on 30th, 6 at Buccoo Marsh on 3rd.

Solitary Sandpiper: Noted on 3 days with at least 12 on 28th, 1 on a puddle on 29th, 4 on 30th.

Spotted Sandpiper: Noted on 9 days with 1 at Blanchisseuse on 25th, 1 at Manzanillo on 28th, at least 35 at Caroni Swamp on 30th, then ones and twos each day on Tobago.

Willet: Noted only on 1 day, c.12 at Waterloo & Caroni Swamp on 30th.

Ruddy Turnstone: Noted on 7 days with 4 at Waterloo & Caroni Swamp on 30th, then up to 17 at BW (including various birds coming into the bar, and a colour-ringed bird).

Short-billed Dowitcher: Noted only on 1 day, at least 4 at Buccoo Marsh on 3rd.

Red Knot: Noted only on 1 day, 6 at Waterloo on 30th.

Sanderling: Noted on 7 days with at least 15 during lunch on 25th, 5 on 28th, 2 juvs at Trincity on 30th, 2 at BW on 1st, 1 at BW on 2nd - 4th.

Semipalmated Sandpiper: Noted on 3 days with 2 during lunch on 25th, several hundred at Waterloo on 30th, 1 at Buccoo Marsh on 3rd.

Western Sandpiper: Noted only on 1 day, c.12 quite close at Waterloo on 30th.

Least Sandpiper: Noted on 2 days with 4 on 28th, 1 at BW on 2nd.

White-rumped Sandpiper: Noted on 2 days with c.10 on 30th, singles at Buccoo Marsh & the Speyside river mouth on 3rd.

Pectoral Sandpiper: Noted on 2 days with at least 40 on ploughed field at Aripo on 28th, at least 2 at Trincity treatment pools on 30th.

Laughing Gull: Noted on 3 days with at least 40 at Waterloo on 30th, a breeding-plumaged adult off BW on 1st, numerous at Buccoo Reef on 3rd.

Royal Tern: Noted on 2 days with at least 30 Buccoo Reef on 3rd, 2 off Speyside on 5th.

Sandwich Tern: Noted only on 1 day, several at Buccoo Reef on 3rd.

Least Tern: Noted only on 1 day, 2 at Waterloo on 30th.

Yellow-billed Tern: Noted only on 1 day, 3 at Waterloo on 30th.

Large-billed Tern: Noted only on 1 day, 42 at Waterloo on 30th.

Brown Noddy: Noted on 2 days with at least 12 off BW on 1st, at least 40 off Little Tobago on 2nd.

Black Skimmer: Noted only on 1 day, at least 25 at Waterloo on 30th.

Scaled Pigeon: Noted only on 1 day, 2 distantly at AW on 1st.

Pale-vented Pigeon: Noted on 6 days with 1 on 28th, 1 on 29th, up to 10 each day 3rd - 6th.

Eared Dove: Noted on 2 days with at least 3 at the ricefields on 30th, several at Grafton & Buccoo Marsh on 3rd.

Common Ground-dove: Noted only on 1 day, 2 at Caroni Swamp on 30th.

Ruddy Ground-dove: Noted on 9 days, regularly seen 24th - 1st, plus 1 at Pigeon Point on 3rd.

White-tipped Dove: Noted on 5 days with up to 6 around BW, 2nd - 6th.

Grey-fronted Dove: Noted on 7 days, regularly seen at AW, 24th - 1st.

Red-bellied Macaw: Noted only on 1 day, a pair at a distant nesting tree on 28th.

Green-rumped Parrotlet: Noted on 3 days with at least 3 on 28th, at least 30 at roost at Aripo on 29th, at least 6 on 30th.

Lilac-tailed Parrotlet: Noted on 5 days with c.25 regularly flying to and from the roost at AW, usually rather brief views but good views through the telescope morning & evening on 26th.

Blue-headed Parrot: Noted only on 1 day, c.40 including birds feeding quite close on 25th.

Orange-winged Parrot: Noted on 8 days with max on Trinidad of c.50 including good views of birds flying over on 25th, and max on Tobago of at least 20 at Kings Bay on 5th.

Squirrel Cuckoo: Noted only on 1 day, a pair on 28th.

Little Cuckoo: Noted on 2 days with 1 on 29th and another at Caroni Swamp on 30th.

Smooth-billed Ani: Noted on 9 days on both islands.

Barn Owl: Noted only on 1 day, 1 briefly on 29th.

Ferruginous Pygmy-owl: Noted each day on Trinidad, heard but never seen!

Oilbird: We visited the cave on 27th, the latest complete count according to the guide was 142.

Common / Grey Potoo: Noted only on 1 day, 1 seen well whilst spotlamping on 29th.

Pauraque: Noted only on 1 day, 3 whilst spotlamping at Wallerfield on 29th.

White-tailed Nightjar: Noted on 2 days with 21 whilst spotlamping at Wallerfield on 29th, 1 at Buccoo Marsh seen through telescope at close range on 3rd.

Chestnut-collared Swift: Noted only on 1 day, 1 on its nest on 27th.

White-collared Swift: Noted on 3 days with c.12 over AW at dusk on 27th, c.10 at Wallerfield during morning plus at least 50 over AW during the afternoon on 29th, several over AW on 1st.

Band-rumped Swift: Noted on 3 days with 3 low over AW on 24th, also on 25th & 29th.

Grey-rumped Swift: Noted most days with the only counts being 20 low over AW on 24th and at least 15 over Main Ridge road on 4th.

Short-tailed Swift: Noted on 2 days with at least 15 over Little Tobago on 2nd, also on 3rd.

Fork-tailed Palm-swift: Noted only on 1 day, c.20 at Wallerfield on 29th.

Rufous-breasted Hermit: Noted on 2 days with 2 briefly [KG only] on 4th, 1 on trail on 5th.

Green Hermit: Noted on 4 days with 2 on 24th, 1 on 25th, 1 on 26th, 1 on 27th.

White-tailed Sabrewing: Noted only on 1 day, 1 seen well Gilpin Trace on 4th.

White-necked Jacobin: Noted each day with up to 5 at AW.

Black-throated Mango: Noted on 2 days with 2 on 24th, 1f on 29th.

Tufted Coquette: Noted on 5 days at AW, usually female or immature, though a male on 24th.

Blue-chinned Sapphire: Noted each day on Trinidad, usually singles but 2 on 28th.

White-chested Emerald: Noted each day at AW and elsewhere on Trinidad.

Copper-rumped Hummingbird: Noted each day.

Long-billed Starthroat: Noted on 2 days with 1 at AW plus 1 other on 25th, 1 on 27th.

White-tailed Trogon: Noted on 3 days with 4 briefly on 25th, a pair on 26th, a female alongside the road on 29th.

Collared Trogon: Noted on 2 days with 2 calling plus nice views of one alongside the road on 26th, several including an exquisite male on Main Ridge road on 4th.

Violaceous Trogon: Noted on 2 days with 1 near the main drive at AW on 24th & 27th.

Ringed Kingfisher: Noted only on 1 day, 1 at Caroni Swamp on 30th.

Green Kingfisher: Noted on 3 days with 1 at river mouth on 3rd, a male there on 5th, the female there on 6th.

Blue-crowned Motmot: Noted most days.

Rufous-tailed Jacamar: Noted on 5 days with 1 beside the road on 25th, then singles, including several excellent views, each day on Tobago.

Channel-billed Toucan: Noted most days at AW with 4 together at one point on 24th.

Red-crowned Woodpecker: Noted on 2 days with 1 at Buccoo Marsh on 3rd, a pair along the King's Bay trail on 5th.

Red-rumped Woodpecker: Noted on 2 days with a female along the Bellbird Trail on 26th, also heard on Kings Bay trail on 5th.

Golden-olive Woodpecker: Noted on 7 days with singles from veranda on 24th & 25th, 2 along Bamboo Trail on 27th, singles on 28th, 29th, 1st, and along the Gilpin Trace on 4th.

Chestnut Woodpecker: Noted on 3 days, usually singles on the feeding tables at AW on 25th & 27th, 2 found on 26th.

Lineated Woodpecker: Noted on 2 days with 2 along the main drive at AW on 24th, 1f on 28th.

Plain-brown Woodcreeper: Noted only on 1 day, 1 at AW on 24th.

Buff-throated Woodcreeper: Noted on 3 days with 1 at AW on 26th, 1 at Grafton on 3rd, 1 at Gilpin Trace on 4th. This subspecies is often called the Cocoa Woodcreeper.

Stripe-breasted Spinetail: Noted only on 1 day, several heard plus one seen well Gilpin Trace on 4th.

Yellow-chinned Spinetail: Noted on 2 days with at least 4 at Aripo on 28th, 1 at the ricefields on 30th.

Grey-throated Leaftosser: Noted only on 1 day, 1 seen very well with 2 others singing on 26th.

Streaked Xenops: Noted only on 1 day, at least 1 on 29th.

Great Antshrike: Noted on 6 days with 2m from veranda on 24th, heard on 25th, 1m on 26th, a pair near our rooms plus a male on Bamboo Trail & another at roost during the nightwalk on 27th, heard on 30th & 1st.

Black-crested Antshrike: Noted on 3 days with a pair on 28th & 29th, 1f from boat on 30th.

Barred Antshrike: Noted on 5 days with a pair on 29th, 2 pairs at BW on 2nd, a male at Gilpin Trace on 4th, regularly during day on 5th & morning of 6th.

Plain Antvireo: Noted only on 1 day, 1 briefly [KG only] along Main Ridge road on 4th.

White-flanked Antwren: Noted on 2 days with a pair on 25th, a pair on Guacharo Trail plus another male on 27th.

White-fringed Antwren: Noted on 2 days with 2 pairs & a female along the Kings Bay trail & at BW on 5th, 1f on 6th.

Silvered Antbird: Noted only on 1 day, a pair seen well plus others heard on 28th.

White-bellied Antbird: Noted only on 1 day, a pair on 29th.

Black-faced Antthrush: Noted on 4 days, often just heard but good views of 2 on 26th.

Golden-headed Manakin: Noted on 4 days with several excellent views during day on 25th, 3m on 26th, 1m near veranda on 28th & 1st.

Blue-backed Manakin: Noted on 3 days with 1 male at Grafton on 3rd, at least 10 along Main Ridge road on 4th, a female on Kings Bay trail on 5th.

White-bearded Manakin: Noted on 3 days with 1m on Main Drive on 24th, 1f at the lek on 26th, a few on 29th.

Ochre-bellied Flycatcher: Noted on 4 days with 2 on 25th, 1 [KG only] on 1st, 1 along Main Ridge road on 4th, at least 3 along Kings Bay trail on 5th.

Slaty-capped Flycatcher: Noted only on 1 day, 2 [KG only] on 27th.

Southern Beardless Tyrannulet: Noted only on 1 day, at least 2 on 29th.

Forest Elaenia: Noted on 4 days with singles on 24th, 25th, 27th, 29th.

Yellow-bellied Elaenia: Noted on 6 days with singles on 25th, 28th, at BW on 2nd, then 2 at river mouth on 3rd, several there on 5th & 6th.

Lesser Elaenia: Noted only on 1 day, 1 on 28th.

Yellow-breasted Flycatcher: Noted on 4 days with 2 on 29th, 1 above BW on 2nd, several along Main Ridge road on 4th, heard on Kings Bay trail on 5th.

Euler's Flycatcher: Noted only on 1 day, 1 on main drive [KG only] on 27th.

Tropical Pewee: Noted on 4 days with ones or twos on 24th, 25th, 26th, 27th.

Pied Water-tyrant: Noted on 2 days, various birds on 28th & 30th.

White-headed Marsh-tyrant: Noted on 2 days with various birds on 28th & 30th.

Dusky-capped Flycatcher: Noted only on 1 day, 1 briefly on Bamboo Trail on 27th.

Brown-crested Flycatcher: Noted on 5 days with 1 distantly on Guacharo Trail on 27th, 1 on Little Tobago on 2nd, 1 at BW on 3rd, several on trail & at river mouth on 5th, 1 on 6th.

Tropical Kingbird: Noted regularly on both islands on 8 days.

Fork-tailed Flycatcher: Noted only on 1 day, c.12 wonderful views at Nariva on 28th.

Grey Kingbird: Noted on 3 days with 1 at Waterloo on 30th, 1 at river mouth on 3rd, several on 5th.

Boat-billed Flycatcher: Noted on 4 days with singles through the telescope from the veranda on 25th, again close to veranda on 26th, on main drive on 27th & on 29th.

Streaked Flycatcher: Noted on 2 days with 2 at AW on 24th, &c a close view along the Kings Bay trail on 5th.

Great Kiskadee: Noted each day on Trinidad, usually around AW.

White-winged Swallow: Noted on 4 days, 6 at Aripo on 28th, 2 over Trincity on 30th, then 1 (an unusual occurrence on Tobago) at the river mouth on 3rd & 5th.

Caribbean Martin: Noted each day on Tobago.

Grey-breasted Martin: Noted on 3 days on Trinidad with 1 overhead on 25th, at least 8 on 28th, several roosting at departure gate 4 at Trinidad airport on 6th.

Southern Rough-winged Swallow: Noted only on 1 day, 1 on 29th.

Barn Swallow: Noted on 4 days with up to 30 on 28th & 30th, several across bay at BW on 1st, 2 on 3rd.

Rufous-breasted Wren: Noted on 4 days, heard on 25th, at least 1 seen well on 26th, 1 on 27th, several seen and heard along Gilpin Trace on 4th.

House Wren: Noted most days.

Tropical Mockingbird: Noted most days.

Yellow-legged Thrush: Noted only on 1 day, several nice views on 4th.

Cocoa Thrush: Noted each day at AW and surrounding area.

Bare-eyed Thrush: Noted most days on Trinidad, also 2 days on Tobago.

White-necked Thrush: Noted on 3 days with several seen in the forests on 24th, 26th & 4th.

Long-billed Gnatwren: Noted only on 1 day, a pair on 29th.

Rufous-browed Peppershrike: Noted on 2 days with 1 briefly on 25th, good views of 2 on 29th.

Chivi Vireo: Noted on 4 days with 1 on 25th, 2 on 29th, 1 along Main Ridge road on 4th, at least 3 on trail on 5th.

Golden-fronted Greenlet: Noted on 4 days on Trinidad with singles on 25th, 26th, Bamboo Trail on 27th & 29th.

Scrub Greenlet: Noted on 4 days on Tobago with 1 at BW on 2nd, then several on 4th - 6th.

Tropical Parula: Noted on 2 days with 1 on 25th, 1 on main drive on 27th.

Yellow Warbler: Noted on 2 days with at least 4 on 28th, at least 2 on 29th.

American Redstart: Noted only on 1 day, a male & 2 females on 25th.

Northern Waterthrush: Noted on 2 days with 1 at the river mouth on 3rd & 5th.

Golden-crowned Warbler: Noted only on 1 day, 1 on 25th.

Bananaquit: Noted each day.

Bicoloured Conebill: Noted only on 1 day, at least 8 around the boat at Caroni Swamp on 30th.

White-shouldered Tanager: Noted on 2 days with 3 on 24th, 2f [KG only] on 27th.

White-lined Tanager: Noted most days.

Red-crowned Ant-tanager: Noted only on 1 day, a pair seen well on Guacharo Trail on 27th.

Silver-beaked Tanager: Noted most days.

Blue-grey Tanager: Noted most days.

Palm Tanager: Noted most days.

Violaceous Euphonia: Noted on 4 days, ones or twos on 24th, 25th, 29th, & along Main Ridge road on 4th.

Turquoise Tanager: Noted on 2 days with 2 on 25th, 2 on 29th.

Speckled Tanager: Noted only on 1 day, 2 on 25th.

Bay-headed Tanager: Noted on 4 days with several in tree tops on 24th - 27th.

Blue Dacnis: Noted on 2 days with a pair on 25th, & another on 29th.

Green Honeycreeper: Noted each day at AW.

Purple Honeycreeper: Noted each day at AW.

Red-legged Honeycreeper: Noted only on 1 day, at least 4 along Main Ridge road on 4th.

Red-capped Cardinal: Noted only on 1 day, 1 at boat house, Caroni Swamp, on 30th.

Blue-black Grassquit: Noted on 4 days with c.20 at Nariva on 28th, c.15 on 30th, several at BW on 2nd & 5th.

Black-faced Grassquit: Noted on 4 days with several at or near BW on 2nd, 3rd, 5th & 6th.

Greyish Saltator: Noted only on 1 day, 1 at Wallerfield on 29th.

Crested Oropendola: Noted most days.

Yellow-rumped Cacique: Noted only on 1 day, a single bird only at the colony on 29th.

Yellow Oriole: Noted each day at AW.

Yellow-hooded Blackbird: Noted on 2 days with c.6 at Aripo on 28th, numerous at Trincity & ricefields on 30th.

Red-breasted Blackbird: Noted on 3 days with c.25 throughout day on 28th, various birds seen on 29th & 1st.

Carib Grackle: Noted on 7 days, often numerous around human habitation on both islands.

Shiny Cowbird: Noted on 7 days with 2 from AW veranda on 24th & 28th, hundreds on ricefields on 30th, then up to 8 seen on most days at BW.

MAMMALS included Red-tailed Squirrels at both AW and BW, Red-rumped Agouti and two day-flying White-lined Sac-winged Bats at AW. At least six Red Howler Monkeys were seen at Nariva Swamp. There were also various insect-eating bats around the lights at night at AW and many small fruit-eating bats coming to the sugar water at BW at night.

AMPHIBIANS and REPTILES included Giant Toad (Bufo marinus) at AW and several dead on the road at BW, Golden Tegu at AW, a Tigre snake on the ploughed field at Aripo, several Cook's Tree-boa and a Spectacled Cayman at Caroni Swamp. The various geckos and ground lizards must remain unidentified for the moment, although the large lizard with the blue face seen regularly is called Amiva locally.

BUTTERFLIES, in no particular order, included:

Monarch (Danaus plexippus) Androgeus Swallowtail (Papilio androgeus)

Cracker (Hamadryas feronia) Cloudless Sulphur (Phoebis sennae)

Emperor (Morpho peleides) Cocoa Mort Bleu (Caligo teucer)

Red Anartia (Anartia amathea) White Peacock (Anartia jatrophae)

Red Rim (Biblis hyperia) Gold Rim / Black Page (Battus polydamus)

Cuban Admiral (Adelpha iphicla) Adelpha phylaca

Flambeau (Dryas iulia) Gulf Fritillary (Dione vanillae)

Eueides aliphera Caribean Buckeye (Junonia evarete)

Cattle Heart (Parides anchises) Small Blue Grecian (Heliconius sara)

Heliconius melpomene or H. erato

'Long-tailed' Skipper sp. and Ringlet sp. were also very common but must remain unidentified for the moment.

The two tarantula species found during the night walk were a Trinidad Chevron on the stone wall and several Pink-kneed Tarantulas in holes in the earth bank.

I hope that you all thoroughly enjoyed the trip despite the wet weather, the transfer to Tobago in the middle of Tropical Storm Joyce, and an earth tremor centred further north in the Caribbean whilst we were walking the Gilpin Trace. I was personally most disappointed, almost cheated really, that we never actually felt the tremor! I think you all enjoyed the comparisons between the two islands, the hotels and the styles of food contrasting Trinidad traditional with Tobago seafood. It's just impossible to pick an overall highlight because there are just so many superb birds and superb sights. I suppose if my arm was really twisted, I would have to pick the afternoon on the boat at Caroni Swamp and the sheer spectacle of the Scarlet Ibis coming into roost - but what about the veranda at Asa Wright and all those birds coming to the feeders? - or the stunning Collared Trogon on Tobago sitting so close beside the road that he wouldn't fit in the telescope... or the massed shorebirds and terns at Waterloo... or the spectacular butterflies... or... See what I mean?

We must extend our thanks, of course, to Jogi, Adolphus and his son and daughter, and I hope to meet you all again in the not-too-distant future.

Keith Grant, October 2000.

P.S. The colour-ringed Turnstone at Blue Waters was originally caught and marked on the New Jersey shore of Delaware Bay on the eastern coast of the US on 15th & 16th May 2000, when it would have been migrating north to breed in arctic Canada. A bird with the same colour-ring combination was also seen in the Speyside area during 14th-23rd September 2000 - probably the same bird as ours.


© The Travelling Naturalist 2000