10 - 24 APRIL 2000

Neil Arnold - The Travelling Naturalist

Jogie - Trinidad


Adolphus James - Tobago


Tuesday 11th April

Overcast, still. Fine periods with occasional heavy showers.

Asa Wright

The pre-breakfast watch from the lounge was as exciting as usual, flocks of birds descending on the feeding station just a few meters from the centre. Hummingbirds followed tanagers, followed honeycreepers, and so it continued. One of the most unexpected events was the arrival of two Buff-throated Woodcreepers on the tree just outside the balcony. This was followed by the sighting of a distant Bearded Bellbird singing from an open perch; another unusual event. By breakfast time we had noted twenty-six species of birds, two Agouti and two Red-tailed Squirrels.

After a fine breakfast Jodie briefed on the Trinidad programme and then we set off along the driveway. The leisurely walk was of great interest, despite the odd shower. We were soon enjoying great views of Violaceous Euphonia, Bay-headed Tanager and Turquoise tanagers. Our attention was then drawn to a passing Common Black Hawk and then to a series of woodland species including Streaked Flycatcher, Yellow Oriole and White-tailed Trogon. Then came the great Ferruginous Pygmy-owl hunt. We were constantly bombarded with the calls of this diminutive owl but despite a lot of effort we only managed somewhat indifferent views. There were more delights in store for us though, we were soon watching a pair of Great Antshrike at point blank range and then a male Golden-headed Manakin put in an appearance.

Despite all the excitement we did justice to a fine lunch.

At 14.30 Jason, one of the Asa Wright guides, led a walk along the Guacharo Trail. Even though the weather was dull and we were rained on from time to time we had a wonderful afternoon. The highlights were undoubtedly fine views of a Bearded Bellbird feeding on fruit high up in the canopy and the highly charged antics of White-bearded Manakin at the lek. We also came in contact with threes species of woodpecker: Lineated, Golden Olive and Chestnut. All these birds were seen through the telescope. The afternoon was also enhanced by close encounters with White-throated Thrush, the elusive Rufous-browed Peppershrike, a party of Red-crowned Ant-tanager. Scale Pigeon, Northern Waterthrush and Squirrel Cuckoo.

Dinner was accompanied by a very accomplished steel band, the evening finishing with dancing ranging from the very stayed to the manic, although it must be understood that our party had little to do with the latter, needless to say!

Wednesday 12th April

A fine start. Morning showers. A hot, sunny afternoon.

Asa Wright.

The pre-breakfast watch was as exciting as ever, giving us lots of opportunities to study birds only seen briefly on the previous day. Once again there were unexpected species including eleven distant Swallow-tailed Kites and a nearby, if brief encounter with a Plain-brown Woodcreeper.

At 08.30 Jogie and Sureash (our driver) took us up the steep incline towards Blanchisseuse. Soon we were standing at a lookout high above a deep forest valley. The thermals were already propelling raptors skywards. These included Turkey and Black Vultures, Common Black Hawks, Zone-tailed Hawk and a delightful light phase Short-tailed Hawk. The forest edge held a pair of Violaceous Trogons and a pair of White-flanked Antwrens which were spotted by Sureash. Soon after we had passed the mountain crest and stated our descent to the sea we stopped at another viewpoint. Almost immediately a distant raptor was identified as an Ornate Hawk-eagle. It swooped down to a horizontal branch on a huge tree within telescope range. It turned out to be an adult in fine plumage. Whilst watching this bird we discovered another. Just at that moment though they took to the air and carried out a swooping display flight, which ended beyond a ridge, thus ending a quite stunning performance.

Lunch on the beach at Blanchisseuse was accompanied by passing Brown Pelicans and a small group of fishing Roseate Terns. Overhead were flights of Magnificent Frigatebirds.

The nearby estuary held a Spotted Sandpiper, already on the way to its full breeding dress, and a Striated Heron. This was despite the presence of swimmers and an ad hoc cricket match in which the ball was a small coconut and the bat the base of a coconut palm frond!

As we left the small seaside resort we were overflown by a very elegant dark phase Short-tailed Hawk.

We then drove slowly towards the peak noting Plumbeous Kite, a fine male Silvered Antbird, a Rufous-tailed Jacamar, a Lineated Woodpecker and a male Tufted Coquette, en route. At the summit we enjoyed a refreshing drink whilst looking for Swallow Tanagers, a migrant from the south. Just as we were about to drive off a female showed itself in a nearby tree. Eventually we found an adult male, a young male and two females. The adult male was very active in the defence of the two females thus giving us wonder views of the birds in flight and at rest. This was the finale of a most entertaining day.

The day was over but after dinner the night was to give up some of its secrets. Sheldon, one of the guides, took us out to explore the edges of the main drive. Predictably we came across a number of invertebrates, a selection of frogs and surprisingly a few sleeping birds. These included a Grey-fronted Dove, A pair of Great Antshrikes and Streaked Flycatcher. Though the sky was covered by scudding cloud there were enough breaks to enable us to seek out the Southern Cross and other constellations. It was obvious that Sheldon's great experience and local knowledge were the key to a fascinating end to the evening.

Thursday 13th April

4/8 ths cloud cover, a warm breeze. The odd shower punctuated the afternoon.

Asa Wright.

Birding around the grounds of the centre was eventful once again, the highlights being the discovery of a female Blue Dacnis, a pair of Barred Antshrike and a very attractive albino Agouti which frequented the feeders.

By 09.00 we were exploring the Lalaja Road a rough track which leads to the ridge to the east of the centre. Once again the fine weather gave us the opportunity to watch more raptors including a Double-toothed Kite and a fine White Hawk. We were living off the fat of the land and our experience of forest birds increased. White-bellied Antshrikes were seen as well as Piratic Flycatcher, Long-billed Starthroat and the diminutive Southern Beardless Tyrannulet. After a long search we eventually came across a pair of Trinidad Euphonia, a very local bird of the Northern Range. The birds were busy feeding in clumps of mistletoe and then working on a nearby nest.

The afternoon was restful in preparation for an evening on the beach.

The drive to Matura beach was punctuated with sightings of Savannah Hawk, Plumbeous Hawk and the scarce White-necked Heron.

Just after 21.00, as the light faded a huge female Leather-backed Turtle hauled itself steadily up the beach. When she had reached its chosen spot above the high tide mark she began to dig a body pit by using her flippers in a swimming motion which resulted in large quantities of sand being thrown backwards. As soon as she was entrenched in the pit the delicate process of hole-digging began. This was achieved by using the back flippers as a giant spoon, the sand being lifted out and then flicked to the side. As soon as the hole was deep enough she laid a huge number of eggs. At this time she was in a trance-like state and the local wardens could measure her. Her length was 163cm and her width 117cm. We were told that this was 'Quite Big.' A tag was then attached to her flipper and an electronic marker implanted into her shoulder. The number was 032382126. As the group sponsored this particular animal we hope to hear of her progress in the future. We named her 'FLIV' which was short for 'Flivoratory', which was as near as one of our clients could get to pronouncing frivolity. She claimed that the rum punch had nothing to do with this mental aberration! A large bribe in a brown envelope will secure total anonymity to the client in question!

Eventually 'Fliv' covered the hole and the body pit, spent some time camouflaging the site and then made her way to the sea.

The evening was voted one of the most astounding experiences of our lives.

Friday 14th April.

Bright. 3/8th cu. Odd shower E 3-4.

Asa Wright.

After an entertaining period before breakfast, when we recorded thirty-five bird species from the verandah, we ate a sustaining breakfast and then set off for the Aripo Livestock Station.

The station is an area of open fields, ditches, fresh water pools and scrubland, consequently it is a magnet to a wide variety of birds.

Almost as soon as we arrived we were greeted by a grand display provided by White-headed Marsh Tyrants and their cousins Pied water Tyrants. Then the vivid male Red-breasted Blackbirds appeared as did the even more flamboyant Yellow-hooded Blackbirds. The nest delight was a pair of Yellow-chinned Spinetails building a nest in a tangle of barbed wire nest to a gate post. The location seemed the ideal defensive position! Then a stunning male Red-breasted Seedeater appeared and completely stole the show.

The water birds were no less interesting. The shallow pools were havens for Least Sandpiper and Solitary Sandpiper whilst the grasslands played host to a flock of Southern Lapwings. We were also lucky enough to see the delightful White-necked Heron which we had glimpsed the day before. The wonder of a Striated Heron seen through the telescope was also enjoyed.

Overhead were Short-tailed Swifts, Forked-tailed Palm Swifts, a Zone-tailed Hawk and the delightful Savannah Hawk.

Just before mid-day we moved on to the south. It was a close run thing but we just managed to resist the temptation to stop and buy a 'Notorious Biggy Burger.'

We swam and then lunched at Manzanilla Beach.

Soon after lunch we hit a purple patch, discovering Yellow- headed Caracaras, Plumbeous Kites, a pair of Pearl Kites and a Red-rumped Woodpecker. The highlight of the day came, however, when Jogie quietly waved us towards the mangroves. There on a branch was a pair of American Pygmy Kingfishers, not only one of the most beautiful of Neotropical birds but one that is notoriously difficult to find.

The accessible area of the Nariva Swamp was fairly dry making it less suitable for wetland species than usual. It was, though, ideal for a flock of wintering Dickcissel that were busily feeding on the seeding herbs.

The day closed as, rum punch in hand, we watched the Orange-winged Parrots and Red-bellied Macaws fly into roost.

Saturday 15th April.

Dull, wet, including some very heavy showers. E3-4.

Asa Wright.

By 10.30 we were standing in the rain attempting to watch water birds at Waterloo, a tidal reach on the west coast. Even before we had set up the telescopes a flock of Black Skimmers were fishing off the coast. As their name suggests they fly low dipping the long lower mandible into the water. Once the lower mandible makes contact with a fish the beak is snapped shut. What a start!

Our attention was soon turned to the waders, there being six species in all. Regrettably most of the smaller waders were feeding a long way from our vantage point. An Osprey made a brief pass over the area as we started to identify the wide variety of herons, which included Great Blue Heron and Yellow-crowned Night-heron. The climax of the day though was provided by a flock of roosting terns. Little by little small parties of two South American visitors flew into roost. Eventually there were 22 Yellow-billed Terns and 25 Large-billed Terns. The icing on the cake was provided by the discovery of two unusual gulls. One was identified as an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull whilst the other a distant sub-adult was probably of this species but it defied positive identification.

The high tide roost held 180 Black Skimmers, eighty Brown Pelicans and thousands of Laughing Gulls, it made a grand sight.

Heavy rain forced us to have our lunch in the nearby 'Playboy's Rec. Club', where the bunnygirls bore an uncanny resemblance to four elderly blokes, bedecked in vests, playing cards. Still it was dry!

By mid afternoon we were driving around the very slippery roads which bisected the Caroni Ricefields. Here we saw a mass of herons, a handful of waders and four magnificent Limpkin, that strange wading bird which appears to be a cross between a rail and a heron.

Despite the rain we had had another varied day; well it's not every day that you get the chance to visit an exclusive Caribbean club!

Sunday 16th April.

3-5/8th Cu, sunny, NE 3-4.

Asa Wright.

An early breakfast and an early start. Our destination was Wallerfield, an abandoned USAF airfield in the lowlands. En route, however, we discovered a nuber of interesting bird species including Peregrine Falcon, Blue-headed Parrots, Blue Dacnis and the elusive Streaked Xenops.

At Wallerfield we were enchanted by stunning views of two male Ruby-topaz Hummingbirds flashing their colours in bright sunlight. Almost immediately afterwards we came across a wonderful male Masked Yellowthroat, a sparkling warbler.

We were also thrilled by passes by a Savannah Hawk, a White Hawk, a Grey Hawk and a female Merlin.

A brief drinks stop at the village of Cumuto also gave us an opportunity to watch the nesting activities of a group of Yellow-rumped Cacique. Nearby was a solitary Piratic Flycatcher looking for an opportunity to take over one of the cacique nests.

The Arena Forest played host to more raptors. High over the forest were a Grey Hawk and a Plumbeous Hawk mobbing a passing Zone-tailed Hawk.

After an afternoon rest we hit the road again, driving to the research station at Aripo. Here we ate a hot dinner.

The huge abandoned runways of Wallerfield looked even bigger in the late evening moonlight. Careful searching soon revealed a family of Tropical Screech Owls, Pauraques and White-tailed Nightjars. We also detected the eye-shine of a Common Potoo but it showed little more than a silhouette.

A great time was had by all.

Monday 17th April.

Fine- light cloud- calm.

Asa Wright.

We had all been waiting for the chance to visit the Oilbirds deep in their riparian grotto in the grounds of Asa Wright. During the day these intensely nocturnal birds roost in the darkness of the grotto. We entered the mouth of the grotto three at a time. In this way we were able to gain good views of the birds without disturbing them. Though the image of the Oilbird was already etched on our minds it was still a surprise to discover how big they were and how attractive the plumage in comparison to that depicted in the field guide. We were all enchanted by them.

After a restful afternoon we made our way to the Trincity Ponds, a small sewage treatment plant. As soon as we arrived we were surrounded by swallows. We eventually found five species, including a scarce Bank Swallow (Sand Martin) and the rare Cliff Swallow from North America. In the ponds were to be found Moorhens, Purple Gallinules, a variety of waders and five Least Grebes. The most surprising event, though, was a brief flight by a Least Bittern, which once it had plunged into the vegetation was lost to sight.

Later in the afternoon we boarded James Madoo's boat and made our way through the mangroves of the Caroni Swamp. Our first discovery was a male Red-headed Cardinal drinking at the edge of the canal. In contrast we then found two Bi-coloured Conebills, perhaps the dullest of all the tanagers. James then took us to see a Potoo at roost. This was a very different experience from seeing it as a silhouette! We were also shown two Cook's Tree Boas. As the shadows lengthened small groups of Scarlet Ibis started to make for their mangrove roosts. Watching flights of ibis and herons flying against a moonlit sky was an unforgettable experience. The glass of rum punch had no influence on this experience, honest!

Tuesday 18th April.

A dull start. Heavy showers, clearing by evening. SW 5.

Asa Wright.

After a morning of catching up with birds seldom or poorly seen, including Ferruginous Pygmy-owl, we set off on the more relaxing leg of the trip.

After a short flight to Tobago we drove the length of the island to Blue Waters at Speyside. En route we managed to see both Black-crowned and Yellow-crowned Night-herons. We were disappointed though that we had apparently missed the needle football match between Argyll United and the Hot Boys!

A late lunch and a rest was followed by a walk around the hotel grounds. A flock of Caribbean Martins and good views of Grey Kingbird, Black-faced Grassquit and Rufous-vented Chachalaca were the main features of the walk.

Wednesday 19th April.

Fine,sunny,3/8th Cu.

Blue Waters.

A walk on the rough road overlooking the hotel was to produce yet more new birds, including a pair of White-fringed Antwren, Yellow-bellied Elaenia and Scrub Greenlet.

The main aim of the day was to visit the nearby island of Little Tobago so we were delighted that the sea was calm and the sun was shining.

We were soon peering through the glass bottom of our boat viewing a wide variety of fish on the Angel Reef. We were also lucky enough to see a Hawks-beak Turtle, the second species of the trip. Once on the island we were guided by Frank towards the seabird lookouts. On the way we encountered Brown-crested Flycatchers and Chivi Vireo.

At the lookout we marvelled at the aerial agility of the Red-billed Tropicbird and the powerful flight of the Brown Booby. Careful watching also enabled us to identify nesting Red-footed Boobies and passing Masked Boobies. We were then delighted to find a Masked Booby building a nest on a nearby promontory. Frank also showed us a number of tropicbirds with young at very close range and fluffy nestling Audubon's Shearwater in a none-too-well protected burrow.

During our watch we noted Magnificent Frigatebirds attacking Brown Boobies and Red-billed Tropicbirds. We also had great views of a pair of Peregrines hunting over the hilltops.

While we were relaxing in the afternoon we saw the fishing boat come in bringing Tuna, Dolphin fish and Wahoo (Kingfish) for our dinner.

The late afternoon walk revealed a Green-backed Heron and great views of a male Barred Antshrike.

The evening was amazing, dancing with a spectacular steel band! (Note from the office - there is video evidence of Neil dancing, but it is not suitable for viewers of a nervous disposition)

Thursday 20th April.

Fine,very hot, 2/8th Cu. breeze.

Blue Waters.

The drive to the other end of the island was as spectacular as ever. By 10.00 we were with Selwyn on his glass bottom boat heading for the Buccoo Reef. Once again we sew a wide variety of fish and yet another species of turtle, a Green Turtle. Above the waves were flocks of Royal and Roseate Terns, frigates and pelicans.

Lunch was taken at Grafton Estate where we watched the feeding birds including red-crowned Woodpecker. A local walk revealed White-fringed Antwren, a beautiful Common Potoo and an Ochre-bellied Flycatcher. The highlight, though, was the courting display of two Blue-backed Manakin. Their excitement was at such a pitch that they even raised the red crests on their heads.

Buccoo Marsh was spectacular, species including Semi-palmated Sandpiper, Short-billed Dowitcher, Blue-winged Teal, Black-bellied Whistling Duck, White-cheeked Pintail and Caribbean Coot.

Another wonderful day!

Friday 21st April.

4-6/8th Cu.,sunny spells, warm.

Blue Waters.

For once the Gilpin Trace on the Main Ridge was reached in bright sunshine. This is one of the few remaining areas of primary forest in Tobago.

We were soon standing in silence listening for the sounds of the forest birds. Adolphus has a wonderful ear for bird song. He soon found an elegant White-tailed Sabrewing, the first of many sightings of this impressive but very local hummingbird.

Continued watching soon revealed a male Collared Trogon, a strangely formed White-throated Spadebill, a Venezuelan Flycatcher and a Stripe-breasted Spinetail.

The rest of the day was spent at leisure.

Saturday 22nd April.

Overcast,heavy showers, breaking mid morning. Then hot and clear.

Blue Waters.

The Kingsbay Trace is a rough road leading from Speyside to the village of Kingsbay. This was the perfect venue for the last day of our trip. We were able to review a large number of species that were seen earlier in the trip, especially Chivi Vireo which few of us had seen well previously.

After yet another relaxing afternoon we walked to the nearby river. Here we had unparalleled views of Little-blue Heron, Green-backed Heron and Yellow-crowned heron. Green Kingfisher was also seen. The final crowning glory was a Northern Waterthrush in full Spring plumage at point-blank range.

Sunday 23rd April.

Hot and humid.

Blue Waters.

A routine flight home arriving on the morning of Monday 24th.

© The Travelling Naturalist 2000



T = Trinidad

To = Tobago


Least Grebe Five at Trincity Ponds (T).


Audubon's Shearwater A well grown chick, Little Tobago, 19th (To).


Red-billed Tropicbird This superb seabird seen from Little Tobago. (To).


Masked Booby Two birds seen at sea off Little Tobago and one building a nest there. (To).

Red-footed Booby Breeding on Little Tobago. (To).

Brown Booby Common in eastern Tobago. Breeds Little Tobago. (To).


Neotropic Cormorant Two at Waterloo (T).


Anhinga Three at Caroni Swamp (T) and one at Buccoo (To).


Brown Pelican Widespread offshore (T & To). Very numerous off Waterloo and off Blue Waters.


Magnificent Frigatebird A few at various sites (T). Breeds Little Tobago (To).


Great White Egret A few at Nariva, Caroni and Waterloo (T). One at Buccoo (To).

Snowy Egret At least five hundred Caroni Swamp, (T).

Cattle Egret Widespread with livestock (T & To).

Great Blue Heron One Nariva Swamp and one Waterloo (T). One Buccoo Marsh (To).

Little Blue Heron Widespread in wetlands (T & To), peak count 70 Waterloo(T).

Tricolored Heron On Trinidad eight at Waterloo and at Caroni Marsh - 50 peak count. One at the roadside en route to Blue waters (To).

Striated Heron This South American species (or race if you prefer) is only found on Trinidad. Noted widely in wet areas : Aripo Research Station, Nariva, Caroni, Waterloo

Green-backed Heron The former's North American counterpart, only found on Tobago. One Buccoo and two at Blue Waters. (To).

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron One Waterloo, six Caroni Swamp (T). Four records on Tobago.

Black-crowned Night Heron One en route to Blue waters (To).

Least Bittern One at Trincity Ponds, 17th (T).


Scarlet Ibis Two counted at the roost Caroni Swamp.


Black-bellied Whistling-Duck Three Buccoo Marsh(To).

White-cheeked Pintail Ten Buccoo Marsh(To).

Blue-winged Teal A male at Buccoo (To)


Black Vulture Abundant Trinidad. A single record at Blue Waters, 20th (To).

Turkey Vulture Common Trinidad.


American Swallow-tailed Kite Nineteen sightings on the ridge overlooking Asa Wright, peak eleven on 12th.

Pearl Kite Two in the Nariva area, 14th (T)

Double-toothed Kite One sighting on Lalaja Road, 13th. (T).

Plumbeous Kite Five records (T).

White Hawk One Lalaja Road and one Wallerfield(T).

Common Black-hawk Five records, mainly in the mountains(T).

Gray Hawk Two at Wallerfield(T).

Broad-winged Hawk Four records (To).

Short-tailed Hawk Two on the Blanchisseuse Road(T).

Zone-tailed Hawk Four records(T).

Savanna Hawk Nine records on the plains(T).

Ornate Hawk-eagle A pair on the Blanchisseuse Road,12th. Distant views of a single individual Asa Wright, 13th and 14th (T).


Osprey Three records.(T) Four sightings (To).


Yellow-headed Caracara Nine records on the plains. (T).

Merlin A single bird at Wallerfield(T).

Peregrine Falcon Two in the Wallerfield area (T) and a stunning pair Little Tobago (To).


Rufous-vented Chachalaca Only on Tobago, excellent views Grafton Estate and at Blue Waters, where its raucous calls were a notable feature of the early mornings.


Purple Gallinule One Waterloo and three Trincity Ponds (T).

Common Moorhen Two Trincity Ponds(T); abundant Buccoo Marsh (To).

Caribbean Coot Two at Buccoo Marsh (To)


Limpkin Five Caroni Ricefields, 15th (T).


Wattled Jacana Common at the Aripo Research Station, Nariva, Caroni Swamp and Trincity Ponds(T). Olso noted at Buccoo Marsh (To).


Semipalmated Plover Five at Aripo and four at Waterloo (T)

Southern Lapwing Widespread in grassy wetlands (T). At least 12 at Buccoo Marshes (To).


Whimbrel Four Waterloo (T).

Greater Yellowlegs Two at Trincity Ponds, twenty at Waterloo (T) and one at Buccoo Marsh (To).

Lesser Yellowlegs Two at Trincity Ponds (T).

Solitary Sandpiper Seven records on the plains (T).

Spotted Sandpiper Common at suitable wetlands and coastal sites. (T & To)

Willet Two at Waterloo and one at Caroni Swamp. (T).

Ruddy Turnstone Six at Waterloo (T). Up to nineteen at Blue Waters, some of which were hand fed by clients. Some even frequented the bar but suffered from total uncreditworthiness. (To).

Semipalmated Sandpiper Excellent views of one at Buccoo Marsh.(To).

Least Sandpiper Four at Aripo (T) and one at Buccoo Marsh (To).


Lesser Black-backed Gull A fine adult and probably an accompanying juv. Waterloo,15th (T).

Laughing Gull Hundreds at Waterloo (T) and hundreds at Blue Waters. (To).

Royal Tern Three at Waterloo (T).and at least 80 at Buccoo Reef (To).

Roseate Tern Four at Blanchisseuse, 12th (T) and at least fifty Buccoo Reef , 20th. (To).

Yellow-billed Tern Twenty-two at Waterloo,15th (T).

Large-billed Tern Twenty-five at Waterloo, 15th (T)


Black Skimmer One hundred and eighty at Waterloo (T).


Scaled Pigeon Small numbers on six days. (T).

Pale-vented Pigeon A few (T) but very widespread . (To).

Eared Dove Flock of up to fifty Caroni Swamp (T) Twenty at Buccoo Marsh/Graftonn. (To)

Ruddy Ground-Dove Very common and widespread, although not seen at Speyside (T & To).

White-tipped Dove Widespread on Tobago.

Grey-fronted Dove At least two Asa Wright. (T)


Red-bellied Macaw At least ten at the roost in Nariva Marsh.(T).

Green-rumped Parrotlet Six Aripo (T). Two at Buccoo Marsh. (To).

Lilac-tailed Parrotlet Two flocks of five, Pax. (T).

Blue-headed Parrot Seven to the south of Asa Wright. (T).

Orange-winged Parrot Noted daily on Trinidad. Seen Speyside and Main Ridge (To).


Squirrel Cuckoo Seven sightings. (T).


Smooth-billed Ani Noted regularly in both Trinidad and Tobago.


Striped Cuckoo One seen Arena Forest (T).


Tropical Screech-Owl One and two young Wallerfield (T).

Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl Heard and see at Asa Wright. (T).


Oilbird Several were seen at roost at Asa Wright.(T).


Common Potoo One roosting by day, Caroni Swamp and one at night, Wallerfield(T). One at roost, Grafton and one in he lower reaches of the Main Ridge. (To).


Short-tailed Nighthawk Two at Asa Wright,16th (T).

Common Pauraque Eight, Wallerfield, 16th (T).

White-tailed Nightjar Four at Wallerfield (T) and females at Buccoo Marsh and Kingsbay Trace (To).


Band-rumped Swift Only in the mountains (T).

Gray-rumped Swift Noted at Asa Wright (T). Present on the Main ridge (To).

Short-tailed Swift Widespread, especially in coastal lowlands (T) & Main Ridge (To).

Fork-tailed Palm-Swift Common at Wallerfield. One or two other isolated records. (T).


Rufous-breasted Hermit On both Trinidad and Tobago.

Green Hermit Only at Asa Wright(T).

White-tailed Sabrewing Three seen at Gilpin Trace in the Main Ridge Forest (To).

White-necked Jacobin At Asa Wright (T).

Black-throated Mango Seen almost daily at Asa Wright(T). Noted at Gilpin Trace and Blue Waters (To).

Ruby-topaz Hummingbird Two pairs at Wallerfield(T).

Tufted Coquette Mainly at Asa Wright.(T).

Blue-chinned Sapphire Mostly at Asa Wright. (T).

White-chested Emerald Regularly noted (T).

Copper-rumped Hummingbird Widespread on both islands (T & To).

Long-billed Starthroat A male at Lalaja Road. (T).


White-tailed Trogon Ten records throughout(T).

Collared Trogon Two males Main ridge (To).

Violaceous Trogon Three pairs in mature forests.(T).


Green Kingfisher One at Caroni Swamp (T). Two records of a single bird, Blue Waters. (To).


Blue-crowned Motmot Common and very approachable - actually roosting on some clients' balconies at Blue Waters !(T & To).


Rufous-tailed Jacamar Good views at the Blanchisseuse Road (T), Kingsbay and Gilpin Trace.( To).


Channel-billed Toucan Encounters at Wallerfield and Asa Wright.(T).


Red-crowned Woodpecker At Grafton and in the Main Ridge Forest (To).

Red-rumped Woodpecker Single birds at Asa Wright (T) and six records (To).

Golden-olive Woodpecker Three records (To)

Chestnut Woodpecker Wonderful views of a male at Asa Wright.(T).

Lineated Woodpecker Three sightings. (T)


Pale-brown Woodcreeper Seen Asa Wright (T).

Cocoa/Buff-throated Woodcreeper Noted 2 days (T), 3 days (To).


Stripe-breasted Spinetail One at Main Ridge (To).

Yellow-chinned Spinetail Four at the Aripo Research Centre.(T)

Streaked Xenops One south of Asa Wright (T).


Great Antshrike Seen almost every day. Great views at Asa Wright.(T)

Black-crested Antshrike Three at the Arena Forest (T).

Barred Antshrike Common in scrub and woodland (T & To).

White-flanked Antwren A pair in the mountains (T).

White-fringed Antwren Only on Tobago at Speyside and Grafton (To).

Silvered Antbird A male on the Blanchisseuse Road. (T)

White-bellied Antbird A pair at Lalaja Road (T).

Black-faced Antthrush Seen well at Asa Wright and regularly heard (T).


Bearded Bellbird Constantly heard. Good views once persistent, Asa Wright (T).


Golden-headed Manakin At Asa Wright and other mountain sites (T).

Blue-backed Manakin Excellent views of four at Grafton and a pair at Gilpin Trace.(To).

White-bearded Manakin Wonderful views at Asa Wright. Others in the mountains.(T).


Ochre-bellied Flycatcher One at Buccoo Marsh (To)

S. Beardless Tyrannulet Noted on two days in the mountains. (T).

Forest Elaenia Three at Lalaja Road. (T).

Yellow-bellied Elaenia One at Asa Wright.(T)and several on (To).

Yellow-breasted Flycatcher One at Lalaja Road(T) and widespread on (To).

White-throated Spadebill One on the Gilpin Trace (To)

Tropical Pewee Widespread (T&To).

Pied Water-Tyrant In wet grasslands (T).

White-headed Marsh-Tyrant In wetlands (T).

Venezuelan Flycatcher One Main Ridge (To).

Brown-crested Flycatcher Only noted at Grafton and Blue Waters(To).

Tropical Kingbird Widespread and common (T & To).

Gray Kingbird Only in the Blue Waters area (To).

Fork-tailed Flycatcher Up to six at the Aripo Field Station. (T).

Sulphury Flycatcher Two at Wallerfield (T).

Boat-billed Flycatcher Only in the Asa Wright area(T)

Streaked Flycatcher At Asa Wright (T) and Bluewaters (To).

Piratic Flycatcher One at Lalaja Road and two Cumuto. (T).

Great Kiskadee Common on Trinidad.

Black-tailed Tityra Several records (T).


White-winged Swallow In the lowlands of Trinidad (T)

Caribbean Martin Flocks of up to one hundred (To).

Grey-breasted Martin Common in Trinidad.

S. Rough-winged Swallow Four at Wallerfield(T).

Sand Martin A single record at Trincity Ponds, 17th (T).

Barn Swallow Common in the lowlands (T).

Cliff Swallow The single bird found at Trincity Ponds on the 17th is was a national rarity. A description is in the appendix.


Rufous-breasted Wren Scattered records on both islands.

House Wren Common and widespread (T). Seen Blue Waters and Grafton Estate (To).


Tropical Mockingbird Common on both islands in the lowlands.(T & To).


Yellow-legged Thrush Two pairs on Gilpin Trace (T).

Cocoa Thrush Common in Trinidad. (T).

Bare-eyed Thrush Noted daily in Trinidad. Less common on Tobago.(T & To)

White-necked Thrush Excellent views at Asa Wright and The Gilpin trace(T).


Long-billed Gnatwren One at Asa Wright. (T).


Rufous-browed Peppershrike Good views at Asa Wright. (T)

Chivi Vireo Several sightings (To).

Golden Fronted Greenlet Five records (T).

Scrub Greenlet Only on Tobago, where seen Blue waters and Grafton (To).


Tropical Parula One Blanchisseuse Road and one Lalaja Road. (T)

Northern Waterthrush Three records (T & To).

Masked Yellowthroat A stuning male, Wallerfield (T).


Bananaquit Very common, frequenting forests, bars and restaurants ! (T & To).


Bicolored Conebill Two, Caroni Swamp (T).

White-lined Tanager Common, noted each day on Trinidad and Tobago (T & To).

Red-crowned Ant-Tanager Good views at Asa Wright.(T).

Silver-beaked Tanager Common on Trinidad (T).

Blue-grey Tanager Very common (T & To).

Palm Tanager Common and widespread. Noted each day. (T & To).

Trinidad Euphonia A fine pair on the Lalaja Road (T).

Violaceous Euphonia Widespread in the hills (T).

Turquoise Tanager Widespread (T).

Bay-headed Tanager Very widespread(T).

Blue Dacnis Only at Asa Wright (T).

Green Honeycreeper Daily at Asa Wright. (T)

Purple Honeycreeper Seen daily on Trinidad, mainly at Asa Wright. (T)

Swallow Tanager Two males and Two females,12th, Blanchisseuse road. (T).


Red-capped Cardinal A fine male at Caroni Swamp(T).


Blue-black Grassquit "Johnny Jump-up" locally. More common on Trinidad, but seen regularly Tobago (T & To).

Ruddy-breasted Seedeater At least two males at the Aripo Research Station.

Black-faced Grassquit Scattered records on Tobago. (To)

Grayish Saltator Six single records at a variety of sites.(T).


Crested Oropendola Common (T & To).

Yellow-rumped Cacique Only at Cumuto and the arena Forest.(T).

Yellow Oriole Common Trinidad. (T).

Yellow-hooded Blackbird In wetlands (T)

Red-breasted Blackbird At the Aripo station, Nariva Swamp and the Nariva Ricefields.(T).

Carib Grackle Common in the lowlands. (T & To).

Shiny Cowbird Widespread (T & To).

Giant Cowbird Ten near Wallerfield(T)and scattered records (To).


Red-tailed Squirrel - Several records in forests (T & To).

Red-rumped Agouti - Two records Asa Wright (T). A third animal was an albino.

Sac-winged bat sp. - Probably these seen hunting by day in forests. Roosting at Asa Wright. (T)


Cook's Tree Boa One shown to us by boatman, Caroni Swamp. (T)

Spectacled Cayman One Trincity

Golden Tegu Lizard The prehistoric-looking creature seen coming to food at Asa Wright. (T)

Gecko sp. Among lots of unidentified lizards, geckos were often seen at Asa Wright. (T)

Hawksbill Turtle One near Little Tobago.

Green Turtle One on the Buccoo Reef.

Leatherback Turtle One female laying eggs on the beach at Matura Bay.


Description of Cliff Swallow - Trinidad

Date 17th April 2000

Time 14.40 local

Weather Fine, light cloud, calm.

Location Trincity Ponds

Circumstances Whilst leading a tour group around the

ponds I came across five species of

hirundines. These were Barn Swallow,

White-winged Swallow, one Sand Martin,

Grey-breasted Martin and one Cliff


Description A compact, blunt winged martin with a

tail showing only slight forking. Wings

and mantle blue-black. Belly and

under-tail coverts white. Rump a pale rufous colour. Face a dark


Cap blue-black and forehead white.

Comparison Shape very similar to the nearby Sand

Martin (Bank Swallow).

Other observer Jogi Ramlal is also of the opinion that this

species was a Cliff Swallow.

Previous experience I am familiar with Cliff Swallow in the


Neil Arnold , The Travelling Naturalist.
© The Travelling Naturalist 2000