TRAVELLING NATURALIST TRIP REPORT

Trinidad & Tobago

17th - 30th January 2004

Leaders & Guides:

Keith Grant (The Travelling Naturalist)
Roodal & Surin (Trinidad)
Adolphus & Gladwyn (Tobago)
Denise, Harold, James, Jason & Mukesh (Asa Wright)
Frank Wordsworth (Little Tobago)
James Madoo (Caroni Swamp)

Daily Diary:

Weather

It was warm and humid throughout, with sunny spells though some cloud caused occasional torrential downpours.

Saturday 17th January Arrival

With a delayed incoming flight and further slight delays at Heathrow, we duly arrived at Piarco International Airport, Port of Spain rather later than expected. However, we met up with Roodal and the lads from Asa Wright with no problems, and were soon arriving at the Centre to be welcomed with a well-deserved rum punch and soup and sandwiches on the veranda.

Sunday 18th January Asa Wright

We gathered on the veranda at 6am, ready for dawn, and managed some 30 species before breakfast! The highlights here were the hummingbirds and tanagers coming to the feeders just below us. Several Orange-winged Parrots flew back and forth across the valley, and both Black-tailed Tityra and Channel-billed Toucans were seen in the treetops through the telescopes. We met Roodal after breakfast and walked slowly up the main drive, adding such species as Southern Beardless Tyrannulet, Yellow-olive Flycatcher and Golden-fronted Greenlet. Both Golden-headed and White-bearded Manakins were seen feeding in a roadside tree. Sometimes both species were in the same field of view through the binoculars. A Zone-tailed Hawk overhead was quickly followed by three Common Black-hawks. The Oropendolas were collecting nest material and there was much displaying by the males around the nesting tree.

We headed back to the Centre for lunch and, after a brief siesta, met up with Denise, one of the Centre's rangers, who led us down the main trail below the house. A Violaceous Trogon did not stay very long, but Boat-billed Flycatchers showed well and were a great comparison with the Greater Kiskadees around the feeders. There were good numbers of White-bearded Manakins at the lek, and a little further on, it felt as if we were surrounded by Bearded Bellbirds! Our diligent searching was rewarded by several really excellent views of the male; at one point we could watch it calling. Back to the Centre for afternoon tea and another hour or so on the veranda, where Red-crowned Ant-tanagers on the feeding tables were unusual, this species normally being found only in the forest. Both Great and Barred Antshrikes were recorded during the day, though White-flanked Antwren was rather more difficult. The Agoutis were ever present and some quite large Golden Tegu lizards scavenged dropped 'goodies' under the feeding tables.

Monday 19th January Blanchisseuse

We met on the veranda before breakfast, viewing the usual array of species. A Long-billed Starthroat appeared soon after dawn but did not stay long. A nearby feeding tree held very good numbers of Violaceous Euphonias, and whilst watching these, we realised that a Squirrel Cuckoo was also there. Denise pointed out the nesting hole of a Lineated Woodpecker, and a little later, one of our group saw a beak at the entrance hole - prompting much discussion whether that was enough to get the species on the list! We hoped we'd see more of the bird in the days to come.

We loaded the vehicles after breakfast and headed uphill, over the Northern Range towards Blanchisseuse on the north coast. Stopping periodically, we found all three species of Trogons, Rufous-tailed Jacamars, Plain Antvireo and had very brief views of Scaled Antpitta. A Golden-olive Woodpecker showed extremely well as it excavated a hole in a roadside bamboo. A Cocoa Woodcreeper also allowed views through the telescopes. We had lunch on the beach at Blanchisseuse, watching Carib Grackles, Brown Pelicans and Magnificent Frigatebirds. We eventually pinned down the swifts overhead as Short-tailed Swifts as they swooped low through the palms and we could see them against the wooded slope in the background. A short walk along the beach to the river mouth provided us with White-winged Swallows, Southern Rough-winged Swallows and Spotted Sandpipers. We then drove the short distance to the river bridge to try for Silvered Antbird. Brief views of a female was all we managed, but this was made up for with absolutely superb views of a Pygmy Kingfisher and further Golden-fronted Greenlets. On the return trip, several Jacamars showed well, as did Rufous-browed Peppershrikes. We heard a Striped Cuckoo calling from the roadside but unfortunately could not locate it.

Tuesday 20th January Manzinilla & Nariva Swamp

Both Great and Barred Antshrikes were seen under the feeding tables before breakfast, as were a superb Chestnut Woodpecker and Red-crowned Ant-tanager. The Lineated Woodpecker emerged from its nest hole and posed for everyone to see on nearby Cecropia trees. After breakfast and a slight delay whilst the fan-belt of one of the buses was fixed, we headed down the valley for our first stop to overlook the Aripo Agricultural Research Station. A Pearl Kite sitting on roadside wires encouraged us to stop along the main road, in time to see both Zone-tailed Hawk and Short-tailed Hawk overhead. Further on, we pulled off the road and overlooked the pasture, finding a whole range of new species which included White-headed Marsh Tyrant, Pied Water-tyrant, Red-breasted Blackbird and Striated Heron. A Yellow-headed Caracara flew past and two Green-rumped Parrotlets posed nicely on the nearest large tree. Blue-black Grassquit and Ruddy-breated Seedeater were also seen, though rather briefly. The best bird here was White-tailed Goldenthroat, though rather few of us managed to get on to it as it flitted along a shrubby ditchline half way across the field. We moved on a short way and found Southern Lapwings in a roadside field, and Solitary Sandpiper in a nearby farmyard. We then headed on to Manzanilla, stopping briefly to find a Bat Falcon sitting quietly in a tree. A second bird was seen flying around briefly. A pair of Black-tailed Tityra was perched above the vehicles when we returned, and the Yellow-rumped Caciques and Giant Cow-birds showed well. We had lunch at Manzanilla watching Southern Roughwings, White-winged Swallows and Grey-breasted Martins hawking insects. A Yellow-headed Caracara was excellent, as was a Grey Hawk which flew right over us just above the trees.

After lunch, we headed along the road, stopping for Black-crested Antshrike, three of which appeared just as the heavens opened, forcing us to rush back to the vehicles. Further on, a Pygmy Kingfisher showed briefly, several Red-rumped Woodpeckers showed rather better, and a pair of Blue Dacnis were stunning! There were several Savannah Hawks in the palms along the road and we found an Osprey sitting up on a distant tree. At our first stop as we turned on to the Nariva Swamp, we found a Wattled Jacana which appeared to have three additional pairs of legs dangling under her belly. She promptly dropped them (three downy chicks!) and they all scuttled into cover as a Yellow-headed Caracara flew past. We all eventually had telescope views of a Pinnated Bittern - well, at least head and half a neck! Other herons included Little Blue Herons, Striated Herons and Great White Egrets, and we eventually found several Purple Gallinules, both adults and immatures. Careful searching of the trackside vegetation rewarded us with views of both Yellow-chinned and Pale-breasted Spinetails. There were many female/immature Yellow-hooded Blackbirds in flocks along the tracks, with some stunning adult males at intervals. We had to eventually head back to the roadside in time for the roosting flight of the Red-bellied Macaws. With some 150 birds flying in, plus about a half-dozen Yellow-crowned Parrots, this was made all the more pleasant with rum punch and homemade jammy biscuits. We finally headed off to try to view a roadside nest-hole for Crimson-crested Woodpecker before it got too dark. The male was indeed looking out of the hole and we all had good views through the telescopes. What an amazing day with over 90 species recorded, despite some heavy rain showers!

Wednesday 21st January La Laja Road and Asa Wright

There was heavy rain overnight but the morning brightened ready for our walk up the La Laja Road. Before breakfast, we saw Rufous-breasted Wrens (at last!) from the veranda, and a lovely male Barred Antshrike showed well. Before reaching the La Laja Road, we stopped briefly in the main valley below Asa Wright. A pair of Collared Trogons showed well, and a brief walk up a steep trail provided us with a mass of species including American Redstart and Golden-fronted Greenlet. We managed to find a Stripe-breasted Spinetail beside the road and Roodal found a Broad-winged Hawk sitting quietly in the trees, allowing all of us to view it through the telescopes. Our first stop along the La Laja Road itself was for Grey-throated Leaftosser which we successfully saw albeit rather briefly for some. A little way further on and we found its probable nesting hole in a roadside embankment. Driving as far as we could until a fallen tree effectively blocked our route, we then walked on to find a White-bellied Antbird showing well as it came to investigate us. Other feeding flocks included a further American Redstart, as well as Tropical Parula, Golden-crowned Warbler, Forest Elaenia and Dusky-capped Flycatcher. A Common Black-hawk circled overhead, as did a Grey-headed Kite. The silhouette of this latter species always reminds me of something of a European Jay with its broad wings and very pinched in wing-bases. The second vehicle managed a Grey Hawk during the return journey back to Asa Wright for lunch.

By now, the clouds were gathering and a torrential downpour ensued, just as we set off down the Discovery Trail. The Common Potoo was sitting in its favoured tree just where the Oilbird Trail starts, but it got so very wet that we gave up at this point and returned to the veranda until the rain eased. James, the duty ranger, pointed out an Olive-sided Flyatcher sitting up on a favoured branch way down the valley - very nice views in the telescope of this migrant from North America, and a Ferruginous Pygmy-owl was sitting out in the open in a tree near the veranda. A little later, most of us did manage to get out on to various paths. The Potoo was still there, trying to dry off, and the White-bearded Manakins were lekking in their normal spot. The Bellbirds were calling regularly but only some of us managed get a view of them. Back at the veranda as the afternoon wore on, tea and cakes appeared, as did two Long-billed Gnatwrens and two Ochre-bellied Flycatchers.

Thursday 22nd January Aripo/Arena lowlands

An early breakfast at 6am and we were off in the vehicles soon after 6:30. At the bottom of the valley, we stopped briefly for Sooty Grassquit. Only brief views of this species, though Blue-black Grassquit, Rufous-breasted Wrens, and Long-billed Gnatwrens showed well. We stopped again near the Aripo Research Station, finding two Savannah Hawks perched on electric poles, a Striated Heron trying to hide on top of a tree stump, and Green-rumped Parrotlets investigating the same hole as they were on our last visit. Another stop along the main road near a tall stand of grass, and a superb male Masked Yellowthroat appeared, giving wonderful views through the telescope. We headed for Wallerfield, an old American airbase from the Second World War, and very quickly found Ruby-topaz Hummingbirds and Fork-tailed Palm-swifts flying around the Moriche Palms. A Yellow-headed Caracara flew from palm to palm, and a Merlin flew over at one point. Other stops here produced superb views of Black-crested Antshrike, a stunning male Moriche Oriole (only the second time this species has been seen on a TN trip and a 'lifer' for me [KG]), Yellow Oriole, Bran-coloured Flycatcher and an immature Grey Hawk. We headed slowly off the airfield and through the Arena Forest, stopping periodically. Several Sulphury Flycatchers showed well in some roadside trees.

We had lunch at the old gatehouse and then returned to Asa Wright for a free afternoon, though many of us took the opportunity to explore the forest trails again. The Potoo was still in its roosting tree, and the Manakins and Bellbirds gave wonderful views.

Friday 23rd January Asa Wright & spotlighting at Wallerfield

We gathered as normal on the veranda for our pre-breakfast coffee, and watched the usual array of birds coming in to feed at the replenished tables. A Tropical Parula was the highlight for most of us, though a Forest Elaenia did also appear just before the breakfast bell rang. After breakfast, we met up with Harold who led us down to the Oilbird cave. The Potoo was roosting in his normal tree and everyone managed to view him through the telescopes. Carrying on down the trail, we arrived at the shelter where Harold told us something about the fascinating life history of this unique species. Not really a cave, but more properly termed a chasm, we made our way carefully into the entrance to view the nearest Oilbirds sitting on their rock ledges. No flash photography is allowed, but the birds were close enough to obtain really good views through our binoculars in the light of Harold's torch. A fitting species to be our 150th noted on this trip so far! We gradually made our way back up the trail to return to the veranda, though some took the opportunity to explore the 'Bellbird Trail' before lunch. Two Ferruginous Pygmy-owls were visible in the 'woodpecker nesting tree' and a White Hawk circled spectacularly across the valley in front of the veranda.

During the afternoon, the group split up, each to do their own thing. From the veranda, we watched a Grey Hawk fly across the valley. We all then met up again at 4:30pm, and Roodal and Surin took us in the vehicles back to Wallerfield for some evening birding. During dinner, eaten sitting in the open at Wallerfield, a Peregrine flew over, followed by a Yellow-headed Caracara. As we are so much closer to the equator than at home, the thin sliver of moon appeared to be on its back, and as the light faded, the Fireflies started dancing. Pauraques could be heard calling in the distance, and this was the signal for us to get back into the vehicles to check out the rides and clearings using the spot-lamps. We quickly found a White-tailed Nightjar, sitting quietly on a short stick beside the roadway. By moving on a bit, we all obtained excellent side-on views of this small nightjar and could easily see the large white undertail spots. Later on, we found a small flock of Southern Lapwings, then a Pauraque, which flew off showing the white wing spots of a male bird. A Common Potoo was found in a clearing, sitting quite upright on a low stump, providing a nice contrast with the roosting bird high in a tree at Asa Wright. Finally, after several attempts at luring a Tropical Screech Owl to reveal itself, careful searching found a bird sitting low down in some bushes beside the roadway. We were back at Asa Wright soon after 9pm.

Saturday 24th January Waterloo & Caroni Swamp

Our usual timing on the veranda and for breakfast, and we departed at 8:30 - first stop the Trincity Water Treatment Ponds. Unfortunately, access was denied by the security man there, and as some construction was underway, it seemed that there were very few birds there anyway. We pressed straight on to the coast at Waterloo, immediately finding good numbers of Laughing Gulls, Black Skimmers, and five species of herons. A flock of Western Sandpipers caused much discussion, as did the several Greater Yellowlegs present. Two of the Turnstones were colour-banded and we await information on where and when these were marked. An Osprey patrolled back and forth, and there were several Royal Terns. It was interesting to note the differing feeding techniques employed by Snowy Egret, Little Blue and Tricoloured Herons. We headed back to the Caroni quayside for our picnic lunch, and several of the beautiful dragonflies were photographed. For the next hour or so we explored the overgrown rice fields behind the swamp, where a fine Pinnated Bittern showed well for a short while, then a Purple Gallinule appeared. A Long-winged Harrier patrolled the fields in the distance, being mobbed by a number of blackbirds. Finally, we met up with James Madoo and headed off on the boat into the swamp. Picking up a few more birders from a WildWings group, we quickly found a Common Potoo roosting in a mangrove near the main channel. Then several Bi-colored Conebills showed themselves, and we found a Cook's Tree Boa curled up in the top of an overhanging branch. We moored up on the edge of a lagoon and, with rum punch and homemade biscuits in hand, watched as the light began to fade and several thousand Scarlet Ibis and other herons flew into roost of the mangrove island.

A perfect end to our stay on Trinidad.

Sunday 25th January Fly to Tobago

We gathered as usual on the veranda and managed a slightly earlier breakfast than usual, ready for our transfer to Piarco. The half-hour flight to Tobago was uneventful and we were duly met by Adolphus and his son, Gladwyn. We arrived at Blue Waters in time for lunch, after which we relaxed for a while; then gathered again to catch up with a rather out-of-date checklist, and a short exploratory walk on the hillside above the hotel. In fact, in an hour, we only managed 200 yards or so! White-tipped Dove and Pale-vented Pigeon were present in the gardens, then half way up the drive, we found several Chachalacas. At the top, by the old cannon, scanning with the telescope revealed Red-billed Tropicbirds, Magnificent Frigatebirds and Brown Boobies wheeling around Little Tobago - we'll get closer in a couple of days. We got brief glimpses of White-fringed Antwren and Rufous-breasted Hermit, and good views of Barred Antshrike, Ruby-topaz & Copper-rumped Hummingbirds a little way along the road above the hotel. A Broad-winged Hawk flew over, and on the way back to the hotel, more Chachalacas were found in the Cecropia trees, and a Motmot posed nicely beside the driveway.

Monday 26th January Gilpin Trace and Main Ridge

We had a 7am breakfast and were ready to depart with Adolphus and Gladwyn by 8am. We headed to Roxborough and then up the Bloody Bay Road across the Main Ridge. The plan was to bird the roadside as we entered the forest preserve, but the clouds arrived and a torrential rainstorm caused us to change our plans. Instead, we drove on to the lookout, to use the facilities and hire gum boots, prior to a walk along the Gilpin Trace. The rain eased and we set off along a rather wet and muddy trail. Though initially difficult, birding became easier as the trail widened, and we managed to find a White-tailed Sabrewing on a nest, a Rufous-tailed Jacamar flew across having exited from its nest-hole in a bank, and a Collared Trogon sat quietly on an overhanging branch. Further Sabrewings showed well as we walked slowly down the trail. A White-throated Spadebill was exceptionally confiding, allowing very close views for everyone, though a Stripe-breasted Spinetail kept well hidden despite calling repeatedly. A Fuscous Flycatcher had taken up residence around a fallen dead tree. We got as far as the waterfall, finding further Sabrewings, before retracing our steps. A male Blue-backed Manakin showed for some of us high in a tree.

We returned to the lookout for lunch, having excellent views of at least one male Red-legged Honeycreeper with two other birds with him partly hidden. The Tropical Mockingbirds and White-lined Tanagers had obviously realised that there were picnic scraps available! Two Southern Lapwing also posed nicely for photographs, in between tugging large earthworms from the sodden grass. We all then loaded back into the bus, and alternated walking with driving short distances down the road. A female Blue-backed Manakin was found on the woodland edge, then a stunning male was found in vegetation overhanging a stream. Two Yellow-breasted Flycatchers did not stay long, and a Chivi Vireo and Venezuelan Fly-catcher were similarly uncooperative. However, Streaked Flycatcher and Red-rumped Woodpecker were seen by most of us as two Broad-winged Hawks circled overhead. We then headed back to Blue Waters for a well-earned drink - and some of us managed to add Osprey and Yellow-crowned Night-heron to our 'bar lists'!

Tuesday 27th January Little Tobago & Blue Waters

This was the first day almost cloudless and without rain! A pre-breakfast walk took some as far as the old water wheel near Speyside whilst others just managed as far as the cannon where we had good views of White-fringed Antwrens, Scrub Greenlet and Black-faced Grassquit. After breakfast, we gathered on the jetty prior to boarding Frank's Glass Bottom (Boat, of course) for our trip across Angel Reef to Little Tobago Island. Motmots and Blue-grey Tanagers abounded here, and we found several Brown-crested Flycatchers. Looking over the viewpoint, Brown and Red-footed Boobies were circling the bay and we could see several nests containing chicks. We could say that the Frigatebirds were magnificent(!) but I think the highlight were the many Red-billed Tropicbirds, forever circling the bay, and a lovely tropicbird on a nest with a downy chick right by the viewpoint. The adult was watched by two lucky people feeding its chick.

Back to Blue Waters for lunch, then we walked out along the trail above the hotel. We had further good views of White-fringed Antwren and Scrub Greenlet, also a Fuscous Flycatcher near the hotel gate, and Yellow-breasted Flycatcher and Yellow-bellied Elaenia along the trail. A wonderful few minutes included Merlin, Broad-winged Hawks, then a Peregrine and brief views of Great Black-hawk. Two of us returned to go snorkelling in the bay before the sun was lost behind the hillside, but the sea was a little cloudy after the recent rough weather.

Wednesday 28th January The Hilton pools, Grafton & Buccoo Reef

Gladwyn met us after breakfast, and we headed westwards back towards Crown Point. We met up with Adolphus who was waiting for us at the main entrance to the Tobago Hilton complex. The lake right by the entrance gate held good numbers of Anhingas, some actively fishing, showing just why they are sometimes called 'snake-birds', and others perched around the shoreline vegetation. We moved on to a series of waste water treatment pools, and were immediately confronted with a large flock of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks. Moorhens and also some nice Least Grebes were also found. The last pools were rather muddy and held Green-backed Heron, both Greater & Lesser Yellowlegs (nice comparison here) and a solitary Solitary Sandpiper! A Grey Kingbird was busy fly-catching and we had excellent views of a pair of Red-crowned Woodpeckers prospecting a nest hole in a dead tree. A party of Blue-winged Teal included a single White-cheeked Pintail, but these unfortunately flew off as we approached the pool. We then moved on to the Grafton Estate, where we did a short walk along one of the trails from the old Copra House. Various species here included nice views of another male Blue-backed Manakin.

We had our picnic lunch at the old Copra House before heading on to Pigeon Point to pick up the boat for our trip to Buccoo Reef. We had a cursory look through the glass bottom as we drifted over the 'Garden Reef', with views of a variety of parrotfish, damselfish, and a single sting-ray semi-buried in the sand. We anchored in the lee of the main reef, in about chest-deep water. There were plastic shoes and masks for those who wanted to snorkel and our boatman took us for a short walk across the sand, looking at various reef outcrops. A large Reef Shark was found sheltering under one outcrop. We then swam in the Nylon Pool, so called many years ago by the then Princess Margaret, with very shallow and very warm water over pure white sand. We headed back to the shore, finding both Royal and Sandwich Terns, and Gladwyn took us back to Blue Waters.

Thursday 29th January Departure

A pre-breakfast walk was most successful despite the overcast conditions and light drizzle at times. A Belted Kingfisher flew across the bay and allowed good views through the telescope. We then moved slowly across the front garden to the bottom of the main drive, finding Yellow-bellied Elaenias, a nice pair of White-fringed Antwrens, and a good male Black-faced Grassquit, amongst others. A leisurely breakfast and packing, and we were all ready by soon after 10am.

Friday 30th January Arrival at Heathrow

Species Lists

The various species lists below use the following references:

Birds: We use the suggested worldwide English names and systematic order as found in World Bird Species Checklist: with alternate English & scientific names (Wells, M.G., 1998).

Mammals: Neotropical Rainforest Mammals, A Field Guide (Emmons, Louise H., 1997).

Amphibians and Reptiles: Amphibians and Reptiles of Trinidad & Tobago (Murphy, John C.)

Butterflies: Butterflies of the Caribbean and Florida (Stiling, P., 1999).

BIRD LIST:

Little Tinamou: Heard at La Laja Road on 21st.

Least Grebe: Noted only at Hilton pools on 28th.

Red-billed Tropicbird: Noted on 3 days, around Little Tobago on 25th - 27th.

Red-footed Booby: Noted only at Little Tobago on 27th.

Brown Booby: Noted on 2 days, Little Tobago on 25th & 27th.

Anhinga / American Darter: Noted only at Hilton pools, c15 on 28th.

Olivaceous/Neotropical Cormorant: Noted on 2 days, at Nariva Swamp on 20th, Waterloo & Caroni Swamp on 24th.

Brown Pelican: Noted on 7 days, at Blanchisseuse on 19th, Nariva Swamp on 20th, Waterloo on 24th, Blue Waters on 26th, 27th & 29th, Pigeon Point/Buccoo Reef on 28th.

Magnificent Frigatebird: Noted on 6 days, at Blanchisseuse on 19th, Nariva Swamp on 20th, Little Tobago/Blue Waters on 25th - 27th, Pigeon Point/Buccoo Reef on 28th.

Great Blue Heron: Noted only at Waterloo, 1 on 24th.

Cattle Egret: Noted on 8 days.

Great [White] Egret: Noted on 2 days, at Aripo on 20th, Waterloo on 24th.

Tricolored Heron: Noted only at Waterloo/Caroni Swamp on 24th.

Little Blue Heron: Noted on 5 days, at Blanchisseuse on 19th, Nariva Swamp on 20th, Waterloo/Caroni Swamp on 24th, the river mouth near Speyside on 27th & 28th and Hilton pools on 28th.

Snowy Egret: Noted on 2 days, at Waterloo/Caroni Swamp on 24th, Hilton pools on 28th.

Striated Heron: Noted on 3 days, at Nariva Swamp & Aripo on 20th, Aripo/Arena on 22nd, Caroni Swamp on 24th.

Green[-backed] Heron: Noted only at Hilton pools on 28th.

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron: Noted on 3 days, at Waterloo/Caroni Swamp on 24th, Blue Waters on 26th, from vehicle en route on 28th.

Pinnated Bittern: Noted on 2 days, at Nariva Swamp on 20th, Caroni Swamp on 24th.

Scarlet Ibis: Noted only at Caroni Swamp on 24th.

Black-bellied Whistling-duck: Noted only at Hilton pools, 160 on 28th.

White-cheeked Pintail: Noted only at Hilton pools, 1 on 28th.

Blue-winged Teal: Noted only at Hilton pools, 60 on 28th.

Turkey Vulture: Noted on 8 days, Trinidad only.

[American] Black Vulture: Noted on 6 days, Trinidad only.

Osprey: Noted on 7 days, at Nariva Swamp on 20th, Waterloo/Caroni Swamp on 24th, Blue Waters/Little Tobago on 25th - 27th, Buccoo on 28th, Blue Waters again on 29th.

Grey-headed Kite: Noted on 2 days, at Asa Wright on 19th, La Laja Road on 21st.

Pearl Kite: Noted only at Aripo on 20th.

Long-winged Harrier: Noted only at Caroni Swamp on 24th.

White Hawk: Noted on 2 days, at Aripo/Arena on 22nd, Asa Wright on 23rd.

Common Black-hawk: Noted on 6 days, at Asa Wright on 18th, North Ridge (Trinidad) on 19th, Nariva Swamp on 20th, La Laja Road on 21st, Asa Wright again on 24th & 25th.

Great Black-hawk: Noted only at Blue Waters, briefly on 27th.

Savannah Hawk: Noted on 4 days, at Aripo & Nariva Swamp on 20th, Aripo/Arena on 22nd, and again in passing on 23rd, 1 near Trincity on 24th.

Grey Hawk: Noted on 4 days, at Nariva Swamp on 20th, La Laja Road on 21st, an immature at Aripo/Arena on 22nd, Asa Wright on 23rd.

Broad-winged Hawk: Noted on 5 days, at La Laja Road on 21st, Blue Waters on 2 Main Ridge (Tobago) on 26th, and up to 3 at Blue Waters on 25th, 27th & 28th.

Short-tailed Hawk: Noted only at Aripo on 20th.

Zone-tailed Hawk: Noted on 3 days, at Asa Wright on 18th, Aripo on 20th, near Trincity on 24th.

Yellow-headed Caracara: Noted on 4 days, at Nariva Swamp on 20th, Aripo/Arena on 22nd, Wallerfield on 23rd, Caroni Swamp on 24th.

Merlin: Noted on 4 days, at Aripo/Arena on 22nd, Waterloo on 24th, Blue Waters on 26th & 27th.

Bat Falcon: Noted only at Nariva Swamp on 20th.

Peregrine Falcon: Noted on 2 days, at Wallerfield on 23rd, Blue Waters on 27th.

Rufous-vented Chachalaca: Noted on 5 days, Main Ridge (Tobago) on 26th, and Blue Waters each day, 25th - 29th.

Limpkin: Noted only at Caroni Swamp briefly on 24th.

Grey-necked Wood-rail: Heard in Arena forest on 22nd.

Common Moorhen: Noted only at Hilton pools on 28th.

[American] Purple Gallinule: Noted on 2 days, at Nariva Swamp on 20th, Caroni Swamp on 24th.

Wattled Jacana: Noted on 4 days, at Nariva Swamp on 20th, Aripo/Arena on 22nd, Caroni Swamp on 24th, Hilton pools on 28th.

Southern Lapwing: Noted on 5 days, at Aripo & Nariva Swamp on 20th, Wallerfield on 23rd, Waterloo on 24th, 2 Main Ridge (Tobago) on 26th, Hilton pools on 28th.

Semipalmated Plover: Noted only at Waterloo on 24th.

[Hudsonian] Whimbrel: Noted only at Waterloo on 24th.

Greater Yellowlegs: Noted on 2 days, with 2 at Waterloo on 24th, Hilton pools on 28th.

Lesser Yellowlegs: Noted only at Hilton pools on 28th.

Solitary Sandpiper: Noted on 3 days, at Aripo on 20th, Aripo/Arena on 22nd, Hilton pools on 28th.

Spotted Sandpiper: Noted on 8 days, at Blanchisseuse on 19th, Aripo on 20th, Waterloo/ Caroni Swamp on 24th, then 2 each day at Blue Waters 25th - 29th.

Willet: Noted only at Waterloo on 24th.

Ruddy Turnstone: Noted on 6 days, c15 at Waterloo on 24th, up to 35 at Blue Waters on 25th - 29th.

Western Sandpiper: Noted only at Waterloo, c50 on 24th.

Laughing Gull: Noted on 2 days, at Waterloo on 24th, Pigeon Point/Buccoo Reef on 28th.

Royal Tern: Noted on 2 days, at Waterloo on 24th, Pigeon Point/Buccoo Reef on 28th.

Sandwich Tern: Noted only at Pigeon Point/Buccoo Reef on 28th.

Black Skimmer: Noted only at Waterloo on 24th.

Scaled Pigeon: Noted on 5 days at Asa Wright, both heard and seen.

Pale-vented/Rufous Pigeon: Noted on 5 days at Blue Waters on 25th - 29th, also Buccoo Reef on 28th.

Eared Dove: Noted on 2 days, at Caroni Swamp on 24th, Pigeon Point/Buccoo Reef on 28th.

Ruddy Ground-dove: Noted on 8 days, at Asa Wright each day, also Blanchisseuse on 19th, Waterloo on 24th.

White-tipped Dove: Noted on 5 days at Blue Waters, 25th - 29th.

Grey-fronted Dove: Noted on 8 days at Asa Wright, 18th - 25th.

Red-bellied Macaw: Noted only at Nariva Swamp, when c150 came in to roost on 20th.

Green-rumped Parrotlet: Noted on 2 days, at Aripo on 20th & 22nd.

Yellow-crowned [Amazon] Parrot: Noted only at Nariva Swamp, c6 with macaws on 20th.

Orange-winged [Amazon] Parrot: Noted on 8 days, at Asa Wright & North Ridge (Trinidad) and Main Ridge (Tobago) on 26th.

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

Striped Cuckoo: Only heard North Ridge (Trinidad) on 19th.

Squirrel Cuckoo: Noted on 5 days at Asa Wright on 19th - 21st, 23rd, & 24th.

Tropical Screech-owl: Noted only at Wallerfield on 23rd.

Ferruginous Pygmy-owl: Noted on 5 days, both seen and heard at Asa Wright on 18th, 19th, 21st, & 23rd, also heard at Nariva Swamp on 20th.

Oilbird: Noted on 2 days, at Asa Wright on 23rd, also heard screaming outside cabins at 3.30am on 25th!

Common/Grey Potoo: Noted on 4 days, at Asa Wright on 21st - 23rd, Wallerfield on 23rd, and Caroni Swamp on 24th.

Common Pauraque: Noted on 2 days, at Wallerfield on 23rd, heard near Arena as we returned from Caroni on 24th.

White-tailed Nightjar: Noted only at Wallerfield on 23rd.

Grey-rumped Swift: Noted on 6 days at Asa Wright, also Grafton (Tobago) on 28th.

Short-tailed Swift: Noted on 4 days, at Blanchisseuse on 19th, Manzanilla on 20th, Blue Waters/Little Tobago on 27th, Grafton on 28th.

Fork-tailed Palm-swift: Noted on 2 days, at Aripo on 20th, Wallerfield on 22nd.

Rufous-breasted Hermit: Noted on 10 days on both islands.

Green Hermit: Noted on 5 days at Asa Wright on 18th, 19th, 21st - 23rd.

Little Hermit: Noted only at Asa Wright on 18th.

White-tailed Sabrewing: Noted only at Main Ridge (Tobago), at least 5 on 26th including one on nest.

White-necked Jacobin: Noted each day at Asa Wright, also North Ridge (Trinidad) on 19th, and Blue Waters on 26th.

Black-throated Mango: Noted each day at Asa Wright, and Blue Waters on 26th.

Ruby-topaz Hummingbird: Noted on 5 days, at Wallerfield on 22nd, Main Ridge (Tobago) on 26th, Blue Waters on 25th - 27th, Grafton on 28th.

Tufted Coquette: Noted each day at Asa Wright.

Blue-chinned Sapphire: Noted only at Asa Wright on 18th.

White-chested Emerald: Noted each day at Asa Wright, and North Ridge (Trinidad) on 19th.

Copper-rumped Hummingbird: Noted on 11 days, most days at Asa Wright, also North Ridge (Trinidad) on 19th, Wallerfield on 22nd, Blue Waters on 25th & 27th, Main Ridge (Tobago) on 26th, and Grafton on 28th.

Long-billed Starthroat: Noted only at Asa Wright on 19th.

White-tailed Goldenthroat: Noted only at Aripo on 20th.

White-tailed Trogon: Noted on 2 days, at North Ridge (Trinidad) on 19th, heard distantly Aripo/Arena on 22nd.

Collared Trogon: Noted on 3 days, at North Ridge (Trinidad) on 19th, La Laja Road on 21st, Main Ridge (Tobago) on 26th.

Violaceous Trogon: Noted on 4 days, at Asa Wright on 18th, 21st, & 22nd, and North Ridge (Trinidad) on 19th.

Ringed Kingfisher: Noted only at Caroni Swamp when one flew high overhead on 24th.

Belted Kingfisher: Noted only at Blue Waters on 29th.

Green Kingfisher: Noted on 3 days, at Nariva Swamp on 20th, Caroni Swamp on 24th, Speyside on 28th.

American Pygmy Kingfisher: Noted only at Blanchisseuse on 19th.

Blue-crowned Motmot: Noted each day.

Rufous-tailed Jacamar: Noted on 4 days, at North Ridge (Trinidad) on 19th, Main Ridge (Tobago) on 26th, Blue Waters on 27th, Grafton on 28th.

Channel-billed Toucan: Noted most days at Asa Wright, also North Ridge (Trinidad) on 19th.

Red-crowned Woodpecker: Noted only at Hilton pools & Grafton on 28th.

Red-rumped Woodpecker: Noted on 2 days, with 3 at Nariva Swamp on 20th, Main Ridge (Tobago) on 26th.

Golden-olive Woodpecker: Noted on 6 days, at Asa Wright on 18th, 21st, 22nd, & 24th, North Ridge (Trinidad) on 19th, Main Ridge (Tobago) on 26th.

Chestnut Woodpecker: Noted each day at Asa Wright, also North Ridge (Trinidad) on 19th.

Lineated Woodpecker: Noted on 4 days at Asa Wright; a beak at nesthole on 19th, seen well on 20th, another beak only at nesthole on 21st, heard from bus near Asa Wright on 25th.

Crimson-crested Woodpecker: Noted only at nest hole at Manzanilla on 20th.

Plain-brown Woodcreeper: Noted on 5 days, at Asa Wright on 18th & 22nd - 24th, and La Laja Road on 21st.

Cocoa Woodcreeper: Noted on 5 days, at North Ridge (Trinidad) on 19th, Asa Wright on 21st & 22nd, Grafton on 28th, Blue Waters on 29th.

Pale-breasted Spinetail: Noted only at Nariva Swamp on 20th.

Stripe-breasted Spinetail: Noted on 3 days, La Laja Road on 21st, heard Main Ridge (Tobago) on 26th, Grafton on 28th.

Yellow-chinned Spinetail: Noted on 2 days, at Nariva Swamp on 20th, Caroni Swamp on 24th.

Grey-throated Leaftosser: Noted only at La Laja Road on 21st.

Great Antshrike: Noted on 8 days, at Asa Wright on 18th, Asa Wright most days and Blue Waters on 27th.

Black-crested Antshrike: Noted on 2 days, briefly just before heavy rain near Nariva Swamp on 20th, several at Wallerfield on 22nd.

Barred Antshrike: Noted most days.

Plain Antvireo: Noted on 3 days, at North Ridge (Trinidad) on 19th, La Laja Road on 21st, Main Ridge (Tobago) on 26th.

White-flanked Antwren: Noted only at Asa Wright on 18th.

White-fringed Antwren: Noted on 3 days, at Grafton on 28th, Blue Waters on 27th & 29th.

Scaled Antpitta: Noted only briefly at North Ridge (Trinidad) on 19th.

Silvered Antbird: A female at Blanchisseuse on 19th.

White-bellied Antbird: Noted only at La Laja Road where a pair showed well on 21st.

Southern Beardless Tyrannulet: Noted on 4 days at Asa Wright.

Yellow-olive Flycatcher: Noted on 2 days, at Asa Wright on 18th, North Ridge (Trinidad) on 19th.

Forest Elaenia: Noted on 3 days, at La Laja Road on 21st, Asa Wright on 22nd & 23rd.

Yellow-bellied Elaenia: Noted on 4 days, at Speyside lookout on 26th, and Blue Waters on 27th - 29th.

Ochre-bellied Flycatcher: Noted on 7 days, at Asa Wright most days and North Ridge (Trinidad) on 19th.

Yellow-breasted Flycatcher: Noted on 4 days, at Asa Wright on 22nd, Main Ridge (Tobago) on 26th, Blue Waters on 27th, Grafton on 28th.

White-throated Spadebill: Noted only at Main Ridge (Tobago) on 26th.

Bran-coloured Flycatcher: Noted only at Wallerfield on 22nd.

Euler's Flycatcher: Noted only at North Ridge (Trinidad) on 19th.

Olive-sided Flycatcher: Noted on 2 days, at Asa Wright on 21st & 23rd.

Tropical Pewee: Noted on 2 days, at North Ridge (Trinidad) on 19th, Asa Wright on 22nd.

Fuscous Flycatcher: Noted on 2 days, at Main Ridge (Tobago) on 26th, Blue Waters on 27th.

Pied Water-tyrant: Noted on 3 days, at Aripo, Arena, Nariva and Caroni Swamp.

White-headed Marsh-tyrant: Noted on 3 days, at Aripo, Arena, Nariva and Caroni Swamp.

Dusky-capped Flycatcher: Noted on 2 days, at La Laja Road on 21st, Asa Wright on 22nd.

Venezuelan Flycatcher: Noted only briefly at Main Ridge (Tobago) on 26th.

Brown-crested Flycatcher: Noted on 2 days, on Little Tobago Is. on 27th, Grafton on 28th.

Great Kiskadee: Noted most days on Trinidad.

Boat-billed Flycatcher: Noted on 4 days at Asa Wright, 18th & 21st -23rd.

Streaked Flycatcher: Noted on 4 days, at Asa Wright on 18th, 21st & 24th, Main Ridge (Tobago) on 26th.

Sulphury Flycatcher: Noted only at Arena where several on 22nd.

Tropical Kingbird: Noted most days on both islands.

Grey Kingbird: Noted on 2 days, at Crown Point on 25th, Blue Waters & Hilton pools on 28th.

Black-tailed Tityra: Noted on 3 days, at Asa Wright on 18th & 20th, a pair at Nariva Swamp on 20th, Wallerfield on 22nd.

White-bearded Manakin: Noted on 5 days, mainly at Asa Wright, also North Ridge (Trinidad) on 19th.

Blue-backed Manakin: Noted on 2 days, several at Main Ridge (Tobago) on 26th, and a nice male at Grafton on 28th.

Golden-headed Manakin: Noted on 5 days, mainly at Asa Wright, also North Ridge (Trinidad) on 19th.

Bearded Bellbird: Noted each day at Asa Wright, mainly heard though also some excellent views. Also heard North Ridge (Trinidad) on 19th.

White-winged Swallow: Noted on 4 days, at Blanchisseuse on 19th, Aripo & Nariva Swamp on 20th, Aripo/Arena on 22nd, Waterloo on 24th.

Grey-breasted Martin: Noted on 4 days, at Nariva Swamp on 20th, Aripo/Arena on 22nd, Waterloo on 24th, Piarco Airport on 25th.

Caribbean Martin: Noted only at Grafton on 28th.

Southern Rough-winged Swallow: Noted on 3 days, at Blanchisseuse on 19th, Nariva Swamp on 20th, Waterloo on 24th.

Rufous-breasted Wren: Noted on 9 days, at Asa Wright most days, Main Ridge (Tobago) on 26th, Blue Waters on 27th, Grafton on 28th.

House Wren: Noted most days on both islands.

Tropical Mockingbird: Noted each day on both islands.

Cocoa Thrush: Noted on 8 days, at Asa Wright each day, also Blanchisseuse on 19th.

Bare-eyed Thrush: Noted each day on both islands.

White-necked Thrush: Noted on 3 days, at Asa Wright on 18th, La Laja Road on 21st, Main Ridge (Tobago) on 26th.

Long-billed Gnatwren: Noted on 2 days at Asa Wright where 2 seen on 21st & 22nd.

Blue-black Grassquit: Noted on 7 days, at Aripo & Nariva Swamp on 20th, La Laja Road on 21st, Aripo/Arena on 22nd, Caroni ricefields on 24th, Blue Waters on 26th - 28th.

Ruddy-breasted Seedeater: Noted only at Aripo on 20th.

Black-faced Grassquit: Noted on 3 days at Blue Waters, 27th -29th.

Sooty Grassquit: Females/immatures noted only at Aripo/Arena on 22nd.

Greyish Saltator: Noted on 8 days, at Asa Wright each day.

Bicoloured Conebill: Several close sightings at Caroni Swamp on 24th.

White-shouldered Tanager: Noted on 5 days, at Asa Wright on 18th, 20th & 22nd, North Ridge (Trinidad) on 19th, La Laja Road on 21st.

White-lined Tanager: Noted most days on both islands.

Red-crowned Ant-tanager: Noted on 6 days at Asa Wright, most unusually coming to the feeding tables.

Silver-beaked Tanager: Noted each day at Asa Wright also North Ridge (Trinidad) on 19th.

Blue-grey Tanager: Noted each day on both islands.

Palm Tanager: Noted each day on both islands.

Trinidad Euphonia: Noted only at Arena on 22nd, where heard but not seen.

Violaceous Euphonia: Noted on 9 days, at Asa Wright each day, also North Ridge (Trinidad) on 19th, & Main Ridge (Tobago) on 26th.

Turquoise Tanager: Noted on 8 days, at Asa Wright most days, also North Ridge (Trinidad) on 19th.

Bay-headed Tanager: Noted on 6 days, at Asa Wright 18th - 23rd, North Ridge (Trinidad) on 19th.

Blue Dacnis: Noted on 5 days, at Asa Wright on 18th, North Ridge (Trinidad) on 19th, several close views at Nariva Swamp on 20th, Asa Wright again on 22nd & 23rd.

Green Honeycreeper: Noted each day at Asa Wright.

Purple Honeycreeper: Noted each day at Asa Wright.

Red-legged Honeycreeper: Three seen at the Main Ridge lookout (Tobago) on 26th.

Bananaquit: Noted each day on both islands.

Tropical Parula: Noted on 4 days, at Asa Wright on 18th, La Laja Road on 21st, Asa Wright again on 23rd & 25th.

American Redstart: Noted on 2 days, at Asa Wright on 18th, La Laja Road on 21st.

Northern Waterthrush: Noted on 9 days, heard at Asa Wright on 18th, seen at Blanchisseuse on 19th, Nariva Swamp on 20th, Asa Wright on 21st, Wallerfield on 22nd, Caroni Swamp on 24th, & Blue Waters on 27th - 29th.

Masked Yellowthroat: A stunning male at the roadside at Aripo on 22nd.

Golden-crowned Warbler: Noted on 2 days, at Asa Wright & La Laja Road on 21st, Asa Wright on 23rd.

Rufous-browed Peppershrike: Noted on 4 days, at North Ridge (Trinidad) on 19th, La Laja Road on 21st, heard Aripo/Arena on 22nd, heard Caroni Swamp on 24th.

Chivi Vireo: Noted only briefly at Main Ridge (Tobago) on 26th.

Golden-fronted Greenlet: Noted on 3 days, at Asa Wright on 18th, Blanchisseuse on 19th, La Laja Road on 21st.

Scrub Greenlet: Noted on 2 days, at Blue Waters on 27th, Grafton on 28th.

Crested Oropendola: Noted each day on Trinidad, and on Little Tobago Is. on 27th.

Yellow-rumped Cacique: Noted on 2 days, 20th & 22nd.

Yellow Oriole: Noted on 5 days, at Nariva Swamp on 20th, Asa Wright on 21st, Aripo/Arena on 22nd, Asa Wright on 23rd - 24th.

Moriche Oriole: A stunning male at Wallerfield on 22nd.

Yellow-hooded Blackbird: Noted on 2 days, at Nariva Swamp on 20th, Caroni Swamp on 24th.

Red-breasted Blackbird: Noted on 3 days, at Aripo & Nariva Swamp on 20th, Aripo/Arena on 22nd, Caroni Swamp on 24th.

Carib Grackle: Noted on 8 days, on both islands.

Shiny Cowbird: Noted on 8 days, on both islands.

Giant Cowbird: Noted on 3 days, at Manzanilla on 20th, Aripo/Arena on 22nd, several Main Ridge (Tobago) on 26th.

BUTTERFLIES & other insects:

Monarch Danaus plexippus: Noted on 3 days, at Nariva Swamp on 20th, La Laja Road on 21st, Aripo/Arena on 22nd.

Blue Transparent Ithomia pellucida: Noted at North Ridge (Trinidad) on 19th.

Silverking Archaeoprepona demophoon: Noted at Asa Wright on 18th.

Caribbean Buckeye Junonia evarete: Noted at Blue Waters on 27th.

Red Anartia Anartia amathea: Noted on 4 days, 19th - 22nd.

Red Rim Biblis hyperia: Noted only at La Laja Road on 21st.

Painted Lady Vanessa cardui: Noted at Blue Waters on 27th, this is a quite unusual migrant in the Caribbean from North or South America.

Flambeau Dryas iulia: Noted only on 22nd.

'Tiger Stripe' Heliconius sp.: Noted on 2 days, at La Laja Road on 21st, p on 22nd.

Postman Heliconius melpomene: Noted on 4 days, 18th - 22nd, mainly at Asa Wright.

Cloudless Sulphur Phoebis sennae: Noted on 3 days, 18th, 21st, & 22nd.

Cattle Heart Parides anchises: Noted at Asa Wright on 18th.

Long-tailed Skipper Urbanus proteus: Noted at North Ridge (Trinidad) on 19th.

Owl butterfly Caligo teucer: Noted on 2 days, 21st & 22nd.

Morpho Morpho peleides: Noted on 2 days, at Asa Wright on 18th, Blanchisseuse on 19th.

OTHER GROUPS

Red-kneed Tarantula: Noted only at North Ridge (Trinidad) on 19th.

AMPHIBIANS & REPTILES:

Spectacled Cayman: Seen in passing alongside river on 28th.

Hawksbill Turtle: Seen from glass bottomed boat off Little Tobago Is. on 27th.

Cook's Tree Boa: Seen at Caroni Swamp on 24th.

Gecko species: Noted only at Asa Wright.

Golden Tegu: Noted on 5 days at Asa Wright.

Whiptail species: Noted on 3 days, at Asa Wright on 18th, Blue Waters on 27th, Grafton on 28th.

MAMMALS:

Gtr White-lined [Sac-winged] Bat: Noted on 3 days, at North Ridge (Trinidad) on 19th, La Laja Road on 21st, Arena on 22nd.

Fruit Bat species: Noted on 5 days at Asa Wright.

Egyptian Mongoose: Two noted briefly at Caroni ricefields on 24th.

Red-tailed Squirrel: Noted on 7 days, at Asa Wright on 21st -25th, Blue Waters & Main Ridge (Tobago) on 26th, Blue Waters on 27th, Grafton on 28th.

Red-rumped Agouti: Noted each day at Asa Wright.

It is always nigh-on impossible to pick out some highlights from a trip like this. We must start with the mind-blowing array of hummingbirds and tanagers at the feeding station before breakfast at Asa Wright on the first morning, and then carry on from there! The large numbers of Scarlet Ibis flying in to roost at Caroni Swamp, that most impressive view from the lookout on Little Tobago Island, the Red-billed Tropicbird feeding its chick with us standing within a couple of metres all vie for our attention. The White-tailed Goldenthroat at Aripo was a 'lifer' for me, even though this was a rather distant view across the pasture. However, the Moriche Oriole was a stunner! I'm sure everyone will have different memories of this excellent trip.

Well done to all of you who made this trip the success it was, and I do hope to see you all on another trip, sometime in the not-too-distant future.

Keith Grant, February 2004


© The Travelling Naturalist 2004