Day 1 (Thursday, 12th February)
Birding started even before we arrived at Trinidad. There was quite a gap between the incoming Tobago flight, and the hopper flight to complete our journey. As soon as we entered the airport, it was obvious that we were on “Caribbean Time” – no rush, no problems, no organisation, although we were informed that we might be able to get on an earlier flight, which still left half an hour to wander around away from the ramshackle airport and try to find some birds. This was duly done on the lawns and trees that surrounded the housing immediately outside of the airport. Even though not a single bird was seen from the plane to the airport buildings, there were plenty on this side of the fence. Immediately next to a small café was singing Bananaquit, and 3 Carib Grackles mingling with the punters at the tables, with 2 Black-faced Grassquits on the adjacent open lawn. The trees within about 100 metres of the perimeter were very productive, with prime birds such as 3-4 stunning Blue-grey Tanagers, and Black-throated Mango, supported by at least 2 Eared Doves, 2 Grey-fronted Doves, and a small collection of Caribbean Martins settling on trees with 2 Tropical Kingbirds.
from Trinidad airport to Aripo Cottage the previous evening was far from
straight forward. We favoured the Eastern Main Road to the Churchill-Roosevelt
highway, and were taken through the town of Arima. There was some sort of a
party going on in the centre, so the police had decided to shut off one of the
main roads through. We did get a little lost in the back streets, but not to a
great degree. Amazingly, we found the unlit sign showing the turning North to
Aripo Village, about 15 miles to the East of where we joined the main highway.
The track up to Aripo Cottage is far from the best. The first 4 miles, after
which a right hand turn was taken over a small bridge, were winding but in
decent repair, although the bridge did contain a small but dangerous hole. The
track broke down severely for the rest of the journey. Almost there, and facing
4 wheel drive potholes, we were caught up by Gary, the owner of Aripo Cottage,
which was very timely, since we had to stash the car in a neighbours drive,
about 400 metres short of the lodging and took the last leg of the journey in