Day 8 (Thursday, 19th February)
Up and out of the accommodation by 6:30, we planned to use the first couple of hours before breakfast to complete some more local birding around the Pax and Mount St Benedict area. We set off up the hill towards St Benet Hall, and on the way found adult White-breasted Emeralds feeding a fledged immature. I was going to head off on the Parula Trail, when a local in a van warned me that the trail was not the safest place to go. Perhaps the warning was a good omen, since the trees around the camp accommodation at the start of the trail were very lively. Pride of place went to a pair of Squirrel Cuckoos, which were uncharacteristically playing out in the open. A handful of Tropical Parulas were restlessly feeding higher up. A couple of elaenias were scrapping with each other as they passed through, showing irate white crest stripes as they tussled.
We tore ourselves away from the birding around St Benet’s Hall, to descend the Old Donkey Trail, aiming for the supposed Rufous-breasted Hermit nesting site at the head of the dry stream. A superb Rufous-breasted Wren was singing on the descent. All we had for our troubles at the stream was a Copper-rumped Hummingbird, which seemed intent on chasing away allcomers. Climbing back up the track again, good views of a pair of Plain-brown Woodcreepers were eventually to be had. A Streaked Xenops, hammering away at the end of a broken branch, looked very similar to a small woodpecker at first. A singing Rufous-breasted Wren also eventually showed itself out in the open.
We arrived back at Pax for breakfast at 9:00, peering around the open doors to watch the raptor rising on thermals outside. Following Short-tailed Hawk, possible Double-toothed Kite, and White Hawk, our first Zone-tailed Hawk appeared directly in front of us, before slipping away down the valley.
Back in Tobago airport again, with a couple of hours until our onward flight, and we were lucky enough to be able to check in the cases immediately, leaving the maximum amount of time possible for walking around the immediate area. As soon as we exited the buildings, Carib Grackles and Grey Kingbirds flew over. Shortly after Bananaquits and Blue-grey Tanager, a pair of Eared Doves landed on wires directly over us. These were not seen on Trinidad, and were distant on our first foray before the Trinidad connecting flight. A short walk to the West, along the northern perimeter of the airport, brought us to the shores of the Caribbean Sea, overlooking one of the bays. In amongst the hordes of happy sun worshippers, was a small collection of Laughing Gulls and Royal Terns. Caribbean Martins were overhead. We turned the corner to the South, and found a Yellow-bellied Elaenia. This short road met the airport runway again, so we turned to the right, finding Brown-crested Flycatcher, and very briefly what may have been a Red-crowned Woodpecker – another not seen on Trinidad.
This road again terminated at the shores of the Caribbean, with planes flying in low above us. Two floating platforms about 100m into the sea from here held a collection of 2 dozen or so Brown Boobies, and a pair of Brown Pelicans. Most were juveniles, with 2-3 smart adults in attendance. Our target along the South side of the airport was a group of freshwater ponds, but they were quite a trek, so we decided to turn back so far along – missing the flight wouldn’t have been worth it (probably!). Just as we completed the U-turn, a Yellow-headed Caracara flew by. We had passed what looked like a feral pigeon earlier – it was still here, but proved to be a Pale-vented Pigeon, showing poorly against the backlight. Another first for the trip, presented by Tobago. After adding a second Pale-vented Pigeon near to the airport entrance, we saw some Blue-black Grassquits, half a dozen Smooth-billed Anis together, and more Grey Kingbirds. All in all, this is one of the best airports that I have flown through for easy accessibility of birds within walking distance of the gates.