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Introduction

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Day 7

Day 8

Species list

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List of species seen

Brown Pelican 

These were only seen on the 2 days near the coast. 3 birds were on the boats with Laughing Gulls at Waterloo, and at least 20 birds were flying past and fishing over the sea adjacent to Tobago airport

Brown Booby

2 groups totalling ~16 birds were resting on 2 floating platforms just off the beach from Tobago airport. Most were juveniles in wholly brown plumage, with only 2-3 adults in dapper brown and white livery

Neotropic Cormorant

Only one was seen on the coast at Waterloo, perched on a buoy just offshore, but more were seen flying over Caroni Swamp

Anhinga

Only one bird was seen, in perhaps the most surprising of places – circling high on thermals with raptors over Wallerfields

Magnificent Frigatebird

The only inland bird was a singleton high over the Pax Guest House, with more predictable birds at Waterloo (~8) and over the sea just off Tobago airport (~20)

Great Blue Heron

Only one seen – perched for some time on the mudflats at Waterloo

Tricoloured Heron

4 birds were in the distance on the mudflats at Waterloo, but most were seen at Caroni Swamp, where in excess of 80 birds flew in with Snowy Egrets to roost

Little Blue Heron

After a single bird flying in to the Trincity Ponds, the most impressive numbers were feeding on the mudflats at Waterloo, with at least 50 birds present. A further 6 birds were seen over the Rice Fields earlier that same morning, with an additional 30 or so at Caroni Swamp

Snowy Egret 

6 birds were feeding on the mudflats at Waterloo, but the most impressive numbers were the hundreds flying in to roost with the Ibis at Caroni swamp. Many flew on to roost elsewhere, but a large number landed in the trees in around the large open lagoon

Great White Egret

4 birds were feeding together on the mud at Waterloo, and 6 flew over Caroni Swamp later that day

Cattle Egret

Abundant

Striated Heron 

2 were around the stream and cattle sheds at the Aripo Agricultural Station, one appearing from beneath the bridge over the track; 1 close in perched on an exposed piece of wood at Waterloo mud flats; 6 at Caroni Swamp

Night Heron

Only 2 were seen – 1 on the mudflats at Waterloo, and 1 in the mangroves at Caroni Swamp

Yellow-crowned Night-heron

5 on the mudflats at Waterloo; 6 at Caroni Swamp

Scarlet Ibis

The spectacle of hundreds of birds coming in to roost at Caroni Swamp is world famous, and we found that this was not disappointing. We paid $US10 each for a ride on James Madoo’s boat through the swamp, which also passes other bird species on the way. Single and small groups of birds were seen on the journey through, but the main mass of birds was seen later in the afternoon. The boat is parked opposite an island in a large clearing of water, and the birds started appearing at around 17:00. They tended to come in high, and most went on to roost at other parts of the swamp, but a sizeable number landed on the island in front of us

Blue-winged Teal

The only wildfowl we saw were ~12 of these birds flying over us while waiting for the Scarlet Ibis at Caroni Swamp

Black Vulture 

Abundant

Turkey Vulture 

Abundant

Osprey

1 over Wallerfields; 6 at Waterloo (including 4 perched on posts on the mudflats); 1 over Caroni Swamp

Pearl Kite

The sighting of this bird came as a bit of a surprise, since they are not too common on the island. The single bird we saw was perched on wires right above the car at the base of the road to Aripo Heights. They are deceptively small and delicate (smallest raptor here – even smaller than Bat Falcon), but probably one of the most impressive birds that we saw

Double-toothed Kite

A single bird was perched in the distance at Asa Wright Nature Centre

Plumbeous Kite

This is a migratory species, and so we weren’t expecting any to be present at the time of our visit. We were pleasantly surprised to find that they were not too difficult to see in the Aripo Valley, with 4 on both days in the Aripo Heights area, when walking from the Aripo Cottage, and a single bird perched on the tops at the end of the week when again visiting the lower elevation of the Aripo Heights. Once seen flying, they have a distinctive shape, with pointed wings reminiscent of a falcon

White Hawk

This is a most impressive raptor, with contrasting black and white plumage, and large but compact shape in flight, due to its very broad wings and short tail. Most were seen in flight, but one bird landed in trees twice very close to us in the grounds of Aripo Cottage. Aripo Heights (8 on 13th, 1 on 14th, 1 on 15th); 2 from the terrace of Pax Guest House (19th)

Common Black-hawk

These were seen every day, most being in the mountainous areas. The peak was 10 on the 13th (Aripo Heights)

Great Black-hawk

These are not always easy to separate from Common Black Hawk, since size and shape comparison is not reliable to the inexperienced. However, tail patterns were seen well on the 2 birds identified as this species (1 each on the 13th and 14th – Aripo Heights)

Savannah Hawk

What was likely to be our first sighting of this species was a bird tantalisingly perched on wires next to the main highway south of Tunapuna, but we weren’t able to stop and look at it properly. However, the 3 birds at Wallerfields / Aripo Savannah were easily identified in flight. At the Aripo Agricultural Station later that same day, much better views were obtained of one bird perched on a telegraph pole as we entered the station, and a second hunting for insects on the ground. Another 4 were over the Rice Fields the next day

Grey Hawk

Seen at Aripo Heights (5 on 13th, 1 on 14th), Waterloo (1), Aripo Heights lower elevation (1 perched), and Caroni Swamp (1)

Short-tailed Hawk

This dapper and small Buteo is quite easy to see at Pax Guest House. The first was seen when we found a view over the valley from the Old Donkey Trail. 3 further birds were seen from the terrace of the guest house during our stay there

Zone-tailed Hawk

One of the best places to see this species is from the terrace to the rear of Pax Guest House. We had been told this by Gerard shortly after we arrived, but the best time to see them is mid-morning, and we were usually out by this time. However, we didn’t leave the area until 11 o’clock on the morning of our departure, and so one obligingly soared right in front of us some time before leaving

Yellow-headed Caracara  

3 single birds seen – perched on a telegraph pole next to the road on the way to Wallerfields; over Caroni Swamp; flying adjacent to the airfield on Tobago airport

Peregrine

2 birds seen circling over the hills behind Pax Guest House, on the 15th and 19th

Limpkin

3 separate birds on the Rice Fields

Wattled Jacana 

An initial 15 or so birds were seen on the Trincity Ponds. None were particularly close, since they were at the centre of one of the marshy lagoons, although they could be seen well with optics. However, the Aripo Agricultural Station held the most birds (~60), and many of these were just on the other side of a small barbed wire fence next to the track, and were very approachable. Included in these were a good number of juveniles

Southern Lapwing

We took our opportunity to get a good look at a single individual in the grounds of a house at Wallerfields, but the 10 seen relatively close in at Waterloo, and the even more numerous birds (~30) at Aripo Agricultural Station made that action redundant

Semipalmated Plover 

~30 birds were at Waterloo, the majority being close in on the South side of the Temple by the Sea path, mixed in with peeps, another group being a little more distant on the mudlflats to the South

Killdeer

1 at the Aripo Agricultural Station

Short-billed Dowitcher

Waterloo (~30); Caroni Swamp – ~20 birds within the mangroves, with some quite close to the boat

Greater Yellowlegs

1 was in the stream at very close quarters at the Aripo Agricultural Station; the 10 at Waterloo mudflats were a lot more distant; and the 15 at Caroni Swamp were attempting to roost with other waders on the roots of the mangroves

Lesser Yellowlegs

2 were in the stream channel at Aripo Agricultural Station

Solitary Sandpiper 

5 were quite approachable in the wet areas next to the track at the Aripo Agricultural Station, and a single bird was on the mud at Waterloo

Spotted Sandpiper 

Trincity Ponds (6); Aripo Agricultural Station (2); Caroni Swamp (12); Tobago airport (1)

Willet

Waterloo (~20); Caroni Swamp (2)

Turnstone

~10 at Waterloo; 5 in the Caroni Swamp

Knot

Waterloo (~20)

Semipalmated Sandpiper  

A flock of peeps next to the path leading to the Temple by the Sea at Waterloo contained both these and Western Sandpiper, allowing comparison between the two. Only 6 of these were identified

Western Sandpiper

In the mixed flock mentioned above, this was by far the most numerous species, with ~50 birds

Least Sandpiper  

The ~20 at the Aripo Agricultural Station were all very close and approachable, including a couple of birds under the barbed wire fence next to the track

Lesser Black-backed Gull

1 resting on a large branch in the centre of the Waterloo mudflats

Laughing Gull 

Very common at the coast, with good numbers at both Waterloo and next to Tobago airport

Royal Tern

~20 flying past and resting on a wall next to a small resort at Tobago airport, and one perched on a rock at Waterloo

Large-billed Tern 

10 of these robust, yellow billed terns were either perched or flying around the mudflats at Waterloo. When we searched through the terns over the sea at Tobago airport, they seemed to be less common than the similar, orange billed Royal Terns (10)

Black Skimmer 

~25 birds were seen at Waterloo. These consisted of a group flying in from the sea, a single bird feeding over the mudflats, and another group resting towards the centre of the mudflats

Scaled Pigeon

The only bird seen was some distance away, perched at the top of a tree in the Asa Wright Nature Centre

Pale-vented Pigeon 

Only 2 of these supposedly common birds were seen, and even they were separately perched in trees next to Tobago airport

Eared Dove  

Again only seen next to Tobago airport, with a total of ~10 seen

Ruddy Ground-dove 

Abundant

Grey-fronted Dove 

The books make this and White-tipped Dove reasonably easy to identify, but the truth in the field isn’t quite like that. Although the latter does have noticeable white on the tail, Grey-fronted also has some white, so this is not a definitive field mark unless seen extremely well. Also, the orbital ring around the eye can differ in colour, and is not always easy to see. The 6 birds identified all had obvious grey on the front of the crown, which again is not always easy to see (Asa Wright Nature Centre – 2; Caroni Swamp – 2; Tobago airport – 2)

Green-rumped Parrotlet 

2 birds flew across us at the entrance to the Aripo Agricultural Station, and landed in a tree next to where our car was parked. They are a tiny parrot, and the 2 we saw allowed us to get quite close

Lilac-tailed Parrot

A single bird flew in front of us and then landed out of sight while watching from the terrace of the Pax Guest House on the 16th

Blue-headed Parrot

A group of ~30 birds landed on one of the tall trees only 30 metres or so from the front terrace of the Aripo Cottage on the morning of the 15th. They fed here for quite some time. The only 2 other birds landed on tree just below Pax Guest House on the 18th

Yellow-crowned Parrot 

Large numbers of this species and Orange-winged Parrots could be seen and, most definitely, heard in the hills. Unless the wings or facial patterns are seen well, they cannot be identified as either species. Good views of both were seen through the week, although none were seen on the 18th or 19th

Orange-winged Parrot 

These were often mixed in with Yellow-crowned Parrots, or could not be separated (many of the large numbers of birds were flying overhead). Again seen, every day but the 18th, with 4 on the morning of the 19th near to Pax Guest House

Squirrel Cuckoo 

These birds are extremely impressive, with their long black and white barred tails complementing their rufous colour. Despite their size, they are usual quite difficult to see, since they spend their time in thick foliage (as the bird seen on the Old Donkey Trail at Pax Guest House was). However, 2 birds on the 19th were out in the open for some time next to St Benet Hall at the head of the Mount Benedict road up from Pax

Smooth-billed Ani

Very common, seen in groups of usually 5-10 birds on every day apart from the 17th. Greatest daily number was ~30 birds on the 16th

Striped Cuckoo

A single bird landed briefly near to where the car was parked when returning from the sand pit lagoons at Wallerfields

Oilbird

This is probably the bird that the island is best noted for. There are 6 caves holding colonies around Trinidad. We took up the offer of a day long walk to the Aripo Caves. This only cost us $US10 each, with Mervyn from the Aripo Cottage as our guide. The hike there and back is around 2½ hours each way, and is a lot more strenuous than those offered by the Asa Wright Nature Centre and Pax Guest House. However, once at the cave, we had reasonably close views of the birds (closest about 25 metres), and we were the only people there. For viewing, a powerful torch is ideal, although my video camera has a night shot incorporated, and the birds could be seen well using this. Not only are these birds one of the strangest to look at, but the raucous calls coming from the cave are also quite loud and unique

Common Potoo

We had been hoping to see one of these on the boat trip through Caroni Swamp, since they are quite regular there. Despite looking in what seemed an appropriate place, James failed to find one. This was not too disappointing, since Harold, our guide at Asa Wright Nature Centre, had pointed one roosting at the top of a tree on the Discovery Trail

Chestnut-coloured Swift

We had thought that we had seen some of these earlier in the week, within large flocks of Chaetura swifts. However, they do need to be seen well, and it wasn’t until the visit to the Rice Fields that we identified 6, including some showing the chestnut collar, which is often difficult to see, amongst a huge mixed flock of swifts

Band-rumped Swift

Much smaller numbers seen than Grey-rumped in the hills around Aripo, with up to 10 seen each day. A further 6 were seen in the hills on the approach to Asa Wright Nature Centre

Grey-rumped Swift

The most common swift in the hills, where it was seen in the hundreds during all 3 days at Aripo

Short-tailed Swift

This is the common swift of the lower hills and lowlands – small numbers were regularly seen around the Pax Guest House, but the largest numbers were hundreds over the Rice Fields

Fork-tailed Palm-swift 

These birds are an incredible shape – very long and pointed, and quite different in appearance to other swifts. It is quite easy to distinguish from the Lesser Swallow-tailed Swift that also occurs on the island, since it shows a much more pronounced white belly (dark on the latter). Wallerfields area had ~25 birds, and a further 10 were in amongst the large swift flocks over the Rice Fields

Green Hermit

Of the 3 hermit species possible on the island, this was the only one seen, and also one of the few species that we did see that was always in flight. They are a characteristic bird, with longish decurved bill, eyestripe, and long central tail feathers tipped white

White-necked Jacobin

The males of this species are probably the most dapper of the hummingbirds on the island, with well demarcated green on the back, blue face and throat, and white belly and collar. The first birds that we saw were generally hanging around the Immortelle trees at Aripo Heights, and had to be looked up at from the ground. However, the birds at Asa Wright Nature Centre were ridiculously close, with some on feeders literally in front on your nose. Best views were of the pair of males lapping up the rain near to the feeders in front of the terrace (Aripo Heights – 2+, 1, 1; Asa Wright Nature Centre - 3 males, 1 females)

Brown Violetear

This is one of the more difficult to see species, and we were lucky to see a regularly returning bird on a favourite Immortelle tree in the Aripo Heights

Black-throated Mango

This species was seen on all days apart from the 15th, and was the first hummingbird of the trip – a single bird just outside of Tobago airport. The females are equally as stunning, with the black central line being flanked by white rather than the green of the male (Aripo Heights - 4 males and 3 females on 13th, 1 on 14th, 1 on 18th; Asa Wright Nature Centre – 1; Wallerfields – 1; Caroni Swamp – 1; Tobago airport – 2 more on the 19th)

Ruby-topaz Hummingbird 

This is another of the more difficult to see hummingbirds. We were thus very surprised to find a nest with sitting female on the track up the Aripo Heights road from Aripo Cottage. The plain green and white bird stumped us at first, but the sight of chestnut outer tail feathering bordering by black and white confirmed identification. 3 separate males were seen very briefly towards the end of the week, at the Wallerfields sand pit lagoons entrance, mansion grounds at Aripo Heights, and Tobago airport. They are generally a lot darker than appear in the books, but the rufous tail is a useful field mark

Tufted Coquette

The tiny size and remarkable appearance of these birds has to be seen to be believed. We had camped out next to some likely flowering bushes at Pax Guest House one morning in the hope of seeing the bird, but that was totally unnecessary, since a small group were feeding on the flowering bushes at Asa Wright Nature Centre as soon as we got out of the car. Some also appeared at the feeders in front of the terrace, but the first ones seemed to be more regular and could be approached quite closely

Blue-chinned Sapphire

These were only seen feeding on the flowering Immortelle trees at Aripo Heights, where 6 were seen on the 13th, and ~12 on the 14th

White-chested Emerald 

Seen every day apart from 18th (Aripo Heights – 2, 2; Pax Guest House – 1, 4; Asa Wright Nature Centre – 3; Wallerfields – 2)

Copper-rumped Hummingbird 

Not only is this bird the most commonly seen of the hummingbirds (present every day), it also appears to be the most aggressive, chasing away all comers. This is not always a good thing – some individuals chased away less common hummers that we wanted to see more closely. Our first bird became the most well known – a regular branch within the grounds of Aripo Cottage was almost guaranteed to host the bird. (Aripo Heights – 2, 6, 3, 4; Pax Guest House – 4, 2, 4; Asa Wright Nature Centre – 4; Wallerfields – 1; Caroni Swamp – 2, Tobago airport – 1)

White-tailed Trogon

This was the last of the three trogons to fall. A pair were together high in the canopy but directly above us in the Arena Forest

Violaceous Trogon

2 were seen at the Asa Wright Nature Centre. The first was brought to within about 20 metres by our guide calling on the Discovery Trail. The second was seen later in the day, perched in the open on a dead tree about 70 metres from the viewing terrace

Collared Trogon 

We were surprised that only one of these was seen, a female alighting on a branch a short distance in front of us when walking to the Aripo Caves

Ringed Kingfisher

The 2 that we recorded were only seen briefly, one flying away from us at Trincity Ponds, the other perched above a roadside stream while travelling East on the Churchill-Roosevelt Highway. Despite this, the almost full chestnut underparts on both could be seen clearly

Green Kingfisher 

This was a species that we had been hoping to see for some years (potential to see it was present but not fulfilled during previous trips to Mexico and Arizona). A perched bird would have been the ideal, but we had to settle for a single bird flying across the front of the boat at the early part of the Caroni Swamp ride

Blue-crowned Motmot 

We had thought that these stunning birds would be more commonly seen, but the only one recorded was a single bird which kept returning to the feeders at the Asa Wright Nature Centre. That being said, it was a superb bird, and lingered for a short time on each visit

Channel-billed Toucan 

A pair of birds were perched for a considerable length of time about 80 metres in front of the viewing terrace at Asa Wright Nature Centre

Golden-olive Woodpecker 

The first sighting was of a pair of birds on one of the flowering Immortelle trees next to the track ascending the Aripo Heights. The 3rd bird was much more obliging, landing on the tree to the left of the feeders in front of the terrace at the Asa Wright Nature Centre. This was only a few metres away, and the bird obligingly lingered here for some time

Chestnut Woodpecker 

It was this species, rather than Golden-olive, that we had expected to see at close quarters from the Asa Wright Nature Centre viewing terrace. However, we had seen 2 birds by then, reasonably briefly at Aripo Heights and the Old Donkey Trail near Pax Guest House

Yellow-chinned Spinetail

These are birds that seem to prefer wet conditions, so it was no surprise that we found a family group of 6 or so birds at Trincity Ponds. A further single bird was also at the Aripo Agricultural Station

Streaked Xenops

These are supposedly reasonably easy to see in the forests around Pax Guest House, and this is where we saw our 2 birds, both from different parts of the Old Donkey Trail. They have quite a unique character, with noticeably upturned bill being used to probe around at the end of dead branches. They seem to behave in some ways like a woodpecker

Plain-brown Woodcreeper 

The most common and obliging of the woodcreepers seen. 2 were in the rain forest of Aripo Heights. A single bird was then seen at the start of the Old Donkey Trail near Pax Guest House, and this was possibly one of the pair seen on the last morning there in the same part of the forest. A little bit of patience with the latter birds eventually found one motionless on the trunk of a tree for some time

Cocoa Woodcreeper

1 seen in the Arena Forest close to

Straight-billed Woodcreeper

1 was seen near the boat at the Caroni Swamp

Great Antshrike 

This rather large and impressive bird was also quite elusive. Fortunately, a single male made 2 or 3 appearances on the feeding terrace at Asa Wright Nature Centre. Most of the time that it was present, which was generally not very long, the bird kept to the undergrowth or low branches, but it did deign to visit the tables briefly

Barred Antshrike

This is even more impressive than the Great Antshrike in appearance, due to its startling barred plumage and staring yellow eye. This does not make it any the less elusive – the 3 males seen were not for too long each time, although they were a little higher in the foliage and more open than the latter species. 2 were at Asa Wright Nature Centre, 1 on the bushes behind the feeders of the terrace, the other in the lane towards the car park, with a 3rd bird along the track on the approach to Wallerfields air base

White-flanked Antwren

A pair of birds were seen briefly when returning along the Old Donkey Trail near to Pax Guest House, and a 2nd male was fairly close, again briefly, along the Discovery Trail at Asa Wright Nature Centre

Bearded Bellbird

This is another contender for the strangest bird of the trip award. They are a lot larger than would be expected (“the size of a chicken” to quote our guide at Asa Wright Nature Centre). They are also unbelievably loud – the characteristic calls can be heard from some distance away. There is a sizable lekking area for 10 or so birds at the base of the Discovery Trail, and the birds are supposedly more or less guaranteed here. This is not always so, since it took us some time and searching to eventually pin down a calling bird which in the end was quite close. The calls are almost tantalisingly constant, but the birds can be a lot more distant than they sound

White-bearded Manakin

5 males of this species were seen. The first bird was on the trail to Aripo Caves. 2 at Asa Wright Nature Centre were in different settings – the first was in a small clearing on the Discovery Trail, the second appeared as we about to leave the centre, being in a large tree just behind the feeding area in front of the terrace. 2 further males were seen – 1 in the Arena Forest, and 1 in the lower forest of Aripo Heights

Golden-headed Manakin

The 2 manakins on the island are amongst the top target birds, particularly when lekking. We didn’t see them doing this, but, on the other hand, we had found males of both species ourselves before going to the almost guaranteed habitat at the Asa Wright Nature Centre. This was the second of the 2 to be found. We already knew of the lekking area on the Old Donkey Trail at Pax, but when looking up from the trail, no birds could be found. However, when we rounded the corner of the trail, so that we were effectively looking down on the site, we waited and watched for some unfamiliar calls coming from near the canopy (now just above eye level), and were rewarded with at least 2 males. A 3rd male was seen from the Discovery Trail at Asa Wright Nature Centre, and the 4th in the Arena Forest. Female manakins were also seen, but we were not familiar enough with them to usher positive identification

Southern Beardless Tyrannulet

The tyrannulets seem to have a carriage and feeding action very different from other flycatchers, being much more horizontal, and creeping around branches feeding off vegetation. The 2 separate birds seen on flowering Immortelle trees at Aripo Heights were no exception to this

Forest Elaenia

The smaller Elaenias all tended to be of this species, with a pair fighting opposite St Benet Hall near Pax showing the white crest stripe beautifully (Aripo Heights – 4, 1; Asa Wright Nature Centre – 1; St Benet Hall, Pax – 2)

Yellow-bellied Elaenia

These are a characteristic species within what can be a difficult family of birds to separate. They are quite large, have a usually obvious yellow belly, but obligingly usually raise their shaggy crest, displaying the white crown line underneath. It does seem strange that we spent a full weeks birding in Trinidad to see only one bird on the first day at Aripo Heights, but then found 2 very much more confiding birds just outside Tobago airport

Ochre-bellied Flycatcher

1 bird in an Immortelle tree on the Aripo Heights road; at least 2 birds at one time on the tree to the left of the viewing terrace at Asa Wright Nature Centre

Slaty-capped Flycatcher

We hadn't realised that we had seen this species until we got home and edited the video tapes. A small flycatcher had been filmed at Aripo Cottage on the rainy morning of the 15th, but not looked at particularly well (at all?). The characteristic cheek patches could be seem well on playback, and the somewhat wet grey crown

Olive-sided Flycatcher

2 birds were perched at the top of dead trees about 70 metres in front of the viewing terrace at Asa Wright Nature Centre

Tropical Pewee

The 4 birds seen were all in Aripo Heights

Pied Water-tyrant

These are definitely in the category of “better than they look in the books”. Like Marsh-tyrant and Yellow-chinned Spinetail, they prefer wet areas, so it was no coincidence that all 3 species were seen at the same sites - Trincity Ponds and the Aripo Agricultural Station. The birds at Trincity Ponds were in small family groups, with a total of ~10 birds, all being found in the marshy lagoons. The birds at the Aripo Agricultural Station were a pair that had built a nest over the running stream next to the cattle sheds, and would frequently be seen collecting for the nest close to

White-headed Marsh-tyrant

These are a supremely dapper little bird, and are everything you would expect from looking in the books. They also prove to be quite approachable. We hadn’t expected to find the lone bird patrolling one of the marshy lagoons at Trincity Ponds, but it was a good prelude to the very close birds (3) that we saw at the Aripo Agricultural Station

Bright-rumped Attila

A group of 3 noisy birds were together in the rain forest on the way to Aripo caves

Brown-crested Flycatcher 

1 on the fence of Tobago airport

Great Kiskadee

Very common and noisy – seen every day

Piratic Flycatcher

The Trinidad checklist has these down as breeding visitors, so we thought we might be a little too early to see them. This was not to be the case – 2 were seen on consecutive days around Aripo Heights, and a 5th bird was around the top of the Mount St Benedict road near Pax

Sulphury Flycatcher 

Not always easily told from the much more common Tropical Kingbirds, the only definite sightings were of 1 at Wallerfields, and 2 together at the base of the Aripo Heights road

Tropical Kingbird 

These birds are very common – seen every day and in almost any habitat. There is the potential that some could have been Sulphury Flycatcher, but the differences are not always easy to see, and not all the Kingbirds can be checked

Grey Kingbird

3 birds around Tobago airport

Grey-breasted Martin

Aripo Agricultural Station (1); Waterloo (2); Caroni Swamp (2); Pax Guest House (2)

White-winged Swallow 

Apart from the hundreds of birds feeding over the active lagoons at Trincity Ponds, these were seen in small numbers throughout the week: Aripo Heights (1,1); Pax Guest House (1,2); Wallerfields (2); Aripo Agricultural Station (2); Caroni Swamp (2)

Southern Rough-winged Swallow 

Small numbers were seen at Pax Guest House (2,4); Trincity Ponds (4); Wallerfields (4); Asa Wright Nature Centre (4); Tobago airport (2)

Rufous-breasted Wren 

The rich rufous colour of this secretive but vocal bird comes as quite a surprise. The first pair that we saw, at the base of the rough track up to Aripo Cottage, were busily tending a nest found low to the ground. The only other bird seen was a singing and preening individual at the start of the Old Donkey Trail near Pax

House Wren

Seen in small numbers every day of the trip: Aripo Heights (1,1,1); Pax Guest House (1,2); Arena Forest (1); Aripo Agricultural Station (3); Asa Wright Nature Centre (2); Tobago airport (2)

Tropical Mockingbird

Very common – seen every day

Cocoa Thrush

Aripo Cottage grounds (1); Pax Guest House (3 coming to feeders below the terrace); Arena Forest (1); Asa Wright Nature Centre (4, with 2 coming to the terrace feeders)

Bare-eyed Thrush

Aripo Heights (4,1,1); Pax Guest House (3,1, including one at the feeders); Arena Forest (2); Tobago airport (1)

White-necked Thrush

Much more difficult to see than the above 2 thrushes, the 2 we saw were much deeper into the rainforest, on the hike to Aripo Caves, and in Arena Forest

Long-billed Gnatwren 

The first pair we saw were very active, chasing each other through the vegetation on the trail in the rainforest to Aripo Caves, with a second pair alongside the Discovery Trail at Asa Wright Nature Centre

Common Waxbill

2 of these introduced birds were seen briefly at Trincity Ponds

Golden-fronted Greenlet

This is a very plain bird, and can often be overlooked. The yellow colour to the front of the head tends to be difficult to see (Arena Forest – 6; Wallerfields – 2; Asa Wright Nature Centre – 2)

Rufous-browed Peppershrike

Once we got our ears tuned to the song, it was likely that quite a few of these elusive birds were heard. They tend to keep deep into the vegetation, and the colouring doesn’t help find them against the greenery. However, we did eventually see 2 in the Wallerfields area

Tropical Parula 

Aripo Heights (5); trees around St Benet Hall, Mount St Benedict (2)

Yellow Warbler

Pax Guest House (2,1,1); Trincity Ponds (1); Rice Fields (1)

American Redstart

A single male responded to the tape of Ferruginous Pygmy-owl in a tree at the bottom of the bank from Aripo Cottage

Northern Waterthrush

Aripo Heights (1); Arena Forest (1); Caroni Swamp (1)

Golden-crowned Warbler 

3 of these distinctive wood-warblers were seen, 2 together on the road up towards Aripo Heights from Aripo Cottage, and a lingering, singing bird around the entrance to Aripo Caves. An important point to note about the race olivascens seen on Trinidad is that it sports a greyish white supercilium, and the crown stripe also appears whitish, neither with the yellow or orange colour expected when looking at the field guides, which probably show the types more likely to be seen on the mainland

Bananaquit

Abundant – this bird seems to be everywhere. The race here is the yellow bellied, dark throated type

Bicoloured Conebill

This is a speciality species, found from the boat touring the Caroni Swamp. It is also a much brighter blue grey than depicted in the books, and a lot more appealing than would be predicted. 2 separate birds were feeding in the trees above the mangroves

White-lined Tanager 

The almost all black male contrasts starkly with the all rufous coloured female, so much so that they could pass off as separate species. It is another very common tanager, being seen every day in most habitats and in good numbers

White-shouldered Tanager 

Only seen at Aripo Heights, with ~10 on 13th, and only 1 the following day

Silver-beaked Tanager 

Another commonly seen tanager, although nowhere near the numbers of Blue-grey & Palm, the deepness of its wine red plumage, compared to the white of its lower mandible, makes it an outstanding bird to see. Greatest numbers were in the Aripo Heights area, but up to 8 a day were seen in the lowlands, apart from none on the last morning

Blue-grey Tanager

The powder blue breast and deeper blue of the wings makes this a surprisingly impressive tanager. Despite being very common, seen every day in good numbers, they were always worth looking at

Palm Tanager

Much more drab than its blue grey counterpart, this species is also even more common, again being seen on every day

Trinidad Euphonia

6 birds – a mix of males and females – were in the Aripo Cottage area on the 13th

Violaceous Euphonia 

Seen much more regularly than Trinidad Euphonia: Aripo Heights (12,4,1); Pax Guest House (1); Asa Wright Nature Centre (3)

Turquoise Tanager

2 birds were on the tree to the left of the feeders at Asa Wright Nature Centre

Bay-headed Tanager

1 was in the rain forest on the walk back from Aripo Caves; 3 were in the same tree at one time, to the left of the Asa Wright Nature Centre terrace, and 1 was near St Benet Hall, Mount St Benedict on the last morning before leaving

Blue Dacnis

The first bird was rather distant – perched on bare branches around 100 metres away near to Aripo Cottage. The male and female seen en route to the Aripo Caves were much closer, feeding beneath the canopy in the rain forest

Green Honeycreeper 

The iridescent green of this bird in reality has to be seen to be believed, with the females a rather strange lime green. They were regularly seen on both the Immortelle trees around Aripo Heights (12, 4), and almost constantly on the feeders and bushes in front of the terrace at Asa Wright Nature Centre (20+)

Purple Honeycreeper

Very similar to Red-legged Honeycreeper, the 2 are difficult to mix up unless at a distance or if seen only briefly. It was certainly more common than its other purple counterpart, with ~15 on the Immortelle trees at Aripo Heights on the first day (only 1 on the second day), and at least 12, including many regularly visiting the feeders with females, at Asa Wright Nature Centre

Red-legged Honeycreeper  

The least seen of the 3 honeycreepers, a fair few were still around. 6 were seen on both the first and second days in Aripo Heights, usually feeding on Immortelle flowers, but they were only seen occasionally on the feeders at the Asa Wright Nature Centre (3)

Blue-black Grassquit 

The glossy black of some of these males is impressive, as is their attempt at a dance for a courtship display – they basically select a favoured perch, and jump about half a metre into the air, flapping wings and calling. Aripo Heights (10,6); Arena Forest (1); Tobago airport (6)

Ruddy-breasted Seedeater 

The seedeaters are generally quite difficult to find on the island, so the appearance of a pair of males at the Aripo Agricultural Station was surprising and welcome

Black-faced Grassquit

2 birds were seen feeding next to the tables of the outdoor café at Tobago airport on the 12th

Saffron Finch 

As with the seedeaters, these tend to be quite localised – 2 birds also at Aripo Agricultural Station

Greyish Saltator

Aripo Heights (6,6,1); Pax Guest House (1 on the feeders); Asa Wright Nature Centre (3)

Yellow-hooded Blackbird

The sight of hundreds and hundreds of these attractive birds, interlaced with Shiny Cowbirds, in and around the vegetable fields of Trincity Ponds is superb. Most of the birds were in smart adult plumage, but many others were juveniles. The vast majority of the flock was feeding on the ground within the vegetable field itself. Only other birds seen were a group of 4 at the Rice Fields

Red-breasted Blackbird

The first male was seen on wires near to the entrance of the Aripo Agricultural Station, with a further group of 3 to the rear of one of the fields at the station. A single bird was in the Rice Fields the next morning

Carib Grackle

Seen every day once away from the Aripo Heights, with a maximum ~30 on 17th

Shiny Cowbird

Highest concentration of birds were in the vegetable field adjacent to Trincity Ponds, where there were probably hundreds of birds mixed in with the even more numerous Yellow-headed Blackbirds. Apart from 10 birds feeding with Carib Grackles outside Tobago airport, the only other sightings were of singles at Pax Guest House feeders, Arena Forest, and Wallerfields

Yellow Oriole

These smart birds can be very confiding, often attending the feeders. Many more birds were seen in the forests away from the feeders, however: Aripo Heights (3); Pax Guest House (2 in the forest, and 4 in the feeding area at one time); Arena Forest (1); Asa Wright Nature Centre (2)

Giant Cowbird

After a single bird was seen flying over the Rice Fields, a further 20 birds were picked up in a bare tree on the opposite side of the highway

Yellow-rumped Cacique

We tried in vain to find the nesting colony at Cumuto, which was supposed to be in the vicinity of the police station. Even asking a policeman didn’t help! However, we did see 3 separate birds in the area

Crested Oropendola

These birds go out of their way to be noticed, since they are not only large with stripes of colour in their black plumage, but they build obvious pendulous nests in colonies, and have the most comical display, throwing their heads back and more or less cackling. Funny! Plenty of colonies were found, and the presence of even a single bird usually meant that more would be around somewhere. Nesting trees holding up to 50 birds were found in the Aripo Heights area (4, including one which could be seen from the breakfast area at Aripo Cottage), Arena Forest, Asa Wright Nature Centre (directly in front of the viewing terrace), and Wallerfields

 

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