Trinidad – day 1

Alright, we’re back to our regularly scheduled programming!  Scott helped me with my technical difficulties with the very large photo files and I’m done the show.  So – let’s talk Trinidad and Tobago!

As I mentioned, we found Roger Neckles on the internet and decided that he would be a good choice for a guide for us – birding for me and photography for Scott.  It turns out we were right!

Roger is a top notch birder who knows both islands intimately, so he knows where the birds are.  He also enjoys teaching bird/nature photography to anyone with a DSLR and is very generous with his knowledge.  But really, you get so much more with Roger – his repertoire of bird calls, sense of humor, unflagging enthusiasm, and his unbridled love for his country.  We packed a lot in during the five days that we were with Roger and saw a lot more of the country than if we had tried to do it on our own.

For the first day we got off easy – meaning Roger picked us up at 8 am – since we didn’t get to Thanna’s until after midnight the night before.  Roger took us to Asa Wright Nature Centre, which is THE place birders want to go in Trinidad (and the Caribbean).  It’s a nice introduction to Trinidad birds, since they basically come to you – or at least a bunch of fun colorful ones do!  We birded (well, I birded, they took photos) in the morning and had lunch at Asa Wright (which is a Trinidadian buffet!).

On the way to Asa Wright, which is in the North Range mountains.  This view of the bromeliads on the tree branch is typical of what I saw throughout the islands.  You can also see the Spanish Moss growing there as well.
On the way to Asa Wright, which is in the Northern Range mountains. This view of the bromeliads on the tree branch is typical of what I saw throughout the islands. You can also see the Spanish Moss growing there as well.

Asa Wright was originally a cocoa plantation, and the nature centre was established in 1967 when Mrs Wright sold the land to the trust.  One of the reasons it is such a popular birding spot is that Mrs Wright started feeding the birds near the veranda in the 1950s; so generations of birds have been habituated to the feeding stations and are comfortable with people around.  Because our time was limited we spent most of our time on the veranda or on the path just below it.

The veranda at Asa Wright.  If you've ever dreamt of life at the plantation house, this veranda fits the bill!  Of course, these are the typical birders as well.
The veranda at Asa Wright. If you’ve ever dreamt of life at the plantation house, this veranda fits the bill! Of course, these are the typical birders as well.

Oh, and in case you are wondering about the long pants and proper shoes in such a hot climate… well, Trinidad has 4, yes 4, poisonous snakes.  Fer de lance, Bushmaster, and two species of coral snake – you wear long pants and socks and shoes; and let Roger scope out a safe place in the bush to pee!!

I won't be plying you with photos with tiny birds in them - my camera was for the scenery or close up shots.  This is to show you how close you can be to the birds when you are on the veranda.  The little bit of out of focus feeder is just in front of me and the Purple Honeycreepers are resting in the nearby tree.
I won’t be plying you with photos with tiny birds in them – my camera was for the scenery or close up shots. This is to show you how close you can be to the birds when you are on the veranda. The little bit of out of focus feeder is just in front of me and the Purple Honeycreepers are resting in the nearby tree.  When the Honeycreepers or the hummingbirds come to the feeders they are literally right in front of your face.
This is the path at the base of the veranda.  They have lots of nectar feeders and the table feeders have fruit for the birds.
This is the path at the base of the veranda. They have lots of nectar feeders and the table feeders have fruit for the birds.
This was as close as I could get to the table feeder without scaring everyone off.  There are the Purple Honeycreepers and Green Honeycreepers (males and females)
This was as close as I could get to the table feeder without scaring everyone off. There are the Purple Honeycreepers and Green Honeycreepers (males and females).
A Golden tegu (Tupinambis teguixin), under one of the feeding tables enjoying bread the staff had put out.
A Golden tegu (Tupinambis teguixin), under one of the feeding tables enjoying bread the staff had put out.
Despite it being the dry season, there still were lots of beautiful flowers in bloom.  This is along the path at Asa Wright.
Despite it being the dry season, there still were lots of beautiful flowers in bloom. This is along the path at Asa Wright.

After Asa Wright we took the road over the Northern Range to Blanchisseuse and on past Maracus Bay beach (which is the most popular beach on Trinidad).  Of course, we stopped along the way for birds, scenery, flowers and whatever else was eye catching.

On one of the stops along the way we happened upon this delicate translucent white moth.
On one of the stops along the way we happened upon this delicate translucent white moth.
A stop at Blanchisseuse.
A stop at Blanchisseuse.
To see this photo op!  It looks like a postcard, eh....
To see this photo op! It looks like a postcard, eh….
Our last stop for the day.  Roger and Scott taking the big lenses out to try to get a nice shot of a Orange winged Parrot that was sitting on a hydro line.
Our last stop for the day. Roger and Scott taking the big lenses out to try to get a nice shot of a Orange winged Parrot that was sitting on a hydro line.
However, since I'm scenery gal, I thought I'd show you what the road under the parrot looks like!  This is quite typical, the rain forest pressing up against the road.  We often saw groups of workers whose job was to hack the encroaching forest from the road.
However, since I’m scenery gal, I thought I’d show you what the road under the parrot looks like! This is quite typical, the rain forest pressing up against the road. We often saw groups of workers whose job was to hack the encroaching forest back from the road.

Then it was back to Port of Spain, where Roger dropped us off at Thanna’s.  We had dinner at an Indian restaurant – Apsara.  After dinner we went to Queens Park Savannah to listen to a little bit of the Panorama (which is the competition for steel bands leading up to Carnival).  Then it was back to our guest house to rest up for the next day’s adventure.  (Once again, in case you were wondering – we aren’t foolhardy, we consulted with our host, Anna, and she assured us that it was safe to walk at night in Port of Spain during Carnival.)

Until tomorrow….

Valerie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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