Trinidad – day 2 (there’s a lot of pics in this post!!)

Our second day started earlier – I seem to recall 7 am(?!) was our pick up time.  One of the good things about staying in Port of Spain, was that we were always going the opposite direction of rush hour traffic.  We were headed to the Aripo Livestock Station (which, in case you aren’t a birder, are often great places to bird) in the Aripo Savannah.

But first, we had to fortify ourselves…

The doubles cart to go to in Arima - we were assured they have the best doubles in Trinidad.  I'd have to agree - they were fantastic!  I need to learn how to make those for breakfast.
The doubles cart to go to in Arima – we were assured they have the best doubles in Trinidad. I’d have to agree – they were fantastic! I need to learn how to make those for breakfast.

Then it was off to the Livestock station.  Because there is a fair amount of open pasture and the cattle don’t disturb the birds too much, there are quite a variety of species to see here.  As well, they have an equal amount of unused land that is attractive to the birds.  Since most of the species were new to me, it seemed like they were coming fast and furious as soon as we arrived.  There were everything from hawks and vultures to wading birds, shorebirds, grassland birds, parrotlets, swallows…

We saw these cows and their attendant Black Vultures first off.  I think that one of the cows had just calved, and the vultures were attracted to the afterbirth.  The kept checking that the sleepy calves were alive by taking a peck at their ears!  This little fella decided to go for a run.
We saw these cows and their attendant Black Vultures first off. I think that one of the cows had just calved, and the vultures were attracted to the afterbirth. They kept checking that the sleepy calves were alive by taking a peck at their ears! The little fella in the middle decided to go for a run.
Roger and I birding (Scott's photo).  I'm sure he had already pointed out quite a few species and I was just trying to keep up!
Roger and I birding (Scott’s photo). I’m sure he had already pointed out quite a few species and I was just trying to keep up!
The buffalyso were let out into their field for the day, but they were very confused by having us parked by the gate.  Each one seemed to have some different crazy horn combination from it's friends.
The buffalyso were let out into their field for the day, but they were very confused by having us parked by the gate. Each one seemed to have some different crazy horn combination from it’s friends. (Scott’s photo)
Along the road a bit, a view of the station's grassland pasture with the Northern Range in the background.
Along the road a bit, a view of the station’s grassland pasture with the Northern Range in the background.

We birded along a circle road in the livestock station, before heading off to Aripo heights.

This little katydid tried to hitch a ride off the station.
This little katydid tried to hitch a ride off the station.

I don’t know that I can adequately express how much I liked Aripo heights.  It’s quiet (of human sounds), lush, busy, and intensely green and alive.  I felt very much at peace there, but I also think, if you sit still too long there the Spanish moss and then the bromeliads will take root quickly!

A beautiful trumpet shaped flower along the way.  Because we were on a one lane road, the forest was literally right out the window.
A beautiful trumpet shaped flower along the way. Because we were on a one lane road, the forest was literally right out the window.

We took a quick stop to look for birds.

Roger in action, trying to get a good photo of the Violaceous Trogon we saw.
Roger in action, trying to get a good photo of the Violaceous Trogon we saw.
The lush forest floor.
The lush forest floor, I just love the variety of huge leaves.  No wimpy little plants here!
More intense plant life.  No space is wasted - as I said, if you are standing still someone is going to root in you!
More intense plant life. No space is wasted – as I said, if you are standing still someone is going to root in you!
Too bad they're not ripe!  Roadside bananas.
Too bad they’re not ripe! Roadside bananas.
A rainforest stream, surrounded by plants we have as houseplants!
A rainforest stream, surrounded by plants we have as houseplants!

Then it was off to the next spot on the road!  This area was full of birdy goodness as well, but Roger was sure that this would be a particularly good spot for photography.  So most of the time they were staking out a flower – yes, that is the glamor of a bird photographer’s life.  That meant I was free to wander around as I pleased – well, as long as I wasn’t disturbing them!

The road we drove up on.  Hmmm, what's around that corner...
The road we drove up on. Hmmm, what’s around that corner…
Well, actually not this - this was to my left.  This is the flower(s) Roger and Scott were staking out.  You can see that it is the same flower I posted yesterday from Asa Wright, but this time you can see it's extremely tall leaves.
Well, actually not this – this was to my left. This is the flower(s) Roger and Scott were staking out. You can see that it is the same flower I posted yesterday from Asa Wright, but this time you can see it’s extremely tall leaves.

And this is what they were waiting for…

Copper rumped hummingbird.  (photo by Scott Walker)
Copper rumped hummingbird. (photo by Scott Walker).  I just love this shot.
This is what was around the corner.
This is what was around the corner.

Another property belonging to Asa Wright, although it didn’t appear to be open to the public.

other aw prop signOf course, there are only pillars, gate and a sign – no fence.  But I was good and stuck to the road.  There was a luxuriant Mimosa bush right next to the gate and it was a favourite spot of hummingbirds!

The road leading up to the other Asa Wright property and the flower above.  Asa Wright is on the left (the mimosa has the pink flowers) and the road continues to the right (coming along the curve above in the opposite direction)
The road leading up to the other Asa Wright property and the flower above. Asa Wright is on the left (the mimosa has the pink flowers) and the road continues to the right (coming along the curve above in the opposite direction).

Then, just when I was desperately hungry – it started to drizzle, so the paparazzi packed up and we headed back to Arima for lunch.  We had roti, which was fantastic too!  I guess you can tell I enjoyed the food it Trinidad and Tobago!

After lunch we headed off to Caroni Swamp.

caroni sign

Caroni Swamp is 40 sq km of tidal lagoons, marshland and mangrove forest.  It has many species of birds, as well as snakes, caiman, silky anteaters and others.  We did see a few species of birds along the way including a Common Potoo, which is quite an unusual bird, and a Silky Anteater – both of them were in the mangrove forest and impossible to photograph.

You have to take a boat to explore Caroni; and you particularly want to go at dusk for the famous spectacle.  So let’s go:

Scott and I were in the front row for the action.  I tried my best, but there didn't seem to be anyway to avoid getting the big lens in the photo.  Heading out.
Scott and I were in the front row for the action. I tried my best, but there didn’t seem to be anyway to avoid getting the big lens in the photo. Heading out.
A Trinidadtree boa having a snooze above our heads.
A Trinidad tree boa having a snooze above our heads.
A view into the mangrove forest.
A view into the mangrove forest.
The back of the boat!  We had backed into this area so the folks at back could see the Potoo.
The back of the boat! We had backed into this area so the folks at back could see the Potoo.
We arrive at the mooring spot just in time to see this beautiful spectacle - the Scarlett Ibis coming into roost.  This is the view from my camera, so you can see how far away we are, so we don't disturb the birds.  (Although, there was a Peregrine Falcon roosting in the dead tree which was definitely giving them pause!)
We arrive at the mooring spot just in time to see this beautiful spectacle – the Scarlet Ibis coming into roost. This is the view from my camera, so you can see how far away we are, so we don’t disturb the birds. (Although, there was a Peregrine Falcon roosting in the dead tree which was definitely giving them pause!)

This really is a marvel to behold.  Yes, you can see the Roseate Spoonbills doing this in Florida, and yes they are beautiful birds too.  But they just aren’t as beautiful as a raspberry red bird flying in to roost in flocks that certainly numbered in the hundreds (and some in the thousands).  It was like watching a live Christmas tree decorate itself.  The flocks of Ibis, Egrets, and Herons just kept coming and we finally had to leave before it go too dark.  On top of it this isn’t the only Scarlet Ibis roost in the Caroni Swamp.  You know I think Trinidad and Tobago are fantastic for birding and nature, but even if you aren’t a birder this is a sight you should see.

The Scarlett Ibis coming into roost. (photo Scott Walker).
The Scarlet Ibis coming into roost. (photo Scott Walker).

Now, that’s the way to end a long day.  Once again it was dinner at Apsara, and early-ish to bed for a 4:30 wake-up call!!!

‘Til next time,

Valerie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Response to Trinidad – day 2 (there’s a lot of pics in this post!!)

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