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…
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 birded along a circle road in the livestock station, before heading off to Aripo heights.
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!
We took a quick stop to look for birds.
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!
And this is what they were waiting for…
Another property belonging to Asa Wright, although it didn’t appear to be open to the public.
Of 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!
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 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:
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.
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,