Trip to Trinidad and Tobago, July 2006

To see a list of the birds seen on this trip click here


Saturday 22nd July 2006

Trip to Trinidad and Tobago with Christine. Depart Heathrow 1500 hours (three hours late, for Trinidad via Barbados, on British West Indian Airlines, Airbus 430). In the end, flew direct to Trinidad due to the delay in leaving Heathrow. This suited us. Arrive Port-of-Spain airport 6:30pm local time (11:30pm UK). Painfully slow to clear customs/Immigration, then a walk through duty-free (!) to reclaim baggage.

We were met at the airport by taxi arranged by the ASA Wright Centre (AWC). Arrive there 8:15pm local time. Just enough time to unpack, have a rum punch and then go to bed. Missed dinner therefore had "sandwiches" in our room, and two cups of milkless tea.

Sunday 23rd July, 2006

Asa Wright Centre. Woke up at 5:30am, on the veranda at 6am. Breakfast at 7am, then a walk with a guide with Christine. Then return to the Asa Wright centre for lunch at 12 noon. At 1:30pm had another walk with a guide for three-quarters of an hour and then returned to the centre veranda. Humid. Warm. Cloudy much of the day with two or three sharp showers.

In addition: -

Tegu Lizard (2), Agouti (2), Blue Morpho Butterfly

Leafcutter Ants

Monday 24th July 2006

Morning AWC, then depart at 8:30am for Blanchissuese road. To the top, not as far as the sea. Our guide was Ramdass - very good. Picnic lunch (two cheese sandwiches and cold Lemon cordial). Intermittent cloud. Occasional slight rain.

In addition: -


Tuesday 25th July, 2006

In the morning at AWC. Then depart 8:15am to Aripo, Nariva Swamp, Waller Field. Return to AWC at 7:15pm . Ramdass guide. humid, warm. Occasional shower (one heavy). Occasional sun; heavy traffic at times.

In addition: -


Wednesday 26th July 2006

Pre-breakfast at AWC. Then depart at 8:30am to Waterloo. There from 1030 till 2pm, (including a flat battery), and then on to Caroni Swamp. Had lunch there, with lots of mosquitoes therefore moved on to Waller field for 4:00pm, then returned to AWC at 6pm. Rain (heavy at times) much of the day. Dull, cloudy all day. Cremation in place outdoors at Waterloo Temple when we arrived.

Also seen: -

Agouti (two AWC, two Waller field)

Thursday 27th July, 2006

To Grand Riviere. Depart AWC 4 o'clock in the morning! Arrived at Grand Riviere at 6:30am. We then drove to the top of the ridge.

Trinidad Piping Guan were seen it to 20 minutes or so, perched in the sum of a tree. Second bird's wing noise was heard. Then we went on to Grande Riviere beach and saw two hatchling Leatherback Turtles. Two-to-three others had been caught and were eaten by Black Vultures. To local children helped find a second. We found the first. Then, a return to AWC. Some rest then. Clear, dry and warm from dawn until about midday and progressively cloudy with rain, some very heavy.

In addition: -

Agouti (3), Black-eared Possum (one cross the road on all way to Grand Riviere. A long animal, slim. Short legs. Pale grey/white with darker areas around the face. A pointed snout and a long tail were also noted), Leatherback Turtle, Tegu

Later that day, a night walk at AWC found the following: -

Snail-eating Snake (Diptes variegata, 1), Chevron Tarantula (2), Tailless Whip-scorpion, Spring Tree Lizard

Also Oilbird - one heard on the night walk.

Friday 20th July, 2006

Morning walk to Dunston Cave for Oilbird. As there were no other guests staying at AWC at the time, Christine and I had a guide to ourselves. The walk took us approximately three-quarters of a mile from the AWC building, up and down the trail. The cave is reasonably small, and a count of a hundred and 40 Oilbirds was made today. Our guide was called Makesh Ramdass. Fantastic views (and hearing - frightening squeal) of the Oilbirds. I managed to slip and onto my posterior, and slightly pulled my right shoulder. Otherwise the main casualty was my pride. After lunch, at 1:30pm, we went with Ramdass to the Trincity sewage works. We saw five Spectacled Caiman there. Most jumped in to the water from the banks as we approached, disappearing from view. One however, which was probably seven feet long, defied us. It looked menacingly back at us, daring us to approach, which we did not in spite of the reassurances from Ramdass that these animals did not attack humans. Christine and Ramdass had returned to the van whilst I went back to the top of the bank to try and photograph two Large-billed Terns which were flying around. Suddenly there was a large splash of water perhaps three feet from my feet, clearly a Caiman had been in the grass, unseen by me and decided to leap in - quite an unnerving experience!

Then on to Caroni Swamp for a trip to see Scarlet Ibis. Madoo company was the trip organisation. The boat was driven by Sean, aged 19, and his girlfriend Crystal. He was excellent. There were only the three passengers me, Chris and Ramdass. Not huge numbers of Ibis, perhaps 150 in total, due to the birds breeding at the present time. The big roosts are apparently present between September and May. Weather was quite good, although we had a slight brief shower at the beginning of the trip at Caroni, otherwise it was warm with some sun. We celebrated our Ibis views afterwards with a rum punch and currant cake on the boat. We returned to AWC at 7:15pm.

In addition to the birds: -

Agouti (3-4 AWC), Tegu (two-to-three ADC), Tree Boa (one pointed out by  Sean Caroni Swamp), Leafcutter Ants, Blue Morpho Butterfly, Spectacled Caiman (five at the sewage works, one at Caroni), Red-tailed Squirrel (1 AWC)

Saturday 29th July 2006

Spent the day at AWC. Then we departed at 6:30pm for the airport for flight to Tobago. On arrival at the airport we were informed that our seats had been sold and the flight was full. A colleague of the person dealing with Christine at checkouts told the lady to give the seats in road 2 - an upgrade to first class! Amazingly comfortable. However as the flight was only 15 minutes long, we never got to fully enjoy the perks of this form of travel i e food or booze! We were met at Tobago airport by Andy Orr, the taxi-driver. It was then a slow one-and-a-half-hour drive to our base for the next week at Blue Waters hotel. Upon our arrival, a grumpy security guard said the bar was closed and we couldn't have a drink! We were told by Andy on our way to the hotel that we would be met at Blue Waters at 6am by  Newton George the next morning for a trip to the rainforest, and not as expected to Little Tobago. Today was bright first thing then rain much of the day at AWC, with low cloud. Before leaving AWC I did two walks as far as the White-bearded Mannikin lek, and then the rest of the day on the veranda.

In addition to the birds: -

Tegu (two-to-three), Leafcutter Ants, Agouti (two-to-three), Rat sp. (1),

Sunday 30th July 2006

Woke up at 5:15am to have breakfast before meeting Newton George for a trip to the rainforest. In company of four other English people (two couples, one from North Yorkshire one from Enfield). We had a walk up Gipin Trace, stopping along the road for birds. A heavy shower soon after entering the Walk, which soaked us through. We then returned to Blue Waters for about 1230. The rest of the day was spent chilling on the beach.

In addition to the birds: -

Red-tailed Squirrel (2 in the rainforest), Trapdoor Spider (2 in the rainforest)

Monday 31st July, 2006

A morning bird walk on my own from Blue Waters to the bridge/beach at the end of the drive, from 6:30am. The rest of the day was spent with Christine, and a walk to a deserted beach along the track. A man had a horse and several chickens there with his farm, but fortunately no dogs! A brief skinny dip in the sea was rapidly curtailed due to me being bitten three times - one on the right buttock one on the right shoulder and one (very painful indeed!) on the left nipple. Two bites drew blood and I commenced Amoxycillin as a precaution. I can only guess that they were fish that bit me although up the culprits were not actually seen. A hasty exit was made from the sea!

It was dry, sunny day much of the time, with occasional cloud. Only a slight shower.

Tuesday 1st August 2006

A morning walk pre-breakfast up a track from the hotel to photograph birds, on my own. Then after lunch, a trip with Newton George to Little Tobago with Christine. I met another English G P with the same 500 mm lens as me, from Edinburgh. Little Tobago was a superb experience for birds, with wonderful views, but was knackering walking up the hill with all the camera gear. There was a slightly "dodgy" walk down the cliffs to get better shots. It was dry, sunny and warm all day

Two species of Tropicbird was very worthwhile though.

Wednesday 2nd August 2006

Today we hired a car for the day from "Troy" at the Blue Waters. An automatic saloon, approximately £35 for the day including fuel. We drove south down the East coast to Bon Accord treatment ponds, then north up the west coast calling at Turtle Beach Hotel, Arnos Vale Hotel (nice lunch and very refreshing swim in the pool). Then we called back there again at 4pm for the "bird feeders" and were asked to pay £12 for the two of us for the privilege of witnessing it (pointing out our earlier patronage and the fact that we did not want to afternoon tea made no difference! We therefore left). We then called at bays on the west coast then over the middle of the island from Bloody Bay to Roxburgh and Blue Waters.

The Wilson's Phalarope was a first for Tobago.

Thursday 3rd August 2006

A another day trip with Newton George. We picked up a female (Marie Ann, a teacher from Martinique) from Cuffie River resort in the middle of the island - a remote setting but looked excellent - good food apparently and a swimming pool!), then on to Bon Accord. No Wilson's Phalarope today, much to Newtons disappointment - he's never seen one before), then on to the Hilton hotel complex followed by lunch at a local restaurant (excellent fish for £3 each). Then on to Grafton Estate. Upon returning to our vehicle, Newton got a call to say his brother on Trinidad had just died, therefore we returned directly to Blue Waters via Cuffie River. No trip to Adventure Farm.

Friday 4th August 2006

Today we hired a car again, as Newton was unable to take us due to his brother's death. We had a brief visit to Gilpin Trace, and then to Bloody Bay, and down the west coast to Adventure Farm (approximately £2 each to witness the birds being fed bananas). Not many hummingbirds visible due to the time of year, but we did get one brief view of a Ruby Topaz. We then drove back to Flagstaff Hill near Blue Waters at 5:30pm to get a view over the offshore islands, and their attendant birds.

Saturday 5th August 2006

Spent morning at Speyside (Blue Waters), then transferred to Tobago airport at 1:30pm for our 3:15 flight to Trinidad. We departed Trinidad at approximately 7pm, calling in at Barbados 35 minutes later, before carrying on to England.

In addition to the birds: -

Red Tree Squirrel (1), Bat (sp. - several), Fireflies (several last night, Blue Waters)