Nature Adventures

  • Trinidad and Tobago Birders and Landscapes

    If you haven't been here...well, it's not too late.

    Our daily Agouti

    What the trees looked like

    What the forest looked like

    Bananaquits on the bar...must be tea time.

    This little guy outside the chocolate "factory" didn't let a little rain spoil his play plans. Blanchisseuse Road.

    Birder picnic.

    More forest on Trinidad - near Asa Wright.

    Scarlet Ibis in Caroni Marsh.

    Bats under cabin eaves...but not the ones we saw every evening sipping from the hummingbird feeders.

    Bellbird...big mouth...what a fantastic "song" that guy had! I sure wished I'd had my good camera with me...but then again...it was hot and uphill...maybe not.

    White-bearded Manakin. We saw the other two also, the Blue-backed Manakin and the Golden-headed Manakin, but I didn't get pictures.

    Here's our awesome guide David, feeling nostalgic at his old childhood climbing vine.

    Remember Hermit the Hummer nesting on the light chain in the reading room.

    Morning mist was very common.

    I don't have pictures, but the butterflies were wonderful. We were just at the end of the rainy season, and I understand the flowers were poised to burst out in force in the coming dry season.

    David's village, not far from Asa Wright.

    Trinidad street.

    Remember the Death March? Pretty farm...noisy dog.

    Not Little Tobago, but a cute little isle anyway.

    My favorite landscape capture - Tobago.

    Cute little place for hummingbird viewing.

    Stellar crew!

    Jason on far left. Thanks for the companionship everybody. What a great trip!

  • Trinidad and Tobago Red-billed Tropicbirds

    Little Tobago - Now this was an interesting and fairly complicated place to get to. It was a pretty long drive from Cuffie River Lodge, then the boat ride (getting on and off was a trip in and of itself), then whoa, the march up the stairs. Way up. But the payoff was worth it.

     Nice when they give you a close-up.

    These seabirds live out over the ocean and only come to land to breed. Their feet and legs are made for optimal ocean living, and leave something to be desired when it comes to landing on land. Soooo they fly into their general nesting area and then circle around and around until they can catch just the right thermal that can sail them into their roosting spot without crashing.

    So delicate and graceful.

    This is the booby nesting area. These may be a couple of adult white-phase Red-footed Boobies on nests.

    And here are some Brown phase Red-footed Boobies.

    Red-footed Boobies have blue bills. Who knew?

    When I first came across the unimpressive tiny little picture of the Red-billed Tropicbird in my guide book, I was underwhelmed, to say the least. I had no idea we were destined to enjoy such a glorious flurry of graceful and swirling white birds on the top of their tropical island home.

     

     

  • Trinidad and Tobago Aripo Savannah

    A bus of us went to the Aripo Savannah one day and saw a few birds. It was on this trip that we saw the Parrotlets (under another blog). And here are a few others:

    White-headed Marsh-Tyrant

    Pied Water-Tyrant

    Spectacled Thrush - we had them in other places, but this is where I was able to get a close-up of that crazy eye.

    And the Wattled Jacana was there although this particular photo came from a walk on Tobago.

  • Trinidad and Tobago Nightjars

    A highlight of our Asa Wright stay was the very wet and slippery trek down to the Oilbird breeding cave. When we first started out, we got about 10 feet away when it started pouring buckets of rain. We backed off, but started out again an hour later and made it. These birds are some of the most interesting birds ever! I don't have many pictures, but the first one (albeit wonky) should help you understand why we found them fascinating! They eat FRUIT! They are LARGE! and they ECHOLOCATE! And they are HUGE when flying!

    We met up with some birds along the way.

    This next shot required more than a little luck, it being so wet and my camera so heavy and my desire to not fall on my keister so strong. Plus he only appeared for a brief moment. Lucky to get anything. Looks like he's carrying food...nesting?

    Here are the troops making their way down the trail. If the railing looks sturdy, well, think again. A couple of days before our trek the winds blew down trees which clobbered the railing in some places. We were still glad to have it.

    Speaking of the handrail...here's a tarantula inside.

    The rainforest floor

    Near the bottom

    Aaaand here's the cave opening

    Aaand, here's the bird. 

    And another two. They gave us a sampling of their characteristic loud squawking chatter which sounded something like asphalt removal was going on in there. If the whole colony had gotten noisy, we'd have needed hearing protection!

    So, that was weird and amazing. But we had other Nighthawk experiences. Here's a Potoo, although the lighting is rough.

    And a Common Pauraque.

    And, finally, over on Tobago, we had a fantastic experience with a White-tailed Nightjar that arrived each evening on the asphalt just outside our bedroom window off the patio. We really enjoyed watching it loop about acrobatically catching night insects, then return to the same spot after every foray.

    Isn't he sweet? See the white outer tail feathers?

    For those who were on the veranda at Asa Wright when we spotted the Short-tailed Nighthawks with their unusually wide wingspan flying out of the area at dusk for their evening feeding...I'll just mention it so you'll remember. It was awesome...but no pics. 

     

     

  • Woodpeckers and Antshrikes

    I'm a sucker for big woodpeckers, Pileated, Lineated, Pale-billed, Magellanic. Love them all. This one finally presented himself for a photo op near the end of our stay at Asa Wright...off to the left from the veranda.

    Lineated Woodpecker

    Anybody who's tried to photograph a woodpecker knows that one of the challenges is to catch it when it's not drilling away, jerking his head around. On this occasion I was thrilled to find a more calm subject, with only a few jabs thrown in. 

    This Lineated was interested in a second bird of his type in a tree to the right. That one was too far away and did not display itself for pictures.

    Golden-Olive Woodpecker - captured on the death march.

    Red-crowned Woodpecker male. Looks a bit like Golden-fronted, don't you think?

    Red-crowned Woodpecker, female. This male and female had a pecking interest in the bamboo...the inside is probably fairly easy to clear out for a cavity nest.

    Every now and then on the Asa Wright veranda, one could hear the call, "barred antshrike!" from someone on the left side peering into the close tree there.

    Hello.

    The female was gorgeous with her red crest, but didn't want to be photographed...by me, at least.

     

     

  • Trinidad and Tobago Trogons and Toucans

    We had Trogons galore on our trip, but they are tricky to photograph...usually in the shade and usually sit with their head in one focus plane and their body in another, so depth of field requires a smaller aperture...so again, less light. Sigh. Anyway, they are gorgeous and the images are really fun to look at in low resolution as they are here.

    Violaceous Trogon - The strongly barred tail (barely visible here) distinguishes from Green-backed Trogon

    Green-backed Trogon - Note the white under-tail.

    Green-backed Trogon female - Her eye ring is very slightly bluish (pretty hard to see), and that distinguishes her from a Violaceous.

    Collared Trogon - The white collar characteristic of this bird isn't visible here, but it was there.

    Toucans present challenges of their own...in our case they liked to perch high and far away. But they are the most interesting birds...those bills!!

    Channel-billed Toucan - a lifer for me! Gave me a chance on the last day at Asa Wright.

    Don't know why his tail is hooked up like that.

    Yes, I have a red rump.