Last Monday after landing on the island of Trinidad, we had about an hour of daylight, so our group of Prescott birders immediately went birding. At this point we hadn’t yet met up with our local guide, so we did our own bird walk from our hotel. We walked around the perimeter of a nearby golf course, and we checked out the birds we found there.
The following morning, we had another free hour, so we did some more birding around the hotel, and we had a lovely time. Our two self-guided bird walks resulted in an impressive list of 30 bird species, including green-rumped parrotlets (very cute!), red-breasted meadowlark (stunning), yellow oriole (amazing) and saffron finches.
As a group we added a one-day extension to the standard 10-day ‘Classic’ Trinidad and Tobago trip. The purpose for the extension was to visit an area of the island the classic trip doesn’t visit. We stayed at Mt. Plaisir Estate, in the small town of Grande Riviere on the north side of the island. Our accommodations were very nice — our rooms opened right onto the beach. The crashing waves and the cool breeze made for a delightful setting.
We still hadn’t met up with a local guide, so we just headed out on our own to go find some birds. When I visit a new place, l am not content to sit around — I am motivated to go find birds! We had an amazing time. The highlight was finding two Trinidad piping guans—our target bird for this area — and the whole purpose for the one-day extension.
Trinidad piping guans are very rare. They are only found on the island of Trinidad, and it is believed that there are only about 200 birds left in the world! They are similar in size and behavior to chachalacas. They move through tall trees in heavily-forested habitats as they search for fruit. We felt pretty proud of ourselves that we found some guans on our own!
The following morning, a local guide picked us up, and we went to an area where we saw somewhere between 12 and 14 guans. We were in bird heaven! We birded for a few hours and saw 38 species with an incredible variety of birds, including honeycreepers, caciques, oropendolas, toucans, parrots, manakins, tityras, anis and several different kinds of hummingbirds. Our one-day extension was so enjoyable, and we were so glad to have chosen to go see the guans.
Following a delicious late breakfast (since we left at 6 a.m. to go birding), we left Mt. Plaisir and started our journey to the Asa Wright Nature Center, nestled in the Northern Range region of Trinidad. The relatively short drive took us about three hours, as we were traveling on narrow, poorly-maintained roads. This was an adventure in and of itself! We were all grateful for our van driver and our safety.
When we arrived at Asa Wright, we were greeted by dozens and dozens of hummingbirds, honeycreepers, tanagers and a variety of other birds, such as kiskadees, thrushes and antshrikes. Words like ‘stunning’ and ‘amazing’ are inadequate to describe the view from the veranda.
The veranda looks out over an area with about 15 hummingbird feeders and six platform feeders filled with fresh pineapple, mango, watermelon and bananas. There are literally birds everywhere, from before sunrise until sunset. The Nature Center is a prime destination for birders and photographers alike. This will be our ‘home’ for the next six nights. Each day we are doing day trips out and back from the Nature Center.
Until next week, Happy Birding!
Eric Moore is the owner of Jay’s Bird Barn, with two locations in northern Arizona — Prescott and Flagstaff. Eric has been an avid birder for over 50 years. If you have questions about wild birds that you would like discussed in future articles, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.