A great introduction to neo-tropical birding ...
The twin island country of Trinidad & Tobago is described by experts as being the most densely populated in the world for birds, having in excess of 470 species documented within the combined area of under 2,000 square miles.
Based at the world-famous Asa Wright Nature Centre in Trinidad, with a few days of relaxation and birding in Tobago, this tour is the perfect introduction to Neotropical bird life. Combine this with good accommodation and food, excellent local guides and friendly English speaking people and you have the recipe for an exceptional tour. This is not a group tour but it is a suggested itinerary that can be adapted to your own requirements.
Fly to Trinidad and transfer to the Asa Wright Nature Centre for 7 nights.
Awaken to the raucous noise of the Crested Oropendola and a host of other exotic sounds. A first time visitor may see 20-30 life birds from the verandah before breakfast. These could include various hummingbirds such as White-necked Jacobin, Tufted Coquette, Copper-rumped and Blue-chinned Sapphire. Orange-winged Parrots will be calling loudly, Palm Tanagers, Purple Honeycreeper, Great Kiskadee and Bananaquits will be everywhere.
Your day will begin with a guided tour of some of the trails traversing this rich and diverse wildlife sanctuary. On this introductory walk you may see species such as Guianan Trogon, Channel-billed Toucan, Bearded Bellbird, Rufous-browed Peppershrike, Turquoise and Bay-headed Tanager. The afternoon will be free to allow you to relax, explore the numerous trails and enjoy the birding from the verandah, which is one of the world’s most pleasant and exciting ornithological experiences.
Today there is an all day excursion over the Northern Range to the seaside village of Blanchisseuse. En route you will look for Swallow-tailed Kite (March – August), Common Black Hawk, Bat Falcon, Collared Trogon, Green-backed Trogon and Rufous-tailed Jacamar, among many others. At the seashore we will look for Magnificent Frigatebird, Green Kingfisher and Brown Pelican. Be sure to bring your bathing suit and sunscreen as there will be a chance for a swim after lunch on the beach.
Today you will wind your way out of the Northern Range to the east coast and the Nariva Swamp. This is the largest freshwater herbaceous swamp in Trinidad, which also has a mangrove area. On the way you will visit an agricultural research station where a host of lowland species such as Savannah Hawk, Red-breasted Blackbird, Southern Lapwing, White-headed Marsh Tyrant, Yellow-headed Caracara and Green-rumped Parrotlet. Arriving at the coastal area you will have the opportunity to look for Pearl Kite, Pinnated Bittern, Azure Gallinule, Wattled Jacana, Limpkin and White-tailed Goldenthroat. You will stay here until dusk, when hopefully you will see flocks of Red-bellied Macaws coming in to roost.
This morning you will visit Dunston Cave, home of the most accessible colony of Oilbirds in the world. Oilbirds are unique as they are the only nocturnal fruit eating birds. There will then be free time to explore the trails, take a dip in the natural bathing pool or just relax on the verandah. In the evening you will go Nightbirding when you visit the Agriculture Station, looking for nightjars and the remarkable Common Potoo.
You will make an early departure for this day’s journey to the lowland Aripo Savannah and Arena Forest which could provide yet another new batch of species. The Savannah is the only remaining grassland in Trinidad and is home to many unusual species such as Plumbeous and grey-headed Kite, Sulphury Flycatcher, Shiny and Giant Cowbird, Yellow-headed Cacique, Blue-black Grassquit and Orange-winged Parrot. Our forest sojourn will take you into what remains of lowland forest where you should see Lineated Woodpecker and Squirrel Cuckoo.
The day starts with a drive through avenues of tall palms between fields of sugar cane and grazing water buffalo, to visit the Waterloo Mudflats on the west coast. Here you will look for waders and shorebirds and a variety of gulls and trens that should include Black Skimmer. In the afternoon, you will take a boat trip through the famous Caroni Swamp, a specialised mangrove forest. Its highlights include Neotropic Cormorant, Anhinga,Osprey, Striated Heron, White-cheeked Pintail, Yellow-crowned Night Heron, Bicoloured Conebill and Masked Cardinal. Your day will end with the spectacular flight of Scarlet Ibis returning to their roosts at dusk. Truly one of the world’s most dramatic natural moments.
You will depart this morning for the airport and the 25 minute flight to Tobago. Transfer for 4 nights to Blue Waters Inn on the beautiful unspoilt North East coast of the island. Here you will hope to see some of the dozen or so species of bird not found in Trinidad such as Rufous-vented Chacalaca.
The first of three excursions with your guide in Tobago, Newton George. This morning you will take a walk into the Tobago Forest Reserve, which was established in 1765 and is the oldest protected forest in the Western Hemisphere. It is a haven for some 210 of Tobago’s most colourful bird species. Along the Gilpin Trace it is possible to see Blue-crowned MotMot, Blue Backed Manakin, White tailed Sabrewing Hummingbird, Olivaceous Woodcreeper, Yellow Legged Thrush, Fuscous Flycatcher, Great Black Hawk, Collared Trogon and many others. Trap door Spiders, Fruit eating Bats, Lizards, Snakes and endemic trees make up part of the biodiversity of the rain forest.
Today you will depart by glass-bottom boat to Little Tobago Bird Sanctuary. On the way you will cross the pristine coral reefs and there will be a chance to see the largest Brain Coral recorded in the Western Hemisphere, as well as snorkel at Angel Reef. On landing and depending on the time of year, you will explore the island looking for exotic sea birds and perhaps nesting colonies of Red-Billed Tropicbird, Red-footed and Brown Boobies, Terns, Magnificent Frigatebird and Audubon’s Shearwater.
A full day touring right around the island with Newton George. The day might find you exploring the Sewage Ponds at Bon Accord, Bucoo Marsh or other surrounding wetlands, Grafton Bird Sanctuary, Adventure Farm or Arnos Vale Waterwheel Sanctuary. You will surely see most of Tobago’s special birds that you might have missed such as Scrub Greenlet, Black-faced Grassquit, Ruby-topaz humingbird and Caribbean Martin (February – October). Other species often spotted are White Cheeked Pintail, Black Bellied Whistling and Mask Ducks, Least Grebe, Anhinga, Mangrove Cuckoo and Waders. During the months of September to April you can also see Pereguine Falcon, Merlin, Northern Waterthrush, American Red Start and Wablers namely Prothonotary, Black and White and Yellow Wablers.
The morning may be spent at leisure, taking a last swim or walking along one of the local trails. Afternoon flight from Tobago to Gatwick.
Arrive in UK early in the morning.