The Beautiful Birds of Trinidad & Tobago

Immediately after landing on the tarmac in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, our local guide and van driver, Roodal Ramlal, pulls off onto a dirt road in the middle of the city, our first birding hotspot. He spots several South American birds before we even reach the mountain road that leads up to the Asa Wright Nature Center.

A Snowy Egret in Flight.
A Mangrove Cuckoo.

Once we reach the steep mountain road, we are dangerously close to the edge of the drop off when I go into panic mode. But then, by some miracle, our driver, Roodal, maneuvers us out of the jam and our tiny white van soon pulls into the driveway at the Asa Wright Nature Center. I am relieved, but would I risk my life again on that steep mountain road? In a heartbeat. Why? Because of the magic this place holds. The numerous bird species and tropical hummingbirds that grace the veranda and the rich gardens that surround it. And for so many other reasons.

I am completely blown away by the beauty of this place. These purple honeycreepers, these hummingbirds that I have still to learn the names of. This is pure magic.
Female Green Honeycreeper.
This is the male Green Honeycreeper.
Immature Green Honeycreeper. Who knew that immaturity could be so beautiful?
White Necked Jacobin Hummingbird. I am now in photographer heaven.
One of the first things I see in the rainforest is this Squirrel Cuckoo. Have you ever seen a Cuckoo Bird?
A Jacobin at the Feeder at Asa Wright Nature Center.
Hibiscus Flower.
These birds hang their nests from trees, and it is the nest of one of the Loudest birds in Trinidad…
The Crested Oropendola.
Violaceous Euphonia.
I can’t stop photographing the White Necked Jacobins.
High up in the mountains at the Asa Wright Nature Center.
White Chested Emerald.
Ginger Torch Flower.
The Green Hermit Hummingbird.
Angel Trumpet Flower.
Black Throated Mango Hummer.
We were very fortunate to see the Green Backed Trogon in the rainforest!
We were excited to see the Collared Trogon as well!
It wasn’t easy to capture an image of the Bearded Bellbird because it was so high up in this tree… it is considered the LOUDEST bird in Trinidad.
BONK! BONK! It even woke me up from a nap one day. The cool thing is that I knew which bird was calling me to dinner.
Do you think this Ginger flower is related to the ginger root we eat with stir fry?
On one of our outings, Sue M. spotted this Channel Billed Toucan. Look at the silver bill!

On the fourth day, we all scramble into the van and Roodal drives us down the mountain to the Caroni Swamp to see the famous Scarlet Ibis. Before arriving at the swamp, we stop a couple of times along the way.

Strangest bird I’ve ever seen, the Wattled Jacana. Looks like he has Bloody Eyeballs.
Apparently, the Masked Cardinal likes bananas.
The Masked Bandit has struck again… “Give me all your bananas!”
Flamingos at Caroni Swamp w/ mountains in the distance. We are now waiting for the Scarlet Ibis to arrive to roost for the night. Incoming!
These Ibis photos would have been better, but I was two rum punches (and an oatmeal cookie) to the wind.
Landing on the mudflats nearby.
Red birds on green trees. It’s like Christmas!

On our last day at Asa Wright, I keep looking for the male Tufted Coquette. We did see one, but I just couldn’t get it. Something told me to keep looking. Never did I imagine that I would see what I was about to see. I’m walking on the road, and out of nowhere, this little guy decides to grace me with his presence. What a gift!

The Ruby Topaz Hummingbird.
I do not take this for granted, for this is one of the best experiences of my life.

Time to leave Trinidad and travel back down the treacherous mountain road. On to….TOBAGO! A small puddle jumper brings us to the little island of Tobago. We climb into a new van this time and our guide Jason happens to be the nephew of Roodal. I think it is safe to say that Roodal has many relatives and friends on both islands. Tobago is also very mountainous, but before we reach the mountains, we run into a Carnival celebration in a small village on the way to our hotel…

We’re stuck behind a music truck that is blaring the loudest music we’ve ever heard, but it gives us a chance to experience Carnival, so culturally it’s pretty awesome. We finally get through and our route takes us once again up and down many steep mountains. This time, however, there are guard rails and the roads are actually big enough for 2 cars, so I feel calmer this time. I am grateful to whomever built all the concrete barriers and guard rails on these mountain roads. After a seemingly endless trip of ups and downs, we eventually arrive at the Blue Waters Inn. We are now at sea level and have a beautiful view of the ocean!

The Blue Waters Inn on Tobago.
Bright and early the next morning, after a good night’s sleep, we see this female Barred Antshrike.
And this handsome guy, a Blue Grey Tanager.
Here we are headed to Little Tobago to see Red Billed Tropic Birds, but before we leave, we spy this “pink balloon” on the beach…
This Portuguese Man-of-War jellyfish can be lethal to humans.
On Little Tobago, we hike to the top of the hill and see these Red Billed Tropic Birds flying all around. They’ve spent a lot of their lives at sea, and are not very good with their “crash” landings.

We’ve been so busy, I decide to take a day off to swim in the ocean and relax by the pool. I am attempting to get a good shot of the Trinidad Mot Mot here on Tobago. The bird is an honored guest at the Blue Waters Inn, where they feed it homemade bread. No wonder it is a regular visitor! Our trip leader Sue teaches me how to call him in. “ooh ooh” I call. And again, “ooh ooh” and, as if on cue, the bird appears! Below are the first 2 shots. I can’t fool him again after that.

I realize I haven’t captured all of his colors, so I keep trying for the better part of 2 days to get his beautiful back side. It takes some work to get these two shots under the bushes where they like to hide and eat bread.

Trinidad Mot Mot.

And so I have fallen in love with the Ruby Topaz Hummingbird and the Trinidad Mot Mot. If you had told me 10 years ago that I would be in love with birds, I would have laughed at you! But it is true. I am so grateful to Karen, Sue M., Roodal and all the other naturalists and staff for giving me this experience. I urge all of you to get outside more often and to notice the wildlife all around you. You never know what you’ll see! Thank you for visiting my page!

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