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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!