We were up at 6 and on the verandah to enjoy the beginning of the day with the birds. Flocks of Orange Winged Parrots winged their way noisily over the valley in front of us to find their breakfast. We also saw some Channel Billed Toucans through the spotting scope the guides have set up on the terrace.
After breakfast, our guide Caleb led four of us on the hike to Dunston Cave to see the Oilbirds. We saw other birds along the way and encountered our first rain forest rain on the way down to the cave. The cave is actually not a cave in the regular sense, but a stream-bottomed gorge.
The Oilbirds are huge! I was expecting something the size of our nighthawks or whippoorwills, but these birds have a wing span of 36 to 42 inches and 18 inches beak to tail.
We saw many on the nests and saw quite a few flying. Their eyes shine red in the light and their cries are an eirie, scary sound. I cannot imagine going into a cave for the first time not knowing what was making that horrid sound!
On our way back up the trail, a Grey-Throated Leaf Tosser flew out of its nest in the banks of the trail. We had a very quick look as it flew.
On our way back to the lodge, our guide Caleb showed us the potoo. Steph and I had walked by this bird three times without knowing it was there. And we even had read about the bird in Bird Watcher’s Digest a few issues ago.
Steph and I walked back to see the Golden-headed Maniken on its lek. We also saw another daytime bat and a Blue Morpho Butterfly. Steph chased the Blue Morpho Butterfly until it paused long enough for a good photo.
Back to the terrace to rest and recoup. Coming from cold Indiana to hot humid Trinidad was taking its toll on us. We were drenched with sweat and wrung out by the time we got back to the terrace.
Emile picked us up at 2 for our trip to the Caroni Swamp. He took a slightly different route through downtown Arima as all the school children were getting out of school. It was nice to see that part of the culture. The students all wore their neat school uniforms – quite a nice change from American dress! Emile told us about the education system in Trinidad as we wound our way through other villages to the Swamp.
At Caroni Swamp, we boarded a boat to take us through the channels cut through the swamp towards the area where the Scarlet Ibis fly into roost at night. As Shawn piloted the boat, we saw many other birds along the way; one of the first was the beautiful Little Blue Heron. We also saw one of Steph’s high priority birds – the Common Black Hawk!
Shawn gave us an up close and personal look at the Crooks Tree Boa so all could take pictures. It was curled up on a branch above our heads.
Shawn stationed the boat where we could all get a great view of the show to come. The Scarlet Ibis started flying in in ones and twos, then sixes and eights, then tens and twenties. Then too many in a flock to count easily. Cameras were clicking away as the sky was scarlet in front and above us. Great and Snowy Egrets also flew in over us.
The green hammock of trees soon was transformed into a Christmas like setting of scarlet and white set agains the deep green of the trees. It was an amazing sight. We celebrated on the boat with the traditional Trinidad rum punch.
We were so tired after getting back from Caroni Swamp that we skipped supper, which had already started, and went straight to the cabin for showers, looking over the day’s pictures and bed.
Life Birds Seen Day 2
At Asa At Caroni Swamp
|Ruddy Ground Dove||Great Egret|
|Orange-winged Parrot||Tricolored Heron|
|Squirrel Cuckoo||Snowy Egret|
|Oilbirds||Little Blue Heron|
|Common Potoo||Common Black Hawk|
|Little Hermit||Scarlet Ibis|