Archive for the ‘Scarlet Ibis’ Tag

Trinidad part 2 The Caroni Swamp, Yerette’s hummingbirds and a cyclone: 19th – 20th June 2017   Leave a comment

I had intended to do just two posts on Trinidad, but as always there were too many I photos that I wanted to share. So this second post covers our final hours based at Asa Wright and a place we stopped at on route to Grande Riviere on the north coast.

 

 

 

No wildlife holiday to Trinidad would be complete without a visit to the Caroni Swamp and its stunning Scarlet Ibis roost. So we headed back west and then south of the capital, Port of Spain ….

 

…. and took an afternoon cruise down the creeks and channels of the swamp.

 

By far the best sighting was this diminutive Silky Anteater which was curled up in the mangroves like a furry football. I now have seen all four species of anteater, another one off the bucket list.

 

Eventually we emerged from the mangroves into the main lagoon.

 

We saw a few waders like this Hudsonian Whimbrel. UK birders have only about six weeks left to enjoy having this Nearctic form of Whimbrel on their lists because as of 1/1/18 the BOU will adopt the IOC checklist as a basis for the British List and Hudsonian Whimbrel and Eurasian Whimbrel will be relumped.

 

Along the edge of the mangroves was a large collection of egrets and herons.

 

Those we could get close to were revealed as Snowy Egrets, Little Blue and Tricoloured Herons ….

 

…. with the occasional Yellow-crowned Night Heron.

 

However just as the first Scarlet Ibises were starting to fly over it turned ominously dark. We had heard that bad weather, well a cyclone actually, was on its way but hadn’t expected it to arrive until after dark.

 

What we had hoped for was this …. (photo by ‘One more shot Rog’)  see https://www.flickr.com/photos/onemoreshotrog/9475920061 

 

…. what we got was this!

 

It was now raining very hard and we had no option but to head back, arriving back at the bus completely soaked (in spite of ‘waterproofs).

 

Through the night the wind howled and the rain was torrential, beating down on the metal roofs of our rooms with great intensity. The following morning the lodge was wreathed in cloud and it was still raining hard. Several dead nestlings were seen on the paths washed out of their nests ….

 

…. but the baby Spectacled Thrushes outside reception had survived! (photo taken before the storm).

 

One of the large trees outside the verandah had its top broken off ….

 

…. and Black Mastiff Bats were found taking shelter inside the building.

 

We thought that this presumed (it was hard to know when it was soaking wet) Copper-rumped Hummingbird was dead, as it hung motionless upside down for a long time but a researcher rescued it and fed it sugar-water from a dropper and it soon perked up and flew off.

 

Then the bad news; our bus was at the bottom of the mountain and couldn’t get to us because of fallen trees, mind you there are worst places in the world to be trapped than Asa Wright.

 

After about three and a half hours of hanging about two 4x4s belonging to the lodge appeared. The road had been cleared enough for them to get down the hillside but not for the larger bus to get up. It was a case of creeping under the fallen trees rather than going around them.

 

Reunited with our minibus we headed off through flooded roads ….

 

…. to a place called Yerette, a private garden turned into a hummingbird spectacular.

 

Keith, its above you!

 

We could wander around the garden looking at the various feeders. I counted 37 and I’m sure I missed some.

 

Although not in focus, I quite like this image of an incoming Black-breasted Mango.

 

We saw eleven species of hummer at Yerette, including this Little Hermit ….

 

…. Long-billed Starthroat ….

 

…. Blue-chinned Sapphire ….

 

…  a female Amythyst Woodstar

 

…. and yet another male Black-throated Mango. There was also a single Green-throated Mango around which was lifer for me, it looked much the same but was slightly bulkier with a green throat.

 

But the best hummer of the bunch was this Ruby Topaz.

 

As with all hummers Ruby Topaz’s colour changed in intensity with the direction the bird was facing.

 

See what I mean! In many species all of the iridescent colours, so carefully illustrated in a field guide, can’t ever be seen at once.

 

We were now well behind schedule so we headed off for the north-eastern point of the island, from here we headed back west along the north shore (there is no short cut across the mountains). Although the way was clear the road would have been impassible due to flooding if we had left Asa Wright on time as there was a lot of mud on the road, especially when we crossed the streams. The flooding had been less severe in forested areas as forest uplands hold back the water and let it flow gently to the lowlands and in these areas the streams were already running clear. In deforested areas it runs off the hills like the proverbial water off a duck’s back and is full of mud and debris. Deforesters in northern England and near the Somerset Levels please take note.

 

We arrived at our lodge at Grande Riviere before dark but we found they had no power due to the storm and that meant no air-con and no water supply either as the pumps wouldn’t work. They managed to cook us a meal which we ate by candlelight and we squeezed just enough water out of the pipes to wash our hands and face. The power came back on at lunchtime the following day.

The next post will cover the birds we saw in this scenic area, including Trinidad’s other endemic and a very close encounter with the world’s fourth largest reptile.