Birding Trinidad & Tobago 2005
Journal: 31 Jan 05, Asa Wright Nature Center/Blanchiseusse




Jan 26
Jan 27
Jan 28
Jan 29
Jan 30
Jan 31
Feb 01
Feb 02
Feb 03


Bird Photos

Trip List


Striped Cuckoo, North Range
This morning we drove north over the North Range to the Caribbean coast. It's a steep, windy mountain road, with the northerly side noticably steeper than the southerly slopes. There were bad landslides, landslips and washouts from the rains earlier in January, much worse on the north side of the mountains than on the south side. We were held up by repair crews at two points, and contended for road space with dump trucks and loaders.

The whole idea of emissions controls on vehicles, especially diesel engines, hasn't caught on in Trinidad. The fumes when following the trucks were pretty bad. We stopped at a few places along the way, including one stop near the crest, in a more open forest with a less dense understory. I'm not sure if it is the wind, the rain or poor soils, but there was a lot less plant life. We found a Tropical Parula, Spectacled Tanager, Striped Cuckoo and a handsome Long-billed Gnatwren.

Ffrench reports that the Northern Range is an extension of the Venezuelan coastal cordillera, the mountains that define the Peninsula de Paria. There weren't a lot of rock exposures, but I saw limestone, basalt, diabase and some serpentine. I'll speculate that the North Range is uplifted seafloor, probably South American continental shelf, hinged in the south under the Caroni Plain. The outcroppings on the coast itself included very nice, thinly layered shale and limestone, tilted to about a 30 degree angle. The beach sand under a loupe showed surprising amounts of quartz, as well as coral, basalt, and a coarse green sand I couldn't identify.

Birding, particularly seabirds and shorebirds, was a little thin along the coast. The complete list: Brown Pelican and Spotted Sandpiper. There were other birds, some of them very nice, but no gulls or terns at all.

Carib Grackle
Blanchisseuse, Trinidad

Photo by Ron Teel
Alaska birders out of territory
Blanchisseuse, Trinidad
Despite the seabird disappointment, we did see a long list of other birds, including Short-tailed and Zone-tailed Hawk and an Ornate Hawk Eagle, Red-bellied Macaw, Blue Dacnis, Slaty-capped and Dusky-capped Flycatcher, Collared Trogon, Rufous-tailed Jacamer, Yellow-bellied Elaenia, Lesser Swallow-tailed Swift, Grey-rumped Swift and Golden-headed Manakin, among many others.

We watched a flyover by a small flock of Blue-headed Parrots, admired a Crimson-crested Woodpecker with a nest in a palm tree, enjoyed a nice lunch and then rattled back over the North Range to Asa Wright.

We arrived back at Asa Wright in time for a last walk along the trails, and the packed up for the trip to Tobago tomorrow.

House Wren (locally Tropical House Wren)
Blanciseusse, Trinidad

Photo by Ron Teel
Dealing with Mudslides
North Range, Trinidad

This was our last day with most of our group. Only Larry, Carol, Ron and Mary will head over to Tobago with us. It was a delight being with these folks, and a special pleasure birding with Jeff Blunt and David Haenni, of St. Louis. Nancy and I thank their wives for letting them go to Trinidad, and hope that they are allowed to bird Alaska soon.

Updated Sat, Mar 5, 2005