Tour 2: Every Endemic Species in the Lesser Antilles (with optional extension to Trinidad)

 

Daily Itinerary + Pricing

Green-throated Carib (photo© Sam Barone)

Green-throated Carib (photo© Sam Barone)

Islands we will visit on this tour:

Barbados, St. Lucia, Martinique, Dominica, Guadeloupe, Antigua, Barbuda, Montserrat, St. Vincent, Grenada, (Trinidad)

Overview:

When you add a lengthy list of critically endangered endemics to a host of indigenous regional species, a birding trip through the Lesser Antilles is guaranteed to yield spectacular bird sightings. But when this is combined 1) with your being in the region during a time when birdlife is further enhanced by a plethora of over-wintering migrants from North America, 2) an opportunity for you to contribute to turtle conservation and to release hatchlings, 3) an opportunity for you to get astonishing views of some of the planet's largest creatures - and 4) being able to do all this while traveling to some of the most sought-after holiday destinations on the planet; wow!! This promises to be a truly remarkable adventure indeed! Should you wish to extend your tour and continue on to Trinidad, the southernmost island in the Caribbean, you will have a golden opportunity to delight in the sights and sounds of a phenomenal variety of South American species at the northern limit of their range in one of the most popular birding destinations in the Western Hemisphere.

Recommended by:

Patricia E. Bradley
Author of Birds of The Cayman Islands
Author of An Inventory of Breeding Seabirds of the Caribbean

Ryan Chenery is an outstanding birdwatching guide for endemic, indigenous and migrant birds of his native Barbados and the islands of the Eastern Caribbean. Add to this his knowledge of the region’s topography, habitats and people, make travelling with him a unique and exciting experience. Whether to one island or several I found his professional and organizational skills excellent and I cannot recommend him too highly. And we always found the birds!

Patricia E. Bradley

 

Daily Itinerary

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Day 1

BARBADOS

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Antillean Crested Hummingbird (photo© David Petts)

Antillean Crested Hummingbird (photo© David Petts)

The Bajan Birder meets you as soon as you exit the Arrivals Hall of the Grantley Adams International Airport from which he escorts you to your hotel, located on the scenic southern coast of the island. With such local delicacies as pickled seacat (octopus), breadfruit coucou and flying fish awaiting our palates at the Meet and Greet Dinner, the tone is set for what promises to be as equally delectable a journey for our taste buds as the myriad colourful bird species will be for our eyes.

Day 2

Common Gallinule (photo© David Petts)

Common Gallinule (photo© David Petts)

Our first excursion sees the Bajan Birder taking advantage of the knowledge and experience acquired over the course of 16 years of leading birding tours on the island - by guiding you to a number of secluded lily ponds to get unbelievably close views of the elusive Masked Duck, Caribbean race of American Coot, secretive Sora and Wilson's Snipe. These lightly trafficked, largely undisturbed sites are also favorites of Common and Purple Gallinule, Belted Kingfisher, Green Heron and several species of over-wintering shorebird.

From these idyllic ponds we journey through the centre of the island en route to its northernmost tip. Here, along a stretch of wave-battered clifftop synonymous with this wild coastline, male Grassland Yellow-Finches in full breeding plumage erupt out of tussocks of thick grass and hover in midair, wings quivering in frenzied excitement as they put on a series of elaborate courtship displays - carefully choreographed to impress discerning females. Overhead, Caribbean Martins wheel and dance in the high wind, occasionally stooping into a dive that sees them skim low over the cactus - atop which perch lively Black-faced Grassquits and Gray Kingbirds. We explore a range of birding habitats in the north (including a reliable site for Southern Lapwing) before returning south along the eastern coast with its miles of rugged, windswept beaches to our lunch stop - a quaint establishment frequented by locals, where we will enjoy some sumptuous Barbadian specialties (ranging from deep-fried fishcakes and flying fish cutters to cassava pone.

Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary

Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary

Snowy Egret (photo© David Petts)  

Snowy Egret (photo© David Petts)

 

After our meal we travel by van to the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary, to which we will be granted exclusive access.  We are incredibly fortunate to be allowed unrestricted access into this RAMSAR-designated Wetland of International Importance, as the Sanctuary has been closed to the public since 2009. As we stroll along the immaculately maintained boardwalk, flitting amongst the dark green leaves of the Red Mangroves are a host of indigenous species, such as: Caribbean Elaenias, Antillean Crested Hummingbirds, Carib Grackles, Bananaquits,  an endemic subspecies of Yellow Warbler and the endemic Barbados Bullfinch. We take advantage of prime locations on viewing platforms and of our ideal positions behind observation hides to enjoy unparalleled views of Scaly-naped Pigeon, Black as well as Yellow-crowned Night-Heron and Blue-winged Teal. Three species of egret also inhabit the mangroves. Owing to the absence of daily visitors for the last seven years, the colony has gradually expanded towards the boardwalk, from whence one can now get excellent views of nesting Little, Snowy,  and Cattle Egret.

 

Delicious grilled seafood awaits us at Oistins Fishing Village

Delicious grilled seafood awaits us at Oistins Fishing Village

Following our highly productive, yet relaxing visit to the reserve, we take the van back to our hotel for a welcome shower and siesta, before heading to the popular fishing village of Oistins for a freshly caught evening meal.   Please note: a wide range of other meats such as chicken, beef, pork as well as vegetarian options are available at Oistins as well.                                                                      

 

 

 

Turtle hatchlings making a mad dash for the waves

Turtle hatchlings making a mad dash for the waves

After dinner you will have the opportunity (should you wish) to accompany me on a nighttime visit to a protected marine turtle nesting site, where we will assist volunteers with the Barbados Sea Turtle Project in searching for nesting female sea turtles, cordoning off nest sites and possibly even releasing hatchling turtles into the ocean on what for them will be a lifelong odyssey at sea.

For a list of the Top 20 Species that we will be targeting in Barbados please click here

 

Day 3

St.Lucia

St.Lucia Oriole (photo© David Petts)

St.Lucia Oriole (photo© David Petts)

White-breasted Thrasher (photo© David Petts)

White-breasted Thrasher (photo© David Petts)

At 8 a.m. today we make a short 40 minute flight to St.Lucia. On arrival our van meets us at the airport from which we embark on our journey through the wilds of the island. Our tour begins along the east coast, in an area close to Dennery - one of the most popular fishing villages on the island. The dense thickets of semi-arid woodland associated with this part of the island represent ideal habitat for one of the rarest birds we hope to see on this entire tour - the White-breasted Thrasher. This species is found only on St.Lucia and one other island. Its population is thought to number fewer than 200 pairs in the wild.

 

St. Lucia Parrot (photo© David Petts)

St. Lucia Parrot (photo© David Petts)

As we make our way inland, semi-arid woodland is gradually replaced by the lush Des Cartier Rainforest. Here we will bird until late afternoon. Meandering along the network of easily navigable forest trails lined with a staggering array of flora, ranging from giant ferns to tiny bromeliads, we delight in the sights and sounds of a host of regional forest-dwelling species and threatened endemics, amongst them, and perhaps most coveted of all St.Lucia's national bird, the magnificent St.Lucia Parrot

After our time in Des Cartier with such gems as Ruddy Quail Dove, Forest Thrush,  and St.Lucia Black Finch, we make our way towards Vieux Fort to explore the nearby Aupicot wetlands. This important site is populated by such regional species as Black-bellied Whistling-Duck as well as a huge variety of over-wintering waterfowl and waders from North America.

As the soft light of dusk begins to descend over the island, we end the day's birding on the island's west coast, where we are treated to a spectacular aerial display of Red-billed Tropicbirds returning to their colony to roost.

After making the 20 minute drive back to our cozy hotel, nestled within a swathe of lush forest, we dine while overlooking the scenic coastal setting of Praslin Bay and the Frigate Islands Nature Reserve.

For a list of the Top 20 species that we will be targeting in St.Lucia, please click here and scroll down the page to the section on St.Lucia

Day 4

MARTINIQUE

Grey Trembler (photo© David Petts)

Grey Trembler (photo© David Petts)

With our ferry to Martinique not scheduled to depart until mid-afternoon, we wake early the next morning to bird a generous swathe of St.Lucia's Northern Range, dominated by the majestic 2,600+ ft Pitons. Although we are in a mountainous region of the island, it will be the van's engine, not our own power, which does most of the work. We drive up a long, steady incline to the quaint hilltop village of Bouton from where we set out on a slow-paced walk along a paved road, lined on one side with an extensive orchard and on the other with dense rainforest. In this idyllic setting we target such treasures as St. Lucia Warbler, Scaly-breasted Thrasher, St. Lucia Oriole, St. Lucia Pewee, Lesser Antillean Swift and the charming St.Lucia race of House Wren.

Magnificent Frigatebird (photo© Sam Barone)

Magnificent Frigatebird (photo© Sam Barone)

After lunch we make for the port of Vieux Fort to catch L' Express des Iles ferry bound for Martinique. En route we will scan the seas for three species of boobies and the skies above for Magnificent Frigatebirds and a host of species of terns, gulls, and even jaegers. Sightings of turtles, dolphins, and Flying Fish are also distinct possibilities.

Martinique is small, with select sites frequented by birds of interest; therefore after we disembark the ferry, we get straight to birding. In the afternoon we head to the prime location for the island's endemic species of oriole, an area also frequented by such species as Lesser Antillean Peewee, and Lesser Antillean Flycatcher, as well as the magnificent Blue-headed Hummingbird and the entertaining Gray Trembler (both of which are found on only one other island). We bird here until the fading light forces us to retire to our hotel, which is located within the astoundingly beautiful Presquille de Caravelle Nature Reserve.

For a list of the Top 20 species that we will be targeting in Martinique please click here and then scroll down the list of islands to Martinique.

Day 5

DOMINICA

Humback Whale breaching in tropical waters

Humback Whale breaching in tropical waters

The next morning we wake to explore the bird life and take in the dawn chorus of this small coastal reserve before getting transportation back to the ferry port. After all ....Dominica awaits!

At 10 a.m. we set sail for Dominica - an island regarded by many as the "Nature Lover's Caribbean Island". As we dock in Dominica we board our van and make our way to the Sunset Bay Hotel, a tranquil resort nestled within Batalie Bay, recently recognized as one of the Best Beaches of Dominica. With the beach and Caribbean Sea in front of us and the hotels extensive gardens and montane forest surrounding us, we certainly are spoiled for choice. Never make a decision on an empty stomach I always say: best to pause and take stock of our options over a delicious meal on the restaurant's beach-side deck.

Purple-throated Carib (photo© David Petts)

Purple-throated Carib (photo© David Petts)

Such is the nature of touring the Caribbean that though a mere six hours earlier we awoke at dawn to bird the coastal woodlands of Martinique, the afternoon of the same day sees us setting foot in the rainforests of Dominica in search of completely new species for the trip. The island's lush forests absolutely teem with life! The latter half of the day sees us embark on a quest for such residents as Purple-throated Carib, Lesser Antillean Saltator, Pearly-eyed Thrasher, Brown Trembler, and one of Dominica's two species of endemic Amazona parrot - the charismatic "Jaco" or Red-necked Parrot.

 

Day 6

I can assure you that despite its name (Sunset Bay Hotel), the sunrises here are just as spectacular as the sunset. With a backdrop of shafts of early morning sunlight making the black sand crystals of the Batalie beach glisten like so many ebony-encased diamonds, we enjoy a hearty breakfast, some of which will be picked directly from the hotel gardens, before setting off on our next tropical adventure.

Imperial Parrot (photo© Bertrand Baptiste)

Imperial Parrot (photo© Bertrand Baptiste)

Anticipation will be ripe as this morning brings with it a phenomenal opportunity to enjoy stunning views of the largest and rarest of the Amazona parrots: the undisputed monarch of these forests - the Imperial Parrot. We drive to a secluded site deep within montane forest where the Sisserou (as it is known by locals) is known to roost. Before setting out on a quest for fruiting trees the birds often preen and stretch their impressive wings and in so doing allow one to truly appreciate the large size of this bird and the dazzling iridescence its feathering.

Antillean Euphonia (photo© Anthony Levesque)

Antillean Euphonia (photo© Anthony Levesque)

Although the Sisserou is undoubtedly the showpiece, this largely unspoiled region of the island is also home to a staggering array of other beautiful species. One sighting of the dazzling colours of an Antillean Euphonia can leave you in little doubt that you are in the tropics, while encounters with the resplendent Red-legged Thrush will no doubt prove equally memorable. With such treasures all around us, we spend the remainder of the morning exploring forest trails in search of other indigenous species local to the area, such as White-crowned Pigeon and Bridled Quail Dove, all the while being treated to the cacophony of calls for which such forests alone are reserved. As midday approaches we wind our way back down out of the hills and towards the port. Incredibly, the second half of this remarkable day in paradise has the potential to outshine the first!

Pilot Whale and calf

Pilot Whale and calf

At 2pm we join an experienced captain and crew on a search for ocean giants! An astonishing 22 species of whale and dolphin have been sighted off of the coasts of Dominica, and I have ensured that our time on the island coincides with that of peak cetacean migration through the Lesser Antilles. On the trip the crew use hydrophones to listen for the telltale clicks and whistles of these magnificent creatures; hence are able to better hone in on their position. With a 90% success rate, it seems this is an approach that works well in this setting. Humpbacks, Short-finned Pilots and False Killers are amongst the species seen at this time of year, but the most reliable sightings are of Dominica's resident population of Sperm Whale, the largest toothed whale on the planet. These absolute behemoths frequent and feed in the deep oceanic troughs to the west of the island, and use the placid waters of the Caribbean Sea as a calving ground. An unforgettable wildlife encounter awaits! The dinner table will be truly buzzing back at our hotel tonight!

 

For a list of the Top 20 species that we will be targeting in Dominica, please click here and then scroll down through the list of islands to Dominica.

Day 7

GUADELOUPE

Guadeloupe Woodpecker (photo© Anthony Levesque)

Guadeloupe Woodpecker (photo© Anthony Levesque)

 

Plumbeous Warbler

Plumbeous Warbler

Upon arrival on Guadeloupe by ferry, we are met (as we are on most of the islands on our tour) by a local guide who takes us to the prime site for the island's endemic Guadeloupe Woodpecker. We will also visit well known haunts of such regional specialties as Scaly-breasted Thrasher and Ruddy Quail-Dove along with those of the Plumbeous Warbler, in case this near-endemic had proven elusive on Dominica (the only other island on which it is found).

We spend our night on Guadeloupe at La Heliconia, an establishment that prides itself on ensuring it’s guests get a true feel for a wonderfully Caribbean style of accommodation. Our stay in these brightly coloured and charming chattel houses should give us a real taste of Lesser Antillean living.

For a list of the Top 20 species that we will be targeting in Guadeloupe, please click here and then scroll down through the list of islands to Guadeloupe

 

Day 8

ANTIGUA

West Indian Whistling-Duck (photo© Yves-Jacques Rey-Millet)

West Indian Whistling-Duck (photo© Yves-Jacques Rey-Millet)

Today we arrive on the sun-baked shores of Antigua. With a shoreline pocketed by inlets and bays, Antiguans boast that they can visit a different beach every day of the year and still not see them all. This large number of beaches ensures that Antigua is an island more popular with sun-seekers than bird-watchers. However, although not home to any endemics, this island promises to reveal a number of indigenous regional species as well as several species of migrant waders and waterfowl. It is undoubtedly the best island upon which to enjoy unbelievably close views of one of the last remaining populations of West Indian Whistling-Duck.

The Jolly Beach Resort and Spa will be where we spend our next 3 nights.

For a list of the Top 20 species that we will be targeting in Antigua and Barbuda and Montserrat, please click here and then scroll down through the list of islands to these islands

Day 9

BARBUDA

From Antigua we will will embark on day trips to the two tiny islands of Barbuda and Montserrat. On Day 9 we catch the Barbuda Express Ferry and within 90 minutes are stepping onto the sands of Antigua's sister island. Our main target here will be the diminutive Barbuda Warbler. The bird itself should not be that difficult to find, but as the ferry will not return again until afternoon, we castaways will just have to endure being stranded on a Caribbean island renowned for its deserted pink-sand beaches, groves of gently swaying coconut trees, quaint beach bars and snack-shacks - each boasting a selection of ice-cold beers, freshly-caught local seafood and other mouth-watering local fare.

Day 10

MONTSERRAT

As with Barbuda, we will have an entire day to explore Antigua's other neighbour - an island fondly known as The Other Emerald Isle. With its historic ties to Ireland, the beautiful and peaceful island of Montserrat is perhaps best known for having one of the world's most active volcanoes. I remember in 1995 seeing the heavy ash and thick black cloud that enveloped Barbados following the eruption of Soufriere Hills Volcano, and being absolutely astounded at the raw power required to send material so far aloft that I could see the effects of that eventtaking place some 300 miles away. We spend our day on Montserrat exploring the volcanic foothills of Soufriere, taking in the breathtaking views from the Montserrat Volcano Observatory, and also wandering along select nature trails in search of the appropriately fiery-chested Montserrat Oriole. On our return trip to Antigua we relax on the upper deck of the ferry and enjoy one final opportunity to take in the sights of pelagics soaring over the turquoise waters of the Caribbean.

Day 11

ST.VINCENT

St. Vincent Parrots (photo compliments Ministry of Tourism of St. Vincent and the Grenadines)

St. Vincent Parrots (photo compliments Ministry of Tourism of St. Vincent and the Grenadines)

Our 40 minute flight to St.Vincent today sees us continue on our southward journey along the island chain. As the number of miles traveled steadily rises so too does the number of bird species seen. Upon arrival at the airport we have a 15-minute drive to the elegant Beachcombers Hotel where we can freshen up. Hotel staff later pack us a light lunch and we then make for the Buccament Valley. 

The vantage point afforded us standing on the edge of this deep ravine represents the ideal location for incredible views of one of the rarest birds on the planet - the St.Vincent Parrot. There is something very sobering in the knowledge that you are watching some of the last remaining individuals of a species, in the only country where they can be found, in one of their last remaining expanses of natural habitat. But what a spectacle they provide as they commute from one fruiting tree to another, with every flit of their wings a mesmeric golden flash against the unbroken dark green backdrop of the island's dense forests. A magnificent sight!

Whistling Warbler (photo compliments Ministry of Tourism of St. Vincent and the Grenadines)

Whistling Warbler (photo compliments Ministry of Tourism of St. Vincent and the Grenadines)

From large and critically endangered to minute and very endangered - the other endemic species we will seek out amongst the numerous regional species to be seen on St.Vincent is the comically attired Whistling Warbler. As though he were a curious monocled 19th century gentleman, the male Whistling Warbler often will peer down upon you with a cocked head and quizzical stare, as though he were contemplating the motives behind your entry into his forest abode. Truly a character in every sense of the word!

As well as being home to the rarest of the rare, St.Vincent will also provide us with the opportunity to see a number of species hitherto unseen on other islands, with the Yellow-bellied Elaenia, Cocoa Thrush, Tropical Mockingbird and impressive local race of Common Black Hawk being but a few.

On our return journey from another rewarding day of birding, we gaze out the window at the changing topography of this varied and rugged land. Densely forested mountain peaks give way to sparsely vegetated plateaus and eventually grasslands and coastal flora, at which point we arrive at the Beachcombers Hotel, where we enjoy a candlelit dinner on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. Those of us up for a night stroll through the hotel grounds have the chance of encountering other nocturnal wanderers such as the Lesser Antillean race of Barn Owl, and Antillean Nighthawk.

For a list of the Top 20 species that we will be targeting in St.Vincent, please click here and then scroll down through the list of islands to St.Vincent

Day 12

GRENADA

Grenada Dove (photo© G.R. Homel)

Grenada Dove (photo© G.R. Homel)

Today sees us take a 30 minute flight to Grenada. At first this small and densely populated island might seem an odd destination on a birding trip, however, as was the case with the White-breasted Thrasher on St.Lucia, by virtue of our visiting Grenada we are provided with the opportunity to see one of the rarest birds on the planet, the Grenada Dove, in its natural habitat. Latest counts estimate the surviving number of Grenada Doves to be as low as 150 individuals. However, with the help of a trusted local guide, I am confident that we will be treated to a sight few people have had, or will have a chance to see in their lifetime.

Lesser Antillean Tanager (photo compliments Ministry of Tourism of St.Vincent and the Grenadines)

Lesser Antillean Tanager (photo compliments Ministry of Tourism of St.Vincent and the Grenadines)

After visiting the last stronghold of this delicate, unassuming dove, we explore the impressive Levera National Park in the hopes of sighting some of this tiny island's other inhabitants, including: the Rufous-breasted Hermit, Lesser Antillean Tanager, local race of Hook-billed Kite and Grenada Flycatcher.

 

 

Our lodgings for the night will be a vibrantly coloured and newly refurbished resort located on the Caribbean Sea. Standing on our verandas looking out across the moonlit sea that for two weeks we have journeyed across, we watch as her waves gently lap against the posts of our cottages while we reflect on our travels. What a perfect setting to draw to a close our journey through the Lesser Antilles.

For a list of the Top 20 species that we will be targeting in Grenada, please click here and then scroll down through the list of islands to Grenada

For those of you leaving the tour at this point you will catch a morning flight to neighbouring Barbados from where you will return home.

For those of us continuing the adventure onto Trinidad, we will catch a morning flight to a destination known as the "Caribbean Island of South America".

Optional Extension to Tour

Day 13

TRINIDAD

Purple Honeycreeper (photo© Sam Barone)

Purple Honeycreeper (photo© Sam Barone)

This morning sees us leave the range of Caribbean species and make our way to the island nation of Trinidad and Tobago on a quest for South American birds.

Trinidad is a melting pot of cultures and humanity that has served to transform the island into a sea of vibrant colours, every year culminating in the supposed two day (but in actual fact, month-long) festival of Trinidad Carnival.

Channel-billed Toucans (photo© Sam Barone)

Channel-billed Toucans (photo© Sam Barone)

Many of the Carnival costume designers say that they get their inspiration for their elaborate headdresses and 20-foot trains from the country's birdlife. After witnessing first hand the extraordinary rainbow of colors the birds of the island have to offer, you will soon see why.

Upon arrival we are met at the airport by pre-arranged transport and taken to our hotel. After enjoying a delicious lunch at a nearby local restaurant, we make our way to the internationally renowned Caroni Swamp (in 2015 renamed the Winston Nanan Caroni Bird Sanctuary).

We travel in a comfortable flat-bottomed boat and begin our exploration of the mangroves. To delve deep into the very heart of an established mangrove swamp is something akin to journeying into a prehistoric ecosystem where everything appears to remain frozen in time. Mangroves have been on the planet for 250 million years and with their pattern of elaborate, interlaced aerial roots and entwined branches, almost appear to be determined to shield and protect the inhabitants of the swamp from the encroaching threats of the modern world.

Swallow-tailed Kite (photo© Yves-Jacques Rey-Millet)

Swallow-tailed Kite (photo© Yves-Jacques Rey-Millet)

Cocoi Heron (photo© Sam Barone)

Cocoi Heron (photo© Sam Barone)

Unsurprisingly, the tranquility and sanctitude of this magical place attracts an astonishing variety of birds and other wildlife. Dusk is the best time to see them: herons of every possible description, the probing pencil-thin necks of Little Blues looking positively dainty when seen in close proximity to those of their rather heavy-set counterparts, the Boat-billed Herons. Wattled Jacanas walk delicately across lilies, Pied Water-Tyrants flit frantically from one bank of a tributary to another and roosting Tropical Screech-Owls patiently await the setting of the sun. In the skies above we are treated to views of Trinidad's extensive variety of raptors including Short-tailed Hawks, Swallow-tailed Kites, and Yellow-headed Caracara. The swamp's inhabitants are, however, not restricted to birds alone; its banks are ideal basking sites for Spectacled Caiman, the mangroves' branches offer prime hunting for Cook's Tree Boa, and although Silky Anteaters and Crab-eating Raccoons share the Screech-Owl's penchant for nocturnal foraging, they both can be seen on occasion during the day, securely curled up in the mangrove's embrace.

As the sun dips lower in the sky, long-legged waders begin to fly in low over the water from the surrounding marsh, Cattle, Great and Snowy Egrets, Little Blue and Tricolored Herons, and sometimes even a few Glossy Ibis arrive and proceed to decorate the emerald-colored mangrove islands.However all of this serves as a precursor to the arrival of the Scarlet Ibis, and our bearing witness to a sight sure to make bird lovers the world over envious. As we sit in our boat enjoying our rum punches and biscuits the sky slowly begins to be patterned by the first few bright-red arrivals making their aerial way towards us out of the west. But ones and twos soon give way to flocks of hundreds of these resplendent birds, shifting and contorting in one rhythmic mass overhead as they negotiate the best approach to their roosts before nightfall. As more and more birds arrive, the dark green mangroves are gradually transformed into soft hues of gentle pinks and splashes of vibrant reds as the overlapping plumages of immature and adult ibises serve to form a natural collage of colour befitting this magical setting.

Day 14

Tufted Coquette(photo© Sam Barone)

Tufted Coquette(photo© Sam Barone)

Green-backed Trogon (photo© Sam Barone)

Green-backed Trogon (photo© Sam Barone)

No trip to Trinidad is complete without a visit to the Asa Wright Nature Centre. Day 14 sees us leave our hotel and head into the island's Northern Range and the Centre's 1,500 acres of lush rainforest nestled within the Arima Valley. We spend the entire day here in the company of scores of wondrous South American species, including a mind-boggling 12 species of hummingbirds - among them, the positively exquisite Tufted Coquette, skittish Long-billed Starthroat, and pugnacious White-necked Jacobin.

The vast expanse of forest is home to a host of birds the colours of which you truly have to see to believe - Purple Honeycreepers, breathtaking Violaceous Euphonias, Green-backed and Collared Trogons, Channel-billed Toucans, Crimson-crested Woodpeckers, a variety of tanagers and many many more. We even pay a visit to leks tucked away deep in the forest where Golden-headed and White-bearded Manakins entertain us with territorial displays.

Violaceous Euphonia (photo © Sam Barone)

Violaceous Euphonia (photo © Sam Barone)

We scan the favored haunts of Trinidad Motmots, various species of antshrikes and antwrens and follow the astonishing calls of the Bearded Bellbird to perches high above.

Asa Wright is also an excellent location for several species of raptors including the ghost-like White Hawk and lightning-fast Bat Falcon! Over the last few years Black Hawk-Eagle has also been seen with increasing regularity.

 

 

 

Day 15

For our final day of birding we journey to the sprawling expanse of wilderness that is the 4,500 acre Aripo Savannah. This vast area of open grassland and cemented clays is in stark contrast to the lush forests at Asa Wright, and as the habitat differs, so too do the birds.

Boat-billed Flycatcher (photo © Sam Barone)

Boat-billed Flycatcher (photo © Sam Barone)

In the grassland, we look for Red-breasted Meadowlarks and the very local Grassland Yellow-Finches. In the skies above dozens of Black and Turkey Vultures soar effortlessly on the warm thermals of the tropics. A few long-legged Savannah Hawks as well as wintering Merlins and Peregrine Falcons are likely to be present, while all around us opportunistic Tropical Kingbirds and Great Kiskadees make the most of the abundance of insects drawn to the hides of hundreds of grazing "buffalypso" (water buffalo x cattle hybrid).

These central grasslands are also home to rarely seen local mammalian species such as Red-brocket Deer, Armadillo and Prehensile-tailed Porcupine, while the edges of the savannah are populated by boisterous flocks of minuscule Green-rumped Parrotlets and Red-bellied Macaws all constantly jostling and squawking in groves of 100 foot Moriche palms.

For a list of the Top 20 species that we will be targeting in Trinidad please click here and then scroll down through the list of islands to Trinidad

Day 16

We fly back to Barbados this morning, and as it is the final day of our trip, we perhaps become the only group of people ever to have been unhappy to be flying back to this beautiful island. 

Should you be catching an evening flight back home, Birding The Islands has arranged for you to stay at Divi Southwinds Resort (a 10 minute taxi ride from the airport) for the remainder of your time on Barbados. The option is yours. Relax in your room / in the pool at the resort until its time to leave for your flight, or join The Bajan Birder for one more jaunt along the south coast of Barbados to see what birds are around.

What a trip! What an adventure! What a pleasure to have been able to guide and share this wonderful experience with you! I look forward to seeing you again on another journey with Birding The Islands.

The Bajan Birder

Pricing

Tour Dates: February 22nd - March 9th 2018

Number of Species that will possibly be seen on tour: 408

Number of Endemics likely to be seen on tour: 33

Number of Species Indigenous to the Lesser Antillean and South American Region likely to be seen: 217

Group Size: 10-12 clients + The Bajan Birder

Tour Price (excluding Trinidad): US$ 5,514 per person (based on Double Occupancy Rates and full complement of 12 clients per tour)

Tour Price (including Trinidad): US$ 6,353 per person(based on Double Occupancy Rates and full complement of 12 clients per tour) (Single Supplement i.e. if you would prefer to have a single room there is an additional charge of US$555)

Included in Price: All flights between islands and internal ferry charges between islands, local taxes, airport departure taxes, all accommodations, pre-arranged food and drinks (non alcoholic), transport to and from destinations on all islands, park admission fees, local guides fees, and hotel and restaurant service charges.

Not Included in Price: Your flights to and from Barbados, extra charges incurred for overweight or additional pieces of luggage on international or internal flights, travel insurance, laundering services, alcoholic beverages.

Terrain and Pace: We cover a diverse range of terrain on this trip, however, there are no steep ascents and trails are primarily well maintained and relatively level. Any light to moderate ascents are conducted at a slow, steady pace with plenty of opportunities to rest along the way.