Tour 1: 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 whales - and 4) being able to do all this while travelling to some of the most sought-after holiday destinations on the planet; then you have the recipe for a truly phenomenal birding trip!! 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 an astonishing variety of South American species at the northern limit of their range in one of the most popular birding destinations in the Western Hemisphere.

Tour Dates

February 22nd - March 9th 2018: please click here for trip report.

OR

April 13th - April 28th 2019: there are only 2 spaces remaining on this trip. Please click here to contact us and express your interest.

OR

March 20th - April 5th 2020: we are currently accepting bookings for this trip. Please click here to contact us and express your interest.

OR

January 18th - February 3rd 2021: we are currently accepting bookings for this trip. Please click here to contact us and express your interest.

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

Click here to read testimonials and recommendations from more of our clients

 

 

Daily Itinerary

 

Day 1

BARBADOS

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  Antillean Crested Hummingbird (photo© David Petts)

Antillean Crested Hummingbird (photo© David Petts)

  Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary

Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary

The Bajan Birder meets you as you exit the Arrivals Hall of the Grantley Adams International Airport from which he escorts you to your beachfront hotel, located on the scenic southern coast of the island. The prime location of this hotel ensures that you’ll have the option of getting straight into some late afternoon birding! We make the short 10 minute van-ride to the Graeme Hall Nature Reserve. The reserve is closed to the public, but all Birding the Islands clients are granted exclusive access by virtue of the Bajan Birder having worked there for six years as Chief Naturalist and Eco-guide. Here in this stunning setting, we have the perfect introduction to Lesser Antillean birding.  This RAMSAR-designated Wetland of International Importance, is a hive of birding activity and as we stroll along the immaculately maintained boardwalk, flitting amongst the dark green leaves of the Red Mangroves are a host of indigenous regional species, including: Caribbean Elaenias, Antillean Crested Hummingbirds, Carib Grackles, Bananaquits,  an endemic subspecies of Yellow Warbler and of course 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, Masked Duck, Caribbean race of American Coot, secretive Sora and Black as well as Yellow-crowned Night-Heron. 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 to freshen up, before heading to the popular and bustling nearby fishing village of Oistins for a freshly caught evening meal. With such local delicacies as pickled seacat (octopus), breadfruit coucou and flying fish awaiting our palates at this 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.  Please note: a wide range of other meats such as chicken, beef, pork as well as vegetarian options are available at Oistins as well.           

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

               

Day 2

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)

This morning 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 will see on this entire trip - the White-breasted Thrasher. This near endemic is found only on St.Lucia and one other island. Its population is thought to number fewer than 600 pairs in the wild.

 

  St. Lucia Parrot (photo© David Petts)

St. Lucia Parrot (photo© David Petts)

As we travel further 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 endemic gems as St.Lucia Oriole and St.Lucia Black Finch, as well as regional indigenous stunners like Rufous-throated Solitaire and Green-throated Carib 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.

After making the 20 minute drive back to our cozy locally-run hotel, nestled within a swathe of lush forest, we settle in to 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 3

St. Lucia

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 Humpbacks seen on Birding the Islands trip ( photo© Ryan Chenery)

Humpbacks seen on Birding the Islands trip (photo© Ryan Chenery)

 St.Lucia Warbler ( photo©  Birding the Islands client John Dyson)

St.Lucia Warbler (photo© Birding the Islands client John Dyson)

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 well worn path, 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 Pewee, and Lesser Antillean Swift.

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As midday approaches we make for one of St.Lucia’s loftiest vantage points. Here we can guage the relatively short distances between Lesser Antillean islands, as both Martinique to the north, and St.Vincent to the south are both clearly visible. With stunning scenery all around us, we fix our binoculars on a clifface to the east, where we are soon treated to a spectacular aerial display of Red-billed Tropicbirds using buffeting winds to return to their colony.

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!

Day 4

Martinique

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  The near endemic Gray Trembler is only found on Martinique and one other island  ( photo©  David Petts)

The near endemic Gray Trembler is only found on Martinique and one other island (photo© David Petts)

This morning we board our privately chartered catamaran bound for Martinique. En route we will scan the seas for two species of boobies and the skies above for Magnificent Frigatebirds as well as species of terns, gulls, and shearwaters. Sightings of turtles, dolphins, and Flying Fish are also distinct possibilities.

After we arrive at port we are collected by pre-arranged transport and make our way to select sites frequented by birds of interest. The island's endemic species of oriole, Lesser Antillean Peewee, and Lesser Antillean Flycatcher, as well as the entertaining Gray Trembler (found on only one other island) are all in store for us on this small French Territory.

The lively capital of Fort de France is our setting for dinner, where we will enjoy local creole cooking set to a backdrop of live music and the swaying of ship masts in the harbour.

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

  The Jaco (Red-necked Parrot) (photo© Birding the Islands client Steven Kornfeld)

The Jaco (Red-necked Parrot) (photo© Birding the Islands client Steven Kornfeld)

At 10 a.m. we make the short 30 minute flight to Dominica - an island regarded by many as the "Nature Lover's Caribbean Island". 

  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

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  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 unique 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 the near endemic Blue-headed Hummingbird or the 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 Ruddy Quail-Dove, all the while being treated to the cacophony of calls for which such forests alone are reserved.  

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

  The very secretive Bridled Quail-Dove is a delight to behold on Guadeloupe (photo© Birding the Islands client Steven Kornfeld)

The very secretive Bridled Quail-Dove is a delight to behold on Guadeloupe (photo© Birding the Islands client Steven Kornfeld)

 

  Guadeloupe Woodpecker (photo© Anthony Levesque)

Guadeloupe Woodpecker (photo© Anthony Levesque)

Upon arrival on Guadeloupe, we make for one of the prime sites of the island's endemic Guadeloupe Woodpecker. We will also visit well known haunts of such regional specialities as Scaly-breasted Thrasher and Bridled 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 Habitation du Comte, a beautiful art-deco Neo-colonial styled hotel with spectacular views of the surrounding mountains.

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

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MONTSERRAT

  Montserrat Oriole (photo© Ryan Chenery)

Montserrat Oriole (photo© Ryan Chenery)

From Guadeloupe we travel by cabin cruiser to an island fondly known as The Other Emerald Isle. With its historic ties to Ireland, the beautiful and peaceful island of Montserrat is a botanists dream. With plant life fuelled by incredibly rich volcanic soil, Montserrats vast swathes of forest reveal flowering plants and towering emergents not seen in many other islands. From the deck of our boat we approach from the west and gaze in astonishment at the still smouldering crater of mighty Mt. Soufriere. As the volcano is still classed as active, no human habitation is found on this coast, and indeed we can see why, with a huge lava flow the reason for the abandoned villages that line this coast. We round the southern tip of the island, enjoying views of Red-billed Tropicbirds and Royal Terns pursuing flying fish and make port at a tiny fishing village. From here we set off in pre-arranged transport to the lush forested foothills of the island, where deep in primary forest and amongst brilliant flowering heliconias we find Montserrat’s endemic - the appropriately fiery-chested Montserrat Oriole. Having spent the day exploring this truly magical forest and getting to know more of it’s inhabitants - from Montserrat Racers and Montserrat Anoles to Pearly-eyed Thrashers and the local race of Forest Thrush we set sail and enjoy a sunset cruise across to Antigua.

ANTIGUA

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

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

When we arrive we make our way to our beachfront hotel, framed by an impressive clifface and on the shores of the Caribbean Sea. Dinner and live entertainment is on hand with which to celebrate another day’s successful birding. 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. Tomorrow morning we take advantage of the close proximity of our hotel to known Whistling Duck haunts in order to see this anomalous duck species.

Day 9

BARBUDA

 Barbuda Warbler  (photo© Ryan Chenery)

Barbuda Warbler (photo© Ryan Chenery)

From Antigua we will will embark on a day trip to the smaller sister of this twin island state. On Day 9 we board a privately chartered sleek speedboat and after 90 minutes sailing across some of the most beautiful waters in the Caribbean Sea we are stepping onto the sands of Barbuda. Our main target here will be the diminutive Barbuda Warbler. This charming warbler is perfectly at home in the dry scrublands of one of the Lesser Antilles driest islands and shares the habitat with Common Ground Dove, Caribbean Elaenia, iguanas, and bizarrely, herds of feral donkeys! Our birding is enjoyed on either side of a buffet lunch of tropical delights and culminates with a visit to the largest Magnificent Frigatebird colony in the region - some stunning views await! On our return leg to Antigua, we will have a wonderful opportunity for even more memorable dolphin and whale encounters.

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 10

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 midday flight from Antigua to St.Vincent today sees us continue on our southward journey along the island chain. As the number of miles travelled steadily rises so too does the number of bird species seen. After arrival at the the elegant family-run Beachcombers Hotel, the afternoon is ours to take part in some light “hotel-ground birding” where targets will include the fascinating all-black color phase of Bananaquit, Spectacled Thrush, Eared Dove, Tropical Mockingbird and Lesser Antillean Flycatcher. This can be followed by a swim in the pool, a cocktail at the beach bar or if you’re feeling adventurous why not descend the flight of steps onto the black volcanic sand beaches and go for a dip in the Atlantic Ocean. Dinner tonight is at a local bar where we will delve into some truly delicious “Vincy” food.

Day 11

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An early start this morning (with our pre-packed breakfast in hand) is warranted as it allows us the perfect opportunity for an audience with the island’s national bird, and 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 leave their roosts and commute from one fruiting tree to another, 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, 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 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 heading to select sites on Grenada we are provided with the opportunity to see one of the rarest birds on the planet, the Grenada Dove. 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, 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 dry woodland that represents it’s natural habitat and here enjoy sightings of some more of this tiny island's other inhabitants, including: the Rufous-breasted Hermit, Lesser Antillean Tanager, and Grenada Flycatcher. We even climb a well located observation tower to scan the skies for the local race of Hook-billed Kite.

 

 

Our lodgings for the night will be a vibrantly coloured and newly refurbished resort. 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

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  Green Honeycreeper (photo© Birding the Islands client John Dyson)

Green Honeycreeper (photo© Birding the Islands client John Dyson)

This morning sees us leave the range of Caribbean species and make our way to the island nation of Trinidad 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.

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.

  Tufted Coquette(photo© Sam Barone)

Tufted Coquette(photo© Sam Barone)

Upon arrival we are met at the airport by pre-arranged transport and taken to the only place where birders should stay while on Trinidad - the spectacular Asa Wright Lodge. Here we are well and truly in a birder's paradise. Upon arrival we make our way to the verandah of the main lodge, a setting for what is surely one of the most incredible birding experiences in the Western Hemisphere. With it's stunning backdrop of hundreds of acres of lush, rich tropical rain forest we are surrounded by dozens of hummingbirds feeding on lantana sage, vervain and numerous feeders dangling at eye level from the roof of the lodge. Brilliant Tufted Coquettes, skittish Long-billed Starthroats, pugnacious White-necked Jacobins and many others all hover almost within touching distance of our fingertips. 

  Channel-billed Toucans (photo© Sam Barone)

Channel-billed Toucans (photo© Sam Barone)

The vast expanse of forest stretching out before us 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, Chestnut Woodpeckers, a variety of tanagers and many many more. After a delicious buffet lunch we pay a visit to leks tucked away deep in the forest where Golden-headed and White-bearded Manakins entertain us with territorial displays and follow the Discovery Trail to the favoured haunts of dazzling Trinidad Motmots, and the remarkable Bearded Bellbird.

 

 

Day 14

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 Oilbirds in their cave roost  (photo© Ryan Chenery)

Oilbirds in their cave roost (photo© Ryan Chenery)

We wake early and make our way to the south of the island and to one of the last remaining populations of the critically endangered Trinidad Piping Guan. Overhunting and habitat loss has seen this impressive bird reach what could easily prove to be the point of no return, with an estimated remaining population of a meagre 50 - 250 birds! We are truly fortunate to have the opportunity to see this species. Thanks to our lofty viewpoint, we are soon also enjoying an early morning encounter with Rough-winged Swallows and Gray-breasted Martins, as well as hundreds of White-collared, Band-rumped, and Short-tailed Swifts.

  Red-breasted Meadowlarks abound in Aripo   (photo© Ryan Chenery)

Red-breasted Meadowlarks abound in Aripo (photo© Ryan Chenery)

With a sizeable packed lunch provided for us, we spend the day exploring another prime birding site on the island - the 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. 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.

When we return to Asa Wright, and after enjoying a well earned cup of tea and sampling from the daily selection of cakes and biscuits, we settle into a siesta before making our way down to Dunston Cave, all the while on the lookout for the abundant Red-rumped Agoutis and impressive Golden Tegu Lizards. At the cave we discover firsthand the primary reason that the World Wildlife Fund made a large contribution to the establishment of the Centre in the 1960's . It was in order to protect the large, accessible colony of Oilbirds to be found in this glorious stream-fed cave.  I won't go into too much detail on the spectacle that awaits us, only to say that it is an unforgettable sight.

 

Day 15

 The cold stare of the Great Antshrike  (photo© Ryan Chenery)

The cold stare of the Great Antshrike (photo© Ryan Chenery)

For our final full day of birding we focus our attention on some of the harder to find species to be found along the trails of the Centre. Gems such as Ruby Topaz, Silvered Antbird, White-necked Thrush, Scaled Pigeon, White-flanked Antwren and Great Antshrike are all here…if you know where to look. Before lunch you’ll also have the option of having a dip in one of the natural spring-fed ponds that are dotted throughout this verdant forest, and here may even enjoy views of splendid Blue Morpho butterflies and Giant Tree Frog

After enjoying another delicious buffet lunch we make our way to the internationally renowned Caroni Swamp. Once here, 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)

Unsurprisingly, the tranquillity 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 Cocoi Herons 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.

 The numbers and beauty of the Scarlet Ibis have to be seen to be believed  (photo© Birding the Islands John Dyson)

The numbers and beauty of the Scarlet Ibis have to be seen to be believed (photo© Birding the Islands John Dyson)

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:

April 13th - 28th 2019 OR March 20th - April 5th 2020 OR January 18th - February 3rd 2021

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: 8 - 12 clients and The Bajan Birder ( + additional leader if group is at maximum number of clients)

Tour Price (excluding Trinidad): US$ 5,590 per person (based on Double Occupancy Rates and maximum number of clients per tour) (Single Supplement i.e. if you would prefer to have a single room there is an additional charge of US$640)

Tour Price (including Trinidad): US$ 6,734 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$805)

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.