Tour 1: Every Endemic Species in the Lesser Antilles (with optional extension to Trinidad)

 

Daily Itinerary + Pricing


We’ll enjoy stunning views of the many wonderful endemics and near endemics of the Lesser Antilles - such as the endangered White-breasted Thrasher (photo by Birding the Islands co-leader Keith Clarkson)

We’ll enjoy stunning views of the many wonderful endemics and near endemics of the Lesser Antilles - such as the endangered White-breasted Thrasher (photo by Birding the Islands co-leader Keith Clarkson)

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 highly threatened endemics and near endemics to a host of indigenous regional specialities, 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 an array of over-wintering migrants from North America, 2) an opportunity for you to get astonishing views of whales, dolphins and turtles - and 3) 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!!

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 2018: please click here to read our trip report.

April 2019: please click here to read our trip report.

2020

March 20th - April 1st: we have reached our maximum number of participants for this trip. Please see below for availability on our 2021 and 2022 trips.

April 8th - 23rd: Private Trip booking - fully booked

2021

January 18th - February 2nd 2021: there are only 6 spaces remaining on this trip. Please click here to contact us and express your interest.

2022

March 7th - March 22nd: we are 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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Male Antillean Crested Hummingbird displaying it’s stunning crest (photo by Birding the Islands co-leader Keith Clarkson)

Male Antillean Crested Hummingbird displaying it’s stunning crest (photo by Birding the Islands co-leader Keith Clarkson)

Masked Duck breed on Barbados (photo© BTI Co-leader Keith Clarkson)

Masked Duck breed on Barbados (photo© BTI Co-leader Keith Clarkson)

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,  local race 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, 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 also available at Oistins.           

For a list of the Top 10 species that we will be targeting in Barbados, please click *here

               

Day 2

ST.LUCIA

The splendid St.Lucia Oriole (photo© Birding the Islands co-leader Keith Clarkson)

The splendid St.Lucia Oriole (photo© Birding the Islands co-leader Keith Clarkson)

Rare and wonderful view of a White-breasted Thrasher (photo© Birding the Islands co-leader Keith Clarkson)

Rare and wonderful view of a White-breasted Thrasher (photo© Birding the Islands co-leader Keith Clarkson)

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 700 pairs in the wild (and is decreasing).

 

The stunning St.Lucia Parrot in flight over Des Cartiers Rainforest (photo© Birding the Islands co-leader Keith Clarkson)

The stunning St.Lucia Parrot in flight over Des Cartiers Rainforest (photo© Birding the Islands co-leader Keith Clarkson)

As we travel further inland, semi-arid woodland is gradually replaced by the lush Des Cartiers 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 Tree 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


The bird with the magical song - the Rufous-throated Solitaire (photo© Birding the Islands co-leader Keith Clarkson)

The bird with the magical song - the Rufous-throated Solitaire (photo© Birding the Islands co-leader Keith Clarkson)

After our time in Des Cartiers 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 Aupicon Wetland. This important site is populated by Pied-billed Grebe and such regional specialities as the Caribbean race of American Coot and Black-bellied Whistling-Duck as well as a wide variety of over-wintering waterfowl and waders from North America.

After making the 20 minute drive back to our cosy 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 10 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)

The delightful St.Lucia Pewee (photo© Birding the Islands co-leader Keith Clarkson)

The delightful St.Lucia Pewee (photo© Birding the Islands co-leader Keith Clarkson)

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.

A birds eye view of the coastline of St. Lucia (photo by Ryan Chenery)

A birds eye view of the coastline of St. Lucia (photo by Ryan Chenery)

As midday approaches we make for one of St.Lucia’s loftiest vantage points. Here we can gauge 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, we await the arrival of the species that nests on the clifface that rises far below us; and are soon treated to a spectacular aerial display of Red-billed Tropicbirds battling the buffeting, swirling winds to return to their colony.

Later that day 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 St. Lucia, and our time on the island coincides with that of cetacean migration through the Lesser Antilles. Huge pods of Short-finned Pilots are the most commonly seen while other larger species such as Humpbacks and False Killers have been spotted on previous Birding the Islands trips. Finally, although very rarely seen, there is the chance of Sperm Whale, which also dwell in these waters. Who knows what delights this 3 hour cruise holds in store for us. One thing for certain, the dinner table will be truly buzzing back at our hotel tonight!

Day 4

MARTINIQUE

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The near endemic Blue-headed Hummingbird is only found at high elevations on Martinique and Dominica (photo© Birding the Islands client Béatrice Henricot)

The near endemic Blue-headed Hummingbird is only found at high elevations on Martinique and Dominica (photo© Birding the Islands client Béatrice Henricot)

This morning we board our vessel 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.

The stunning Martinique Oriole provides superb photo opportunities (photo© Birding the Islands client Béatrice Henricot)

The stunning Martinique Oriole provides superb photo opportunities (photo© Birding the Islands client Béatrice Henricot)

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 is our prime target, but this small French Territory is also home to other gems such as the near endemic Blue-headed Hummingbird, the Lesser Antillean Flycatcher, as well as the entertaining Gray Trembler (another near endemic).

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 10 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

DOMINICA

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Lesser Antillean Saltator feasting on a mango (photo© Birding the Islands client Béatrice Henricot)

Lesser Antillean Saltator feasting on a mango (photo© Birding the Islands client Béatrice Henricot)

Imperial Parrot perched above our heads! (photo© Birding the Islands client Terry Anderson)

Imperial Parrot perched above our heads! (photo© Birding the Islands client Terry Anderson)

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.

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 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 species local to the area, such as Lesser Antillean Flycatcher 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 10 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

We get incredibly close to secretive forest dwellers like this Bridled Quail Dove (photo© Birding the Islands client Béatrice Henricot)

We get incredibly close to secretive forest dwellers like this Bridled Quail Dove (photo© Birding the Islands client Béatrice Henricot)

Guadeloupe is a remarkable island, for its forests not only provide glimpses of some of the more secretive species rarely seen on other islands (as often evidenced by the Forest Thrushes hopping amongst the tables in popular riverside parks and Bridled Quail Doves walking at your feet!)  but where one can get close (very close) to a most curious endemic indeed. The movements of the Guadeloupe Woodpecker are somewhat unconventional, with birds often seen dangling upside down directly overhead while clinging to slender swinging branches and plucking ants from clusters of berries! Odd? Yes. But it certainly offers fabulous looks! 

The near endemic Plumbeous Warbler is a reliable sighting (photo© Birding the Islands client Béatrice Henricot)

The near endemic Plumbeous Warbler is a reliable sighting (photo© Birding the Islands client Béatrice Henricot)

Having spent the morning taking part in some relaxed forest birding beside crystal clear streams punctuated with crayfish and shoals of river trout, we make for a reliable site for the delightful Lesser Antillean Pewee and the near endemic Plumbeous Warbler. As is in keeping with the sedate nature of the birding on this, the larger of the two French Territories in the Lesser Antilles, we access this site via a clearly demarcated footpath lining the forest edge - and here revel in the sights of two of the smallest near endemics in the region.

The afternoon is ours to relax and enjoy some cocktails on our individual verandas before taking a relaxing dip in the pool. Antillean Crested Hummingbirds flit amongst the tubular red flowers of Antigua Heath, while in the palms overhead, Tropical Mockingbirds and Grey Kingbirds play out an almost continuous melody of song.

For a list of the Top 10 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

The gem of the Montserrat forest - the Montserrat Oriole (photo© Birding the Islands client Béatrice Henricot)

The gem of the Montserrat forest - the Montserrat Oriole (photo© Birding the Islands client Béatrice Henricot)

From Guadeloupe we travel by private 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, Montserrat’s vast swathes of forest reveal flowering plants and towering emergents not seen on 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 - a huge lava flow the obvious 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.

The secretive Forest Thrush makes an appearance! (photo© Birding the Islands client Béatrice Henricot)

The secretive Forest Thrush makes an appearance! (photo© Birding the Islands client Béatrice Henricot)

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 board a vessel and enjoy a sunset cruise across to Antigua.

ANTIGUA

Feeding White-crowned Night Pigeon (photo© Birding the Islands client Yves-Jacques Rey-Millet)

Feeding White-crowned Night Pigeon (photo© Birding the Islands client 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.

Our beachfront accommodation on Antigua

Our beachfront accommodation on Antigua

However, although not home to any endemics, this island does offer the opportunity to see a species unlikely to be seen on any other of the Lesser Antilles - the impressively coiffeured White-crowned Pigeon (at home in the swaying palms that surround our hotel) and to explore a vast wetland for up-close views of several overwintering herons, waders and waterfowl.

Day 9

BARBUDA

The always entertaining Barbuda Warbler (photo© Birding the Islands client Béatrice Henricot)

The always entertaining Barbuda Warbler (photo© Birding the Islands client Béatrice Henricot)

From Antigua we embark on a day trip to the smaller sister of this twin-island state. We board a privately chartered sleek speedboat and after 90 minutes gliding across some of the most beautiful waters in the Caribbean Sea we are stepping onto the sands of Barbuda. Our main target here is 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!

The Magnificent Frigatebird colony is thousands strong! (Photo by Ryan Chenery)

The Magnificent Frigatebird colony is thousands strong! (Photo by Ryan Chenery)

Barbuda is also home to the largest Magnificent Frigatebird colony in the entire Caribbean. These giants are most commonly seen soaring high above the waves, carefully scanning the waters for food floating on or close to the surface, so it is a wonderful treat to board a dinghy that takes us across a shallow lagoon absolutely teeming with marine life (as evidenced by the hundreds of jellyfish of every shape and size floating beneath us and clearly visible from our bough) and moors us literally within touching distance of nests, chicks and adults. We spend half an hour in the presence of these incredible birds, observing their behaviour and watching as squadrons of adults manipulate their impressive 6 foot wingspan to return with food to perch beside their young.

Driving around the island one cannot help but be struck by the spectacular and unspoiled natural beauty of Barbuda. This is “postcard perfect”, a land which offers a window into how many other islands in the chain now dominated by popular beachside condos and villas (such as Antigua) would have once looked. The water is a glistening turquoise blue and the colours of the sands effortlessly blend between brilliant whites and varying shades of pink. With some of the most untouched beaches in the Caribbean literally on either side of us, what better way to spend the rest of the day than to head to a charming “Robinson Crusoe-esque” beach bar to enjoy an absolutely delicious meal of Maxine’s mahi mahi, and follow it up with a relaxing swim in sparkling turquoise waters and a stroll along an idyllic white sand beach. We are in full tropical holiday mode. This truly a case of Birding in Paradise! 

On our return leg across the sun-kissed seas to Antigua, we may have the opportunity for even more memorable dolphin and whale encounters.

For a list of the Top 10 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

The near endemic Grenada Flycatcher is found only on St.Vincent and Grenada (photo© Birding the Islands client Béatrice Henricot)

The near endemic Grenada Flycatcher is found only on St.Vincent and Grenada (photo© Birding the Islands client Béatrice Henricot)

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 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 Caribbean Sea (don’t forget to pack your snorkel !) Dinner tonight is at a local bar where we will delve into some truly delicious “Vincy” food.

Day 11

ST.VINCENT

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A pair of St.Vincent Parrots leaving their roost (photo© Birding the Islands co-leader Keith Clarkson)

A pair of St.Vincent Parrots leaving their roost (photo© Birding the Islands co-leader Keith Clarkson)

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 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!

According to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, we follow up our time with St.Vincent’s large and vulnerable endemic with an audience with her minute and endangered endemic - the comically attired Whistling Warbler. As though he were a curious monocled 19th century gentleman, the male Whistling Warbler often will flit out to fleetingly 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, before rapidly darting away again.

Known for making the briefest of appearances, this Whistling Warbler provided us with excellent views (photo© Birding the Islands client Béatrice Henricot)

Known for making the briefest of appearances, this Whistling Warbler provided us with excellent views (photo© Birding the Islands client Béatrice Henricot)

As well as being home to some of 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 Caribbean Sea.

For a list of the Top 10 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

One of the rarest birds on the planet - the demure Grenada Dove (photo© Birding the Islands client Béatrice Henricot)

One of the rarest birds on the planet - the demure Grenada Dove (photo© Birding the Islands client Béatrice Henricot)

Today sees us take a 30 minute flight to Grenada. From the air this small and densely populated island might seem an odd destination on a birding trip, however, by virtue of our making for one of the last remaining vestiges of suitable habitat in the south of the island, we are soon provided with the opportunity to see the rarest species of the entire trip - the Grenada Dove. Latest counts estimate the surviving number of Grenada Doves to be as low as 140 individual birds. However, with the help of a trusted local guide, we will be treated to a sight few people have had, or will ever 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 shore and 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 10 species that we will be targeting in Grenada, please click here and then scroll down through the list of islands to Grenada

Day 13

For those of you leaving the tour at this point you will catch a morning flight from Grenada 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

TRINIDAD

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With only an estimated 150 remaining, the Trinidad Piping Guan is one of the rarest endemics we target on our travels through the islands  (photo© Birding the Islands co-leader Keith Clarkson)

With only an estimated 150 remaining, the Trinidad Piping Guan is one of the rarest endemics we target on our travels through the islands (photo© Birding the Islands co-leader Keith Clarkson)

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.


The stunning Tufted Coquette is a regular visitor to our lodge  (photo by Birding the Islands co-leader Keith Clarkson)

The stunning Tufted Coquette is a regular visitor to our lodge (photo by Birding the Islands co-leader Keith Clarkson)



Copper-rumped Hummingbird  (photo by Birding the Islands co-leader Keith Clarkson)

Copper-rumped Hummingbird (photo by Birding the Islands co-leader Keith Clarkson)

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 Great Antshrike - one of several forest-dwelling species we target on the island  (photo by Birding the Islands co-leader Keith Clarkson)

The Great Antshrike - one of several forest-dwelling species we target on the island (photo by Birding the Islands co-leader Keith Clarkson)

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 10 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. Please note that if more convenient, you can return home directly from Trinidad.

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:

2021

January 18th - February 2nd

2022

March 7th - March 22nd 2022

Number of Species that will possibly be seen on tour: 403

Number of Endemics likely to be seen on tour: 48

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$835)

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$945)

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.