Skip to content

A Close to Conjunction – 10,000 Birds


    The sky cracked open as we ascended into the modest hills of Trinidad’s Northern Vary. Turning into one of many side-roads off the famed Arima-Blanchisseuse Highway, we continued our journey uphill. Every nook revealed a staggering quantity of injury to the street attributable to dashing streams of runoff after extreme rainfall late final yr. As we are saying right here, de street wash ‘wey. After far alongside this street, we pulled over and commenced sauntering alongside as an alternative.

    The thick roadside vegetation hid many Rufous-breasted Wrens and the odd Stripe-breasted Spinetail. Slowly, the shapes of birds had been starting to materialise. We simply wanted to seek out someplace that was much less cluttered to permit us some likelihood of seeing birds! And so, we continued.

    The strident whistle of a Cocoa Woodcreeper was the prelude to its presence, low on a close-by tree. Cocoa Woodcreepers are the biggest species of woodcreeper in T&T, and so they have a proportionately large invoice. We noticed as this chook methodically peeled off sizeable chunks of bark looking for breakfast. I by no means understood why some woodcreepers would examine solely a small space of 1 tree earlier than flying off to a different tree. Can they verify how worthwhile a particular tree can be by some sampling methodology? Or do they only have little persistence with unfruitful bark-flipping? Both means, this Cocoa Woodcreeper gave us attractiveness on a few bushes earlier than disappearing into the forest.

    Cocoa Woodcreeper

    We ultimately came across a stretch of clearer vegetation the place there was a Rufous-breasted Wren calling shut by. Whereas ready for a visible of this chook, a flock of 4 or 5 Crimson-crowned Ant-Tanagers flew in. Though they surrounded us and had been fairly vocal, they had been troublesome to pin down. The females are nearly the identical shade of brown as fallen branches and I’d solely see a flash of gray as they took off. I did get a glance by way of binoculars at a wonderful male that hopped up right into a shaft of morning gentle, the pinkish-red feathers of his chin appeared to glow within the darkness of the encompassing foliage. Alas, he was gone earlier than I had an opportunity to raise my digicam.

    We continued strolling, the sounds of a Channel-billed Toucan calling from the cover and a extra distant however no much less distinctive vocalization of a Brilliant-rumped Atilla beckoned. Some farming exercise within the space meant that there had been some method of clearing created. As if to stamp its approval on the habitat alteration, a Pale-breasted Spinetail voiced its content material with the human disturbance. These birds are sometimes present in scrub and open habitat, how this particular person was capable of find this subject throughout the Northern Vary is testomony to the size of human disturbance alongside the roadway.

    A white splotch within the distance turned out precisely as I had hoped: White Hawk. These magnificent raptors are additionally recognized predators of open habitat. I used to be particularly touched to see this chook, I discovered just a few days in the past that somebody shot considered one of these birds from one other valley I had been accustomed to. I photographed it a number of instances, considered one of these pictures is the title picture when wrote about how I had fallen in love with the valley itself. Many mates and visitors loved seeing this specific chook soar, hunt, and even sit for hours within the valley.

    White Hawk

    Not a lot else was occurring. We had been unsuccessful in finding a fruiting or flowering plant or tree in ok view to warrant an prolonged keep. A few of the immortelle bushes had been in flower, adorned with in depth epiphytes and the pendulous nests of the Crested Oropendola. The orange flowers had been attended to by a number of pollinators together with White-necked Jacobin, Black-throated Mango, Purple Honeycreeper, and Inexperienced Honeycreeper. Nonetheless, most of those views had been excessive up, in opposition to the brilliant sky. We opted to return to the car, transfer on, and chook one other path.

    As we had been on our means again, we observed about six Violaceous Euphonias and a pair Golden-fronted Greenlets making a ruckus in a thick bramble. An enormous shadow caught our eye on the alternative finish, by the point we whispered “Black Hawk-Eagle” to one another it already was in view nearly overhead. Miraculously, it dipped down and alighted on one of many woody vines solely about thirty metres away! It glared at one thing within the leaf litter (is there every other means raptors have a look at something?) and flew off into the valley, the place it caught an updraft and drifted into the white sky.

    Black Hawk-Eagle

    Perceiving the world by sound reveals a lot that may in any other case slip by way of the cracks. On our exit sharp ears picked up the sounds of Inexperienced Hermits at a lek. Getting a visible of Trinidad’s largest hummingbird wasn’t going to be simple within the darkness of the undergrowth, although. However actually not unimaginable.

    Inexperienced Hermit within the darkness. For the photographers, the info for this picture: 1/80s, f4.5, ISO12800.

    Additional alongside, over the crest of the very best peak of the roadway at nearly 600m above sea degree, we pulled into one other side-road. Right here, a substantial quantity of the forest has been eliminated for the primary hundred or two metres into the street, together with a number of fruit-bearing bushes that used to draw a myriad of upper altitude specialists. That miserable information apart, we loved an excellent view of a feminine Collared Trogon simply out of earshot of the human exercise on the entrance. No {photograph} as yours really was busy with a bowl of cereal. Shortly after she flew off, there was an episode of deja vu that I wasn’t ready for.

    One other large spectre bearing the identical profile because the beforehand talked about shadow glided simply past the cover, flared its wings and tail and landed in a close-by tree. Undoubtedly a hawk-eagle, however which? Dimension and broadness of the wings coupled with an extended tail pointed to both of two species however we weren’t capable of discern any color or sample from such distance and with that degree of obfuscation. We knew it was sitting there, presumably taking a look at us, however we had been unable to find it. Consider me, we tried!

    I nonetheless surprise about what might’ve been. I do know that there’s an Ornate Hawk-Eagle that frequents that space. Was it this chook? Was I actually that near not one, however two hawk-eagles, on one morning? With none proof – visible or aural – it’s anybody’s guess.