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Secrets and techniques of the Swamps – 10,000 Birds


    Some days in the past I had the chance to discover the grossly underbirded southeastern nook of Trinidad. With a transit time of not less than two hours from any of the lodging sometimes used for birding, this comparatively pristine space is awash with surprises. I wrote in regards to the Trinity Hills final yr – the one remaining stand of virgin lowland forest on the island. Nearer to the jap and southern coasts are in depth wetlands, nonetheless, and inside these I spent appreciable time over the course of three days.

    The Nariva Swamp is the biggest wetland on Trinidad, giving to and taking from the relentless Atlantic Ocean on its jap boundary. A ship experience into this swamp turns up ordinary suspects like Pied Water Tyrant and Yellow-hooded Blackbird, but in addition (and most excitingly) three species of kingfisher: Inexperienced, American Pygmy and Ringed Kingfisher. On our final journey we weren’t fortunate sufficient to have cooperative kingfishers however we managed to spherical a bend and spook an enormous Cocoi Heron that lumbered throughout the in depth wetland for appreciable time, in search of a brand new place to face and wait to impale some unaware creature.

    American Pygmy Kingfisher (above) and Inexperienced Kingfisher (under) from a earlier journey into the swamp a number of weeks prior.

    Birds aren’t probably the most forthcoming inside Nariva Swamp to be truthful – however the birds which are seen have a tendency to hold a heavy “wow issue”. I’ll be trustworthy – for the impatient this is probably not the place to go to. When Nariva Swamp delivers although, you higher be prepared! Again in 2014 we stumbled upon a juvenile Double-toothed Kite and that was the primary and solely time I’ve ever seen that species effectively. Inside Nariva Swamp is Bush Bush Wildlife Sanctuary, a sandy, low-lying peninsula populated by palms, strangler figs, and different hardy forest bushes. After skilfully navigating the slender channels by the swamp (these are maintained by a mix of man and manatee), we alight from our small boat and proceed to discover the forest.

    On Bush Bush, the primary attraction is undoubtedly the pair of native primate species: Purple Howler and (Trinidad) White-fronted Capuchin, the latter being critically endangered. My humble recommendation is to by no means cease listening as there are sometimes avian lurkers within the shadows. There are lots of small watercourses and swimming pools round, and these are prime attractors for numerous species of birds. However the setting is fickle, and what one sees at the moment could simply be absent tomorrow.

    Many Silvered Antbirds have been lively some weeks in the past, after we returned there was no signal of them.

    After returning to this wetland various occasions, I’ve come to understand that the very best method of method to birding this space is to overlook what was beforehand encountered. Whereas there have been no antbirds (along with the Silvered Antbird above, I’ve heard White-bellied Antbird on this space as effectively) or manakins this time, our information noticed a real gem hidden deep in a thick tangle of roots and branches – a Boat-billed Heron!

    Boat-billed Heron

    As per norm, there weren’t many different birds to be seen and the solar was shortly disappearing. Occasional fly-bys of pairs and trios of Purple-bellied Macaws stored us on our toes. We managed to see each species of monkey, although – so we have been finally effectively satiated.

    Purple-bellied Macaw silhouette, by vegetation and reasonably impressionist.

    As we motored out of the swamp again to the dock we caught this Nice Egret settling in for the night time, presumably.

    The subsequent day we explored a number of the swampy areas south of Nariva Swamp, on the very heel of boot-shaped Trinidad. Crisscrossed by 24″ pipelines transporting oil from quite a few offshore platforms, oil corporations exercised the strongest presence right here. Birding was tough from the highway as birdsong was typically overshadowed by the deafening roar of a truck thundering previous or some industrial system whirring into being. Simply after daybreak, we noticed a Pale-vented Pigeon on an uncovered perch over the cover of mangroves – along with a a lot smaller Purple-legged Honeycreeper. As shocked as I used to be to see the honeycreeper, my birding buddy and host for the weekend let me know that they’re a reasonably routine sight on this space. Is smart looking back, as I’ve additionally seen this species on the rocky northeastern tip of the island inside the littoral forest there.

    Purple-legged Honeycreeper, I promise!

    The choice was made to park up and spend a while peering into the mangrove; no sooner had we started wanting we noticed a multicoloured hen briskly strolling throughout a gap – a Gray-cowled Wooden-Rail. I photographed its rear finish and imagined the way it might’ve been, had it been dealing with the opposite approach. Or if I used to be adequately ready, maybe. I waited on website for fairly some time, however solely was entertained by a Noticed Sandpiper in nonbreeding plumage that was poking round. A Northern Waterthrush confirmed up briefly, adopted by a pair of Bicolored Conebill.

    The Bicolored Conebill is a Close to Threatened species, and at all times a thrill to see.

    The cadre of mangrove specialists can by no means be accomplished with out point out of the enigmatic, extraordinarily stunning, but in addition sadly Close to Threatened Rufous Crab Hawk. This particular person flew in straight in entrance of me and proceeded to sit down and preen for about ten minutes. This sort of accommodating behaviour is typical of the species, from what I perceive.

    Rufous Crab Hawk

    This explicit wetland spills onto the sheltered southern coast – worlds other than the roaring Atlantic pounding the east coast. A small bay offers the best setting for a small mudflat with gently lapping waves with crests no better than a pair inches at most. Though not at peak migration season, we nonetheless scoped this location within the occasion there was something current. A few Black Skimmers flew previous simply as we have been entering into a good viewing place. After a short interval of no exercise on the shore, a small group of Willets in contemporary plumage cruised in.

    The daring and distinctive wing patterns of Willets makes my coronary heart beat sooner each time. Shut appears would reveal neatly scalloped feathers – these birds are already dressed for the journey north!

    A motion right into a small channel caught my eye, it was the flash of a Inexperienced Kingfisher. Whereas I used to be scanning the mangroves for this (in addition to a vocalizing Noticed Tody-Flycatcher) I heard the Willets make an alarm name. I spun round simply in time to catch a hulking Peregrine Falcon rocketing by.

    Peregrine Falcon

    We noticed many Noticed Sandpipers throughout our time there, however this one in contemporary breeding plumage actually made me cease and stare!

    Solely a brief drive away was a highway right into a closely forested space, however that’s maybe the fodder for one more publish. Bushes dotted with Channel-billed Toucans and Plumbeous Kites and a two-second topside view of an enormous grownup Ornate Hawk-Eagle can stir the creativeness, although.