We've just returned from a 12-day birding trip to Trinidad and Tobago. My initial birthday wish was to visit the Asa Wright Nature Center (AWNC) on Trinidad which I've heard about for many years. My wish was granted in a soul-satisfying way with wonderful views of many tropical species. Emphasis for me is always on 'soul-satisfying' versus quantity!
We are still adding to the gallery, but here are a few highlights. We saw 13 species of Hummingbirds. This was a birding trip more than a photography trip for me, but I did take my camera and 18-200 mm lens, and I was glad I did. The birds were close, especially at AWNC.
Tufted Coquette - at 2 3/4" this bird is not much bigger than a bee, but check out its head feathers! Well, you do have to find the bird first...
It reminded me of an ancient warrior king with that crown. The bird patrolled a patch of purple Vervine right outside our room near the veranda. Here is one of the females.
Two other hummers are the same size at 3 3/4" long, just a bit larger than the Ruby-throated. The first is the White-chested Emerald, often seen at the feeders. Next is the Copper-rumped Hummingbird which blends in so perfectly with its favorite flower.
Another small beauty was the Long-billed Starthroat. I was lucky to catch this one resting on a perch. It is a bit larger at 4 1/2".
White-necked Jacobins dominated the feeders often chasing other hummingbirds away, thus the Humming-blurs!
Three species were at the feeder before the chase begins. A White-necked Jacobin chases a Black-throated Mango who is after the Long-billed Starthroat, all 4 1/2" long.
What a joy to watch one of the Jacobins bathing in a rain shower, perfectly content as it shimmied.
On the other end of the spectrum is the Green Hermit at 6 1/2" long. This female has built her nest inside the Nature Center on a lamp cord. She has produced 5 broods already in the last 12 months! Well, what could be better - it's all open air but protected and the bird can freely come and go.
Another similar species is the Rufous-breasted Hermit with the same decurved bill. Notice that it does not have the long whitish central tail feathers, but a rounded tail and it is 5" long.
Two Black-throated Mangoes chased each other at the feeder. Wow, are they eye-candy when their colors flash. This hummingbird species is 4 1/2" long.
There were a couple more hummingbirds I wasn't sure I would see. The first is the Brown Violetear. It is uncommon and we were there at the right time to possibly see it. (I said pretty please, but it wouldn't turn around. You can catch a bit of the violet ear.) It is 4 3/4" long.
The other hummingbird that I was thrilled to see was the Ruby-topaz. It is common on Tobago, and largely absent from September to December during times of nectar shortages. But it was being seen at AWNC so I spent a few hours watching it one morning. It is just a bit larger than the Tufted Coquette, but darn near as fast. It comes in at 3 1/2" long, the same size as our Ruby-throated Hummingbird.
This bird looks dark, especially in the rain. Finally, the rain let up and a bit of light came through the clouds to catch some of the colors of this beauty!
The last bird I'd like to mention is the Trinidad Motmot or "King of the Woods". We saw it first on Trinidad where it has more forest to hide in and was more difficult to see. I was able to photograph a pair on Tobago, right outside our bungalow on the beach. One seemed to be collecting grass as nesting material. They nest in holes in the slopes or banks, like bee eaters.
And to my joy, the bird bowed and showed me its crown. Yes, indeed it was another soul-satisfying view!
To see the full travelogue of photos with short video clips, start here: Trinidad and Tobago Birding Trip