Winged Creatures of Trinidad

 

Purple Honeycreeper (male), Trinidad

Trinidad is not the most popular island in the Caribbean. Many people have never even heard of it. But for those of us who embrace the glory of the natural rainforest and all the creatures who live in it, it is a paradise.

 

Here are some of my favorite winged creatures, found while spending a week on this small island eight miles (12 km) off the Venezuela coast. Trinidad Wikipedia.

 

A visit to the Caroni Swamp yielded many thousands of scarlet ibis. They flock to this protected swamp at night to roost. We sat in a boat and waited for them as the sun set.

Scarlet Ibis, Caroni Swamp, Trinidad

Red mangroves

Caroni Swamp, Trinidad

 

In the rainforest, nectar-drinking birds like hummingbirds and honeycreepers were plentiful.

Asa Wright Nature Centre

Tufted Coquette hummingbird, male, Trinidad

 

Green Honeycreeper, male, Trinidad

 

We were fortunate to see the rare oilbirds. There are only a few places left in the world where these nocturnal birds can still be found. They use echolocation, or sound reverberation, for navigating — a system that bats use, but not usually birds.

 

We hiked to a specific protected cave, escorted by a guide, and because they are so skittish, we were allowed only a few minutes to peer into the darkness for them.

 

They squeal like pigs and are large, hawk-size birds.

Oilbirds, Dunston Cave, Trinidad

 

Bats were also abundant in the Trinidad rainforest. One day in the middle of the day when the sun was brightest, a white bat came fluttering down the trail, pretty close to our heads. Athena and I had gotten lost in the forest, I think we had surprised the bat…as much as a white bat in the daytime surprised us.Β  It’s whiteness lent the essence of a ghost.

 

But it was every evening when we saw bats in abundance. We stayed at the Asa Wright Nature Centre, where wildlife are protected and celebrated. We found a crevice under the lodge where 100+ long-tongued bats came flocking out every night.

Pallas’ long-tongued bat, Trinidad

 

Long-tongued bats, Asa Wright Centre, Trinidad

 

Typical of the tropics, many species of flycatchers, trogons, and tanagers greeted us daily.

Silver-beaked Tanager, Trinidad

 

The bearded bellbird was difficult to spot in the rainforest, despite the loud croaking sound it made all day long.

Bearded Bellbird, singing; Trinidad

 

Numerous species of hawks were present. This white hawk was hunting beside the trail.

White Hawk, Trinidad

 

The jacamar was a thrill to find, a small and colorful bird about the size of a hummingbird.

Rufous-tailed Jacamar

 

There are over 400 species of birds on this one little island; and approximately 100 indigenous mammal species, with bats accounting for over half of the mammals.

 

I’m glad you could join me in this glimpse of their tropical world.

 

Written by Jet Eliot.

Photos by Athena Alexander.

Scarlet ibis roosting, Caroni Swamp, Trinidad

Islands in the Caribbean Sea. Courtesy Wikipedia.

 

 

 

72 thoughts on “Winged Creatures of Trinidad

    • I’m happy you enjoyed the post, Craig. I’m sure your fictional pirates would find Trinidad the perfect place. I just finished reading your recent masterpiece, Viral Blues, and enjoyed following the gang’s wild ride. Congratulations on an excellent story and publication, will write a review soon.

  1. Completely magical! I love reading about and seeing your island adventures, always a riot of colour and life, and this is another fine piece. The roosting photograph is a showstopper!
    Thanks, Jet, and we hope you both have a fun and colourful weekend ahead!

    • So many places to visit in this world, but the tropical ones always tug the hardest on our heartstrings. That roosting photograph was tricky because the island was protected and our boat couldn’t get very close, but Athena pulled it off with her long lens. Your wonderful comments and weekend wishes are most appreciated, pc. Sending my best to you and Mrs. pc.

  2. Spectacular photographs! A bird lover’s paradise indeed. The long-tongued bats were kind of endearing ~ I like how the one with the aqua background seems to be looking right at the camera. So many lovely colors to enjoy, especially the green honeycreeper. You two must have had an amazing time.

    • Tropical rainforests are not for everyone, as the mosquitos and inconveniences are many, but we sure enjoy them. We, too, found the long-tongued bats endearing, Barbara. They got so close we could feel the tiny breeze of their wingbeats. Thanks so much for your visit and lovely words.

  3. What wonderful exotic birds and bats you’ve found in Trinidad. I had no idea that some of these existed. What a thrill it must have been to see these birds and photograph them. So great that you could share them with us.

  4. what a wonderful treat to read about the treasures of Trinidad, Jet! yes, this is my introduction to this lovely paradise. Athena’s photography is excellent! thank you! πŸ™‚

  5. Wow yet again Jet! What an amazing variety of birds and bats. I think my favourite is the Tufted Coquette hummingbird or maybe the White Hawk, but really, they are all close contenders. It’s the range and the colourfulness of them all that I find quite awe inspiring. And although the bats may not be so colourful, they are still wonderful creatures. Thank you for this treat 😊

    • Oh what fun to share the Trinidad creatures with you, Alastair, I’m happy you enjoyed them. The tufted coquette is also one of my faves; and a bird that we had never seen before and it is unlikely we will ever see again…their range is limited. Athena must have a hundred photos of that bird, and spent many hours planted in the flowers they favored. Always wonderful to share an exchange with you, thank you.

  6. Thank you so much, Jet for this post! It shows so much liveliness in the rainforest! When I visited the mauretian rainforest last year I was a little bit disappointed. Of course the rainforest is beautiful and it was a treat to hike through the trees. It is a hotspot of biodiversity, but unfortunately I didn’t see many animals.
    Trinidad is definitely a destination for me. Wow!!

    • I enjoyed hearing about your Mauretian rainforest experience, Simone; but am sorry it was a disappointment as far as wildlife diversity. Deforestation in Indonesia has been alarming, it is good you found some still intact. Rainforests are disappearing, as we all know, and they require fierce protection from human destruction and habitation. We are fortunate there are still some rainforests left on earth, I hope we can continue to perpetuate this important form of earth life. Wonderful to hear from you, thank you.

    • Glad you enjoyed the Trinidad adventure, Bertie. We had to backtrack a bit when we got lost, and somehow that bat coming through convinced me we would be alright. Thinking of you with smiles, my friend.

      • I’ve been out of town for a week, and our electricity was shut down for a week, but yes, I happily received it and intend to reply very soon. Have been thinking of you a lot, Bertie, this time of year. My warmest thanks for your email.

  7. Lovely post. All the birds are so colorful – even the white ones seem bright and special rather than merely devoid of color. Thanks for sharing your impressions.

    • Always fun to share the rainforest with you, dear Nan, as I know you have no desire to visit one yourself (I don’t blame you). Thanks so much for your endless interest and cheerful comments.

  8. Pingback: Winged Creatures of Trinidad β€” Jet Eliot | huggers.ca

  9. I really enjoyed seeing all your photos of birds! Such a variety of color! 😊 That hummingbird is spectacular!! πŸ’— I also enjoyed hearing about each bird. Thank you for sharing this information. πŸ˜ƒ

    • A total pleasure to share the birds and colors of Trinidad with you, Jill. I agree, that hummingbird is spectacular. A very special bird. Thanks so much for stopping by.

    • Yes, the scarlet ibis swamp sight was indeed spectacular, Jan. It was a day trip that took the whole day, and waiting until sunset on a swamp usually means mosquito overload, but we were willing to do it to see this sight. Then as it turned out, the mosquitoes were not too bad that night. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

    • Yes, our brown sparrows and hawks here in the U.S. don’t compare either, especially upon just returning from a trip like this. This is why we love the tropics. Always a smile on my face when I hear from you, Jo, thanks so much.

  10. Oh, those scarlet ibis are glorious! As are all the others featured here. Trinidad seems to be a pristine wilderness. I’d heard Tobago was also a great birding spot as well.
    I went to Trini for Carnival when I was in my early 20s with a friend who was from there. What an exhausting experience as they party for days with little sleep! While it was fun, I think I would have been happier birding. πŸ˜‰

    • Yes, the birding, I agree, is more fun than the partying, at least at this stage of the game. We went to Tobago too, as that island is only a 15-minute flight from Trinidad. Saw good birds there, too, but Trinidad was better. I loved hearing about your Trini Carnival adventure, Eliza. Thanks so much.

    • I enjoyed your comment, Janet, and am with you on cheering for every hawk we see on any given day. It’s always a thrill. Glad you enjoyed the Trinidad birds, too. Thank you, Janet.

    • It was great fun seeing the ibis, honeycreepers, and bats…also some of my faves, MB. The bats were a great surprise, and there were so very many. They are called the long-tongued bats and they would hang out at the hummingbird feeders and use their long tongues to extract nectar. Wonderful to share it with you, thank you.

  11. Beautiful shots Thanks for sharing πŸ™‚ 50 yrs ago mom & dad got us a kettle drum in Tobago & a ‘Shawn Phillips’ tape in Trinidad. They should have had a camera πŸ˜‰

    • Oh how fun to hear about your kettle drum from Tobago, Washe Koda. The kettle drum music is very alive, and we even witnessed a competition. Such a unique and wonderful sound. Thanks so much, my friend.

  12. You have a great gallery of birds and bats, my friend. As always your information about the subjects is quite interesting. I’ve never been to Trinidad unfortunately. Thank you for the post. πŸ™‚

    • Always a joy to “see” you, HJ, thanks for your visit and comment. I am lucky to have this array of photos and experiences, and to have friends like you to share them with. Thank you.

    • It was so exciting, Bill, to witness that bat emergence every night. Athena was clicking away on her camera, and captured some great moments. They were flying right at us, it was cool. And the scarlet ibis sunset was also so memorable. Thank you, as always, for your visit.

    • Yes, “wow” is a good word for the scarlet ibis flocks, Donna. Every once in a while we could spot a white one, juvenile. And then to be surrounded by all those scarlet birds and their exotic color and long bills, all in the dramatic light of the setting sun. I’m happy I could share it with you, thank you.

  13. Brilliant captures …. and a perfect counter position to Autumn’s pull here in the Northeast. The owls are making themselves heard at dusk, the blue jays herald the dawn, and the doves assemble in abundance trawling for seeds during the day.
    Love how nature and her birds bring us in to the season and where we are in the world. Thank you Jet πŸ™

    • Bugs and heat are a major inconvenience when visiting rainforests. So I’m glad you could vicariously visit with me, Sheryl, to enjoy the birds and yet be comfortable. Many thanks.

    • I’m chuckling at your wonderful comment, Frank, thanks so much for stopping by. I appreciate your enjoyment of Athena’s and my presentation…and the smile you have just given me.

  14. Trinidad certainly seems to have more than its share of colorful birds. Thank you for another look at one of my favorites that you’ve introduced me to: the Tufted Coquette hummingbird!

    • Such a joy to introduce you to the tufted coquette, Gunta. When we were en route to Trinidad (three flights), Athena and I reviewed the bird book of what we might see. When we saw the tufted coquette photo in the field guide, and learned that it was a strong possibility we might see it where we were staying, I swear the light on the plane changed. Thanks so much.

  15. These are incredible, Jet. Nature’s colors are astounding, aren’t they? The Scarlet Ibis and the Honeycreeper…wow.. as are all the other winged creatures you featured. Thanks for another great post.

    • Thanks for your visit, ACI, I’m glad you enjoyed the birds of Trinidad. I found both the white hawk and tufted coquette hummingbird true thrills to see in the wild, and a joy to share with you. Sorry it took a few days to respond to your lovely comment.

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