Monday, January 18, 2010

Trinidad and Tobago Day 1: Asa Wright and Bird Overstimulation


(Male Purple Honeycreeper and Palm Tanagers above)
All right then, time to start the Trinidad and Tobago journal, dontcha think? First I'll say that our total bird species count for the 15 days we were there was 151. Not too shabby!
(White-tailed Trogon below)
We got into Trinidad the morning of Dec. 31st. And, because we made the horrible mistake of flying United, our one little checked bag didn't quite make it overseas. Of course this should be no surprise. United is now 5 for 5 in the score of losing our luggage. Wow, that's pathetic! What made it more annoying is that it was the newly purchased (we got it right before we got on the airplane) monopod that they lost. So, the red eye flight, the lost luggage, and the 3 hours it took to get through customs at the Trinidad airport wasn't the best way to start the trip. (However, our sour moods turned happy in no time)
(Female, juvenile, and male Purple Honeycreepers above. Tropical Mockingbird below)

We were worried that the driver from Asa Wright Nature Center (yes!) wasn't going to wait the 3 hours for us. But! He proved to be our hero and he was there and was extremely nice and took us to a couple camera stores to try to find a replacement monopod. No luck there, but it was very kind of him. It took about an hour and a half to get up to Asa Wright, stopping for bird sightings on the way there.
( Female Purple Honeycreeper above; juvenile below)

(Juvenile Green Honeycreeper below)

There was heavy rain on the drive up the mountains, but it stopped pretty much the second we got out of the car. We realized very quickly how badass Asa Wright is and our frowns from the luggage situation turned upside down right away. Excellent stuff.
( Palm Tanager with nesting material above; Female White-lined Tanager below)

(Male White-lined Tanager below)

( White-necked Jacobin below)

Having not slept more than 10 hours in 3 days, I sought out their shade grown coffee and quickly overdosed on that goodness. We threw our backpacks in our room (we did it super lightweight this time) and then nerded it up on the veranda for the 3 hours before lunch.
(Below is the male Green Honeycreeper, followed by the female.)

(Top is the male Green Honeycreeper, the green one is the female.)

Holy overstimulation! Birds everywhere, the veranda overlooked the mountains. What an obscenely beautiful spot! Lunch was a tasty treat and very vegan friendly (yay!) and we gorged happily and heartily.
(Below is the Tufted Coquette Hummingbird, Oropendola, and the White-bearded Manakin.)

After lunch, we considered a well deserved nap but being the machines that we are, we vetoed that idea. Instead, we hiked some of the trails and saw many more birds like the White-bearded Manakin which is maybe the cutest little fluffball bird you've ever seen. There was a lek (where males display for the females) and we watched and listen to them click and flick there wings together to make a crazy loud snapping sounds. Pretty awesome happenings. ( I later learned that while standing still for a good while, trying to get a photograph, I became completely annihilated by chiggers).
After this stop, we heard the Bearded Bellbirds and sought them out. Apparently they are ventriloquists because we heard three of them right above our heads but it took about 20 minutes to actually see them. There were a couple White-winged bats flying around while we were staring up in the trees, and I thank them greatly for chomping the mosquitos that were around my head.
We also saw about 5 different Tegu Lizards, a couple which were pushing three feet long! They generally run right away but this one above was just waiting for his photo shoot. And check out that serious tongue!
We had been hiking a while and got back to the lodge right before the much anticipated and tasty rum punch was served. Yum! New Years dinner was served outside on a lovely porch with a local band. Zac was about to pass out at the dinner table due to sleep deprivation but I was thriving like some deranged maniac on my lack of sleep.
Since it was a full moon on a clear night, on New Year's Eve, in the jungle, I decided I had no choice but to go on a little night hike. So Zac went to bed and I wandered around with my headlamp for a while. I didn't really see anything out there but the trails were completely covered by leaf-cutter ants and I did hear what sounded like some rabid feral cats attacking each other. I realized afterwards that it was the Oilbirds foraging - cooool! I decided I should probably sleep at some point, so that's what I did. Pretty excellent first day at Asa Wright!



25 comments:

Kelly said...

Wow.....I'm totally overwhelmed, and all I did was look at your photos. You must have been in heaven! Everything is so beautiful...

foto CHIP said...

Wow! It's just breathtaking - wonderful colours .... :)

Me and my puppies said...

Your photos are awesome! Birding is so much fun. Our spring is great with the migration of birds stopping at our waterways.

Sylvia K said...

Absolutely fantastic! Gorgeous captures, magnificent colors! Such a wonderful post for the day! I can understand the over stimulation! Have a great week!

Sylvia

Stine in Ontario said...

What a fabulous place to visit! That's my kind of "vacation!"

Seagull Steve said...

Facemelting shots of crippling birds...great stuff!

Quilt Works said...

All beautiful captures, but the blue bird is amazing. My favorite shade of blue!

Jossie said...

Wow this is a row of fabulous photos. Beautiful!

Jane said...

Great shots and beautiful colours too, thanks for sharing them:)

Martha Z said...

There are no words to express how wonderful these photos are! What a great trip. Beautiful birds and such a variety, thanks for bringing us with you.

Janie said...

These photos are great! You saw so many beautiful birds, and the lizards and flowers are amazing, too.

eileeninmd said...

ALl I can say is WOW!. I love all the birds and what a great trip. Your photos are gorgeous!

elvira pajarola said...

STUNNINGLY BEAUTIFUL.....!!!
Ahhh, I don't no which ones I love most: I love all of them..! and I ADORE the blu, blue little bird....
do you know Yves Saint Laurent, the best french designer ever....: he uses the blue of this little magnificient bird...ahhhhh..I know now where its incredible inspiration comes from.....!
COMPLIMENTS.....these Photos are SOMETHING!!!!!!
ciao ciao elvira

Tony said...

Great bird shots. I wish our Michigan birds were as colorful.
Tony

Dominic Gendron said...

What agreat serie of very colorfull and intriguing birds. The Tropical Mockingbird i sjust a magnificient bird. Thanks for sharing ;)

GardenofDaisies said...

Amazing! those honeycreepers are gorgeous birds!!!
and I just read your little post about your cats. They are adorable!!!

Lucy Corrander said...

Oh - Kelly said overwhelmed which what I was going to say. - Overwhelmed by difference and the blast of colour.

Lucy

Lawstude said...

wow. the bird shots are the best. i know it takes a lot of patience capturing perfect shots of these critters and you just did that. amazing.

Johnny Nutcase said...

Wow! Thanks for all the comments. Tropical birds make for some colorful photos, that's for sure. :) Thanks again!

ramblingwoods said...

Wow..love the tufted hummer and the herps...beautiful photos..Michelle

Mike said...

Sweet! You're doing a brilliant job selling what is already a renowned birding destination. Will there be more pics?

Johnny Nutcase said...

there will be more! i've got about 10 more days to post, though I think the best shots I got were the first three days...Asa Wright is a must-go for any bird person, for sure!

SmilingSally said...

Good work. Happy Blue Monday!

Carolyn Ford said...

Keep 'em coming! These are amazing and colorful feathered friends! Did you have to purchase another monopod?
Beautiful captures!

Mary said...

Wow, words fail completely. Magnificent creations the birds are - makes me wonder what other beyond-belief beauties are out there that I have never laid eyes on. Maybe only God has seen some of them. The jungle is no place for us at night!
Great, no, absolutely great blues~