Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Trinidad and Tobago Day 2: Scarlet Ibis and Oil Birds!


Because I no longer require this thing they call 'sleep,' I woke up at 0530. I woke Zac up and we wandered over to the veranda. Between sips of their addictive coffee, I took more pictures of course. Breakfast was a tasty delight of fresh pineapple, watermelon and homemade bread.My belly was happy. These birds above and below had the same idea - breakfast!
(Kiskadee above; Violaceous Euphonia below)



(Tufted Coquette above; the ever present Bananaquit below)

By some beautiful miracle, at about 0830, right before we were supposed to go see the Oilbirds, a guy from the airline showed up with our monopod!! I was ridiculously happy about this and almost hugged the kind sir. Zac was equally as thrilled, since his clothes were wrapped around the monopod. I cannot believe we actually got that thing back. At the airport, we didn't even have the address of phone number for Asa Wright to give them and the address label had come off the monopod with our names on it. Plus, the person we were reporting it too obviously didn't give a crap about it and was pretty rude about the whole thing. I was convinced it was stolen or lost forever. So, this put a huge smile on my face because handholding the camera and the big lens doesn't always make for the sharpest photos. So! Good then!
(a curious Green Honeycreeper below)
(not a great shot- damn you flight shots- of a Grey hawk above; Kiskadee below)

( Juvenily Green Honeycreeper below)

Right after that, we went with Barry, one of the guides, to check out the Oilbirds in Dunston Cave. Oilbirds are quite impressive. They're nocturnal and use echolocation (pretty cool) and feed on palm oil while making crazy screeching noises (like a female mountain lion scream, but toned down a bit). They'll forage almost a hundred miles from their roost site for food if they have to. They have a good wingspan, I think up to 3 feet, so they are not little guys. They hang out in caves during the day and their nests are made of regurgitated palm fruit, ha! The ones at Asa Wright (Dunston Cave) are protected and you can't go without a guide. So this was a big perk to our trip, one of the highlights. They are sensitive to light so the pictures obviously aren't great since you don't want to use a flash on them. Check this guy out (this is the only photo that came out well enough to post here. I used ISO 6400, whoa!). The monopod helped wonders . How awesome is he?! I love 'em.
On the hike back we saw a Squirrel Cuckoo (love those birds too). Zac and I wandered around some more before lunch and I saw 4 Tegu lizards scurrying around. This one apparently had an itch that needed some scratching.

We ate lunch (yum! I really enjoy eating), charged the camera battery and then we went to Caroni Swamp with our new British buddies Ian and Angie and one of the Asa Wright guides. Saw lots of good birds on the way there, like these guys below. Their perches are not quite ideal but I kinda like the first one.
(Juvenile and adult Pied-water Tyrant below)
( a backwards headed White-headed Marsh Tyrant below)

We took a little boat out to see the Scarlet Ibis. On the way there we saw a Cook's Boa Constrictor and a Silky Anteater. We didn't get great looks since we were on a moving boat but they were still good sightings. The anteater was a tiny little thing, all fuzz! Again, not great shots because of the boat thing and a whole lot of mangroves in the way.
(the Silky Anteater and Little Blue Heron below)

We got to the Ibis roost and watched for about 30 minutes as 2500-3000 of them flew in to roost for the night. Wow! This was just gorgeous- with the egrets and the ibis it was like a continuously moving rainbow. Thumbs up! I took a few videos but didn't get any decent photos. Obviously, you are not able to get too close to them. I'll post videos at some point once I figure out that out. Seeing the Scarlet Ibis was a big treat, these birds don't even look real. Too pretty for their own good!
( Black Hawk below)
We got back to Asa and sadly realized that Zac too had been feasted upon by the chiggers. I counted his bites - 170, holy hell! Ian and Angie were extremely nice and gave us some extra anti-itch stuff so we could live life in peace. Huge relief. Dinner and bed ate up the rest of the night. My World Tuesday and

17 comments:

Diane AZ said...

Sounds like you had a fantastic day. I really enjoyed your narration and superb photos of tropical birds, lizards and plants.

SandyCarlson said...

What an amazing time. Beautiful post. Thanks for sharing such beautiful images.

Blank said...

Beautiful birds. I'm going to add the Asa Wright Center to my list of 'must go' place to visit.

ramblingwoods said...

Wow..what amazing photos and I like you sense of humor...I think I should have had a career that had something to do with wildlife..wait I was an inner city school teacher. So maybe I did work with some type of wildlife...Michelle

eileeninmd said...

Wonderful trip report. I love all your birds photos they are just gorgeous. I have a lot about Asa Wright and would love to go there sometime too. I have have too many places on my wish list.

MyMaracas said...

Wow, what amazing photos! And that sounds like a great trip you had. I've never heard of most of these birds, and really enjoyed seeing them.

Stine in Ontario said...

I;m so glad you remembered to take your camera. LOL Beautiful ohotos.

This Is My Blog - fishing guy said...

Jill: Wonderful photos of all your colorful nature encounters.

Martha Z said...

Awesome photos, Jill, almost as good (but not quite) as being there.
My sympathies to Zac, I was infested by chiggars at Brazos Bend once, not fun.

Eve said...

Wow! What a fantastic grouping of creatures!! Beautiful photos!

Wren said...

Awesome - birds and photos.

Incog & Nito said...

Sounds like a wonderful day. The photos are amazing. Enjoy your day.

Randi said...

I´m really impressed of your bird photos. I wish I could take such beautiful pictures of the birds here. I would like to know which lens you use. I have a Canon 70-300 IS USM but I´m not satisfied with it...
I wish you a great week.

Jenn Jilks said...

Wonderfully colourful shots. We're having a blizzard in My Muskoka , on top of a major melt yesterday.

Our lake is frozen, with a pond on top! Freeze-up tonight though.

Marites said...

such beautiful birds! you have captured them very well..i especially love the ones who were busy sipping those flowers.

Pat said...

These are absolutely gorgeous photos. It sounds like you had a wonderful time seeing all these unusual birds and other critters. Thanks for sharing!

Johnny Nutcase said...

thank you everyone! Randi - i use a Sigma 50-500 mm lens for birds. I really like it and it's the only one i've ever used..but i still want to upgrade at some point. i think you'd like it, the 500 really goes a long way!