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Field Guides Tour Report
Dec 27, 2015 to Jan 5, 2016
Tom Johnson

This is the view of Little Tobago Island from above our seaside resort at Blue Waters Inn on Tobago.

This holiday exploration of the beautiful islands of Trinidad and Tobago was marked by amazing sights ranging from Oilbirds to lekking manakins and bellbirds, great feeder watching at Asa Wright Nature Centre, the beauty of Scarlet Ibis flocks returning to roost, and the thrill of discovery (including a species new to T&T and all of South America) - needless to say, it was a successful tour!

We started off with six nights based at the world famous Asa Wright Nature Centre (AWNC) in the Northern Range of Trinidad. Daily excursions included walks on the centre's lush grounds, forest birding along the Blanchisseuse Rd., daytime and nighttime visits to the Aripo Savannah, visits to the rich wetlands of Nariva Swamp and Caroni Swamp, and plenty of time spent watching the busy fruit and nectar feeders at Asa Wright (not infrequently accompanied by the Centre's delicious rum punch, a tradition here).

Some of our most memorable sightings on Trinidad included comparisons of lekking dances of Golden-headed and White-bearded Manakins, the satanic shrieks of the otherworldly Oilbirds, the beautiful view of Crimson-crested Woodpecker perched on a palm, the myriad nightjars (and the roosting Peregrine) at night in the Aripo Livestock Station, lovely comparisons of Fork-tailed Palm-Swifts and a Lesser Swallow-tailed Swift, and of course, daily sightings of plucky and stunning Tufted Coquettes.

With a short flight, we island-hopped over to the smaller island of Tobago to spend two nights at the beachside Blue Waters Inn. Tobago offered us forest specialties like Blue-backed Manakin, White-tailed Sabrewing, and Trinidad Motmot in the island's central Main Ridge. In addition, we enjoyed the boat trip out to Little Tobago to see breeding Red-billed Tropicbirds, Brown and Red-footed Boobies, and their pirate neighbors, the Magnificent Frigatebirds.

Our time at the Bon Accord ponds near the airport on Tobago is worth special mention. A rarity bonanza was waiting for us, and without too much effort, we found a Little Egret, 2 American Wigeon, a Green-winged Teal, 2 American Coots, a Glossy Ibis, Bank Swallow, and Cliff Swallows. In addition to this impressive list of rarities, we found a male EURASIAN WIGEON, the first documented record for Trinidad & Tobago and all of South America. This added some extra excitement to the final stage of an already fantastic tour.

I'd like to offer special thanks to Mahase Ramlal, our driver/ guide on Trinidad, and Gladwyn James, our driver/ guide on Tobago. These two gentlemen really helped us get around safely, and also offered valuable and unique local perspectives on the birdlife of these fascinating islands.

To everyone who came on this adventure with me, I'd like to thank you, too. This was a friendly and relaxed group, and I very much enjoyed traveling and birding with you.

Thanks, and good birding!

Tom Johnson

Cape May, New Jersey

(photos below are by Tom Johnson)

One of the following keys may be shown in brackets for individual species as appropriate: * = heard only, I = introduced, E = endemic, N = nesting, a = austral migrant, b = boreal migrant

Tinamidae (Tinamous)
LITTLE TINAMOU (Crypturellus soui) – The wavering whistles of this forest skulker rang out on our first two days at AWNC. [*]
Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)
BLACK-BELLIED WHISTLING-DUCK (Dendrocygna autumnalis) – About 30 were at the Bon Accord ponds on Tobago on our first visit; on the return trip, we only saw 1!
EURASIAN WIGEON (Anas penelope) – Woah! This rusty-headed duck was a true surprise at the Bon Accord ponds on Tobago. While it was fairly exciting to discover that this is the first record for the country of Trinidad and Tobago, the bird also represents the first documented record for all of South America. This scruffy male was swimming around with several other rare species for Tobago, including 2 American Wigeon and a Green-winged Teal.

This Eurasian Wigeon was a big shock for us at the Bon Accord ponds on Tobago. This individual represents the first documented record for Trinidad & Tobago and for all of South America.

AMERICAN WIGEON (Anas americana) – A male and a female were rarities at the Bon Accord ponds on Tobago, but they were overshadowed by the even rarer Eurasian Wigeon that was swimming nearby.
BLUE-WINGED TEAL (Anas discors) – 15-20 were at the Bon Accord ponds on both of our visits.
WHITE-CHEEKED PINTAIL (Anas bahamensis) – 15 were at Bon Accord on our first visit; 9 were there on our second.
GREEN-WINGED TEAL (Anas crecca) – A female was doing her best to blend in with the Blue-winged Teal at Bon Accord ponds on Tobago. This species is quite rare in the country. Due to the extremely similar plumage between females of the American and Eurasian subspecies, it isn't clear from which side of the Atlantic this bird originated.
Cracidae (Guans, Chachalacas, and Curassows)
RUFOUS-VENTED CHACHALACA (Ortalis ruficauda) – The national/ island bird of Tobago - on this trip, we saw them well around the Blue Waters Inn and at Grafton Estates.
Podicipedidae (Grebes)
LEAST GREBE (Tachybaptus dominicus) – Four of these tiny grebes were at the Bon Accord ponds.
Phaethontidae (Tropicbirds)
RED-BILLED TROPICBIRD (Phaethon aethereus) – While we could see little white dots buzzing around in the distance from our balconies at the Blue Waters Inn, the real show began when we took the glass-bottomed boat out to Little Tobago. We were fortunate to enjoy both flying adults and a few very close nests, including one with a cute, fluffy chick. Just before we left, a Magnificent Frigatebird engaged a fish-carrying adult in a lengthy chase, but the tropicbird prevailed. This species received top votes for bird of the trip from Ramsay and Joan.
Fregatidae (Frigatebirds)
MAGNIFICENT FRIGATEBIRD (Fregata magnificens) – We first saw these huge soaring pirates from Brickfield Fishing Centre on Trinidad, but our best views were of the dozens floating around overhead on Little Tobago Island.
Sulidae (Boobies and Gannets)
BROWN BOOBY (Sula leucogaster) – These boobies looked large in comparison with the slim, faster-flapping Red-footed Boobies on Little Tobago. We had a few follow the glass-bottomed boat at close range during the drive out to the island.

Our trip to Little Tobago Island allowed for up-close views of Magnificent Frigatebirds chasing fish-carrying Red-billed Tropicbirds.

RED-FOOTED BOOBY (Sula sula) – These polymorphic boobies were quite common on Little Tobago, and were well along in their nesting cycle during our visit. We were fortunate to compare dark and light morph birds in the scope.
Phalacrocoracidae (Cormorants and Shags)
NEOTROPIC CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax brasilianus) – We saw a few along the shoreline near Waterloo on Trinidad.
Anhingidae (Anhingas)
ANHINGA (Anhinga anhinga) – We found these elegant snakebirds in several spots on both islands, including Nariva Swamp, Caroni Swamp, and Tobago Plantations.
Pelecanidae (Pelicans)
BROWN PELICAN (Pelecanus occidentalis) – Common along the coast.
Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)
PINNATED BITTERN (Botaurus pinnatus) – At the last minute, we spotted one of these stocky, extremely cryptic herons in tall grass at the edge of Nariva Swamp. Though it tried its best to blend in, we enjoyed good scope views of this stunner for several minutes.
GREAT BLUE HERON (Ardea herodias) – We saw this impressive, large wader near Waterloo and at the Bon Accord ponds on Tobago.

On our glass-bottomed boat ride over a coral reef, this young Brown Booby took interest in us and followed the boat for a few minutes.

GREAT EGRET (Ardea alba) – Common and widespread.
LITTLE EGRET (Egretta garzetta) – On both visits to the Bon Accord ponds on Tobago, we were lucky to find a striking, dark-lored Little Egret. Views were much better on our return visit on the last day of the tour. This Eurasian species is rare but regular in Tobago, perhaps from birds traveling from a breeding colony on Barbados.
SNOWY EGRET (Egretta thula) – Common and widespread.
LITTLE BLUE HERON (Egretta caerulea) – Fairly common on both islands. Over 150 came in to roost at Caroni Swamp during our dusk watch there.
TRICOLORED HERON (Egretta tricolor) – Spectacular! We enjoyed a huge evening flight of these beautiful herons at Caroni Swamp. Over 400 came in to roost in the same area as the masses of Scarlet Ibis and other waders.
CATTLE EGRET (Bubulcus ibis) – Very common and widespread.
GREEN HERON (Butorides virescens) – Fairly common around freshwater ponds on Tobago.
STRIATED HERON (Butorides striata) – We found these small herons around Nariva and Caroni on Trinidad.
BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (Nycticorax nycticorax) – Several of these widespread herons were roosting in the trees along the entrance pond at Tobago Plantations.
YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (Nyctanassa violacea) – These striking crab-eaters were found several times near Waterloo, Caroni, and at Bon Accord on Tobago.
Threskiornithidae (Ibises and Spoonbills)
SCARLET IBIS (Eudocimus ruber) – At least 1500 of these beauties came in to roost on an island in Caroni Swamp. The waves of red started to appear well before darkness spread this time, and we had ample light to fully enjoy the spectacle. The rum punch didn't hurt, either! While several people included this species in their top 3 birds for the tour, it was number 1 for Rick.
GLOSSY IBIS (Plegadis falcinellus) – The one that we saw at the Bon Accord ponds on Tobago was uncommon-rare for the country.
Cathartidae (New World Vultures)
BLACK VULTURE (Coragyps atratus) – Very common and widespread on Trinidad.
TURKEY VULTURE (Cathartes aura) – Common and widespread on Trinidad.
Pandionidae (Osprey)
OSPREY (Pandion haliaetus) – We saw several of these on the west coast of Trinidad and also on Tobago.
Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)
BLACK HAWK-EAGLE (Spizaetus tyrannus) – This was a really interesting bird! We had a young hawk-eagle circling over us at AWNC on our first full day, and Rick's flight photos helped to lock in the ID as Black Hawk-Eagle.
ORNATE HAWK-EAGLE (Spizaetus ornatus) – Mahase spotted this beauty sitting high up in a roadside tree along the Blanchisseuse Rd. We were able to slowly exit the vehicle and enjoy scope views before it moved off on the hunt. Grace picked this as a favorite bird of the tour.

Our evening transit through Caroni Swamp was capped with marvelous flocks of Scarlet Ibis returning to their roost trees. By the time we left, one island was absolutely covered with these amazing red birds.

LONG-WINGED HARRIER (Circus buffoni) – At least one of these handsome raptors was coursed over the marshes and grasslands at Nariva Swamp.
COMMON BLACK HAWK (Buteogallus anthracinus) – Quite common in forests on Trinidad.
SAVANNA HAWK (Buteogallus meridionalis) – We saw several of these rusty, long-legged hawks during our adventures in the Aripo Savannah and Nariva Swamp.
GREAT BLACK HAWK (Buteogallus urubitinga) – One whistled and perched up nicely for us during our hike at Gilpin Trace on Tobago.
WHITE-TAILED HAWK (Geranoaetus albicaudatus) – Ramsay spotted this rare visitor from the mainland while we were searching for macaws at Nariva Swamp. Though the bird never came super close, we were able to note its pointed wings, white tail with black band, and rusty patches on dark gray upperwings.
WHITE HAWK (Pseudastur albicollis) – These striking buteos circled overhead a few times while we were birding the Northern Range near AWNC. The species topped Phoebe's list of favorites from the week.
GRAY-LINED HAWK (Buteo nitidus) – Fairly common in Trinidad. This is the southern sister species of Gray Hawk that was split off a few years ago.
SHORT-TAILED HAWK (Buteo brachyurus) – These stocky buteos soared overhead on a few occasions on Trinidad.
ZONE-TAILED HAWK (Buteo albonotatus) – We had several great views of these dark hawks as they soared over near AWNC and in the Aripo Savannah.
Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)
MANGROVE RAIL (ATLANTIC) (Rallus longirostris pelodramus) – We heard two pairs at Orange Valley, Trinidad. Two came out into an open patch in the mangrove woods, and we were able to admire them at length. This species was recently split from Clapper Rail.
GRAY-NECKED WOOD-RAIL (Aramides cajaneus) – Excellent views of multiple individuals at Orange Valley, Trinidad.

This Little Egret was another Eurasian bird that we found on Tobago. The species has been breeding in the region for some time now, but it still noteworthy on Tobago. In the foreground, note the rare American Wigeon and the even rarer Eurasian Wigeon!

SORA (Porzana carolina) – A few of these small, wintering rails called and flew through the marsh vegetation at Tobago Plantations.
PURPLE GALLINULE (Porphyrio martinicus) – We saw several at Nariva Swamp on Trinidad and more at Tobago Plantations.
COMMON GALLINULE (Gallinula galeata) – Common around Caroni Swamp and the Bon Accord ponds on Tobago.
AMERICAN COOT (Fulica americana) – Two were swimming in the Bon Accord ponds on Tobago. This species rarely makes it as far south as T&T.
Aramidae (Limpkin)
LIMPKIN (Aramus guarauna) – At least one posed briefly in the rice fields near Caroni Swamp.
Recurvirostridae (Stilts and Avocets)
BLACK-NECKED STILT (Himantopus mexicanus) – Fifteen were at Brickfield Fishing Centre on Trinidad.
Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)
BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER (Pluvialis squatarola) – About 25 were in the shorebird flock at Brickfield Fishing Centre on Trinidad.
SOUTHERN LAPWING (Vanellus chilensis) – Common in open areas (especially agricultural areas like Aripo Livestock Station).
WILSON'S PLOVER (Charadrius wilsonia) – At least two of these stout-billed plovers were mixed with other shorebirds roosting and feeding at the Brickfield Fishing Centre on Trinidad's west coast.

Our explorations of the mangroves in western Trinidad led to great sightings of Mangrove Rail and Gray-necked Wood-Rail (here).

SEMIPALMATED PLOVER (Charadrius semipalmatus) – Roughly 60 of these small, ringed plovers were in the shorebird flock at Brickfield Fishing Centre.
Jacanidae (Jacanas)
WATTLED JACANA (Jacana jacana) – Common in wetlands on Trinidad and also at Bon Accord, Tobago.
Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)
SPOTTED SANDPIPER (Actitis macularius) – We saw several in mangroves on the west coast of Trinidad and more at Bon Accord, Tobago.
SOLITARY SANDPIPER (Tringa solitaria) – These slender Tringas were at the Aripo Livestock Station and also in many small pools around Bon Accord, Tobago.
GREATER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa melanoleuca) – These wintering shorebirds were at Caroni Swamp and at Bon Accord, Tobago, where we were able to make close comparisons with Lesser Yellowlegs.
WILLET (Tringa semipalmata) – Over 20 were in the vicinity of Orange Valley and Brickfield Fishing Centre on Trinidad.
LESSER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa flavipes) – Common around the Bon Accord ponds.
WHIMBREL (Numenius phaeopus) – We saw these wintering curlews at several sites along the west coast of Trinidad, and then had a curiously tame individual walking along a roadside ditch in Bon Accord, Tobago.
RUDDY TURNSTONE (Arenaria interpres) – About 16 were working the rocks near the end of the road at Orange Valley.
RED KNOT (Calidris canutus) – Fifteen of these stocky sandpipers were mixed in with other shorebirds at the Brickfield Fishing Centre. They were in their gray, basic plumage - not the striking salmon, rusty color of breeding plumage.

This powerful Ornate Hawk-Eagle was perched up in a huge tree near Asa Wright Nature Centre.

LEAST SANDPIPER (Calidris minutilla) – These small sandpipers fed in muddy pools at the Aripo Livestock Station.
SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER (Calidris pusilla) – These small sandpipers made up the minority of a peep flock at Brickfield Fishing Centre that was dominated by Western Sandpipers. Bill shape and structure helped us with the identifications.
WESTERN SANDPIPER (Calidris mauri) – This was the most common peep at the Brickfield Fishing Centre. They are long-billed, long-legged, and large-headed in comparison with Semipalmated Sandpipers.
SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER (Limnodromus griseus) – Ramsay spotted these rotund shorebirds near Temple in the Sea in Trinidad.
SNIPE SP. (Gallinago sp.) – One snipe flushed and flew away from us at the Aripo Savannah. This was could have been a Wilson's Snipe, but we didn't get a good enough look to really nail down the ID.
Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)
LAUGHING GULL (Leucophaeus atricilla) – Around 100 were at Brickfield Fishing Centre.
LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL (GRAELLSII) (Larus fuscus graellsii) – One immature was standing with the terns and Laughing Gulls at Brickfield Fishing Centre.
ROYAL TERN (Thalasseus maximus) – Roughly 40 were at Brickfield Fishing Centre with the Laughing Gull flock.
BLACK SKIMMER (CINERASCENS) (Rynchops niger cinerascens) – 25 were in the loafing gull and tern flock at the Brickfield Fishing Centre.
Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)
ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia) – Common and widespread in towns. [I]
PALE-VENTED PIGEON (Patagioenas cayennensis) – We saw most of ours on Tobago on this trip.

This White-tailed Nightjar was on a day roost on Little Tobago Island.

SCALED PIGEON (Patagioenas speciosa) – These large pigeons posed on at least two occasions for us near the veranda at AWNC.
RUDDY GROUND-DOVE (Columbina talpacoti) – Common on both islands.
WHITE-TIPPED DOVE (Leptotila verreauxi) – Good views on Tobago.
GRAY-FRONTED DOVE (Leptotila rufaxilla) – This Leptotila dove is fairly common around AWNC.
EARED DOVE (Zenaida auriculata) – Common on Tobago.
Cuculidae (Cuckoos)
SQUIRREL CUCKOO (Piaya cayana) – We had great views of these large, rusty cuckoos in the Northern Range of Trinidad. One in particular posed for scope views from the AWNC veranda.
STRIPED CUCKOO (Tapera naevia) – Ramsay spotted our first one sitting on a roadside wall as we were driving on the Blanchisseuse Rd. Others were found at Nariva Swamp.
SMOOTH-BILLED ANI (Crotophaga ani) – Quite common on both islands.
Strigidae (Owls)
TROPICAL SCREECH-OWL (Megascops choliba) – At dusk, we enjoyed marvelous views of one of these small owls near our picnic dinner spot at the Aripo Livestock Station.
SPECTACLED OWL (Pulsatrix perspicillata) – On our departure morning at Asa Wright Nature Center, one of these loud owls was calling down the valley. Unfortunately, it was too far away for us to track down before we had to leave for the airport to make our flight over to Tobago. [*]

Grass... grass... grass... grass... BITTERN! This Pinnated Bittern did a nice job of blending in at Nariva Swamp.

FERRUGINOUS PYGMY-OWL (Glaucidium brasilianum) – Great views of multiple individuals, including one that inspired the ire of quite a few tanagers on the Blanchisseuse Rd.
MOTTLED OWL (Ciccaba virgata) – AWNC staff alerted us to a day-roosting individual down the hill from the centre. Though it was perched high in a roadside tangle, we had some nice scope views of it.
Caprimulgidae (Nightjars and Allies)
SHORT-TAILED NIGHTHAWK (Lurocalis semitorquatus) – At least one of these active nightbirds swooped back and forth in front of the veranda at AWNC one evening before our checklist session.
COMMON PAURAQUE (Nyctidromus albicollis) – At least 10 of these large nightjars were calling and flying around hunting at the Aripo Livestock Station during our nocturnal expedition there.
WHITE-TAILED NIGHTJAR (Hydropsalis cayennensis) – A minimum of five of these medium-sized nightjars were highlights of our night drive around the Aripo Livestock Station. Their whistled calls were strikingly different than the gruff chortles of the pauraques. Even better than the nocturnal views, we scoped a day-roosting individual that Zolani showed us during our hike on Little Tobago.
Nyctibiidae (Potoos)
COMMON POTOO (Nyctibius griseus) – Two of these fine nightbirds were found on our night drive at the Aripo Livestock Station. One sat cooperatively in our spotlight on a fence post next to our vehicles.
Steatornithidae (Oilbird)
OILBIRD (Steatornis caripensis) – Our walk down the hill to Dunston Cave let us peer into the world of these fantastic beasts. Dozens of Oilbirds peered back at us, flapped their wings, and gave their screechy, spooky calls from less than 5 meters away. Spectacular!
Apodidae (Swifts)
SHORT-TAILED SWIFT (Chaetura brachyura) – Great views overhead near Waterloo as we enjoyed our visit to the statue of Hanuman, the Hindu monkey god.
BAND-RUMPED SWIFT (Chaetura spinicaudus) – Though they were outnumbered by Gray-rumped Swifts, these contrasty swifts put on appearances on multiple occasions in the skies above AWNC.

This beautiful Flying Panda (aka Lesser Swallow-tailed Swift) put on a great show overhead with some Fork-tailed Palm-Swifts on Trinidad.

GRAY-RUMPED SWIFT (Chaetura cinereiventris) – The common Chaetura swift in the skies above AWNC on Trinidad.
LESSER SWALLOW-TAILED SWIFT (Panyptila cayennensis) – During our stop to watch some Fork-tailed Palm-Swifts between the Arima Valley and Port-of-Spain, one of these handsome swifts joined the fray. These striking, black-and-white swifts are uncommon and the sighting was quite welcome, especially since we had such an excellent view.
FORK-TAILED PALM-SWIFT (Tachornis squamata) – Uncommon on this visit - we saw several in suburban settings (with tall palm trees) in the greater Port-of-Spain area. Especially nice views were had over the parking lot at the Temple by the Sea.
Trochilidae (Hummingbirds)
WHITE-NECKED JACOBIN (Florisuga mellivora) – These large hummers are quite common and dominant at AWNC.
RUFOUS-BREASTED HERMIT (Glaucis hirsutus) – We had repeated good views of these trap-liners in flowers at AWNC.
GREEN HERMIT (Phaethornis guy) – Fairly common at the AWNC feeders, though they typically didn't stay for long.
LITTLE HERMIT (Phaethornis longuemareus) – Only seen at flowers away from the AWNC feeders. Several times, we had nice views at small patches of flowers along the AWNC driveway.
WHITE-TAILED GOLDENTHROAT (Polytmus guainumbi) – We were fortunate to find this uncommon hummingbird several times at Nariva Swamp.

This huge Crimson-crested Woodpecker showed off for us on a palm trunk in the Northern Range of Trinidad.

RUBY-TOPAZ HUMMINGBIRD (Chrysolampis mosquitus) – Great views at Tobago Plantations, where multiple birds shocked us with their colors. This was one of Ramsay's favorites of the tour.
GREEN-THROATED MANGO (Anthracothorax viridigula) – These large hummers are typically found around mangrove edges in Trinidad. Our first was spotted while driving, and we pulled over to scope it as it sat atop a bare tree. Then, we found another one perched during our Caroni boat trip.
BLACK-THROATED MANGO (Anthracothorax nigricollis) – Uncommon around AWNC; multiple males and females were seen sporadically at the veranda feeders.
TUFTED COQUETTE (Lophornis ornatus) – These tiny hummers performed admirably every day during our stay at AWNC. We had excellent views of both males and females in the verbena below the veranda. This bird topped both Betsy and Rick's lists of favorites, and after the votes were tallied, Tufted Coquette was declared the "bird of the trip"! Not a bad choice, I must say.
LONG-BILLED STARTHROAT (Heliomaster longirostris) – At least two uniquely plumaged individuals attended the feeders at AWNC. On some occasions, we could see the blue forecrown and the reddish gorget spot at the same time!
BLUE-CHINNED SAPPHIRE (Chlorestes notata) – Common around AWNC, but far outnumbered by White-chested Emeralds, Copper-rumped Hummingbirds, and Jacobins at the feeders.
WHITE-TAILED SABREWING (Campylopterus ensipennis) – Tobago only. This is a primary target of our visit to the Main Ridge Preserve on Tobago, and we had repeated good scope views at Gilpin Trace. The curved, broadened primary shafts that earn this bird the name "sabrewing" were on nice display in the scope. Neil picked this as a favorite.
WHITE-CHESTED EMERALD (Amazilia brevirostris) – The most common hummer at the AWNC feeders.
COPPER-RUMPED HUMMINGBIRD (Amazilia tobaci) – Very common around AWNC.
Trogonidae (Trogons)
GREEN-BACKED TROGON (Trogon viridis) – Previously considered to be conspecific with White-tailed Trogon, this yellow-bellied trogon posed beautifully over the driveway at AWNC on the first full day of our tour.

Multiple Long-billed Starthroats patronized the feeders at Asa Wright Nature Centre during our stay there.

GUIANAN TROGON (Trogon violaceus) – Fairly common; seen on several occasions near AWNC.
COLLARED TROGON (Trogon collaris) – This red-bellied trogon put in nice appearances along the Blanchisseuse Rd. and at AWNC
Momotidae (Motmots)
TRINIDAD MOTMOT (Momotus bahamensis) – Though we heard these birds hooting around AWNC regularly, we didn't actually see one until we arrived on Tobago. This bird is amazingly common and easy to see in the Main Ridge Preserve. A true beauty, and Nancy's top pick for favorite bird of the week. [E]
Alcedinidae (Kingfishers)
RINGED KINGFISHER (Megaceryle torquata) – Splendid views of these huge kingfishers near Nariva and Waterloo on Trinidad.
BELTED KINGFISHER (Megaceryle alcyon) – One was flying around the large pond at the entrance to the Tobago Plantations.
GREEN KINGFISHER (Chloroceryle americana) – One was at Caroni Swamp.
Galbulidae (Jacamars)
RUFOUS-TAILED JACAMAR (Galbula ruficauda) – On Trinidad, we had some nice experiences with these Lepidoptera specialists on the Blanchisseuse Rd. We saw even more individuals on the Main Ridge of Tobago.
Ramphastidae (Toucans)
CHANNEL-BILLED TOUCAN (Ramphastos vitellinus) – Great scope views from the veranda at AWNC, especially for the folks present on the afternoon before the tour officially began.
Picidae (Woodpeckers)
RED-CROWNED WOODPECKER (Melanerpes rubricapillus) – Nice views at the Blue Waters Inn on Tobago.
RED-RUMPED WOODPECKER (Veniliornis kirkii) – These small woodpeckers skulked in the canopy at AWNC, but we eventually prevailed and had some nice views.
GOLDEN-OLIVE WOODPECKER (Colaptes rubiginosus) – Common in forests on Trinidad.

In combination with an active Rufous-browed Peppershrike, this Streak-headed Woodcreeper made the picnic area at Carli Bay a special spot indeed.

CHESTNUT WOODPECKER (Celeus elegans) – Wow! A pair of these stunners attended a small antswarm on the Blanchisseuse Rd.
LINEATED WOODPECKER (Dryocopus lineatus) – Common; we frequently saw these Pileated-like woodpeckers perched up near AWNC, and we heard them calling from most forested habitats in northern Trinidad.
CRIMSON-CRESTED WOODPECKER (Campephilus melanoleucos) – These large woodpeckers were an unexpected highlight of our visit to a cacique colony in the Northern Range.
Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)
CRESTED CARACARA (Caracara cheriway) – We saw several in the palm plantations north of Nariva Swamp.
YELLOW-HEADED CARACARA (Milvago chimachima) – Rather common in the general area of Nariva Swamp.
MERLIN (Falco columbarius) – One was in the road and flushed up at the Main Ridge Preserve on Tobago.
PEREGRINE FALCON (Falco peregrinus) – We saw this large falcon twice at the Aripo Livestock Station; the second time involved spotlighting one roosting in a bare snag - WOW!
Psittacidae (New World and African Parrots)
BLUE-HEADED PARROT (Pionus menstruus) – A few of these slim parrots flew over during our day on the northern slope of the Northern Range along the Blanchisseuse Rd.
YELLOW-CROWNED PARROT (Amazona ochrocephala) – A small but noisy group jostled around in the tops of some roadside trees at Nariva Swamp.
ORANGE-WINGED PARROT (Amazona amazonica) – This is the common Amazona parrot on both Trinidad and Tobago.
GREEN-RUMPED PARROTLET (Forpus passerinus) – Excellent views in the Aripo Savannah area.
RED-BELLIED MACAW (Orthopsittaca manilatus) – These slim macaws put in nice appearances at both Nariva Swamp and Waller Field. A young Savanna Hawk interacted with a large, wheeling flock as we enjoyed evening rum punch on a hill above Nariva Swamp.

We had some fun face time with White-headed Marsh-Tyrants on Trinidad. This one was at Nariva Swamp.

BLUE-AND-YELLOW MACAW (Ara ararauna) – These large macaws have been reintroduced on Trinidad. Unfortunately, though we heard them calling persistently in the distance, we never saw them. [*]
Thamnophilidae (Typical Antbirds)
GREAT ANTSHRIKE (Taraba major) – Excellent, repeated views of a male-female pair along the AWNC driveway.
BLACK-CRESTED ANTSHRIKE (Sakesphorus canadensis) – On Trinidad, one posed nicely for us in mangroves adjacent to Nariva Swamp; another showed briefly at Carli Bay.
BARRED ANTSHRIKE (Thamnophilus doliatus) – Fairly common on both islands; we had repeated point-blank views from the veranda and gardens at AWNC.
PLAIN ANTVIREO (Dysithamnus mentalis) – One skulked around and barely showed itself in the forest at Gilpin Trace on Tobago.
WHITE-FLANKED ANTWREN (Myrmotherula axillaris) – Fairly common around AWNC and the Blanchisseuse Rd.
WHITE-FRINGED ANTWREN (Formicivora grisea) – Though we had a pair at the Grafton Estate shortly after arriving on Tobago, our best views came along the trail above Blue Waters inn.
WHITE-BELLIED ANTBIRD (Myrmeciza longipes) – A pair of these striking antbirds responded nicely along the Blanchisseuse Rd. below AWNC.
Formicariidae (Antthrushes)
BLACK-FACED ANTTHRUSH (Formicarius analis) – After hearing their whistled taunts from several forested locations in the Northern Range, we had some great (though deeply shaded) views on the forest floor on the Eckleberry Trail at AWNC.
Furnariidae (Ovenbirds and Woodcreepers)
GRAY-THROATED LEAFTOSSER (Sclerurus albigularis) – Though we heard their tantalizing whistles on multiple occasions, it took a while for us to find these birds visually. Eventually, Ramsay spotted a pair on the ground from the AWNC driveway.
OLIVACEOUS WOODCREEPER (Sittasomus griseicapillus) – We heard these several times on the Gilpin Trace in Tobago, and had a few brief views.
PLAIN-BROWN WOODCREEPER (Dendrocincla fuliginosa) – A few performed nicely near an antswarm on the Blanchisseuse Rd.
COCOA WOODCREEPER (Xiphorhynchus susurrans) – Common in the forests of Trinidad's Northern Range.
STRAIGHT-BILLED WOODCREEPER (Dendroplex picus) – One of the highlights of the forested section of our Caroni boat trip - a pair climbed mangroves along the channel edge.

Our group crossed paths with the memorable Savanna Hawk on a number of occasions. This was our first sighting at Aripo Livestock Station.

STREAK-HEADED WOODCREEPER (Lepidocolaptes souleyetii) – At our seaside lunch spot at Carli Bay, one of these slim woodcreepers worked some isolated trees, giving us spectacular views.
YELLOW-CHINNED SPINETAIL (Certhiaxis cinnamomeus) – Several pairs were calling at the Aripo Livestock Station, and we could even see their yellow chins as they climbed around a roadside fenceline.
PALE-BREASTED SPINETAIL (Synallaxis albescens) – We heard these noisy spinetails on the Blanchisseuse Rd. and in the Mexico Rd. savannahs, but we only had brief views.
STRIPE-BREASTED SPINETAIL (Synallaxis cinnamomea) – A small group called "Keep going!" at us and gave us some nice views in the shadows along the Blanchisseuse Rd. Later, we were tempted again by their calls at Gilpin Trace on Tobago.
Tyrannidae (Tyrant Flycatchers)
SOUTHERN BEARDLESS-TYRANNULET (Camptostoma obsoletum) – Our nicest views of this fairly common flycatcher were along the mangrove edge near Nariva Swamp.
FOREST ELAENIA (Myiopagis gaimardii) – We found this slim, drab flycatcher in a Trema tree along the AWNC driveway.
YELLOW-BELLIED ELAENIA (Elaenia flavogaster) – Common and widespread on both islands.
OLIVE-STRIPED FLYCATCHER (Mionectes olivaceus) – One was in the Trema tree along the AWNC with the Forest Elaenia, and we saw another feeding on fruit with the Speckled Tanagers on the Blanchisseuse Rd.
OCHRE-BELLIED FLYCATCHER (Mionectes oleagineus) – We saw this nervous wing-flipper a few times between AWNC and the Blanchisseuse Rd.
YELLOW-OLIVE FLYCATCHER (Tolmomyias sulphurescens) – One was at AWNC.
YELLOW-BREASTED FLYCATCHER (Tolmomyias flaviventris) – We heard these small flycatchers at many sites around the two islands; good views came in the area of the Aripo Savannah.
EULER'S FLYCATCHER (Lathrotriccus euleri) – Heard frequently around AWNC, and we had a few nice views there and on the Blanchisseuse Rd.
OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER (Contopus cooperi) – One of these dark-vested boreal migrants was perched on a utility line at eye level along the Blanchisseuse Rd.

It was fun to find some wintering northern warblers during the tour. This Blackpoll Warbler was one of two along the Blanchisseuse Rd. in the Northern Range of Trinidad.

TROPICAL PEWEE (Contopus cinereus) – Fairly common in the Northern Range of Trinidad.
FUSCOUS FLYCATCHER (Cnemotriccus fuscatus) – Our first views came along the driveway at Grafton Estate, and we saw more in the Main Ridge Preserve on Tobago.
PIED WATER-TYRANT (Fluvicola pica) – Common around marshy edges on Trinidad. This species and White-headed Marsh-Tyrant were some of John's top birds from the week.
WHITE-HEADED MARSH TYRANT (Arundinicola leucocephala) – We saw these striking flycatchers at the Aripo Livestock Station and at Nariva Swamp.
BRIGHT-RUMPED ATTILA (Attila spadiceus) – A frequently-heard voice in the forests of Trinidad's Northern Range. We eventually had some great views along the lower Blanchisseuse Rd.
BROWN-CRESTED FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus tyrannulus) – Our only good views came from the road in to Carli Bay, where two boisterous individuals poised nicely at the edge of some mangroves.
GREAT KISKADEE (Pitangus sulphuratus) – Common and widespread on Trinidad.
BOAT-BILLED FLYCATCHER (Megarynchus pitangua) – These kiskadee look-alikes put in a couple of fine appearances in the Northern Range of Trinidad.
STREAKED FLYCATCHER (Myiodynastes maculatus) – One of these large, bold, stripey flycatchers sat atop a tree for scope views on the lower Blanchisseuse Rd.
PIRATIC FLYCATCHER (Legatus leucophaius) – One individual called incessantly from the cacique colony on the north side of the Northern Range. These masked flycatchers are nest parasites of caciques here.
SULPHURY FLYCATCHER (Tyrannopsis sulphurea) – Rather common in the moriche palms at Waller Field.
TROPICAL KINGBIRD (Tyrannus melancholicus) – Common and widespread.
GRAY KINGBIRD (Tyrannus dominicensis) – We saw our first ones at Nariva Swamp. More were evident on Tobago.
Cotingidae (Cotingas)
BEARDED BELLBIRD (Procnias averano) – These splendid cotingas were heard every day during our stay at AWNC. A few posed atop distant snags for scope views from the veranda. On our walk down the Discovery Trail, we saw a scattered group of males engaging in their incredibly loud bell singing, fleshy wattles dangling from their faces. Incredible! Check out the audio recording from our experience (embedded up near Yellow-crowned Night-Heron in this list).
Pipridae (Manakins)
BLUE-BACKED MANAKIN (Chiroxiphia pareola) – It took a bit of searching, but we finally had some nice views of males along the Gilpin Trace on Tobago.

Grassland Yellow-Finches posed for us on the fencelines of the Aripo Livestock Station on Trinidad.

WHITE-BEARDED MANAKIN (Manacus manacus) – Common around AWNC; we enjoyed the frenetic activity at the lek along the Discovery Trail.
GOLDEN-HEADED MANAKIN (Ceratopipra erythrocephala) – A lek at AWNC was in full swing, with a few calling males jumping around and showing off their flame colors.
Tityridae (Tityras and Allies)
BLACK-TAILED TITYRA (Tityra cayana) – These tityras posed a few times atop trees in front of the AWNC veranda.
Vireonidae (Vireos, Shrike-Babblers, and Erpornis)
BLACK-WHISKERED VIREO (Vireo altiloquus) – Two of these vireos joined a small mixed flock along the lower Blanchisseuse Rd. The species is quite rare on Trinidad, so it was a real surprise to find two together. We had nice views of the thin, dark whisker streaks on both birds.
SCRUB GREENLET (Hylophilus flavipes) – Fairly common in edge habitats on Tobago. We had nice looks along the trail at Blue Waters Inn.
GOLDEN-FRONTED GREENLET (Pachysylvia aurantiifrons) – Our best sighting was along the Blanchisseuse Rd.
RUFOUS-BROWED PEPPERSHRIKE (Cyclarhis gujanensis) – We heard these stocky, sedentary vireos on many occasions on Trinidad. We eventually managed nice views in the Aripo Savannah and especially during our picnic lunch at Carli Bay.
Hirundinidae (Swallows)
SOUTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW (Stelgidopteryx ruficollis) – Fairly common in the Northern Range of Trinidad.
CARIBBEAN MARTIN (Progne dominicensis) – A few males circled over for nice views at the ponds at the Tobago Plantations.
GRAY-BREASTED MARTIN (Progne chalybea) – Common and widespread on Trinidad.
WHITE-WINGED SWALLOW (Tachycineta albiventer) – We saw these swallows at many lowland sites on Trinidad and also at Bon Accord, Tobago.
BANK SWALLOW (Riparia riparia) – One was at Bon Accord each time we stopped there. This bird is quite rare in T&T in winter.
BARN SWALLOW (Hirundo rustica) – 10-15 were at Bon Accord during each of our stops there.
CLIFF SWALLOW (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota) – We noted at least 3 during our first stop at Bon Accord. This is a really good bird for T&T, and we took some photos to document the record.
Troglodytidae (Wrens)
HOUSE WREN (Troglodytes aedon) – Fairly common in wooded and edge habitat.

I found it difficult to include only one tropicbird photo in this report, so I decided not to fight the urge. Here's another Red-billed Tropicbird from our fabulous time on Little Tobago Island.

RUFOUS-BREASTED WREN (Pheugopedius rutilus) – We heard many of these in the forests of northern Trinidad. After some persistence, we saw a few, and we also found them in the Main Ridge of Tobago.
Polioptilidae (Gnatcatchers)
LONG-BILLED GNATWREN (Ramphocaenus melanurus) – We heard these strange gnatcatchers several times, but our only really nice view was in the same flock as the Black-whiskered Vireos on the lower Blanchisseuse Rd.
Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)
YELLOW-LEGGED THRUSH (Turdus flavipes) – Only brief views at Gilpin Trace, Tobago.
COCOA THRUSH (Turdus fumigatus) – Common around AWNC.
SPECTACLED THRUSH (Turdus nudigenis) – Common in forest in northern Trinidad and on the Main Ridge of Tobago.
WHITE-NECKED THRUSH (Turdus albicollis) – Great views around AWNC and on the Blanchisseuse Rd., though normally tougher to see than Cocoa and Spectacled Thrushes.
Mimidae (Mockingbirds and Thrashers)
TROPICAL MOCKINGBIRD (Mimus gilvus) – Common on both islands.
Parulidae (New World Warblers)
NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH (Parkesia noveboracensis) – A common wintering bird on both islands.
MASKED YELLOWTHROAT (Geothlypis aequinoctialis) – Mahase showed us a nice patch of tall grass in the Aripo Savannah where we had nice views of a responsive male.
AMERICAN REDSTART (Setophaga ruticilla) – A few wintering birds put in appearances at Carli Bay, Caroni Swamp, and the Main Ridge on Tobago.

This Peregrine Falcon was roosting on a snag at the Aripo Livestock Station. We had the unusual experience of watching it at night while we pursued potoos and nightjars.

TROPICAL PARULA (Setophaga pitiayumi) – These resident warblers were singing at multiple places in the Northern Range - we enjoyed some nice subcanopy views along the driveway at AWNC.
YELLOW WARBLER (Setophaga petechia) – These familiar warblers were present at quite a few lowland sites on Trinidad and also at Bon Accord, Tobago.
BLACKPOLL WARBLER (Setophaga striata) – Two were together on the northern slope of the Northern Range along the Blanchisseuse Rd. This long-distance migrant from the boreal forests of North America is a scarce wintering bird here, and so it was fun to see two flitting around on utility wires over the road.
Thraupidae (Tanagers and Allies)
MASKED CARDINAL (Paroaria nigrogenis) – A small flock was blocking the Caroni Swamp entrance road before our ibis boat trip. A welcome blockade, to be sure.
WHITE-LINED TANAGER (Tachyphonus rufus) – Common around AWNC, including on the feeders.
SILVER-BEAKED TANAGER (Ramphocelus carbo) – Common in forests on Trinidad. Absent from Tobago.
BLUE-GRAY TANAGER (Thraupis episcopus) – Common and widespread on both islands.
PALM TANAGER (Thraupis palmarum) – Common and widespread on both islands. We enjoyed the subtle green and plum coloration of these birds at the AWNC feeders each day.
SPECKLED TANAGER (Tangara guttata) – We had nice views of this bird in Trinidad's Northern Range. Generally uncommon here, we were fortunate to view several feeding in a large fruiting tree.
TURQUOISE TANAGER (Tangara mexicana) – This time, we had lots of good opportunities to study this stunning tanager around AWNC and on the Blanchisseuse Rd.
BAY-HEADED TANAGER (Tangara gyrola) – Common in the forests of Trinidad's Northern Range.
BLUE DACNIS (Dacnis cayana) – These bright canopy birds put in some quality appearances (including scope views) at AWNC and on the Blanchisseuse Rd.
PURPLE HONEYCREEPER (Cyanerpes caeruleus) – Wow! These are incredibly common at the AWNC feeders. It is such a pleasure to watch these lovely birds feeding within a meter or two.
GREEN HONEYCREEPER (Chlorophanes spiza) – Also a common sight around AWNC. They compete at the feeders with Purple Honeycreepers.
BICOLORED CONEBILL (Conirostrum bicolor) – We saw these mangrove specialists very nicely at Carli Bay.

Our visit to the west coast of Trinidad allowed us to get acquainted with the strange, pulsing wing beats of Fork-tailed Palm-Swifts.

SAFFRON FINCH (Sicalis flaveola) – A few put in appearances in the park-like habitat at Carli Bay.
GRASSLAND YELLOW-FINCH (Sicalis luteola) – About five were at the Aripo Livestock Station on our first visit there. This species is a fairly recent arrival in the country.
BLUE-BLACK GRASSQUIT (Volatinia jacarina) – These "Johnny Jump-ups" were singing everywhere. The flight display antics of the males are highly entertaining.
BANANAQUIT (Coereba flaveola) – Common and widespread.
BLACK-FACED GRASSQUIT (Tiaris bicolor) – These were fairly common along edges on Tobago. Absent from Trinidad, curiously.
GRAYISH SALTATOR (Saltator coerulescens) – These lovely songsters showed well for us in the Aripo Savannah area.
Cardinalidae (Cardinals and Allies)
RED-CROWNED ANT-TANAGER (Habia rubica) – These forest skulkers called loudly and let us get some views near the antswarm on the Blanchisseuse Rd. and also at AWNC.
Icteridae (Troupials and Allies)
RED-BREASTED MEADOWLARK (Sturnella militaris) – Good views at the Aripo Livestock Station.
CARIB GRACKLE (Quiscalus lugubris) – Common and widespread.
YELLOW-HOODED BLACKBIRD (Chrysomus icterocephalus) – We had nice views at Nariva Swamp.
GIANT COWBIRD (Molothrus oryzivorus) – Several of these stocky Icterids were flying around the edges of Nariva Swamp.
YELLOW ORIOLE (Icterus nigrogularis) – A routine visitor to the AWNC feeders on this tour. Great views!

These bizarred Four-eyed Fish were gathered in a large school at the Brickfield Fishing Centre on Trinidad's west coast. They are adapted to see both above and below the surface of the water.

YELLOW-RUMPED CACIQUE (Cacicus cela) – We visited a mostly inactive colony on the northern slope of the Northern Range of Trinidad. Only a few birds flew in to the bushy nesting colony while we watched.
CRESTED OROPENDOLA (Psarocolius decumanus) – Common in the forests of northern Trinidad and also on Tobago. They were fixing up nests in front of the veranda at AWNC during our stay.
Fringillidae (Finches, Euphonias, and Allies)
TRINIDAD EUPHONIA (Euphonia trinitatis) – Excellent views in the scope on the lower reaches of the Blanchisseuse Rd. This species is typically much tougher to find than Violaceous Euphonia.
VIOLACEOUS EUPHONIA (Euphonia violacea) – Common around AWNC and the Blanchisseuse Rd.

COMMON OPOSSUM (Didelphis marsupialis) – We had a fun time at night watching this critter visit the feeding tables at AWNC.
GREATER WHITE-LINED BAT (Saccopteryx bilineata) – This was a common bat that visited the fruit tables around AWNC.
PALLAS'S LONG-TONGUED BAT (Glossophaga soricina) – This is apparently the common nectar bat at the hummingbird feeders at AWNC at night.
RED-TAILED SQUIRREL (Sciurus granatensis) – We saw these squirrels a few times on both islands.
RED-RUMPED AGOUTI (Dasyprocta agouti) – Present on both islands. Those we saw near Blue Waters Inn on Tobago seemed to be darker than the ones on Trinidad.
SMALL ASIAN MONGOOSE (Herpestes javanicus) – We saw mongooses on several occasions in lowland Trinidad. This species, also known as Small Indian Mongoose and sometimes by the scientific name Herpestes auropunctatus, seems likely to be the species that was introduced here (as opposed to "Egyptian Mongoose" as noted on the tour checklist).


Totals for the tour: 234 bird taxa and 6 mammal taxa