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Field Guides Tour Report
Trinidad & Tobago Dec. 2016
Dec 30, 2016 to Jan 8, 2017
Tom Johnson with Mahase Ramlal and Gladwyn James

The tropicbird and booby nesting colony at Little Tobago Island served as a lovely vista from which we enjoyed some truly spectacular seabirds. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.

The South American islands of Trinidad and Tobago have long held a strong place in the imagination of birders everywhere - this is a fine place to relax and enjoy some wonderful scenery and a diverse array of birds while staying in comfortable accommodations. We relished a fantastic run of weather on this tour with no rain that really impacted our birding and cool, comfortable temperatures during our stay at the Asa Wright Nature Centre. During the tour, we saw the full suite of marquee species like Bearded Bellbird, Oilbird, Tufted Coquette, 3 species of Manakins, 3 species of trogons, Trinidad Motmot, White-tailed Sabrewing, and Red-billed Tropicbird, though the rare and elusive Trinidad Piping-Guan went unseen this time. In addition, we had some unexpected finds along the way including Lesser Scaup, Cory's Shearwater, Glossy Ibis, and two Franklin's Gulls.

Our time on Trinidad took us from the cool heights of the Northern Range to the steamy lowlands at Nariva Swamp and Waterloo. We focused on the Blanchisseuse Road for two days, finding many forest species scattered throughout some interesting mixed flocks. Our time at the famed Asa Wright Nature Centre was split between the veranda, the gardens, and the trails, including a descent to the cave of the Oilbirds for some awesome views of these mysterious beasts. The nightbirding at Waller Field was fun too, with good views of two species of nightjars and a Common Potoo. On our final evening on Trinidad before leaving for Tobago, we took a boat ride into the mangroves of Caroni Swamp to see the incredible spectacle of Scarlet Ibis returning to roost, waves of incredible flame red against a sea of green.

Transitioning to the island of Tobago, things took on a more Caribbean feel as we birded the freshwater wetlands at the southwestern corner of the island. Rare migrants like Lesser Scaup and Glossy Ibis were perhaps eclipsed by the dramatic flashes of color given off by male Ruby-topaz Hummingbirds at the Tobago Plantations. Our base of operations for 3 days on Tobago was the beach resort of the Blue Waters Inn. From here we journeyed up into the forest of the Main Ridge in the center of the island to find Blue-backed Manakins, Red-legged Honeycreepers, White-tailed Sabrewing, and much more. We also cruised offshore in a glass-bottomed boat with our local guide Zolani in order to hike up to the top of Little Tobago Island to scan the marvelous seabird colony here. Magnificent Frigatebirds gave chase to fish-laded Red-billed Tropicbirds while Red-footed and Brown Boobies zoomed around below.

This was a remarkably fun group to travel with, full of different stories and experiences that all helped to enhance our time together. Thanks for helping to make this such a great tour, and I hope to see you out in the field again soon.

Good birding,


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

During our scan of the shoreline at Orange Valley, we watched this Magnificent Frigatebird drop and then catch a small fish in mid-air. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.

Tinamidae (Tinamous)
LITTLE TINAMOU (Crypturellus soui) – We heard the wavering whistles of this phantom at Waller Field and several sites in the Northern Range of Trinidad including AWNC. [*]
Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)
BLACK-BELLIED WHISTLING-DUCK (Dendrocygna autumnalis) – Roughly 8 were in the sewage ponds at Bon Accord, Tobago.
BLUE-WINGED TEAL (Anas discors) – Four flew by us during the boat trip in Caroni Swamp.
LESSER SCAUP (Aythya affinis) – One male was at the Bon Accord ponds on Tobago. This species is quite rare in the country.
Cracidae (Guans, Chachalacas, and Curassows)
RUFOUS-VENTED CHACHALACA (Ortalis ruficauda) – Common around the northeast end of Tobago, most notably on the grounds of the Blue Waters Inn.
Podicipedidae (Grebes)
LEAST GREBE (Tachybaptus dominicus) – We saw these tiny grebes on two occasions at sewage ponds near Bon Accord on Tobago.
Procellariidae (Shearwaters and Petrels)
CORY'S SHEARWATER (Calonectris diomedea) – Leah picked out this pelagic prize while we sipped rum punch along the beach near Nariva Swamp on Trinidad. Only a few of us were able to get on this rare migrant, but scope views were sufficient to nail the identification.

A superb view of a perched male Tufted Coquette always ranks among the tour highlights. Photo by participant François Grenon.

Phaethontidae (Tropicbirds)
RED-BILLED TROPICBIRD (Phaethon aethereus) – Several dozen were flying around Little Tobago Island. We enjoyed seeing a few at close range on their nests, and we worried for others that were being chased by pterodactyl-like frigatebirds.
Fregatidae (Frigatebirds)
MAGNIFICENT FRIGATEBIRD (Fregata magnificens) – Common along the shores of both islands. When we scanned from the crest of Little Tobago, hundreds were visible over their nesting colony at St. Giles.
Sulidae (Boobies and Gannets)
BROWN BOOBY (Sula leucogaster) – These boobies were nesting at Little Tobago. We compared this larger species to the smaller and more numerous Red-footed Boobies present there.
RED-FOOTED BOOBY (Sula sula) – We saw both light and dark birds around their breeding colony at Little Tobago. Scopes helped us see their bright red feet and blue and pink facial skin.
Phalacrocoracidae (Cormorants and Shags)
NEOTROPIC CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax brasilianus) – A few showed for us at Waterloo and Tobago Plantations.
Anhingidae (Anhingas)
ANHINGA (Anhinga anhinga) – These snakebirds were common around the southwest end of Tobago; we also saw a few on Trinidad.

A rare Lesser Scaup (left) joined a Least Grebe at the Bon Accord ponds on Tobago. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.

Pelecanidae (Pelicans)
BROWN PELICAN (Pelecanus occidentalis) – Common along coastal areas of both islands.
Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)
PINNATED BITTERN (Botaurus pinnatus) – François spotted one of these large bitterns in flight at Nariva Swamp.
GREAT BLUE HERON (Ardea herodias) – A few of these northern migrants were on Tobago. I'm waiting to hear back from some friends with more experience, but on review of photos, I suspect that the immature heron with white leg coverts that we studied on our last afternoon at the sewage ponds was actually a faded Great Blue and not the hoped-for Gray Heron.
COCOI HERON (Ardea cocoi) – This large, strikingly black-and-white heron was hiding in the mangroves at the mouth of the Nariva River. The species is a scarce visitor from mainland South America.
GREAT EGRET (Ardea alba) – These large herons were widespread in small numbers on both islands.
SNOWY EGRET (Egretta thula) – Common, especially at the roost in Caroni Swamp where we saw 750-1000.
LITTLE BLUE HERON (Egretta caerulea) – Quite common, especially along the west coast of Trinidad.
TRICOLORED HERON (Egretta tricolor) – 200-300 came in to roost at Caroni Swamp.
CATTLE EGRET (Bubulcus ibis) – Common on both islands, especially around livestock.
GREEN HERON (Butorides virescens) – A few pure-looking birds showed nicely at Tobago Plantations. We also saw some pale-necked, pale-winged birds that were surely hybrid Green x Striated Herons.

Mahase spotted this striking Cocoi Heron as we were driving along near the mouth of the Nariva River on Trinidad. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.

STRIATED HERON (Butorides striata) – Fairly common on freshwater wetlands around Trinidad.
BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (Nycticorax nycticorax) – A few juveniles showed nicely at the ponds in Bon Accord, Tobago.
YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (Nyctanassa violacea) – Just a few were around Caroni Swamp on Trinidad and also near Pigeon Point on Tobago.
Threskiornithidae (Ibises and Spoonbills)
SCARLET IBIS (Eudocimus ruber) – Roughly 2000 of these spectacular wading birds came in to their famous roost at Caroni Swamp on our last evening on Trinidad.
GLOSSY IBIS (Plegadis falcinellus) – One was a rarity at the Bon Accord ponds on Tobago (our second year in a row seeing the species here).
Cathartidae (New World Vultures)
BLACK VULTURE (Coragyps atratus) – Very common on Trinidad.
TURKEY VULTURE (Cathartes aura) – Common on Trinidad, but far outnumbered by Black Vultures there.
Pandionidae (Osprey)
OSPREY (Pandion haliaetus) – Common along the west coast of Trinidad and on Tobago, too.
Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)
GRAY-HEADED KITE (Leptodon cayanensis) – Mona spotted one rising up in front of us during our pre-lunch skywatch from the parking lot at AWNC. This distinctive raptor soared overhead for several minutes while we traded scope views.

Our time at the Asa Wright Nature Centre was highlighted by lots of brightly colored tanagers. This Bay-headed Tanager ate fruit at the edge of the car park while we scanned for raptors. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.

BLACK HAWK-EAGLE (Spizaetus tyrannus) – One soared over in wide circles, showing off its unique shape while we watched from the Blanchisseuse Road near Verdant Vale.
LONG-WINGED HARRIER (Circus buffoni) – A perched female posed for nice scope views at Nariva Swamp. Later, while driving near the Caroni ricefields, a dark morph male flew right past our van at close range.
COMMON BLACK HAWK (Buteogallus anthracinus) – Very common in Trinidad's Northern Range.
SAVANNA HAWK (Buteogallus meridionalis) – This long-legged raptor was fairly common in disturbed lowland habitats on Trinidad.
GREAT BLACK HAWK (Buteogallus urubitinga) – One or two called from the canopy during our hike at Gilpin Trace on Tobago; another circled overhead while we waited to board the glass-bottomed boat at Blue Waters Inn.
WHITE HAWK (Pseudastur albicollis) – Fairly common in Trinidad's Northern Range. Fair weather contributed to our good fortune with this beautiful raptor.
GRAY-LINED HAWK (Buteo nitidus) – A few barred-back adults perched up for good scope views. This species was split from the more northern Gray Hawk just a few years ago.
BROAD-WINGED HAWK (Buteo platypterus) – One flew over for close views one morning along the AWNC driveway; another was soaring along the coastal road near Speyside on Tobago.
SHORT-TAILED HAWK (Buteo brachyurus) – Light morph adults were seen commonly soaring overhead on Trinidad.
ZONE-TAILED HAWK (Buteo albonotatus) – Common on Trinidad, especially over forest in the Northern Range.

Green and Striated Herons come into contact in this island nation, especially on Tobago. This adult bird, intermediate in appearance between Green and Striated, almost certainly represents a hybrid individual. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.

Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)
MANGROVE RAIL (ATLANTIC) (Rallus longirostris pelodramus) – Two of these recently split rails (pun not intended) walked around near our feet at Orange Valley in western Trinidad.
GRAY-COWLED WOOD-RAIL (Aramides cajaneus) – Two pairs of these "donkey birds" called from mangrove forest at Orange Valley, but we couldn't coax them to emerge. [*]
PURPLE GALLINULE (Porphyrio martinicus) – Our first were at Trincity Sewage Ponds, and then we saw quite a few more in the freshwater wetlands of Tobago.
COMMON GALLINULE (Gallinula galeata) – Common in freshwater wetlands of Tobago.
Aramidae (Limpkin)
LIMPKIN (Aramus guarauna) – One was distant at Nariva Swamp.
Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)
BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER (Pluvialis squatarola) – We found these Arctic migrants on the mudflats at Brickfield.
SOUTHERN LAPWING (Vanellus chilensis) – Common on both islands.
WILSON'S PLOVER (Charadrius wilsonia) – Four of these huge-billed shorebirds were close to the jetties at Brickfield.
SEMIPALMATED PLOVER (Charadrius semipalmatus) – Common at Brickfield.

These flaming ribbons are actually Scarlet Ibis flying across Caroni Swamp (photo taken at low shutter speed). Photo by guide Tom Johnson.

Jacanidae (Jacanas)
WATTLED JACANA (Jacana jacana) – Common in freshwater wetlands on both islands.
Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)
WHIMBREL (Numenius phaeopus) – These striking curlews were at Brickfield on Trinidad and Bon Accord on Tobago.
RUDDY TURNSTONE (Arenaria interpres) – Fairly common along the shorelines of both islands.
LEAST SANDPIPER (Calidris minutilla) – Whitney spotted this tiny peep along the edge of one of the Trincity Sewage ponds.
SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER (Calidris pusilla) – This dark-legged peep dominated the mixed sandpiper flock we studied at Brickfield.
WESTERN SANDPIPER (Calidris mauri) – A few of these long, droopy-billed peeps made for good comparisons with Semipalmated Sandpipers at Brickfield.
SPOTTED SANDPIPER (Actitis macularius) – Common on both islands.
SOLITARY SANDPIPER (Tringa solitaria) – A few were in the emergent vegetation at the Trincity Sewage Ponds.
GREATER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa melanoleuca) – Scattered individuals were seen on both islands.
WILLET (Tringa semipalmata) – The flock we studied at Brickfield appeared to be made up of lanky "Western" Willets.
Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)
LAUGHING GULL (Leucophaeus atricilla) – This was the common gull on both islands. The biggest flock we encountered was >100 at Brickfield.

While we did see one Trinidad Motmot on the island of Trinidad, most of our sightings were around the northeast corner of Tobago where they are quite common. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.

FRANKLIN'S GULL (Leucophaeus pipixcan) – Two of these long distance migrants were mixed with Laughing Gulls at Brickfield. The species is a rare but regular visitor to Trinidad.
LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL (GRAELLSII) (Larus fuscus graellsii) – Five were mixed with the Laughing Gulls at Brickfield. This species is now the most common large gull in the country.
SOOTY/ BRIDLED TERN (Onychoprion fuscatus/ anaethetus) – A distant flock of dark-backed, tropical terns fed offshore from Manzanilla Beach, too far to identify the birds to species. Both Sooty and Bridled Terns are rare in January.
COMMON TERN (Sterna hirundo) – One basic-plumaged adult was with the skimmers, gulls, and terns at Brickfield.
ROYAL TERN (Thalasseus maximus) – The commonest tern on both islands.
SANDWICH TERN (Thalasseus sandvicensis) – Three were mixed with Laughing Gulls and Royal Terns at Pigeon Point on Tobago.
BLACK SKIMMER (CINERASCENS) (Rynchops niger cinerascens) – Over 40 were on the flats at Brickfield.
Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)
ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia) – Common around towns and cities. [I]
PALE-VENTED PIGEON (Patagioenas cayennensis) – Most common on Tobago, where we had our best views.
SCALED PIGEON (Patagioenas speciosa) – Good but distant scope views from the veranda at AWNC.
RUDDY GROUND-DOVE (Columbina talpacoti) – Common in the lowlands of both islands.

The muddy bill on this Mangrove Rail shows off the intertidal feeding substrate of this skulker. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.

WHITE-TIPPED DOVE (Leptotila verreauxi) – Seen on both islands, but most common on Tobago, where we had our best looks.
GRAY-FRONTED DOVE (Leptotila rufaxilla) – Fairly common in the hills of northern Trinidad.
EARED DOVE (Zenaida auriculata) – A few pairs flew over during our boat ride at Caroni Swamp on Trinidad, but the species was downright common on Tobago.
Cuculidae (Cuckoos)
GREATER ANI (Crotophaga major) – A small group of individuals lounged around in waterside vegetation along the entrance road to Carli Bay.
SMOOTH-BILLED ANI (Crotophaga ani) – Common in open habitats on both islands.
STRIPED CUCKOO (Tapera naevia) – We heard a few of these animated cuckoos on Trinidad; one sat nicely in the scope in a neighborhood in Brasso Seco.
SQUIRREL CUCKOO (Piaya cayana) – We heard these big cuckoos on several occasions; Tim scored the best views from the veranda at AWNC.
Strigidae (Owls)
TROPICAL SCREECH-OWL (Megascops choliba) – One called along the edge of the abandoned runways at Waller Field. [*]
FERRUGINOUS PYGMY-OWL (Glaucidium brasilianum) – Heard daily at AWNC. We tracked one down along the Blanchisseuse Road for nice scope views after it was harrassed by Stripe-breasted Spinetails and Rufous-breasted Wrens.
MOTTLED OWL (Ciccaba virgata) – One of these medium-sized owls hooted several times during one night at AWNC.
Caprimulgidae (Nightjars and Allies)
SHORT-TAILED NIGHTHAWK (Lurocalis semitorquatus) – One made some very close passes in front of the assembled group over the gardens at AWNC.

A bouquet of Red-legged Honeycreepers awaited us at the Main Ridge on Tobago. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.

COMMON PAURAQUE (Nyctidromus albicollis) – Good views near the moriche palm swamp at Waller Field during our nightbirding expedition.
WHITE-TAILED NIGHTJAR (Hydropsalis cayennensis) – Close males posed well in the spotlight at Waller Field, and we also heard their wirey calls along the way.
Nyctibiidae (Potoos)
COMMON POTOO (Nyctibius griseus) – One was perched on a post along a runway at Waller Field.
Steatornithidae (Oilbird)
OILBIRD (Steatornis caripensis) – Our walk to the Oilbird cave at AWNC proved fruitful - we enjoyed magnificent views of ~5 of these amazing nocturnal frugivores from the mouth of the cave. This is one of the best places in the world to see this remarkable species.
Apodidae (Swifts)
CHESTNUT-COLLARED SWIFT (Streptoprocne rutila) – The views we had of this species above AWNC were simply magnificent. We had the opportunity to see a wide range of variation in coloration and facial pattern of this scarce (on Trinidad) swift.
SHORT-TAILED SWIFT (Chaetura brachyura) – Common in lowlands on both islands.
BAND-RUMPED SWIFT (Chaetura spinicaudus) – Though this Chaetura swift was outnumbered by Gray-rumped Swift on Trinidad, we had nice looks at the narrow white rump strap over the forest near AWNC.
GRAY-RUMPED SWIFT (Chaetura cinereiventris) – This was the most common swift in the Northern Range of Trinidad. We saw at least one mixed with Short-tailed Swifts on the Main Ridge of Tobago, too.

Short-tailed Swifts were common in the lowlands of Trinidad. This is one well-named bird! Photo by guide Tom Johnson.

LESSER SWALLOW-TAILED SWIFT (Panyptila cayennensis) – At least two of these flying pandas circled over AWNC with Gray-rumped and Chestnut-collared Swifts.
FORK-TAILED PALM-SWIFT (Tachornis squamata) – We saw a scattering of these distinctive, fluttery swifts in the lowlands of Trinidad.
Trochilidae (Hummingbirds)
WHITE-NECKED JACOBIN (Florisuga mellivora) – Common on both islands, but especially at the feeders at AWNC.
RUFOUS-BREASTED HERMIT (Glaucis hirsutus) – We saw these tail-swinging hermits on both islands, but they were easiest to see on Tobago.
GREEN HERMIT (Phaethornis guy) – Common at flowers and at the feeders at AWNC.
LITTLE HERMIT (Phaethornis longuemareus) – Fairly common at roadside flowers (not feeders!) in the Northern Range of Trinidad.
RUBY-TOPAZ HUMMINGBIRD (Chrysolampis mosquitus) – A walk at the ponds at Tobago Plantations revealed multiple males and a female of this gorgeous hummingbird foraging in small flowers along a fenceline.
BLACK-THROATED MANGO (Anthracothorax nigricollis) – Fairly easy to see at the AWNC feeders on this visit.
TUFTED COQUETTE (Lophornis ornatus) – A few males and several females fed on verbena flowers around the grounds at AWNC.
LONG-BILLED STARTHROAT (Heliomaster longirostris) – Fairly common at AWNC on this visit - multiple birds frequented the feeders, especially in late afternoon.
BLUE-CHINNED SAPPHIRE (Chlorestes notata) – Excellent looks at a few individuals that loitered around the veranda at AWNC.

This male Ruby-topaz Hummingbird was one of several that flashed their jewels at us at Tobago Plantations. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.

WHITE-TAILED SABREWING (Campylopterus ensipennis) – On our walk back up the hill at Gilpin Trace, we scoped a male of this big, snazzy hummingbird on a song perch. In the scope, this stunner flared its white-cornered tail several times and also showed its bowed, thickened outer primaries (the so-called "sabres").
WHITE-CHESTED EMERALD (Amazilia brevirostris) – Quite common at the AWNC feeders.
COPPER-RUMPED HUMMINGBIRD (Amazilia tobaci) – Common on both islands.
Trogonidae (Trogons)
GREEN-BACKED TROGON (Trogon viridis) – Multiple birds called on our first trip down the Discovery Trail, and we ended up scoping a beautiful male there.
GUIANAN TROGON (Trogon violaceus) – Excellent, repeated views of this small trogon in the Northern Range of Trinidad.
COLLARED TROGON (Trogon collaris) – These red-bellied trogons put on a show on multiple occasions on both islands.
Momotidae (Motmots)
TRINIDAD MOTMOT (Momotus bahamensis) – Though we did end up finding one along the Blanchisseuse Road near AWNC, our best views were of the dozen or so tame birds that we spotted on the eastern end of Tobago. [E]
Alcedinidae (Kingfishers)
RINGED KINGFISHER (Megaceryle torquata) – One perched on a wire during our drive through Nariva Swamp, and another flew overhead when we were on the boat returning from the ibis roost at Caroni Swamp.
BELTED KINGFISHER (Megaceryle alcyon) – One made a few brief flybys at the entrance road ponds at Tobago Plantations.

Participant Dixie Mills captured the light on this Copper-rumped Hummingbird just right to showcase its iridescent splendor.

GREEN KINGFISHER (Chloroceryle americana) – François spotted one soon after we arrived at the boat docks at Caroni Swamp.
Galbulidae (Jacamars)
RUFOUS-TAILED JACAMAR (Galbula ruficauda) – Great views of this moth & butterfly specialist on both islands.
Ramphastidae (Toucans)
CHANNEL-BILLED TOUCAN (Ramphastos vitellinus) – We scoped a few of these striking birds from the veranda at AWNC; more were near the radio towers at Morne Bleu as well.
Picidae (Woodpeckers)
RED-CROWNED WOODPECKER (Melanerpes rubricapillus) – A few birds showed up repeatedly around the parking lot at the Blue Waters Inn on Tobago.
RED-RUMPED WOODPECKER (Veniliornis kirkii) – Two of these small, canopy woodpeckers skulked around some patches of large bamboo along the road to the radio towers at Morne Bleu.
GOLDEN-OLIVE WOODPECKER (Colaptes rubiginosus) – Loud and conspicuous. These beautiful woodpeckers put on their best shows along the driveway and at the feeders at AWNC.
CHESTNUT WOODPECKER (Celeus elegans) – Two flew up from the side of the road as we were driving down the Blanchisseuse Road downslope from AWNC. Though we got out of the van quickly, most in the group only had a brief perched view before both birds flew off into the forest.

Our adventures in the mangroves of western Trinidad led us to hear and eventually see several Straight-billed Woodcreepers. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.

LINEATED WOODPECKER (Dryocopus lineatus) – Heard a few times. Our best sighting was of a single bird that Mahase spotted near the Aripo Livestock Station.
Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)
CRESTED CARACARA (Caracara cheriway) – Two of these large caracaras flew along the road through the coconut palms south of Manzanilla.
YELLOW-HEADED CARACARA (Milvago chimachima) – Fairly common in the lowlands of Trinidad on this trip.
MERLIN (Falco columbarius) – Two hunted bats over the palm groves at Waller Field during our evening picnic.
APLOMADO FALCON (Falco femoralis) – François and Mahase spotted this rare gem simultaneously as we drove south of Manzanilla. We exited the van and were able to scope this lovely falcon at close range from the side of the road.
PEREGRINE FALCON (Falco peregrinus) – Multiple sightings from Blue Waters Inn (juvenile) and at Little Tobago Island (adult).
Psittacidae (New World and African Parrots)
LILAC-TAILED PARROTLET (Touit batavicus) – A few screeching groups flew over us as we watched from the AWNC driveway on two mornings.
BLUE-HEADED PARROT (Pionus menstruus) – Early arrivals to AWNC enjoyed a trio that perched up in the bare tree above the veranda. Others flew over us on two occasions during our sojourn through the Northern Range of Trinidad.
ORANGE-WINGED PARROT (Amazona amazonica) – This is the common large parrot on both islands. Widespread and conspicuous!
GREEN-RUMPED PARROTLET (Forpus passerinus) – Excellent views at Aripo Livestock Station and in Caroni Swamp on Trinidad. We heard more at Tobago Plantations on Tobago, too.
RED-BELLIED MACAW (Orthopsittaca manilatus) – Our evening watch in the moriche palms at Waller Field allowed us to see over 30 of these fine, small macaws.

When we stopped at the Aripo Livestock Station in the lowlands of Trinidad, we enjoyed a flyby of this strikingly long-legged Savanna Hawk. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.

Thamnophilidae (Typical Antbirds)
GREAT ANTSHRIKE (Taraba major) – Various members of our group caught up with this striking antshrike near the veranda and along the driveway at AWNC.
BLACK-CRESTED ANTSHRIKE (Sakesphorus canadensis) – A beautiful male responded nicely in mangrove forest at the mouth of the Nariva River. A few others put in a brief appearance near the boat landing at Caroni Swamp.
BARRED ANTSHRIKE (Thamnophilus doliatus) – Common and widespread on both islands.
PLAIN ANTVIREO (Dysithamnus mentalis) – One showed briefly along the Blanchisseuse Road on Trinidad. Two others were foraging in vine tangles along Gilpin Trace.
WHITE-FLANKED ANTWREN (Myrmotherula axillaris) – Fairly common in the forest of northern Trinidad - our first views of a beautiful male came near the bellbird lek on the Discovery Trail below AWNC.
WHITE-FRINGED ANTWREN (Formicivora grisea) – Great, repeated views in tangly undergrowth on Tobago.
WHITE-BELLIED ANTBIRD (Myrmeciza longipes) – A walk off the main Blanchisseuse Road in the Northern Range of Trinidad let us pursue these secretive understory antbirds. Fortunately, after a while, we had some great, unobstructed views.
Formicariidae (Antthrushes)
BLACK-FACED ANTTHRUSH (Formicarius analis) – Though we heard these tiny "chickens" everywhere in the forest in northern Trinidad, we saw just one - but what a view it was!

Nest-building was just getting underway for the beautiful Yellow-rumped Caciques of Trinidad's Northern Range. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.

Furnariidae (Ovenbirds and Woodcreepers)
GRAY-THROATED LEAFTOSSER (Sclerurus albigularis) – The bird at AWNC that performed in the 11th hour was heartily welcomed by the group.
OLIVACEOUS WOODCREEPER (Sittasomus griseicapillus) – We heard several of these small woodcreepers, and one appeared in the open for us in the Main Ridge on Tobago.
PLAIN-BROWN WOODCREEPER (Dendrocincla fuliginosa) – A few of these ant-following woodcreepers showed nicely near AWNC. The two closest sightings were in stands of large, introduced bamboo along the Blanchisseuse Road.
COCOA WOODCREEPER (Xiphorhynchus susurrans) – This is the common large woodcreeper of Northern Trinidad, and we saw plenty of them.
STRAIGHT-BILLED WOODCREEPER (Dendroplex picus) – We saw at least two and heard five more in the dense mangrove forest of Caroni Swamp.
STREAK-HEADED WOODCREEPER (Lepidocolaptes souleyetii) – A pair showed whinnied and then crept briefly in front of us at the Greater Ani spot at Carli Bay.
STREAKED XENOPS (Xenops rutilans) – The bird that called and then popped into the open at Waller Field was a nice treat early on in the tour.
YELLOW-CHINNED SPINETAIL (Certhiaxis cinnamomeus) – Our first was at Nariva Swamp; another popped up from a brushpile at Carli Bay.
PALE-BREASTED SPINETAIL (Synallaxis albescens) – Nice views near the cacique colony at Morne Lacroix.
STRIPE-BREASTED SPINETAIL (Synallaxis cinnamomea) – These forest gnomes encouraged us with their squeaky voices to "keep going!" all over the forest in Trinidad's Northern Range and also on the Main Ridge of Tobago; they showed for us at close range a few different times.

The immature Franklin's Gull at right was one of two that we saw in Orange Valley. The species is a rare but regular visitor to these islands. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.

Tyrannidae (Tyrant Flycatchers)
SOUTHERN BEARDLESS-TYRANNULET (Camptostoma obsoletum) – These small, insistent flycatchers called regularly at AWNC, but our best views were near the Slaty-capped Flycatcher on the Blancisseuse Road.
FOREST ELAENIA (Myiopagis gaimardii) – The bird at Morne Lacroix was fairly easy to see out in the open - we had good views of its horizontal posture, fancy wing edging, and split-ring face pattern.
YELLOW-BELLIED ELAENIA (Elaenia flavogaster) – Common in lowlands of both islands.
OCHRE-BELLIED FLYCATCHER (Mionectes oleagineus) – We saw this distinctive little wing-flipper regularly in Trema trees on both islands, including often just below the veranda at AWNC.
SLATY-CAPPED FLYCATCHER (Leptopogon superciliaris) – One bird tempted us and tempted us with calls from a bamboo stand at the side of the road. Just as we were about to get into the van to leave, heartbroken, this wonderful little helmeted flycatcher zipped up over the road and perched out in the open for all to see. Fantastic!
YELLOW-BREASTED FLYCATCHER (Tolmomyias flaviventris) – I'm sure that we heard 50+ of these forest flycatchers on the tour, but they can be real devils to see. After glimpses and partial views, we were vindicated on our final afternoon at Blue Waters Inn with one that came out and showed off all the angles for us at close range. Jill is already planning her next trip around this nemesis species!
EULER'S FLYCATCHER (Lathrotriccus euleri) – The best opportunity was one calling bird that was along the driveway at AWNC - it's a fairly drab forest flycatcher with pale wingbars and a distinctive call.
OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER (Contopus cooperi) – We saw these handsome boreal migrants a few times in Trinidad's Northern Range, including at AWNC and on a big, drooping utility wire on the Blanchisseuse Road.

The true stars of our time in Tobago's highlands were the male Blue-backed Manakins at the fruiting tree at the Main Ridge Visitor Center. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.

TROPICAL PEWEE (Contopus cinereus) – Fairly common in forest edge in the Northern Range.
FUSCOUS FLYCATCHER (Cnemotriccus fuscatus) – After an initial canopy-only tease, we came around a corner while walking Tobago's Gilpin Trace to find one of these little flycatchers at eye level in a wood pile - great looks!
PIED WATER-TYRANT (Fluvicola pica) – Common in open, freshwater marsh habitats on Trinidad like Nariva Swamp and the Caroni rice.
WHITE-HEADED MARSH TYRANT (Arundinicola leucocephala) – Our best studies were at Nariva Swamp and the Trincity Sewage Ponds.
BRIGHT-RUMPED ATTILA (Attila spadiceus) – This bird's loud, rollicking whistle could be heard each morning as we sipped our coffee from the veranda, but we weren't ever able to get our eyes on him! [*]
VENEZUELAN FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus venezuelensis) – One gave its mournful whistle a few times from the top of the Gilpin Trace on Tobago. [*]
BROWN-CRESTED FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus tyrannulus) – This bulky, large-billed Myiarchus was at Tobago Plantations and on Little Tobago Island.
GREAT KISKADEE (Pitangus sulphuratus) – Common on Trinidad.
BOAT-BILLED FLYCATCHER (Megarynchus pitangua) – These Kayak-beaked Kiskadee-Impersonators were on display at AWNC and at a few points along the Blanchisseuse Road through the Northern Range.
STREAKED FLYCATCHER (Myiodynastes maculatus) – Singles appeared briefly at two different spots along the Blanchisseuse Road.
SULPHURY FLYCATCHER (Tyrannopsis sulphurea) – Great views of this talkative flycatcher in the moriche palm swamp at Waller Field.
TROPICAL KINGBIRD (Tyrannus melancholicus) – Common and widespread on both islands.
GRAY KINGBIRD (Tyrannus dominicensis) – A few were in the lowlands of Trinidad, but we saw more on Tobago.

François spotted this Aplomado Falcon from the backseat of the van as we headed toward Nariva Swamp. Fortunately, we were able to back up and enjoy excellent views at close range through the scope. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.

Cotingidae (Cotingas)
BEARDED BELLBIRD (Procnias averano) – Most people enjoyed their first views of this strange cotinga from several hundred meters away in front of the AWNC veranda; however, this view was eclipsed when we walked down the Discovery Trail to the birds' lek and found a singing male at close range in the subcanopy. How about that weird beard!?
Pipridae (Manakins)
BLUE-BACKED MANAKIN (Chiroxiphia pareola) – At least five birds came in to feed on fruit in a big tree outside the Main Ridge Visitor Center on Tobago. The black/ blue/ red combination on this small bird is simply irresistible.
WHITE-BEARDED MANAKIN (Manacus manacus) – Good, repeated views in Trinidad's Northern Range as well as down at Waller Field.
GOLDEN-HEADED MANAKIN (Ceratopipra erythrocephala) – Though the birds weren't active at their AWNC lek, we found several out "in the wild" feeding on fruiting fig trees.
Tityridae (Tityras and Allies)
BLACK-TAILED TITYRA (Tityra cayana) – On our final full morning at AWNC, Barry kindly pointed out a pair of these strange birds in the top of a tree above the guardshack.
Vireonidae (Vireos, Shrike-Babblers, and Erpornis)
RUFOUS-BROWED PEPPERSHRIKE (NORTHERN) (Cyclarhis gujanensis flavipectus) – These stocky vireos sang from almost every patch of trees on Trinidad. Though we had some good canopy-style views near the end of the AWNC driveway, nothing could compare to the two birds that came down low over the van at our picnic site at Carli Bay.
SCRUB GREENLET (Hylophilus flavipes insularis) – Easily seen along the driveway at Blue Waters Inn on Tobago. Remember that "car alarm" song? To me, this looks like a tan-washed Warbling Vireo that had its bill pulled out and down a bit.

Seeing a male Bearded Bellbird well was thrilling, but hearing its remarkable vocalizations was unforgettable. Photo by participant François Grenon.

GOLDEN-FRONTED GREENLET (Pachysylvia aurantiifrons saturata) – Common and widespread in Trinidad's forests. We usually first found these birds by hearing them chattering away.
Hirundinidae (Swallows)
SOUTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW (Stelgidopteryx ruficollis) – Common on Trinidad.
GRAY-BREASTED MARTIN (Progne chalybea) – Quite common in Trinidad
WHITE-WINGED SWALLOW (Tachycineta albiventer) – Common in Trinidad's lowlands; also a few at the Bon Accord ponds on Tobago.
BARN SWALLOW (Hirundo rustica) – A few very pale, short-tailed birds were zooming over the ponds at Bon Accord on Tobago.
Troglodytidae (Wrens)
HOUSE WREN (Troglodytes aedon) – Common on both islands.
RUFOUS-BREASTED WREN (Pheugopedius rutilus) – These gnomes were easy to hear and less-than-easy to see on both islands. With a bit of perseverance, we succeeded and everyone had some nice views of this pretty wren. The subspecies rutilus is on Trinidad, while tobagensis (go figure!) is on Tobago.
Polioptilidae (Gnatcatchers)
LONG-BILLED GNATWREN (Ramphocaenus melanurus) – One of these slender vine specialists was stealthily working around in the subcanopy at the place where we saw the Trinidad Motmot, Slaty-capped Flycatcher, and others along the Blanchisseuse Road.
Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)
YELLOW-LEGGED THRUSH (Turdus flavipes xanthoscelus) – Our only one was a female that came out to feed in the "manakin tree" at the Main Ridge Visitor Center on Tobago.
COCOA THRUSH (Turdus fumigatus) – Common in the Northern Range of Trinidad.

We enjoyed magnificent studies of mixed flocks of swifts above Asa Wright Nature Centre on several occasions. The shape and color of this Chestnut-collared Swift was remarkably obvious in good light. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.

SPECTACLED THRUSH (Turdus nudigenis) – Common on both islands.
WHITE-NECKED THRUSH (GRAY-FLANKED) (Turdus albicollis phaeopygoides) – Common but skulky in forest on both islands.
Mimidae (Mockingbirds and Thrashers)
TROPICAL MOCKINGBIRD (Mimus gilvus) – Common on both islands.
Parulidae (New World Warblers)
NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH (Parkesia noveboracensis) – This northern migrant is a common site on road edges and anywhere with fresh or brackish water on both islands. They were particularly numerous in Caroni Swamp in the mangrove forest there.
AMERICAN REDSTART (Setophaga ruticilla) – A few showed for the group on both islands - best were the two female-types that danced around over our heads on the Gilpin Trace on Tobago.
TROPICAL PARULA (Setophaga pitiayumi) – Commonly heard, though only seen a few times in Trinidad's Northern Range.
YELLOW WARBLER (Setophaga petechia) – At least two came in to pishing at Carli Bay.
GOLDEN-CROWNED WARBLER (Basileuterus culicivorus) – This tropical resident species is fairly common in Trinidad's Northern Range where we saw it well at least three times.
Thraupidae (Tanagers and Allies)
MASKED CARDINAL (Paroaria nigrogenis) – Two birds came in at the guard shack to the Caroni Swamp visitor center, eventually showing about 15 feet from us. What a striking bird!
WHITE-LINED TANAGER (Tachyphonus rufus) – Common, especially around the AWNC feeders.
SILVER-BEAKED TANAGER (Ramphocelus carbo magnirostris) – Common in Trinidad, especially in edge habitats.

Bizarre Four-eyed Fish swarmed around the marina at Orange Valley. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.

BLUE-GRAY TANAGER (BLUE-GRAY) (Thraupis episcopus nesophila) – This is the duller subspecies of the common Blue-gray Tanager found on Trinidad.
BLUE-GRAY TANAGER (BLUE-GRAY) (Thraupis episcopus berlepschi) – These bright-rumped and bright-winged Blue-gray Tanagers grace the island of Tobago. Our best views came at the Main Ridge Visitor Center in the manakin tree.
PALM TANAGER (Thraupis palmarum) – Common on both islands.
SPECKLED TANAGER (Tangara guttata) – For my third trip in a row, the only place where we found these lovely montane tanagers was a single fruiting Trema tree on the north side of the Northern Range. Side fidelity to the max!
TURQUOISE TANAGER (Tangara mexicana) – These lovely tanagers were often in fast-moving canopy flocks, but we did have some very good and colorful views in a fruiting fig at the end of the AWNC driveway.
BAY-HEADED TANAGER (Tangara gyrola) – Fairly common, but often hidden in the canopy. Our finest view was surely the one eating berries near the leaftosser "arena" at AWNC.
BLUE DACNIS (Dacnis cayana) – Just a few this time - these small canopy tanagers posed briefly in the treetops at AWNC on a couple of occasions.
PURPLE HONEYCREEPER (Cyanerpes caeruleus) – Extremely common and confiding at the AWNC feeders - the males are simply spectacular (and the females aren't bad either!).
RED-LEGGED HONEYCREEPER (Cyanerpes cyaneus) – The experience in the flowering trees at Tobago's Main Ridge Visitor Center was simply spectacular. Over a dozen male Red-legged Honeycreepers were draped over the canopy of a tree at eye level! The yellow underwing flashes help to accent these lovely blue, black, and red sprites.
GREEN HONEYCREEPER (Chlorophanes spiza) – Common and fairly widespread in Trinidad's forests, though the AWNC feeders were the best place to see this bird.
BICOLORED CONEBILL (Conirostrum bicolor) – Part of the group saw a male in the edge of the mangroves hanging over the flats at Brickfield.

A snazzy male Black-crested Antshrike showed off for us in mangroves near the mouth of the Nariva River. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.

SAFFRON FINCH (Sicalis flaveola) – Roughly 16 mottled individuals were in a confiding flock in the grass at Carli Bay. A few had considerable patches of bright yellow.
BLUE-BLACK GRASSQUIT (Volatinia jacarina) – These "Johnny Jump-ups" were common and conspicuous on both islands.
BANANAQUIT (Coereba flaveola) – Very common. Sometimes there were 30 on a single hummingbird feeder at AWNC.
SOOTY GRASSQUIT (Tiaris fuliginosus) – A subtly plumaged male was singing his metallic jumble of notes atop Morne Bleu. This species is uncommon on Trinidad - a nice find.
BLACK-FACED GRASSQUIT (Tiaris bicolor) – Common on Tobago - great views on the lawn of the Magdalena Grand Hotel.
GRAYISH SALTATOR (Saltator coerulescens) – A few were in edge habitats on Trinidad - part of the group saw one in Brasso Seco and more folks saw a few near the Greater Anis at Carli Bay.
Cardinalidae (Cardinals and Allies)
HEPATIC TANAGER (Piranga flava) – A female-plumaged bird gave its harsh chucking calls from the canopy along the Blanchisseuse Road. We called this uncommon forest species in for nice views.
RED-CROWNED ANT-TANAGER (Habia rubica) – This understory forest specialist gave one particularly nice appearance with a White-flanked Antwren and a Rufous-breasted Wren along the Blanchisseuse Road near AWNC.
Icteridae (Troupials and Allies)
RED-BREASTED MEADOWLARK (Sturnella militaris) – Nice scope views at the entrance to Aripo Livestock Station.
CARIB GRACKLE (Quiscalus lugubris) – Common in the lowlands of both islands.
YELLOW-HOODED BLACKBIRD (Chrysomus icterocephalus) – Great views of a flock in the emergent wetlands vegetation at the Trincity Sewage Ponds.

Participant François Grenon shared this pleasing image of an adult Purple Gallinule.

SHINY COWBIRD (Molothrus bonariensis) – Excellent looks at males at our first few stops on Tobago. The purple gloss of the males is quite lovely.
GIANT COWBIRD (Molothrus oryzivorus) – One flew over twice during our bathroom stop in Brasso Seco, but it didn't stick around for good looks.
YELLOW ORIOLE (Icterus nigrogularis) – Fairly common on Trinidad, especially around the AWNC veranda. We also saw them well at Carli Bay.
YELLOW-RUMPED CACIQUE (Cacicus cela) – The colony at Morne Lacroix was actively engaged in nest-building activities and there was a great audio show as well. A few others flew over the road while we were driving through the Sangre Grande area.
CRESTED OROPENDOLA (Psarocolius decumanus) – Fairly common on both islands. While there was a lot of singing, the nest-building phase hadn't quite kicked in yet.
Fringillidae (Finches, Euphonias, and Allies)
TRINIDAD EUPHONIA (Euphonia trinitatis) – We heard at least 3-4 individuals near Verdant Vale, but the only one we saw was a female that teed up high above us for some nice views.
VIOLACEOUS EUPHONIA (Euphonia violacea) – Common on Trinidad - lovely looks at the AWNC feeders.

PALLAS'S LONG-TONGUED BAT (Glossophaga soricina) – Common at the hummingbird feeders at AWNC after dusk and before dawn.
GREATER WHITE-LINED BAT (Saccopteryx bilineata) – We found these striking bats flying during the day on several occasions, and they even perched on exposed tree trunks for good scope views that showed off the wavy pale lines on their backs.
SILKY ANTEATER (Cyclopes didactylus) – Charlie spotted a day-roosting individual curled up in a mangrove tree at Caroni Swamp.
RED-TAILED SQUIRREL (Sciurus granatensis) – A few showed nicely on Tobago, including at the Blue Waters Inn.
RED-RUMPED AGOUTI (Dasyprocta agouti) – Common around AWNC and on the grounds of the Blue Waters Inn.

It's easy to hear a Black-faced Antthrush whistling on Trinidad, but it's another thing entirely to see one of these "gallitos," or little roosters. We did well to find this lovely individual walking along the forest floor. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.

GREEN IGUANA (Iguana iguana) – Nice views at Nariva Swamp and at Tobago Plantations.
GIANT AMEIVA (Ameiva ameiva) – This medium-large lizard was seen on the trails on several occasions.
GOLDEN TEGU (Tupinambis teguixin) – This was the big, slow-moving lizard that we saw commonly near the veranda at AWNC.
BOA CONSTRICTOR (Boa constrictor) – Woah! This big guy was hanging out on some cables at AWNC, offering us some great looks at its head and part of its body during the daytime.
TREE BOA (Corallus ruschenbergerii) – Two were hanging in the mangroves at Caroni Swamp during our boat trip.
SPECTACLED CAIMAN (Caiman crocodilus) – A few were in Caroni Swamp and at Tobago Plantations.
CANE TOAD (Rhinella marina) – We spotlighted one during our nightbirding excursion at Waller Field.


Totals for the tour: 226 bird taxa and 5 mammal taxa