We spent our first full day in Trinidad getting to know the nature lodge and its birds and trail. We were already in the mountains. Asa Wright is in the Northern Range at about 1200 feet. The highest mountains of the range reach over 3000 feet.
On our second day, Jogi took us across the mountains to the northern seacoast. We loaded up two vans: people, spotting scopes, cameras, binoculars, snacks, lunch, water. We drove over narrow mountain roads, twisting and turning - no reading on the bus! We had to ask Mahese who drove the second van to hang back so we wouldn't be breathing exhaust from the first van constantly.
We made frequent stops. The first was to see golden-headed manakins high in the trees. They are tiny birds but once we spotted one, its golden head stood out. Jogi pointed out rufous-tailed jacamars perched on twigs by the roadside. At the mountain ridge, we walked down a path where Jogi worked with a Radio Shack tape recorder to attract a collared trogon. After spotting the bird by ear, he recorded its voice with a shotgun microphone and played it back, trying to pique the bird's curiosity. It worked -- we got a good look at the red and green bird. No photo though.
Up in the mountains
At the mountain ridge, we also saw swallows, hawks, orange-winged parrots. At another stop in a farm clearing overlooking forest-covered valleys, we heard a toucan. It was at least a half mile away on the opposite hillside, but we finally spotted it on its treetop perch. We also saw the black-tailed tityra.
At lunchtime, we arrived at Blanchisseuse on the northern seacoast. There were pelicans and frigatebirds. One of our group believed the frigate was a truly evil bird, harrassing and stealing from other birds. It's just living the way it genes dictate though.
Boats on the beach at Blanchisseuse
Another day, Jogi took us birding into a more remote area down rough dirt roads. We found some farms tucked away in these remote areas and sighted birds of prey: plumbeous kite, common black-hawk and savanna hawk (seen frequently in the lowlands too), broad-winged hawk, yellow-headed caracara. We saw various woodpeckers and woodcreepers. We also worked a while to see a white-flanked antwren and a white-bellied antbird in the underbrush. The whole antbird group fascinates me so I was glad to spot them. We didn't see any anting behavior though (the birds sometimes follow columns of army ants eating what the ants stir up). We saw all kinds of tanagers and euphonias in the mountains too. We also saw a bat falcon perched near the nature lodge.
I never knew where this second, more remote location was on the map. It would be fun to hike through these remote areas, but without Jogi, we'd miss most of the birds.
Farmer or laborer returning to his remote home at noon
Mountain rainforest bird list
Text and web design: Pamela Marshall.
Photos: David Emerson (most) and Pamela Marshall (a few).
Copyright © 1997 Pamela J. Marshall and David J. Emerson. All rights reserved.
Last edited: June 25, 1998.