Wednesday 18 April 2012

Birding with Kenny and Shawn

Well up and out of the accommodation just on 0730 and headed off with Kenny.  This time to the closer Arena Forest, a lowland forest area near to Arima.  We parked up just on the outskirts of the forest and within a few minutes had little hermit in the bag, a species I had missed to date.  I've met some pretty sharp guides in my time, but holey moley Kenny is surely one of the sharpest!  He was identifying hummingbirds I hadn't even seen!  And a mere whisper of a sound had his keen eyes on the bird within seconds, something that has to be seen to be believed!  So we had a great time wandering along the main track finding a few of the things I hadn't seen up to this point - cocoa woodcreeper, streaked xenops, Euler's flycatcher, and dusky-capped flycatcher.  Plus good views of a few things I had seen, but always happy tosee again - rufous-browed peppershrike, rufous-breasted hermit (nesting), bat falcon, and yellow-breasted flycatcher.

We then wandered off down a side track, and managed to call in a black-crested antshrike - all the antshrikes are good looking birds, but the male of this species is pretty cool.  Especially when feeding a female.  The a rufous-tailed jacamar called off in the bushes on the side of the trail, and Kenny said 'Come on' as he bravely strode off through the mid-calf length grass...  I had applied my new 'Deep Woods' strength repellent to all lower torso, sprayed my socks and lowers pant legs, and had my pants nerdily tucked into my socks...oh well here goes.  To be honest there probably isn't a lot of real estate left on my lower half that isn't already blistered and red, so good luck to a chigger in finding a spot to gnaw on and digest my cellular contents!  So off I went thinking this would be the ultimate test...of course as soon as the jacamar was in sight all worries about chiggers, snakes, and anything else went out the window and it was pure focus.  Managed a few nice shots and got to see it catching a few insects in the air which was pretty cool, so I gingerly stepped back out onto the track, already feeling a little itchy as reality set in.

We headed back up towards the car, keeping eyes peeled, and checked out a few other places along the road, before it was time to start heading back towards Pax.  We did see another grey hawk, and flushed a white hawk from the side of the road as well.

Back at Pax I anxiously showered, searching for new bites...what's this no new bites!!!  The ultimate test had passed, perhaps the citronella and low rate deet repellent I had been using previously had been a mere taste of chilli to the meal, but it seems the 'Deep Woods' ahd survived the ultimate test.  Yipeee!  A quick lunch and then a nap, and then back to Caroni Swamp to watch the scarlet ibis coming in.  I had done this on the last night with the ship, and it was fantastic, so I headed back there with a couple of others from Pax.  This time we went out with Shawn from Madoo's Bird Tours and boy was that a good move.  Shawn is another guide with unbelievable eyes and we had an awesome trip.  We had four Cook's tree boas, a silky anteater (that the boat in front of us missed), and three common potoo!  As well as this we had more species of birds than I got on the last trip, including a stonking male green-throated mango, great views of bicoloured conebill, and several more straight-billed woodcreeper.  I did miss the northern scrub flycatcher though as was intent on the silky anteater...oh well.  This time the little guy was curled up with has face towards us, so got a cute shot of him.  We then headed for the main course, with the scarlet ibis heading in to roost, and again had a stunning display.  I tried for some more artsy blurred shots, and not sure of the outcome.  I kinda like them, but I guess the proof will be in the selling...

Anyway, as we headed back to the dock, the finale was a brief view of a lesser nighthawk as it flew out and over the channel we were heading down, nice!  So if you are planning a trip to Caroni, the only group to go with is Madoo's.  They really have the best guides and know the place like no one else.

Cocoa woodcreeper...finally nailed him!

Green-backed trogon finally close enough to photograph

Rufous-tailed jacamar, worth the risk of more chiggers!

What a bill!

White hawk flushed from the side of the road

Little blue heron at the start of the Caroni trip

Mangrove crab

Straight-billed woodcreeper, a mangrove specialist

Mangrove crabs on the aerial roots of red mangrove

Cute as! Silky anteater curled in the mangroves

Cook's tree boa also curled

Common potoo, a very well camouflaged bird and Sean found us three of them

The stars of the show, literally

Coming in to roost

Getting artsy, does it work?

And again

Shawn with the sun hitting the clouds as it goes down

Sunset as a flock of ibis approach


  1. what wonderful!! at the all fine sight.I was amazed.I wish go with you

  2. Very Envious of your trip. I have a good friend who worked in the homicide division in T and T until the new govt kicked them all out.

  3. Excellent shots!! Shawn is really good at what he does. Especiall with those silky anteaters that are just another shade of brown in the woods. Will try the Off Deep woods as well!