Well the time has come... I'm sitting at the gate in Trinidad about to get on the flight to Miami, and so begins the long trek home. This morning was a lazy morning, a chance to sleep in a bit, pack the gear and relax. Hopefully some worthwhile shots in the can so to speak, and looking forward to working through them to get them submitted to Nature Picture Library.
Thought it might be worth just quickly recapping on the places I've stayed and a few thoughts.
Asa Wright Nature Centre - stayed there my first four nights. Was a good way of doing it as gave me the opportunity to really get some photography and birding done, do night walks along the driveway to see critters, and work through some of the Trinidad species. Although not a massive number of species, Trinidad has representatives from a lot of bird families, so it is good to get your eye in and start working through things. Having access to the guides on the verandah, the forest with multiple trails right at your door-step, and being in a safe and secure area makes this a real must do. Despite not being the cheapest place in town, value for money is great, with access to the oilbird cave if you stay 3+ nights, a guided walk through the forest, and the night walks mentioned above. They are also able to arrange side trips to various places around the rest of the island, with the night birding trip being highly recommended, as well as local birding up the road with one of their guides. The guides at the centre and those they arrange trips with are superb, friendly and really know their stuff. Can't recommend this place highly enough.
Pax Guest House - stayed there my last four nights. An excellent location with good birding from the balcony of the house, with feeders attracting a good range of species, and the valley it overlooks holding a good range of other stuff. There are local trails through this secondary forest, which I managed to walk one of (to the fire tower). The owners Gerard and Oda are super friendly and knowledgeable and able to arrange almost anything, with trips to various parts of the island with great guides like Kenny. I think it worked well to stay here last as it meant I had a bit of a target species list, and places I wanted to see, so they were able to arrange this for me. The food was outstanding, the beer was cold and again I cannot recommend this place highly enough.
Madoo's Bird Tours - Caroni Swamp tours. I did the evening tour with one operator whilst still on the ship, and then did a second tour with Shawn from Maddo's. The trip with Shawn was by far the best as his intimate knowledge of the area and its wildlife really showed. We had more species of birds and saw things much better with Shawn than we did on the previous trip. Madoo's are a small outfit who do a much better job in my opinion for the birder/photographer, so if you are going to do the Caroni tour, do it with these guys. Their normal tour is the 4pm departure, but Shawn mentioned they are also available to do early morning tours by arrangement and see far more of the swamp and its wildlife. If I had had more time then I would have definitely done this as well.
Also a big thanks to the great people I have met during this trip to the beautiful island of Trinidad. Especially to Pam, Mukesh, Mahase, Molly and Caleb at Asa Wright, my good friend Kenny for showing me so many great birds, and all the other smiling faces I have met along the way.