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Birding at Asa Wright Nature Center in Trinidad and Tobago, Part 2

If you have read Part 1 of this series on my trip to Trinidad and Tobago, you have seen honeycreepers and hummingbirds that I saw from the Asa Wright veranda. I hope I didn’t leave the impression that there was nothing else to see from the veranda. There were multiple species of beautiful birds. Many colorful tanagers appeared at the feeding tables below the veranda.

Asa Wright Nature Centre

Silver-beaked Tanagers

Asa Wright Nature Centre

Male White-lined and Silver-beaked Tanagers

Violaceous Euphonias were frequent visitors to the feeding tables as well.

Asa Wright Nature Centre

Violaceious Euphonia

There were birds in the trees around the feeding area, waiting for their turn at the feeders.

Asa Wright Nature Centre

Yellow Oriole

Asa Wright Nature Centre

Tropical Mockingbird

Asa Wright Nature Centre

Blue-gray Tanager

Asa Wright Nature Centre

Male White-lined Tanager

Asa Wright Nature Centre

Female White-lined Tanager

Asa Wright Nature Cantre

Male Silver-beaked Tanager

Asa Wright Nature Centre

Female Silver-beaked Tanager

I enjoyed watching a pair of Palm Tanagers as they played in the trees …

Asa Wright Nature Centre

Palm Tanagers

… and then came down to the bird bath for a splash.

Asa Wright Nature Center

Palm Tanagers bathing

There were often Spectacled Thrushes and antpittas beneath the feeding tables. I was able to get a photo of a Spectacled Thrush.

Asa Wright Nature Centre

Spectacled Thrush

Unfortunately, I was never quick enough with my camera to get a satisfactory photo of any of the antpittas.

Common Agoutis, large members of the rat family similar to Capybaras, wandered beneath the feeders looking for anything that had fallen to the ground. It was fun to watch them sit on their hind legs while daintily holding food in their paws.

Asa Wright Nature Centre

Common Agouti

Tegu lizards would scavenge under the table feeds for scraps as well. I loved watching these large, beautiful lizards!

Asa Wright Nature Centre

Tegu Lizard

Asa Wright Nature Centre

Tegu Lizard, full view

A highlight of my stay at Asa Wright was the walk to Dunston Cave to see the Oilbirds. Oilbirds have a very interesting history, and you might want to read about it here. On our way to Dunston Cave we were fortunate to see a Green-backed Trogon and Golden-headed Manakin. Because of the rain and the slippery trail, I did not have my good camera with me. My manakin photos look like little yellow blobs, but I did get an almost-recognizable photo of the trogon.

Asa Wright Nature Centre

Green-backed Trogon

If you walk to Dunston Cave, you will get wet. As I did not have Wellies with me on the trip, I wore capri-length pants and Keen hiking sandals. It was a good choice. The entrance to the Cave is though a shallow running stream.

Asa Wright Nature Centre

Entrance to Dunston Cave

At last we were taken into the cave, two at a time, by our guide. She shined her light carefully on the birds so that we could take a few photos. We were not allowed to use flash photography in the cave, as it would have disturbed the birds too much.

Asa Wright Nature Centre

Oilbirds in Dunston Cave

Asa Wright that they gave us a lovely Christmas celebration. They brought in Trini Parang singers for Christmas Eve on the veranda, and they had us all singing and dancing. For some reason, I cannot locate my photos and videos of this evening except for this one:

Asa Wright Nature Centre

Trini Parang singers

The next day the centre prepared a lovely Christmas lunch with many Trini specialties including, ham, turkey, pasteles, sorrel sauce, and black cake. It was a delicious feast!

In my next post I will venture away from Asa Wright and do some birding elsewhere in Trinidad.

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Birding at Asa Wright Nature Centre in Trinidad and Tobago

I do not like to stay home at Christmas. I usually travel to Kaua’i with my son to escape the season, but this year he had a new job and could not take time away. I had heard interesting and intriguing reports about Trinidad and Tobago, and so I decided to travel there on my own. It was a fine decision. I contacted Caligo Ventures, which my friends had recommended as a good way to put together a trip. I would spend six days at Asa Wright Nature Center in Trinidad and three days at Blue Waters Inn in Tobago.

When I arrived in Trinidad after a long day’s flight, I was met at the airport by Roodal Ramlal, who would be my guide and driver for the next six days. I do recommend having a driver when you travel to Trinidad. In addition to driving on the left, which is confusing for me, the roads outside of the cities are often in poor repair. I am a fairly intrepid driver, but I was happy to leave the driving to Roodal, especially the drive up dark and winding Blanchisseuse Road to the nature center at night.

There were two other women who would arrive via Caligo one day after me, and we would spend the rest of our time together. Fortunately they were absolutely delightful people, and it was a pleasure to spend time with them.

I had intentionally planned to arrive one day earlier than everyone else so that I would have a day to enjoy being at Asa Wright before the start of the planned activities. I was awakened my first morning, and every morning thereafter, by the unmistakable call of a Great Kiskadee outside my window.

Asa Wright Nature Center

Great Kiskadee

Nothing that you may hear from other visitors really prepares you for your first morning on the veranda at Asa Wright. The veranda looks out over acres of rainforest.

Asa Wright Nature Center

Asa Wright Veranda View

You hear the calls of Orange-winged Parrots, Crested Oropendola, and countless other birds in a lovely dawn chorus. And oh the birds! There are many hummingbird feeders and table feeders that attract a large number of beautiful birds. The honeycreepers were so incredibly colorful!

Asa Wright Nature Center

Green Honeycreeper, male

Asa Wright Nature Center

Green Honeycreeper, female

Asa Wright Nature Center

Purple Honeycreeper, male

Asa Wright Nature Center

Purple Honeycreeper, female

Bananaquits were everywhere. These bold little birds would even fly into the dining room looking for handouts.

Asa Wright Nature Center

Bananaquit

Honeycreepers and Bananaquits would wait in the trees for someone to put out a freshly-filled hummingbird feeder.

Asa Wright Nature Center

Honeycreepers and Bananaquits wait for freshly-filled hummingbird feeders.

As soon as a fresh feeder was set out, the colorful birds would swarm the feeder.

Asa Wright Nature Center

Honeycreepers and Bananaquits swarm a hummingbird feeder.

Once the honeycreepers and Bananaquits could no longer reach the nectar, the hummingbirds would move in to feed. The beauty and variety of the hummingbirds was amazing! Here are a few of the hummingbirds I saw at Asa Wright:

Asa Wright Nature Canter

White-necked Jacobin

Asa Wright Nature Center

White-necked Jacobin, another view

Asa Wright Nature Center

Green Hermit, female

Asa Wright Nature Center

Brown Violetear

Asa Wright Nature Center

White-chested Emerald

Asa Wright Nature Center

Rufous-breasted Hermit

Asa Wright provides all-inclusive accommodation. They begin by serving coffee and tea on the veranda starting at 6:30 a.m. Lunch is at noon, tea is at 4:00 p.m., rum punch is served at 6:00 p.m., and dinner begins at 7:30. I enjoyed the food, which relies heavily on local cuisine. Meals were in the dining room at family-style tables, which allowed for plenty of conversation among the guests, who were from Trinidad, Canada, Europe, and the US.

Asa Wright Nature Center

Dining room at Asa Wright Nature Centre.

It was lovely to sit on the veranda in the evening, drinking a rum punch and watching the sunset.

Asa Wright Nature Center

Sunset from the veranda.

In the evening, once the hummingbirds, honeycreepers and Bananaquits retire for the evening, Leaf-nosed Bats come to the feeders. I was fascinated by these little creatures.

Asa Wright Nature Center

Leaf-nosed Bat

Asa Wright Nature Center

Leaf-nosed Bats

There will be many more sights and many more birds to come. Stay tuned.

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