Trinidad and Tobago Birding Tour: An Introduction to Neotropical Birding


THIS SMALL-GROUP TOUR WILL BE GUARANTEED WITH A MINIMUM OF ONLY 4 PEOPLE, AND WE HAVE A 5-NIGHT STAY AT THE FAMOUS ASA WRIGHT NATURE CENTRE AND 4 NIGHTS ON TOBAGO, WHERE WE HAVE A HIGH CHANCE OF SCORING A LARGE SPECIES LIST WITH AMPLE TIME TO ENJOY THE BIRDING.

Dates and Costs

 

28 November – 09 December 2024

Spaces Available: 2

Price: US$7,150 / £5,926 / €7,008 per person sharing based on 4 – 8 clients.

Single Supplement: US$1,390/ £1,152 / €1,362

 

* Please note that currency conversion is calculated in real-time, therefore is subject to slight change. Please refer back to the base price when making final payments.

 

27 November – 08 December 2025

Spaces Available: 6

Price: US$8,008 / £6,638 / €7,848 per person sharing based on 4 – 8 clients.

Single Supplement: US$1,556/ £1,289 / €1,525


Recommended Field Guide

(Please also read our blogs about recommended field guides for the seven continents here)


Tour Details

Duration: 12 days
Group Size: 4 – 8
Tour Start: Piarco International Airport, Trinidad
Tour End: Robinson International Airport, Tobago


Price includes:

Meals/Water
Accommodation
Transport
Guiding fees
Internal flight between Trinidad and Tobago

Price excludes:

International flights
Personal insurance
Alcoholic beverages
Gratuities (please see our tipping guidelines blog)
Laundry service
Personal expenses such as gifts

Download Itinerary

Trinidad and Tobago Birding Tour: An Introduction to Neotropical Birding
November 2024/2025

 

For their small size of less than 2,000 square miles (~5,100 square kilometers), the tiny isles of Trinidad and Tobago host a staggeringly high diversity of bird species, with more than 500 species recorded. Situated just seven miles (11 km) north of Venezuela and the South American mainland, the biodiversity of the twin isles is comprised of a blend of both Amazonian and West Indies wildlife, which makes this a unique birdwatching destination.

Trinidad and Tobago birding tourThe beautiful near-endemic White-tailed Sabrewing is a major target on this tour (photo Fraser Bell).

 

Our tour starts on Tobago, which has a distinctly more Caribbean flavor and is even more picturesque than its larger neighbor, with lush, forested heights sloping gently into beautiful tropical beaches, surrounded by diverse coral reefs. Here we will seek species that are not found on Trinidad, which include the localized White-tailed Sabrewing, found only here or on the Paria Peninsula in Venezuela. Despite its name, the endemic Trinidad Motmot is much more abundant on Tobago, as is Rufous-tailed Jacamar. After taking a glass-bottom boat trip to Little Tobago Island to get up close with some spectacular seabirds which nest on the island, such as beautiful Red-billed Tropicbirds. We then bird our way across Tobago, exploring its wetlands and forests for specials such as Blue-backed Manakin and Venezuelan Flycatcher.

Trinidad and Tobago birding tourWe should find several Rufous-tailed Jacamars throughout the tour (photo Fraser Bell).

 

After four nights on Tobago we transfer to Trinidad, famous for its vibrant mix of cultures, excellent tropical weather, and great hospitality. During our time on Trinidad, we stay at the Asa Wright Nature Centre, a world-leading conservation-focused ecolodge. Asa Wright is well known among birdwatchers – its extensive grounds wind through pristine rainforest which boast Bearded Bellbird and the most accessible Oilbird roost in the world, while relaxed birdwatching from the veranda allows close viewing of charismatic and colorful species, such as Blue Dacnis and Tufted Coquette.

We will explore Trinidad’s wetlands, savannah, forests, and coastline, using Asa Wright as our comfortable base, while we seek specials such as Black Hawk-Eagle, Masked Cardinal, Lilac-tailed Parrotlet, and Red-bellied Macaw. During a scenic boat cruise, we’ll witness the breath-taking spectacle of thousands of Scarlet Ibis as they return to roost. After five nights at Asa Wright, we will end the tour with two nights in the northeast, where we target Trinidad’s one true endemic, the Trinidad Piping Guan. A species once widespread across Trinidad, it is now red-listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as Critically Endangered and clings on in the remote forests of Trinidad’s mountainous northern range.

Trinidad and Tobago birding tourWatching the Scarlet Ibis returning to roost in the Caroni Swamp is such a memorable experience (photo Fraser Bell).

 

This is a relatively easy tour, in which we hope to become accustomed to many neotropical bird families at leisure, with great photographic opportunities of many spectacularly colorful species. Additionally, we should find the two endemics without too much trouble. This birding trip has been designed so that we have time to enjoy the wonderful birds of the islands at a steady pace, taking advantage of the relaxing Caribbean culture.

We offer other great tours to the Caribbean region including CubaDominican Republic, and Jamaica, as well as birding tours to Guyana or Colombia. These destinations may be combined with Trinidad and Tobago to give a more complete exploration of the region! Please do not hesitate to ask any questions.

 

 

Itinerary (12 days/11 nights)

 

Day 1. Arrival to tranquil Tobago

On arrival at Robinson International Airport, you will be met by your guide and taken to the north-eastern tip of Tobago to start our two-night stay at a beautiful beach-front hotel. Here the group will have the chance to meet over dinner, discuss the tour and enjoy the breath-taking views across the bay.

Overnight: Blue Waters Inn

Trinidad and Tobago birding tourThe impressive Great Black Hawk is often seen during our time in Tobago (photo Fraser Bell).

 

Day 2. Little Tobago Island

An easy morning around the hotel grounds will provide a great introduction to birding in Tobago, where we will inevitably encounter the raucous Rufous-vented Chachalaca, alongside Red-crowned Woodpecker, Fuscous Flycatcher, Barred Antshrike, Northern White-fringed Antwren, Scrub Greenlet, and the gorgeous endemic Trinidad Motmot. With luck we might see a Great Black Hawk soaring over the canopy, or Belted Kingfisher foraging along the shore. In the late morning we will board a boat trip to Little Tobago Island. Magnificent Frigatebird will escort us on our journey and, through the glass-bottom boat, we will keep our eyes peeled for tropical marine species including Hawksbill or Green Turtle. Little Tobago Island has an interesting history, having once hosted an introduced population of New Guinea’s Greater Bird-of-paradise! These are long extinct on the island; and it is instead a paradise for tropical seabirds where Red-billed Tropicbird, Brown and Red-footed Boobies, Laughing Gull, and Audubon’s Shearwater nest. Here we hope to also find Scaly-naped Pigeon, a Caribbean species at its most southerly limit. After exploring the island there is the opportunity of snorkeling to enjoy the diverse reefs just offshore. Tonight, there may be the option of night birding from our hotel, to seek White-tailed Nightjar, and the secretive Striped Owl.

Overnight: Blue Waters Inn

Trinidad and Tobago birding tourRed-billed Tropicbird nest on the cliff tops of Little Tobago Island (photo Fraser Bell).

 

Day 3. Main Ridge

With an early start we depart for Tobago’s Main Ridge mountain range which offers us the best chance for Tobago’s forest specials. Our first stop will be at a viewpoint overlooking the forest, where we will watch commuting birds leaving the forest and raptors, such as impressive Great Black Hawks, soaring over the canopy. Walking quiet mountainous roads, or forested trails, we will target Trinidad Motmot and Rufous-tailed Jacamar, which are more common here than in Trinidad, alongside Blue-backed Manakin, Stripe-breasted Spinetail, Fuscous and Venezuelan Flycatchers, White-winged Becard, White-throated Spadebill, Yellow-legged Thrush, Grey-throated Leaftosser, Olivaceous Woodcreeper, and the Endangered (IUCN) White-tailed Sabrewing, as it visits heliconia and banana flowers. This large and impressive hummingbird is arguably our most important target on Tobago, being confined only to Tobago and the Praia Peninsula in Venezuela. Out of the forest, we visit a hummingbird garden to enjoy close views of Tobago’s six hummingbird species, which alongside the near-endemic White-tailed Sabrewing, include Black-throated Mango, White-necked Jacobin, and the stunning Ruby-topaz Hummingbird – a migratory species which would have recently returned from South America.

Overnight: Magdalena Grand Resort

Trinidad and Tobago birding tourHummingbirds, such as this Black-throated Mango, will keep us entertained while on Trinidad and Tobago (photo Fraser Bell).

 

Day 4. South Tobago wetlands

Early morning will see us exploring the south of Tobago, an exciting prospect considering the wetlands here are a hotspot for migratory species overwintering from North America. Within extensive mangroves and overgrown pools, we will target Wilson’s Snipe, White-cheeked Pintail, Least Grebe, Anhinga, Mangrove Cuckoo, Scrub Greenlet, roosting Common Potoo, alongside a supporting cast of wintering Semipalmated and Western Sandpipers, Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs, Hudsonian Whimbrel, Sora, and maybe an early Caribbean Martin.

We will lunch at the coast whilst keeping an eye out for passing gulls, terns and waders and return to our resort where we can continue birding in the afternoon. Our resort boasts the most accessible mangrove walkway in Tobago, which makes it one of the best places to see Mangrove Cuckoo. The grounds host a variety of wetland habitats, where we will look for Wattled Jacana, Purple Gallinule, Green-rumped Parrotlet, Black-faced Grassquit, Pale-vented Pigeon, Eared Dove, amongst migratory waterbirds, warblers and swallows. The quiet grounds are a wonderful place to spend an afternoon and, as dusk falls, we will try to see one of the pair of resident American Barn Owls hunting over the golf course.

Overnight: Magdalena Grand Resort

Trinidad and Tobago birding toursMangrove Cuckoo is one of the mangrove specials we will seek in southern Tobago.

 

Day 5. Transfer to Trinidad and the Asa Wright Centre

We board an early flight to Trinidad’s Piarco International Airport and, on arrival in Trinidad, we will spend a short time birding wetlands near the airport for species including Pied Water Tyrant, White-headed Marsh Tyrant, Yellow-chinned Spinetail, Saffron Finch, Ringed Kingfisher, Rufous-browed Peppershrike, Green-rumped Parrotlet, amongst herons and waders. Our main targets are Red-breasted Blackbird and Ruddy-breasted Seedeater, which is now rare in Trinidad, having suffered due to its popularity in the pet trade. After our visit to Trinidad’s bustling lowlands, we will be taken the short distance into the solitude of the northern range, to start our five-night stay at the famous Asa Wright Nature Centre.

Here the group will enjoy brilliant birding, and breath-taking views from the comfort of the veranda. Here we hope to be joined by vibrant Purple, Green and Red-Legged Honeycreepers, Violaceous Euphonia, Turquoise Tanager, and more than ten hummingbird species are regularly seen here, including the impressive Tufted Coquette, Little Hermit and Long-billed Starthroat. The veranda provides a good viewpoint across the forested valley, and we may spot Black Hawk-Eagle, Short-tailed Hawk, Scaled Pigeon, Lilac-tailed Parrotlet, Orange-winged Amazon, or our first Channel-billed Toucan over the forest canopy below. We will spend some time night birding the entrance road and grounds, searching for Short-tailed Nighthawk, Spectacled Owl, Mottled Owl and Ferruginous Pygmy Owl, amongst mammals, reptiles and amphibians, which the Asa Wright guides excel at finding.

Overnight: Asa Wright Nature Centre

Trinidad and Tobago birding toursThe beautiful Purple Honeycreeper can be seen from Asa Wright’s veranda (photo Fraser Bell).

 

Day 6. A gentle introduction to birding in Trinidad

Today, we will bird at a comfortable pace, true to Caribbean style. We will spend an entire day within the grounds of the Asa Wright Nature Centre where over 200 bird species have been recorded. Watching from the veranda we hope to be joined by the species mentioned for the previous day and many more, including skulking Barred Antshrike and Long-billed Gnatwren, alongside Black-tailed Tityra, Cocoa and Plain-brown Woodcreeper, while Blue Dacnis, Bay-headed Tanager and Trinidad Euphonia can be seen in the canopy of flowering trees. Around the network of well-maintained trails, we hope to see Squirrel Cuckoo, Green Hermit, Crimson-crested and Lineated Woodpecker, Ferruginous Pygmy Owl and, if we’re lucky, we may find a lek of displaying White-bearded or Golden-headed Manakins. Asa Wright is home to all three species of trogon found within Trinidad, and the highly ventriloquial Bearded Bellbird, whose deafening call resembles that of a hammer hitting an anvil. In the afternoon we will have a memorable visit to the Dunstan Caves’ active Oilbird colony – their aroma and raucous calls will be hard to forget!

Overnight: Asa Wright Nature Centre

Trinidad and Tobago birding toursRuby-topaz Hummingbird is one of the many outrageous hummingbirds we hope to encounter on the tour (photo Fraser Bell).

 

Day 7. Western coastal Trinidad

With an early departure from Asa Wright, we will travel to Trinidad’s western coastline which, with extensive mudflats, mangroves and wetlands, makes for exciting birdwatching. Walking along quiet waterways and water meadows, we will search for Spotted Tody-Flycatcher, Pied Water Tyrant, Masked Cardinal, Bicolored Conebill, Long-winged Harrier, Black-crested Antshrike, Yellow-hooded Blackbird and, if we’re lucky, one of the specialized mangrove residents, such as Mangrove Rail, Mangrove Cuckoo, or Rufous Crab Hawk. At the mudflats of Orange Bay, we will enjoy aggregations of migratory shorebirds alongside resident waterbirds, before finishing the day with an afternoon boat trip through the Caroni Swamp.

We will traverse the network of channels between the mangroves, seeking out more of Trinidad’s mangrove specials, such as Green-throated Mango, Grey-cowled Wood Rail, Boat-billed Heron and hope to find the small population of American Flamingo which have recently colonized the swamp. Our local guides excel in finding roosting Tropical Screech Owl and Common Potoo, as well as Central American Tree Boa and Silky Anteater in the twisted branches of the mangroves. As the sun sets, we can enjoy the spectacle of thousands of Scarlet Ibis returning to roost on mangrove islets, an experience which could be the highlight of the tour for many.

Overnight: Asa Wright Nature Centre

Trinidad and Tobago birding tourWe will look for Yellow-hooded Blackbird in the marshes of western Trinidad (photo Fraser Bell).

 

Day 8. East Trinidad

In the morning we will visit one of the last remnants of tropical savanna in Trinidad, at Aripo agricultural station. Exploring the farm tracks and quiet roads, we will look for Striped Cuckoo, White-headed Marsh Tyrant, Red-breasted Blackbird, Yellow-chinned Spinetail and Savanna Hawk, among many others, and if we’re lucky, we may see Ruddy-breasted Seedeater, or Brown-throated Parakeet, both of which are now rare and localized in Trinidad.

Travelling east we plan to stop for some local food – doubles or Aloo Pie are often the favorites – then continue to the coast. Here we seek Crested Caracara, Sulphury Flycatcher, White-tailed Goldenthroat, and Little Cuckoo. In the afternoon we will explore the Nariva Swamp where, while walking along small tracks, we will seek Pinnated Bittern, Limpkin, Wattled Jacana, Purple Gallinule, and Red-bellied Macaw, and hope to find a flock of reintroduced Blue-and-yellow Macaw. With its quaint mix of agricultural paddies, interspersed with swamp forest and freshwater marshes, it is an idyllic setting for an afternoon.

Overnight: Asa Wright Nature Centre

 

Day 9. The Northern Range

On our final full day at Asa Wright Nature Centre, we will explore north of the center along Blanchisseuse Road into the Arima Valley, stopping at several birding hotspots such as Las Lapas and Paria Junction. Our first stop early on will be at a viewpoint overlooking the forest below, where we will enjoy seeing flocks of Blue-headed Parrot as they leave their roost. The diversity of birds here is impressive, as most of Trinidad’s forest species are present in the area, but our main targets are species which favor high altitude, including Scaled Pigeon, Slaty-capped Flycatcher, Golden-crowned Warbler, Sooty Grassquit, Speckled, Hepatic and Swallow Tanagers, and Ornate Hawk-Eagle.

Overnight: Asa Wright Nature Centre

Trinidad and Tobago birding tourIt’s brilliant fun to watch lekking male White-bearded Manakin whirring around the forest trails (photo Fraser Bell).

 

Day 10. Transfer to Grand Riviere

We will enjoy a relaxed final morning spending more time on the trails and veranda at Asa Wright. Here, we will continue to seek skulking species such as Grey-throated Leaftosser, White-bellied Antbird, Little Tinamou, Black-faced Antthrush, Silvered Antbird, Great Antshrike, and less common species such as Little Hermit, Chestnut Woodpecker and Euler’s and Olive-sided Flycatchers.

After lunch, we transfer to Trinidad’s northeast, where we will spend two nights at the remote village of Grand Riviere, which lies at the base of the extreme northeast of the Andes Mountain Range. If time allows on arrival, we may start to explore the local area, though some may instead choose a swim, or a walk on the beach right outside the hotel.

Overnight: Mount Plaisir Estate Hotel

Trinidad and Tobago birding tourWe should get great views of several beautiful hummingbirds on our Trinidad and Tobago tour, such as the range-restricted  Little Tufted Coquette (photo Fraser Bell).

 

Day 11. Birding Grand Riviere

An early departure will see us on the quest for Trinidad’s secretive and threatened, Trinidad Piping Guan. Due to overhunting, it is confined to this remote region and we will make a special effort to find this bird. Watching from a viewpoint, we hope to see the piping guans as they leave their roost and feed in nutmeg trees, before they melt away into the forest canopy. After our vigil, we will continue to bird locally. This area is comprised of a mix of riverine forest and cultivated habitats which attract a range of interesting birds such as Trinidad Euphonia, Black-tailed Tityra, Lilac-tailed Parakeet, White-bearded Manakin, Crimson-crested Woodpecker, Silvered Antbird, Little Tinamou, Ferruginous Pygmy Owl, Lilac-tailed Parrotlet, Bat Falcon and White-bellied Antbird, while Green and Ringed Kingfishers, and Little Blue, and Great Blue Herons could be found along the coast, alongside migratory shorebirds. The afternoon will be spent at leisure, enjoying the peace of Grand Riviere.

After one last good day, we will have our final group dinner of the tour where we will discuss the ‘bird of the trip’ – it is sure to be a tough task!

Overnight: Mount Plaisir Estate Hotel

Trinidad and Tobago birding tourTrinidad Piping Guans are secretive birds, but we make a special attempt to see these endangered birds in northeast Trinidad (photo Fraser Bell).

 

Day 12. Departure

Today you will have time at leisure, prior to your departure from Piarco International Airport.

 

Please note that the itinerary cannot be guaranteed as it is only a rough guide and can be changed (usually slightly) due to factors such as availability of accommodation, updated information on the state of accommodation, roads, or birding sites, the discretion of the guides and other factors. In addition, we sometimes have to use a different international guide from the one advertised due to tour scheduling. 

Download Itinerary

­Trinidad And Tobago Birding Tour: An Introduction to Neotropical Birding, November 2023

30 NOVEMBER – 11 DECEMBER 2023

By Fraser Bell

DOWNLOAD TRIP REPORT

 

Trinidad and Tobago

Being only found in Tobago and Venezuela’s Paria Peninsula, White-tailed Sabrewing is a big target on our Trinidad and Tobago bird tour and is always a popular bird.­

 

Overview

 

This birding tour of Trinidad and Tobago started in Piarco, Trinidad on the 30th of November 2023 and ended in Crown Point, Tobago on the 11th of December 2023. The tour focused on seeing species from a broad range of neotropical bird families, a number of near-endemics and the two true endemics – Trinidad Piping Guan and Trinidad Motmot. On Trinidad we birded at Asa Wright Nature Centre, Trincity Sewage Treatment Pools, Aripo Savannah, Nariva Swamp, Blanchisseuse Road, Orange Valley, Caroni Swamp, and Grand Riviere. While on Tobago we birded at Cuffie River Nature Retreat, Little Tobago Island, Main Ridge Forest Reserve, Centre Street Ponds, Bon Accord Sewage Treatment Ponds, and Tobago Plantation.

Trinidad and Tobago

During our birding tour we enjoyed close views of many lovely species, such as this Masked Cardinal which came to investigate our group during our boat trip through the Caroni Swamp.

 

We recorded 222 bird species on this Trinidad and Tobago birdwatching tour (with nine of these heard only). Some of the highlights seen included Trinidad Piping GuanAmerican FlamingoMangrove CuckooWhite-tailed NightjarOilbirdLittle HermitRuby-topaz HummingbirdTufted CoquetteWhite-tailed SabrewingWhite-chested EmeraldRed-billed TropicbirdRed-footed BoobyScarlet IbisSpectacled OwlGuianan TrogonTrinidad MotmotAmerican Pygmy KingfisherRufous-tailed JacamarChannel-billed ToucanBat FalconBlue-and-yellow MacawStripe-breasted SpinetailBlue-backed ManakinWhite-bearded ManakinGolden-headed ManakinBearded BellbirdVenezuelan FlycatcherYellow-legged ThrushTrinidad EuphoniaMasked CardinalSpeckled Tanager and Bicolored Conebill. In addition to these incredible birds we found a great selection of other wildlife, such as Silky AnteaterGreen Turtle, Spectacled CaimenOcellated Gecko, Gold Tegu, Common Boa, and Forest Flame. Bird and animal lists for this Trinidad and Tobago birding tour follow the report.

 

Detailed Report

 

Day 1, 30th November 2023. Arrival in Trinidad and an introduction to the Asa Wright Nature Centre

The group had arrived into Piarco, Trinidad on the 29th November, allowing an early start to the tour on the 30th November. We met mid-morning and, before transferring to the Asa Wright Nature Centre, we had a quick look at the lakes around the Millenium Lakes Golf Course. This stop gave us lots of wetland species including Wattled JacanaOspreyFork-tailed Palm SwiftYellow-headed CaracaraYellow-chinned SpinetailWhite-headed Marsh TyrantPied Water TyrantWhite-winged Swallow and we had great close views of Short-tailed Swift which were coming down low to drink from a lake. In the scrub and dry woodland surrounding the lakes and pools we noted our first Rufous-browed Peppershrike, Copper-rumped Hummingbird, Saffron Finch, Spectacled Thrush and Carib Grackle of the trip, alongside a couple of impressive Spectacled Caimen.

Trinidad and Tobago

Vibrant Purple Honeycreeper welcomed us to the Asa Wright Nature Centre.

 

After our lowland birding we made our way to the brilliant Asa Wright Nature Centre. Asa Wright is truly one of the world’s best ecolodges, and everyone thoroughly enjoyed being welcomed to the lodge – it is luxurious, with great food, brilliant facilities, and amazing birdwatching from a comfortable veranda and well-maintained trails. As soon as we arrived we could hear the ‘CLANG’ call of male Bearded Bellbird, and while birding from the veranda we had nine species of hummingbird within the first hour, including White-chested EmeraldLittle HermitBlue-chinned SapphireBlack-throated Mango and beautiful Long-billed Starthroat. Other highlights included White Hawk, Channel-billed Toucan, and Crimson-crested Woodpecker in the forest below the veranda, and close views of Turquoise Tanager, Blue Dacnis,and Green and Purple Honeycreepers.

After our lunch we set out on the trails, quickly encountering pairs of both Guianan and Green-backed Trogons, a pair of inquisitive Barred Antshrikes, close views of more than four male Bearded Bellbirds, and we watched several male White-bearded Manakins performing at a lek – a great way to start the tour! We finished our day with a night walk, which although it didn’t turn up any much-wanted owls, we saw a Forest Flame, a Colubrid which hunts other snakes, and an endemic Trinidad Chevron Tarantula.

Trinidad and Tobago

Watching lekking White-bearded Manakins at the Asa Wright Nature Centre was an early tour highlight.


Day 2, 1st December 2023. Birding Aripo Savannah and Nariva Swamp

We spent the morning birding the remains of Trinidad’s savanna, a habitat which is now restricted to the Aripo area. Here we had excellent views of a Striped Cuckoo, which appeared in a roadside bush close to the group before flying up to a high tree to give prolonged scope views. We also had LimpkinYellow Oriole, Black-crested Antshrike, Rufous-breasted Wren,and Savanna and Zone-tailed Hawks, among other more common lowland species. A small group of the much-wanted near-endemic Trinidad Euphonia could be heard calling from high in the canopy of a small group of mistletoe trees. These gave us a runaround but eventually the whole group saw a male well as it fed on berries but, frustratingly, these views were brief and far. A fly-by of a Plumbeous Kite – a rare bird in Trinidad – across the savanna, rounded off the morning well.

Trinidad and Tobago

Savanna Hawk was seen well at the Aripo Savanna.

 

After some excellent Trinidadian food, we stopped at a patch of remnant forest surrounded by farm bush, close to the eastern coast. Although brief, this turned out to be a productive stop! We saw Squirrel Cuckoo, Southern Beardless Tyrannulet,anda cute Streaked Xenops, which showed surprisingly well, before quickly pitching up the branch and into a dense thicket. A pair of Rufous-tailed Jacamar was our only sighting of this species in Trinidad, but the pair were too active for good views, so we would have to wait until Tobago to appreciate these stunners.

Driving south along the eastern coastline we saw many Savanna Hawks and Yellow-headed Caracaras, alongside a surprise juvenile Snail Kite – a rare visitor to Trinidad’s swamps. We spent most of the afternoon birding the mangroves, flooded grassland and marshes of Nariva Swamp, where we saw more than 70 bird species. As soon as we arrived, we had close views of the beautiful American Pygmy Kingfisher along the edge of a thick section of mangrove forest. This charming kingfisher was lovely to watch, as it bobbed its head and pumped its tail on a close mangrove buttress. Northern Scrub Flycatcher and a pair of Bicolored Conebills were also seen here well. Within the swamp itself we had sightings of White-tailed GoldenthroatPurple Gallinule, Masked Yellowthroat, American Yellow Warbler, Olive-grey Saltator, and at least three Long-winged Harriers as they coursed over the flooded fields. Only as we were about to depart did we hear the distinctive call of one of our main targets for the site, Blue-and-yellow Macaw. After several fleeting glimpses, the whole group managed scope views of several perched birds as they commuted between stands of Moriche Palm. This sighting was followed by a pair of Yellow-crowned Amazons overhead and a perched Pearl Kite, which closed off our second day of birding very well.

Trinidad and Tobago

American Pygmy Kingfisher are beautiful birds and we saw this one well in the Nariva Swamp.


Day 3, 2nd December 2023. Birding Trinidad’s northern range along Blanchisseuse Road

We opted for a slower start to the day after our late arrival the previous evening. We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast at Asa Wright while watching Little Hermits and Tufted Coquettes visiting the flowers at the restaurant – it was a joy to watch these stunners feeding so close. Just before departing we saw our first Short-tailed Hawk, this individual was a striking dark morph which circled high over Asa Wright. We then headed north to target high elevation forest specials along Blanchisseuse Road.

On our first stop we had views of Olive-sided Flycatcher perch-flycatching high in the canopy, a perched adult Common Black Hawk and close views of a male White-winged Becard, which turned out to be a group favorite. At times the birding was tough and several spots were ‘neck-breakers’, as forest canopy birding so often is. Despite this, we had good views of Rufous-breasted Hermit, Green-backed TrogonGolden-fronted GreenletTrilling GnatwrenRed-crowned Ant Tanager, and both White-bearded and Golden-headed Manakins. Our much-anticipated stop at the La Lapaz viewpoint did not yield either of the hoped for hawk-eagle species, instead we enjoyed a White Hawk in the canopy below. Soon after, we found a busy mixed flock which excitingly contained both Golden-crowned Warbler and one of our main targets, a small-group of Speckled Tanagers. The warbler was sadly only enjoyed by some in the group because a fleet of ten all-terrain vehicles very unexpectedly roared past and scared the warbler back into the forest. Luckily, the tanagers stayed and all the tour participants appreciated these brightly colored birds as they foraged close to the road.

Trinidad and Tobago

Range-restricted Little Hermits fed in the flowers outside the Asa Wright Nature Centre restaurant every morning.

 

Trinidad and Tobago

The whole group enjoyed crippling views of a small foraging party of Speckled Tanager along Blanchisseuse Road.

 

After a nice local lunch at Brasso Seco village near the northern coast, we headed back along the road towards Asa Wright. Vocal flocks of both Blue-headed Parrots and Lilac-tailed Parrotlets would remain unseen. A small group of Black-tailed Tityras were much enjoyed, as were close views of a cooperative Stripe-tailed Spinetail which flitted around in a fallen tree for the whole group to appreciate. Late afternoon was brilliant for tyrant flycatchers, with Slaty-capped FlycatcherYellow-olive Flatbill and Northern Tropical Pewee all seen well, as were a pair of Plain-brown Woodcreepers and a small group of shy and unobtrusive Red-rumped Woodpeckers.


Day 4, 3rd December 2023. Enjoying the Asa Wright Nature Centre

Today we had a whole day to enjoy the Asa Wright Nature Centre, birding from the veranda, around the gardens and trails. A pre-breakfast walk turned up our first sighting of the male Tufted Coquette, a beautiful hummingbird which looks akin to a bee due to its small size and its bumbling flight behavior, and a pair of Lineated Woodpeckers perched on a dead tree. After breakfast we descended into the valley below, in hope of seeing the bizarre Oilbird. Unfortunately, there were no birds roosting in the accessible part of the cave. Instead, we enjoyed a perched Broad-winged HawkWhite-flanked Antwren, another obliging Stripe-breasted Spinetail,a pair of Golden-olive Woodpeckers and active mixed flocks of tanagers and manakins, all while listening to the deafening ‘CLANG’ of the male Bearded Bellbird. We spent the rest of the morning working our way through the swirling flocks of Chaetura swifts, confirming both Grey-rumped and Band-rumped Swifts, and had better views of both Green-backed and Guianan Trogons.

Trinidad and Tobago

Tufted Coquette are such beautiful birds, this male was feeding in the flowerbed right outside the Asa Wright Nature Centre office.

 

We spent the first part of the afternoon watching the hummingbirds, honeycreepers, tanagers and Crested Oropendola from the veranda. Later in the afternoon we took a walk down the entrance driveway and enjoyed high bird activity, due to an early afternoon bout of rain. Northern Waterthrush, and White-necked and Cocoa Thrushes were a constant sighting along the road, while Southern Beardless Tyrannulet, Ochre-bellied Flycatcher, and Tropical Parula were found in the canopy – the latter proving tricky and only giving fleeting glimpses. Close views of Cocoa and Plain-brown Woodcreepers were appreciated, while a duo of Red-crowned Ant Tanagers only gave brief views for some. The highlights were a pair of White-bellied Antbird which eventually showed well on some fallen logs and, after hearing them daily, it was great to finally see Collared Trogon! As night fell, some in the group saw an obliging Black-tailed Tityra and the only Short-tailed Nighthawk of the trip, which made a single pass over the canopy below the veranda. Our night walk targeting owls was successful, and all the group had long views of a pair of Spectacled Owls on several occasions. We also heard two Mottled Owl, a rare bird at Asa Wright, although the pair were responsive, they remained in thick cover.

Trinidad and Tobago

Vibrant Violaceous Euphonias were a common sight from the Asa Wright Nature Centre veranda.


Day 5, 4th December 2023. Birding the west coast of Trinidad and Caroni Swamp

With an early start we departed for the wetlands of western Trinidad, first stopping in on Trincity Sewage Treatment Ponds. On arrival we saw Striped Cuckoo, followed by a fleeting view of a Pearl Kite. Although this one got away from us, it was mediated by another Pearl Kite perched in a roadside tree further along the road. The bird was trying to collect sticks for its nest, but had to cope with Carib Grackle, and a couple of Giant Cowbird mobbing it. Luckily the kite remained in the tree for some time, allowing us to get amazing views of it nestled between some branches. What a great bird! While we were appreciating it, a pair of Yellow Orioles fed in a nearby palm and a flock of Yellow-hooded Blackbirds moved through the maize fields. En route to Orange Valley we saw our only Crested Caracara of the trip, nestled under a tree, but traffic prevented us from stopping to appreciate the bird. The tides were not in our favor when we reached Orange Valley, but we did quickly spy our first (of many hundreds to come) Scarlet Ibis. Once the tide had lowered, a handful of Hudsonian Whimbrels ventured out of the mangroves, alongside a large flock of Willets and Semipalmated Sandpipers. On the moored boats were Ruddy TurnstoneLaughing Gull,and Brown Pelican. The site remained quiet, save for a handful of herons and egrets, an Osprey hunting, and a few American Yellow Warblers on the edge of the mangrove forest, so we headed to lunch.

Trinidad and Tobago

We had great views of this Pearl Kite while it tried to collect nesting material, in spite of harassment from Carib Grackle!

 

Our local lunch of roti, curry and ice cream was well appreciated, and afterwards we went to Caroni Marsh. This expansive site of protected marsh dominates Trinidad’s western coastline and boasts a number of incredible species. While awaiting our boat ride through the swamp we birded the roadside mangrove edge and were rewarded with a pair of Little Cuckoos. This species specializes in using dense undergrowth and we followed the pair for some time, making do with brief, but good, views between the mangrove roots. Once on the boat we saw a pair of Eared Doves, which are localized on Trinidad (but much more common in Tobago),and a very showy Masked Cardinal which allowed all the passengers of the boat to fully appreciate its smart plumage. Our local guide’s family were influential in the designation and protection of the marsh, our guide – Lester Nanan – grew up studying the species of the marsh and is an expert in spotting its specialist creatures. As such, we were able to see a sleeping Silky Anteater nestled high up in some mangroves, more than four Central American Tree Boas, a pair of roosting Tropical Screech Owls, another obliging American Pygmy Kingfisher, and four Straight-billed Woodcreepers, a mangrove specialist in Trinidad.

Trinidad and Tobago

We went directly under this Central American Tree Boa while on our boat tour of the Caroni Swamp, giving some passengers in the boat a bit of a fright.

 

Trinidad and Tobago

This duo of Tropical Screech Owls was roosting deep in the Caroni Swamp mangroves.

 

The highlight of the trip for some came as dusk approached. We first saw a group of American Flamingos feeding in a shallow area of the marsh, then watched the spectacle of hundreds of Scarlet Ibises flying in to an isolated island of mangrove, in front of where our boat was moored. These birds had been feeding throughout the expansive marsh during the day, but then come to roost together in large numbers. These ibises were joined by Little BlueTricolored, and Great Blue HeronsGreat and Snowy Egrets and a handful of American Flamingos. The forested island slowly turns from emerald green to red, white and pink as the birds congregate for the evening. What a brilliant way to spend an evening! On the return boat trip we saw roosting Grey-cowled Wood Rail, and Green Kingfisher and could hear several Common Pauraque.

Trinidad and Tobago

It was a phenomenal experience watching the Scarlet Ibis in the Caroni Marsh.


Day 6, 5th December 2023. A relaxed departure from Asa Wright and transfer to Grand Riviere

We had one final morning at the Asa Wright Nature Centre to focus on any remaining targets. Some in the group hiked back down to Dunstan cave and were rewarded with good views of three Oilbirds! Very satisfying, considering the group had missed them a few days before. On the walk down to the cave the first of our Trinidad Motmots was seen, and this would remain the only sighting in Trinidad, where they are shy and rare. Others decided to try for better views of Bearded Bellbird and to stake out a Golden-headed Manakin lek to try to see an adult male. We were successful with both species, having close views of five male Bearded Bellbirds, which provided good photographic opportunities, and we saw a male Golden-headed Manakin with its striking all-black plumage, and a contrasting bright golden-yellow head. We also tried for Ferruginous Pygmy Owl, but although these were heard throughout our time at Asa Wright, we didn’t see any. Channel-billed Toucans were active with more than seven seen, and we enjoyed our best views of Trilling Gnatwren.

Trinidad and Tobago

The Asa Wright Nature Centre is one of the best places in the world to see Bearded Bellbird, and our group saw more than five during our stay.

 

After one final feast, we said our farewells to Asa Wright and headed for Grand Riviere in Trinidad’s northeast. A few well-timed stops yielded our best views of a group favorite, Striped Cuckoo, our first Yellow-rumped Cacique, alongside the near-endemic Trinidad Euphonia, and Rufous-breasted Wren. The afternoon, however, was mostly the transfer and we arrived at our gorgeous beach-front hotel just before dark. We stayed right on the beach and fell asleep to the sound of waves – it was an amazing location to stay at.


Day 7, 6th December 2023. Birding Grand Riviere

We had our earliest start of the tour this morning to ensure we were on the hillside above as dawn broke, to give us the best chance of seeing Trinidad Piping Guan – the rarer of the islands’ two true endemics. Although we had rain on and off throughout the morning, which suppressed activity, the whole group had brilliant views of two Trinidad Piping Guans foraging in the canopy of nutmeg trees. It was a delight watching these birds jumping between the branches, and to hear their whistling calls and mechanical wing churring as they moved between the trees. Due to the rain, little else of note was seen, save for a Grey Kingbird, which is infrequent in Trinidad (again, another species much more common on Tobago), a pair of Trinidad Euphonias, and some in the group saw another beautiful male Golden-headed Manakin. A close encounter with a large Common Boa certainly made for an eventful morning, all were able to fully appreciate it before it vanished back into the undergrowth. We returned for a well-deserved breakfast at our hotel, all ecstatic to have seen such an iconic and rare (Critically Endangered on the IUCN red list) endemic.

Trinidad and Tobago

The threatened Trinidad Piping Guan gave us the run around at first, but we ended up seeing eight birds well.

 

Some of the group checked the lagoon alongside our hotel after breakfast, which yielded our first day time views of Green Kingfisher, which foraged close to the shore from moored boats, giving great opportunity for photography, along with good views of Great Blue HeronMagnificent FrigatebirdBrown PelicanBlack Vulture and a hunting Osprey. We had the latter part of the morning and the early afternoon to relax at the beautiful property, which was ideal as the rain was heavy.

After a nice lunch the rain had subsided, so we ventured back out to the hillside above the hotel. Bird activity was much higher in the afternoon and, on arrival, we heard Silvered Antbird and, after a little wait, we all had close views of this real skulker. Again, we saw Trinidad Piping Guan, with more birds seen and closer than during the morning. A vocal Little Tinamou would not venture out from the dense undergrowth, but we had good close views of White-flanked AntwrenWhite-bellied AntbirdSquirrel CuckooLineated Woodpecker, and finally the group were able to appreciate a pair of Tropical Parulas which responded to our Ferruginous Pygmy Owl playback. Flyovers of Scaled Pigeon and Grey-headed Kite were brief but seen by all. Late afternoon proved good for flycatchers once again, and we had another Yellow-olive Flatbill, and found both Forest Elaenia and Euler’s Flycatcher, which we’d heard at Asa Wright but did not see. A final stop along the forest road yielded a quick fly-by of a Bat Falcon swooping low over the canopy, a great sighting, but sadly not one that all the group got on.


Day 8, 7th December 2023. Transfer to Tobago

Today was predominately a travel day as we drove from Grand Riviere in Trinidad to the airstrip to fly to Tobago. In the morning, a brief look at the lagoon near our hotel in Grand Riviere produced similar species as the previous day, with the addition of a nice male Ringed Kingfisher perched in some low trees, and a few Semipalmated Sandpiper foraging at the lagoon mouth. We heard a Bat Falcon calling from the forest stretch away from the beach but could not locate it.

Our transfer was efficient, but aside from a few short stops which yielded our best view of Giant Cowbird on a sports field, and more Yellow-rumped Cacique from the roadside, we had little time for birding. We arrived into Tobago in the early evening and checked into our ecolodge.

Trinidad and Tobago

Colourful Pale-vented Pigeon were satisfyingly common on Tobago.


Day 9, 8th December 2023. Exploring Little Tobago Island 

Breakfast provided some early highlights, as we quickly saw Red-crowned Woodpecker andmultiple near endemic White-tailed Sabrewing at our ecolodge feeders. As the sabrewings darted around, they would fan their bright white tails which contrasted against their glittering green plumage – such a lovely species to be able to watch. On our trip to the northeast of the island we started seeing the specials which make Tobago such an exciting birding destination. Green Heron replaced the Striated Heron which we’d become used to in Trinidad, Grey Kingbird replaced Great Kiskadee, and Pale-vented Pigeon and Eared Dove were evident along the roadside. In Tobago both Trinidad Motmot and Rufous-tailed Jacamar were wonderfully common, being found along forest edges. We arrived at Tobago’s northeast tip to tropical showery conditions, and had a fairly rough journey to Little Tobago Island, though we were still escorted by Magnificent Frigatebirds. Yet this trip still proved to be a highlight of its own with a Green Turtle seen through the boat’s glass bottom amongst the reefs. On Little Tobago Island we hiked up to the top to enjoy views of nesting Red-billed Tropicbird,and Brown and Red-footed Boobies. We had fun trying to photograph tropicbirds as they soared past and identified the different colour morphs of Red-footed Booby nesting in the surrounding cliffs. Although we had no luck with Scaly-naped Pigeon, a Brown-crested Flycatcher showed well to the whole group and a colorful endemic Ocellated Gecko was enjoyed by all. Following our return journey, we had lunch at one of the best restaurants on Tobago.

Trinidad and Tobago

Getting close to nesting Red-billed Tropicbird is often the highlight from Tobago.

 

We visited a brilliant hummingbird garden and managed to get great views of all six of Tobago’s hummingbird species, which included White-tailed Sabrewing and, importantly, included a beautiful lone male Ruby-topaz Hummingbird – our sole bird of the trip! We also enjoyed close Pale-vented PigeonWhite-tipped DoveTrinidad MotmotRed-crowned Woodpecker and Rufous-Vented Chachalaca. During a quiet dinner at our ecolodge, a White-tailed Nightjar flew right past our table, and fed under the security lights – it’s brilliant when the birds come to you.


Day 10, 9th December 2023. Birding Tobago’s Main Forest Ridge Reserve

We had an early departure to visit a known day roost for Common Potoo. After a bit of a search, we found one individual who was surprisingly active and looked back at us. It was quiet at the site, aside from a fishing Green Kingfisher, so we continued to the main Ridge Forest Reserve. This forest is one of the world’s oldest protected nature reserves and dominates the middle of the island. We spent the first few hours within the reserve birding from the roadside, which was very productive, and we added one of our targets with each stop. First was an uncommon Olivaceous Woodcreeper, which provided good viewing as it wound its way along branches of several large trees. A pair of Venezuelan Flycatcher gave fleeting views, but we were nevertheless happy to have seen this range-restricted Myiarchus. Other highlights along the road included a noisy flock of Scrub Greenlets, a Collared Trogon seen in the canopy, and White-tailed Sabrewings foraging on Heliconia in the undergrowth.

Trinidad and Tobago

This lovely female Rufous-tailed Jacamar was one of the many we saw along the roadside.

 

Birding along Gilpin Trace started quietly due to rain, but once this passed, we were able to see most of our remaining forest targets. A perched juvenile Great Black Hawk gave prolonged views, and we watched a Yellow-legged Thrush foraging along an opposing bank. Other highlights included Stripe-breasted SpinetailPlain Antvireo, and Cocoa Woodcreeper,frustratingly, we only saw female Blue-backed Manakins and only briefly, while a calling White-throated Spadebill did not venture out of the dense forest. Outside the forest we found a pair of Northern White-fringed Antwrens and a Fuscous Flycatcher flittering around a fallen tree, and a single female Red-legged Honeycreeper briefly visited a flowering tree. As we headed back to our ecolodge, we totalled a further 25 Trinidad Motmots and ten Rufous-tailed Jacamars – it’s amazing that these beautiful species are so numerous.

We had the afternoon to relax around the ecolodge and enjoy the grounds, seeing Rufous-vented Chachalaca, Rufous-breasted Hermit, Orange-winged Parrot, Yellow-bellied Elaenia, and Fuscous Flycatcher. That evening we were again joined by White-tailed Nightjar right outside our lodge.


Day 11, 10th December 2023. Exploring the southern wetlands of Tobago   

We headed south in the morning to explore Centre Street Ponds, a wetland tucked away just behind the busy streets of Bon Accord. Here we had Blue-winged Teal, White-cheeked Pintail and Lesser Scaup,alongside Least Grebe. We finally had good views of Black-faced Grassquit, while a Black-crowned Night Heron fished along the far bank, with Green Heron. Careful checking of the flock of White-winged Swallow lined up on a telephone wire, added two Sand Martins, a winter visitor to Tobago,to our list. We then continued to Bon Accord Sewage Treatment Ponds, where we were amazingly greeted by nine Soras – these usually secretive birds were walking amongst the floating vegetation, unperturbed by our presence. A large flock of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks were hidden comically amongst the submerged vegetation and only revealed by the tops of their heads, while another Sand Martin was found in with the White-winged Swallows foraging over the pools. In the surrounding vegetation we didn’t find the hoped-for Mangrove Cuckoo, but close views of Brown-crested Flycatcher and Yellow-bellied Elaenia were a consolation prize, meanwhile an aggressive Merlin provided interest as it kept diving onto the far larger Anhinga, forcing them off the wing and into the pools.

Trinidad and Tobago

Our group had amazing views of Sora in the open at the Bon Accord Sewage Treatment Ponds.

 

On leaving the Sewage Treatment Ponds we had nice views of Hudsonian WhimbrelGreenTricolored, and Little Blue HeronsSnowy Egret and Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs in the drainage ditches. We then found our rarest bird for the Tobago aspect of the trip – a fishing male Ringed Kingfisher which, although common in Trinidad, is very rare in Tobago. Our third stop of the day was at the Tobago Plantations, where we had Lesser ScaupEared Dove and Scrub Greenlet, while several Northern Jacanas tiptoeing across flowering lily pads, created a very beautiful scene. Unfortunately, the mangrove boardwalk was quiet, aside from Central American Tree BoaYellow-crowned Night Heron, and Green and Tricolored Herons, yet, on leaving the mangroves, we finally found a Mangrove Cuckoo – a top target for the group. While the views were brief, everyone was able to catch up with this mangrove specialist. After another brilliant local lunch we had Semipalmated PloverGreen-rumped Parrotlet, a single juvenile Lesser Black-backed Gull and enjoyed watching raucous groups of Royal Terns chattering away on the fishing boats.

We headed back to our accommodation, and some saw a roosting American Barn Owl, which unfortunately didn’t stay around for long. Being the final full day of the trip, we enjoyed the beautiful views from our accommodation over the very scenic Castara Bay and finished with an equally lovely meal.


Day 12, 11th December 2023. Departure  

With such a beautiful view from our accommodation overlooking the small town of Castara, our final group birdwatching was from the breakfast table itself. We could see groups of Royal Tern bounding across the bay alongside a lone Laughing Gull, and many Brown Pelicans and Magnificent Frigatebirds. From our vantage point we were at a similar height to several large trees, allowing us to fully appreciate noisy groups of foraging Green-rumped Parrotlets and Orange-winged ParrotsScrub Greenlet and Barred Antshrike hopped around the accommodation gardens and Grey Kingbirds were flycatching from a few high perches. Fittingly, considering it had been voted overall ‘Bird of the Trip’ the previous evening, a few gorgeous and charismatic Trinidad Motmots foraged gracefully in the undergrowth around our hotel.

Trinidad and Tobago

Bird of the trip was the colourful endemic Trinidad Motmot, and for good reason!


Bird List
 – Following IOC (13.2)

 

Birds ‘heard only’ are marked with (H) after the common name, all other species were seen. The following notation after species names is used to show conservation status following BirdLife International: CR = Critically Endangered, EN = Endangered, VU = Vulnerable.

Common Name Scientific Name
Tinamous (Tinamidae)
Little Tinamou (H) Crypturellus soui
Ducks, Geese, Swans (Anatidae)
Black-bellied Whistling-Duck Dendrocygna autumnalis
Blue-winged Teal Spatula discors
White-cheeked Pintail Anas bahamensis
Lesser Scaup Aythya affinis
 
Guans, Chachalacas, and Curassows (Cracidae)
Rufous-vented Chachalaca Ortalis ruficauda
Trinidad Piping Guan (Endemic) CR Pipile pipile
 
Flamingos (Phoenicopteridae)
American Flamingo Phoenicopterus ruber
 
Grebes (Podicipedidae)
Least Grebe Tachybaptus dominicus
 
Pigeons and Doves (Columbidae)
Rock Pigeon Columba livia
Pale-vented Pigeon Patagioenas cayennensis
Scaled Pigeon Patagioenas speciosa
Ruddy Ground Dove Columbina talpacoti
White-tipped Dove Leptotila verreauxi
Eared Dove Zenaida auriculata
 
Cuckoos (Cuculidae)
Smooth-billed Ani Crotophaga ani
Striped Cuckoo Tapera naevia
Little Cuckoo Coccycua minuta
Squirrel Cuckoo Piaya cayana
Mangrove Cuckoo Coccyzus minor
 
Nightjars and Allies (Caprimulgidae)
Short-tailed Nighthawk Lurocalis semitorquatus
Pauraque (H) Nyctidromus albicollis
White-tailed Nightjar Hydropsalis cayennensis
 
Potoos (Nyctibiidae)
Common Potoo Nyctibius griseus
 
Oilbird (Steatornithidae)
Oilbird Steatornis caripensis
 
Swifts (Apodidae)
Grey-rumped Swift Chaetura cinereiventris
Band-rumped Swift Chaetura spinicaudus
Short-tailed Swift Chaetura brachyura
Fork-tailed Palm Swift Tachornis squamata
 
Hummingbirds (Trochilidae)
White-necked Jacobin Florisuga mellivora
Rufous-breasted Hermit Glaucis hirsutus
Green Hermit Phaethornis guy
Little Hermit Phaethornis longuemareus
Brown Violetear Colibri delphinae
White-tailed Goldenthroat Polytmus guainumbi
Ruby-topaz Hummingbird Chrysolampis mosquitus
Black-throated Mango Anthracothorax nigricollis
Tufted Coquette Lophornis ornatus
Long-billed Starthroat Heliomaster longirostris
White-tailed Sabrewing Campylopterus ensipennis
Copper-rumped Hummingbird Saucerottia tobaci
White-chested Emerald Chrysuronia brevirostris
Blue-chinned Sapphire Chlorestes notata
 
Rails, Gallinules, and Coots (Rallidae)
Grey-cowled Wood Rail Aramides cajaneus
Sora Porzana carolina
Common Gallinule Gallinula galeata
Purple Gallinule Porphyrio martinica
 
Limpkin (Aramidae)
Limpkin Aramus guarauna
 
Plovers and Lapwings (Charadriidae)
Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola
Southern Lapwing Vanellus chilensis
Semipalmated Plover Charadrius semipalmatus
 
Jacanas (Jacanidae)
Wattled Jacana Jacana jacana
 
Sandpipers and Allies (Scolopacidae)
Hudsonian Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus
Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres
Semipalmated Sandpiper Calidris pusilla
Wilson’s Snipe Gallinago delicata
Spotted Sandpiper Actitis macularius
Solitary Sandpiper Tringa solitaria
Greater Yellowlegs Tringa melanoleuca
Willet Tringa semipalmata
Lesser Yellowlegs Tringa flavipes
 
Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers (Laridae)
Laughing Gull Leucophaeus atricilla
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus
Royal Tern Thalasseus maximus
 
Tropicbirds (Phaethontidae)
Red-billed Tropicbird Phaethon aethereus
 
Frigatebirds (Fregatidae)
Magnificent Frigatebird Fregata magnificens
 
Boobies and Gannets (Sulidae)
Brown Booby Sula leucogaster
Red-footed Booby Sula sula
 
Anhingas (Anhingidae)
Anhinga Anhinga anhinga
 
Cormorants and Shags (Phalacrocoracidae)
Neotropic Cormorant Nannopterum brasilianum
 
Pelicans (Pelecanidae)
Brown Pelican Pelecanus occidentalis
 
Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns (Ardeidae)
Great Blue Heron Ardea herodias
Great Egret Ardea alba
Snowy Egret Egretta thula
Little Blue Heron Egretta caerulea
Tricolored Heron Egretta tricolor
Western Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis
Green Heron Butorides virescens
Striated Heron Butorides striata
Black-crowned Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax
Yellow-crowned Night Heron Nyctanassa violacea
 
Ibises and Spoonbills (Threskiornithidae)
Scarlet Ibis Eudocimus ruber
 
New World Vultures (Cathartidae)
Black Vulture Coragyps atratus
Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura
 
Osprey (Pandionidae)
Osprey Pandion haliaetus
 
Hawks, Eagles, and Kites (Accipitridae)
Pearl Kite Gampsonyx swainsonii
Grey-headed Kite Leptodon cayanensis
Snail Kite Rostrhamus sociabilis
Plumbeous Kite Ictinia plumbea
Long-winged Harrier Circus buffoni
Common Black Hawk Buteogallus anthracinus
Savanna Hawk Buteogallus meridionalis
Great Black Hawk Buteogallus urubitinga
White Hawk Pseudastur albicollis
Grey-lined Hawk Buteo nitidus
Broad-winged Hawk Buteo platypterus
Short-tailed Hawk Buteo brachyurus
Zone-tailed Hawk Buteo albonotatus
 
Barn Owls (Tytonidae)
American Barn Owl Tyto alba
 
Owls (Strigidae)
Tropical Screech Owl Megascops choliba
Spectacled Owl Pulsatrix perspicillata
Ferruginous Pygmy Owl (H) Glaucidium brasilianum
Mottled Owl (H) Strix virgata
 
Trogons (Trogonidae)
Green-backed Trogon Trogon viridis
Guianan Trogon Trogon violaceus
Collared Trogon Trogon collaris
 
Motmots (Momotidae)
Trinidad Motmot (Endemic) Momotus bahamensis
 
Kingfishers (Alcedinidae)
Ringed Kingfisher Megaceryle torquata
American Pygmy Kingfisher Chloroceryle aenea
Green Kingfisher Chloroceryle americana
 
Jacamars (Galbulidae)
Rufous-tailed Jacamar Galbula ruficauda
 
Toucans (Ramphastidae)
Channel-billed Toucan Ramphastos vitellinus
 
Woodpeckers (Picidae)
Red-crowned Woodpecker Melanerpes rubricapillus
Red-rumped Woodpecker Dryobates kirkii
Crimson-crested Woodpecker Campephilus melanoleucos
Lineated Woodpecker Dryocopus lineatus
Golden-olive Woodpecker Colaptes rubiginosus
 
Falcons and Caracaras (Falconidae)
Crested Caracara Caracara plancus
Yellow-headed Caracara Daptrius chimachima
Merlin Falco columbarius
Bat Falcon Falco rufigularis
Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus
 
New World and African Parrots (Psittacidae)
Lilac-tailed Parrotlet (H) Touit batavicus
Blue-headed Parrot (H) Pionus menstruus
Yellow-crowned Amazon Amazona ochrocephala
Orange-winged Amazon Amazona amazonica
Green-rumped Parrotlet Forpus passerinus
Blue-and-yellow Macaw Ara ararauna
 
Typical Antbirds (Thamnophilidae)
Great Antshrike (H) Taraba major
Black-crested Antshrike Sakesphorus canadensis
Barred Antshrike Thamnophilus doliatus
Plain Antvireo Dysithamnus mentalis
Northern White-flanked Antwren Myrmotherula axillaris
Northern White-fringed Antwren Formicivora grisea
Silvered Antbird Sclateria naevia
White-bellied Antbird Myrmeciza longipes
 
Ovenbirds and Woodcreepers (Furnariidae)
Olivaceous Woodcreeper Sittasomus griseicapillus
Plain-brown Woodcreeper Dendrocincla fuliginosa
Cocoa Woodcreeper Xiphorhynchus susurrans
Straight-billed Woodcreeper Dendroplex picus
Streaked Xenops Xenops rutilans
Yellow-chinned Spinetail Certhiaxis cinnamomeus
Stripe-breasted Spinetail Synallaxis cinnamomea
 
Manakins (Pipridae)
Blue-backed Manakin Chiroxiphia pareola
White-bearded Manakin Manacus manacus
Golden-headed Manakin Ceratopipra erythrocephala
 
Cotingas (Cotingidae)
Bearded Bellbird Procnias averano
 
Tityras and Allies (Tityridae)
Black-tailed Tityra Tityra cayana
White-winged Becard Pachyramphus polychopterus
 
Tyrant Flycatchers (Tyrannidae)
White-throated Spadebill (H) Platyrinchus mystaceus
Ochre-bellied Flycatcher Mionectes oleagineus
Slaty-capped Flycatcher Leptopogon superciliaris
Yellow-olive Flatbill Tolmomyias sulphurescens
Ochre-lored Flatbill Tolmomyias flaviventris
Southern Beardless Tyrannulet Camptostoma obsoletum
Forest Elaenia Myiopagis gaimardii
Yellow-bellied Elaenia Elaenia flavogaster
Euler’s Flycatcher Lathrotriccus euleri
Olive-sided Flycatcher Contopus cooperi
Northern Tropical Pewee Contopus bogotensis
Fuscous Flycatcher Cnemotriccus fuscatus
Northern Scrub Flycatcher Sublegatus arenarum
White-headed Marsh Tyrant Arundinicola leucocephala
Pied Water Tyrant Fluvicola pica
Venezuelan Flycatcher Myiarchus venezuelensis
Brown-crested Flycatcher Myiarchus tyrannulus
Great Kiskadee Pitangus sulphuratus
Boat-billed Flycatcher (H) Megarynchus pitangua
Streaked Flycatcher Myiodynastes maculatus
Tropical Kingbird Tyrannus melancholicus
Grey Kingbird Tyrannus dominicensis
 
Vireos, Shrike-Babblers, and Erpornis (Vireonidae)
Rufous-browed Peppershrike Cyclarhis gujanensis
Scrub Greenlet Hylophilus flavipes
Golden-fronted Greenlet Pachysylvia aurantiifrons
 
Swallows (Hirundinidae)
Southern Rough-winged Swallow Stelgidopteryx ruficollis
Grey-breasted Martin Progne chalybea
White-winged Swallow Tachycineta albiventer
Sand Martin Riparia riparia
 
Gnatcatchers (Polioptilidae)
Trilling Gnatwren Ramphocaenus melanurus
 
Wrens (Troglodytidae)
House Wren Troglodytes aedon
Rufous-breasted Wren Pheugopedius rutilus
 
Mockingbirds and Thrashers (Mimidae)
Tropical Mockingbird Mimus gilvus
 
Thrushes and Allies (Turdidae)
Cocoa Thrush Turdus fumigatus
Yellow-legged Thrush Turdus flavipes
White-necked Thrush Turdus albicollis
Spectacled Thrush Turdus nudigenis
 
Waxbills and Allies (Estrildidae)
Tricolored Munia Lonchura malacca
Common Waxbill Estrilda astrild
 
Finches, Euphonias, and Allies (Fringillidae)
Trinidad Euphonia Euphonia trinitatis
Violaceous Euphonia Euphonia violacea
 
Troupials and Allies (Icteridae)
Crested Oropendola Psarocolius decumanus
Yellow-rumped Cacique Cacicus cela
Yellow Oriole Icterus nigrogularis
Shiny Cowbird Molothrus bonariensis
Giant Cowbird Molothrus oryzivorus
Carib Grackle Quiscalus lugubris
Yellow-hooded Blackbird Chrysomus icterocephalus
 
New World Warblers (Parulidae)
Northern Waterthrush Parkesia noveboracensis
Masked Yellowthroat Geothlypis aequinoctialis
American Redstart Setophaga ruticilla
Tropical Parula Setophaga pitiayumi
American Yellow Warbler Setophaga petechia
Golden-crowned Warbler Basileuterus culicivorus
 
Cardinals and Allies (Cardinalidae)
Red-crowned Ant Tanager Habia rubica
 
Tanagers and Allies (Thraupidae)
Masked Cardinal Paroaria nigrogenis
White-lined Tanager Tachyphonus rufus
Silver-beaked Tanager Ramphocelus carbo
Blue-grey Tanager Thraupis episcopus
Palm Tanager Thraupis palmarum
Speckled Tanager Ixothraupis guttata
Turquoise Tanager Tangara mexicana
Bay-headed Tanager Tangara gyrola
Blue Dacnis Dacnis cayana
Purple Honeycreeper Cyanerpes caeruleus
Red-legged Honeycreeper Cyanerpes cyaneus
Green Honeycreeper Chlorophanes spiza
Bicolored Conebill Conirostrum bicolor
Saffron Finch Sicalis flaveola
Blue-black Grassquit Volatinia jacarina
Bananaquit Coereba flaveola
Black-faced Grassquit Melanospiza bicolor
Olive-grey Saltator Saltator olivascens
Total seen 213
Total heard only 9
Total recorded 222

Mammal List

 

Common Name Scientific Name
Opossums (Didelphidae)
Common Opossum Didelphis marsupialis
 
Silky Anteater (Cyclopedidae)
Silky Anteater Cyclopes didactylus
 
Agouti and Acouchis (Dasyproctidae)
Red-rumped Agouti Dasyprocta leporina
Total 3

Reptile and Amphibian List

 

Common Name Scientific Name
Sea Turtles (Cheloniidae)
Green Turtle Chelonia mydas 
 
Freshwater Turtles (Geoemydidae)
Spot-legged Wood Turtle Rhinoclemmys punctularia
 
Alligators and Caimans (Alligatoridae)
Spectacled Caimen Caiman crocodilus
 
Anoles (Dactyloidae)
Bronze Anole Anolis aeneus
 
Common Geckos (Gekkonidae)
African House Gecko Hemidactylus mabouia
 
Iguanas and Chuckwallas (Iguanidae)
Green Iguana Iguana iguana
 
Neotropical Ground Lizards (Tropiduridae)
Collared Tree Lizard Plica plica
 
Skinks (Scincidae)
Greater Windward Skink Copeoglossum aurae
 
Dwarf Geckos (Sphaerodactylidae)
Ocellated Gecko (Endemic) Gonatodes ocellatus
Whiptails (Teiidae)
Giant Ameiva Ameiva ameiva
Amazon Racerunner Ameiva atrigularis
Gold Tegu Tupinambis teguixin
Boas (Boidae)
Common Boa Boa constricto
Central American Tree Boa Corallus ruschenbergerii
Colubrids (Colubridae)
Forest Flame Oxyrhopus petolarius
True Toads (Bufonidae)
Cane Toad Bufo marinus
Cryptic Forest Frogs (Aromobatidae)
Trinidadian Stream Frog (Endemic) Mmannophryne trinitatis
Total 17

 

DOWNLOAD TRIP REPORT

This is a sample trip report. Please email us ([email protected]) for more trip reports from this destination.

TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO GENERAL INFORMATION

TOUR INTRODUCTION

On this birding adventure we explore the twin islands of Trinidad and Tobago, allowing ample time to appreciate their distinct characters, and diverse habitats. Our trip starts on the larger, vibrant Trinidad, with the famous Asa Wright Nature Centre as our base. From here we delve into coastal wetlands, mangroves, and marshes on both east and west coasts, the tropical savanna and scrub of central Trinidad, and the lush forests of the northern range. Towards the end of our stay in Trinidad, we travel to the remote northwest, in search of the Trinidad Piping Guan, a shy species restricted to these hill forests. On beautiful Tobago, we will enjoy a more tranquil and Caribbean approach. We explore coastal wetlands of southern Tobago, embark on a glass-bottom boat trip to the Little Tobago Island seabird colony, and target impressive localized species like White-tailed Sabrewing in the main forested ridge. The diversity of birds we encounter during this tour will be impressive, and we should have a lot of opportunity for photography and close views of brilliantly colorful species. This trip features unforgettable birding in a true tropical paradise.

 

WEATHER

Nestled in the southern Caribbean near the equator, Trinidad and Tobago have a constant temperate tropical climate year-round. The islands are influenced by both the warm Caribbean and Northeast Trade Winds, which together prevent extreme heat and temperature fluctuations, giving the twin islands a relatively constant temperature. The climate alternates between wet and dry seasons. The wet season, from June to November, features periods of heavy rainfall, occasional thunderstorms, and high humidity. Hurricanes are most likely between August and October, with Tobago at a higher risk due to its northern location. In contrast, the dry season spans January to April, offering warm days and cool nights with little rainfall. May and December are transition months between these seasons. The coolest months are January and February when the average minimum temperature is around 68F (20C), while the warmest months are April and October with a maximum average temperature around 89F (32C).

On this trip, we visit during the transition from the wet to the dry season, so we expect moderately high daytime temperatures around 84F (29C) and pleasant sea temperatures near 82F (28C). Night-time temperatures drop to 71F (22C). Intermittent afternoon showers are common, typically these are short, but prolonged heavy rain is expected on a couple of afternoons. Please be prepared for all weather, but expect a combination of heat, followed by the occasional heavy downpour to be the main challenge. To combat the weather, we’ll typically start early, and often bird into the early afternoon (dependent on temperature), with a more relaxing schedule planned for the afternoon.

 

POTENTIAL HAZARDS

 

Dangerous animals

While Trinidad only has a few species of venomous snakes, we will be visiting areas inhabited by these snakes, and as usual, we will be very lucky to see any. We recommend hiking boots, jeans/long trousers, and a good dose of care to minimize the danger of snakebites. We do not take anti-venom on our tours but will try and rush you to a private hospital if you do get bitten (although we will often be in remote places); your own travel insurance (especially medical insurance) is crucial. Scorpions and spiders can cause problems, but there are no large terrestrial mammals on either island to worry about.

 

Diseases

Malaria is not present in Trinidad and Tobago, however, Dengue fever and other insect-borne diseases, although uncommon, are present and so we recommend taking personal protective measures. These include using mosquito repellent, wearing long pants, and long-sleeved shirts, particularly at night when mosquitos and other biting insects are active.

Please carefully read the CDC traveler advice here which contains information on required vaccinations to enter Trinidad and Tobago.

 

Crime

The people of Trinidad and Tobago are incredibly friendly, helpful, and kind, but crime is always a possibility (as it is virtually worldwide). While crime rates to travelers are low in Trinidad and Tobago, and have reduced in recent years, we advise you to be cautious whilst travelling after dark before and after the tour starts. During the tour we do not visit or stay near areas associated with high crime. We urge you to be aware that crime is possible (although unlikely) throughout the trip – please take very good care of your personal belongings and do not leave valuables visible in the vehicle when no one is with it.

 

ELECTRICITY

Electricity is 115 V with the standard type A and type B electrical sockets (both have two flat parallel pins; type B has a grounding pin, see here for pictures). Although the electrical sockets are the same as in North America, not all sockets in Trinidad and Tobago will be polarized (i.e. they are commonly type A) so you may still need an international adapter to use your plug, if you intend to recharge electrical devices, video batteries etc. in your room.

 

SOME THINGS WE RECOMMEND YOU BRING

 

General list for all tours

Please note that space in the vehicle may be limited, but we understand that birders do need lots of equipment! There will be opportunities for laundry.

  • Binoculars (the guides cannot lend theirs)
  • A spotting scope and tripod (although our leader will have a spotting scope)
  • Field guides (see below recommendations)
  • Any other birding equipment
  • Photographic equipment
  • Spare batteries for photographic and other gear
  • Flashlight/torch/headlamp with spare batteries
  • Toiletries
  • Personal medication. We recommend packing important medication (and a change of clothes) in your hand luggage in the unlikely event of lost luggage.
  • Some countries might require a valid Yellow Fever Certificate (Trinidad requires this if you are traveling from a region where yellow fever is present), and we advise visiting a travel clinic or your family doctor and visiting the Centers for Disease Control website for health advice.
  • Rain gear (we expect to have rain on this trip, typically heavy short showers in the afternoons)
  • Alarm clock
  • Passport and if required, visas Copies of passport, medical insurance policies, and other important documents, which can be left with the Birding Ecotours office or at your home.
  • Money for drinks, gifts, tips (although tips at restaurants during the tour are included), items of a personal nature, etc.
  • Traveler’s checks are often difficult to use, except in the USA, but Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted, including for drawing local currency at ATMs.
  • Hiking boots plus another pair of shoes and sandals Swimming gear
  • Cap/hat and sunglasses
  • Sunscreen and lip sun protection
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Long-sleeved clothes as a precaution against biting insects

 

Clothing specific to this tour

In Trinidad and Tobago, we expect the weather to be warm to hot during the day, so hot weather clothes are recommended. The weather is often mild at night, and during our excursion to higher altitude, temperatures may drop, so we recommend bringing long pants and sweaters. Our boat trip into the dense mangrove forest of the Caroni Marsh will likely have biting insects, so long sleeves and long pants are advised. This tour is run at the best time for birds, but the disadvantage is the intermittent afternoon rain which can be heavy, so waterproofs are important. During the tour we visit and stay near several beaches, where comfortable light clothing would be suitable. There will be opportunity to swim during the tour.

 

BIRDING ECOTOURS EMERGENCY CONTACT DETAILS

Office: Nadia +27-72-211-9863, Chris +44-7808-571-444

E-mail: [email protected] (which is checked almost daily)

 

FIELD GUIDES

 

Birds

Field Guide of the Birds of Trinidad and Tobago by Martyn Kenefick, Robin Restall and Floyd Hayes (3rd Ed), 2019 – The best available bird guide.

A guide to the Birds of Trinidad and Tobago by Richard French (3rd Ed), 2003 – A great guide but outdated and less useful in the field compared to Kenefick.

 

Mammals

Trinidad and Tobago: Wildlife guide by Rainforest Publications, 2012, – a laminated fold out guide of the most frequently encountered mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates on the islands. Only shows common species, but does cover most of the mammals we’ll likely encounter.

 

Reptiles and Amphibians

A field guide to the Amphibians & Reptiles of Trinidad & Tobago by the Field Naturalist Club, 2018 – Well reviewed.

 

Butterflies

Trinidad and Tobago Butterflies by Rainforest Publications, 2015. A laminated fold out guide of the most often encountered species on the islands – Not comprehensive.

Birding Ecotours

Download Trinidad and Tobago General Information

This is the most comprehensive tour of Trinidad and Tobago you will find. We got to experience different habitats and saw so many birds and different kinds of wildlife. The evening trip to Caroni Swamp for the roosting of the Scarlet Ibis is unforgettable!

Sheryl - On Trinidad and Tobago

We really enjoyed this tour, and it is one of our favorite tours to date. Fraiser Bell was an excellent guide as was the local guide Lester on Trinidad. Both Asa Wright center locations on Trinidad were perfect for us, and we give it 5 stars out of 5. The accommodations, food, and guiding staff were top notch. We highly recommend this place for your future tour guests.

Tim - On Fraser and Trinidad and Tobago

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