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



By Fraser Bell

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.­


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 Guan, American Flamingo, Mangrove Cuckoo, White-tailed Nightjar, Oilbird, Little Hermit, Ruby-topaz Hummingbird, Tufted Coquette, White-tailed Sabrewing, White-chested Emerald, Red-billed Tropicbird, Red-footed Booby, Scarlet Ibis, Spectacled Owl, Guianan Trogon, Trinidad Motmot, American Pygmy Kingfisher, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Channel-billed Toucan, Bat Falcon, Blue-and-yellow Macaw, Stripe-breasted Spinetail, Blue-backed Manakin, White-bearded Manakin, Golden-headed Manakin, Bearded Bellbird, Venezuelan Flycatcher, Yellow-legged Thrush, Trinidad Euphonia, Masked Cardinal, Speckled Tanager and Bicolored Conebill. In addition to these incredible birds we found a great selection of other wildlife, such as Silky Anteater, Green Turtle, Spectacled Caimen, Ocellated 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 Jacana, Osprey, Fork-tailed Palm Swift, Yellow-headed Caracara, Yellow-chinned Spinetail, White-headed Marsh Tyrant, Pied Water Tyrant, White-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 Emerald, Little Hermit, Blue-chinned Sapphire, Black-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 Limpkin, Yellow 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 Goldenthroat, Purple 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 Trogon, Golden-fronted Greenlet, Trilling Gnatwren, Red-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 Flycatcher, Yellow-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 Hawk, White-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 Turnstone, Laughing 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 Blue, Tricolored, and Great Blue Herons, Great 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 Heron, Magnificent Frigatebird, Brown Pelican, Black 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 Antwren, White-bellied Antbird, Squirrel Cuckoo, Lineated 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 Pigeon, White-tipped Dove, Trinidad Motmot, Red-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 Spinetail, Plain 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 Whimbrel, Green, Tricolored, and Little Blue Herons, Snowy 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 Scaup, Eared 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 Boa, Yellow-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 Plover, Green-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 Parrots. Scrub 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 ListFollowing 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 NameScientific Name
Tinamous (Tinamidae)
Little Tinamou (H)Crypturellus soui
Ducks, Geese, Swans (Anatidae)
Black-bellied Whistling-DuckDendrocygna autumnalis
Blue-winged TealSpatula discors
White-cheeked PintailAnas bahamensis
Lesser ScaupAythya affinis
Guans, Chachalacas, and Curassows (Cracidae)
Rufous-vented ChachalacaOrtalis ruficauda
Trinidad Piping Guan (Endemic) CRPipile pipile
Flamingos (Phoenicopteridae)
American FlamingoPhoenicopterus ruber
Grebes (Podicipedidae)
Least GrebeTachybaptus dominicus
Pigeons and Doves (Columbidae)
Rock PigeonColumba livia
Pale-vented PigeonPatagioenas cayennensis
Scaled PigeonPatagioenas speciosa
Ruddy Ground DoveColumbina talpacoti
White-tipped DoveLeptotila verreauxi
Eared DoveZenaida auriculata
Cuckoos (Cuculidae)
Smooth-billed AniCrotophaga ani
Striped CuckooTapera naevia
Little CuckooCoccycua minuta
Squirrel CuckooPiaya cayana
Mangrove CuckooCoccyzus minor
Nightjars and Allies (Caprimulgidae)
Short-tailed NighthawkLurocalis semitorquatus
Pauraque (H)Nyctidromus albicollis
White-tailed NightjarHydropsalis cayennensis
Potoos (Nyctibiidae)
Common PotooNyctibius griseus
Oilbird (Steatornithidae)
OilbirdSteatornis caripensis
Swifts (Apodidae)
Grey-rumped SwiftChaetura cinereiventris
Band-rumped SwiftChaetura spinicaudus
Short-tailed SwiftChaetura brachyura
Fork-tailed Palm SwiftTachornis squamata
Hummingbirds (Trochilidae)
White-necked JacobinFlorisuga mellivora
Rufous-breasted HermitGlaucis hirsutus
Green HermitPhaethornis guy
Little HermitPhaethornis longuemareus
Brown VioletearColibri delphinae
White-tailed GoldenthroatPolytmus guainumbi
Ruby-topaz HummingbirdChrysolampis mosquitus
Black-throated MangoAnthracothorax nigricollis
Tufted CoquetteLophornis ornatus
Long-billed StarthroatHeliomaster longirostris
White-tailed SabrewingCampylopterus ensipennis
Copper-rumped HummingbirdSaucerottia tobaci
White-chested EmeraldChrysuronia brevirostris
Blue-chinned SapphireChlorestes notata
Rails, Gallinules, and Coots (Rallidae)
Grey-cowled Wood RailAramides cajaneus
SoraPorzana carolina
Common GallinuleGallinula galeata
Purple GallinulePorphyrio martinica
Limpkin (Aramidae)
LimpkinAramus guarauna
Plovers and Lapwings (Charadriidae)
Grey PloverPluvialis squatarola
Southern LapwingVanellus chilensis
Semipalmated PloverCharadrius semipalmatus
Jacanas (Jacanidae)
Wattled JacanaJacana jacana
Sandpipers and Allies (Scolopacidae)
Hudsonian WhimbrelNumenius phaeopus
Ruddy TurnstoneArenaria interpres
Semipalmated SandpiperCalidris pusilla
Wilson’s SnipeGallinago delicata
Spotted SandpiperActitis macularius
Solitary SandpiperTringa solitaria
Greater YellowlegsTringa melanoleuca
WilletTringa semipalmata
Lesser YellowlegsTringa flavipes
Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers (Laridae)
Laughing GullLeucophaeus atricilla
Lesser Black-backed GullLarus fuscus
Royal TernThalasseus maximus
Tropicbirds (Phaethontidae)
Red-billed TropicbirdPhaethon aethereus
Frigatebirds (Fregatidae)
Magnificent FrigatebirdFregata magnificens
Boobies and Gannets (Sulidae)
Brown BoobySula leucogaster
Red-footed BoobySula sula
Anhingas (Anhingidae)
AnhingaAnhinga anhinga
Cormorants and Shags (Phalacrocoracidae)
Neotropic CormorantNannopterum brasilianum
Pelicans (Pelecanidae)
Brown PelicanPelecanus occidentalis
Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns (Ardeidae)
Great Blue HeronArdea herodias
Great EgretArdea alba
Snowy EgretEgretta thula
Little Blue HeronEgretta caerulea
Tricolored HeronEgretta tricolor
Western Cattle EgretBubulcus ibis
Green HeronButorides virescens
Striated HeronButorides striata
Black-crowned Night HeronNycticorax nycticorax
Yellow-crowned Night HeronNyctanassa violacea
Ibises and Spoonbills (Threskiornithidae)
Scarlet IbisEudocimus ruber
New World Vultures (Cathartidae)
Black VultureCoragyps atratus
Turkey VultureCathartes aura
Osprey (Pandionidae)
OspreyPandion haliaetus
Hawks, Eagles, and Kites (Accipitridae)
Pearl KiteGampsonyx swainsonii
Grey-headed KiteLeptodon cayanensis
Snail KiteRostrhamus sociabilis
Plumbeous KiteIctinia plumbea
Long-winged HarrierCircus buffoni
Common Black HawkButeogallus anthracinus
Savanna HawkButeogallus meridionalis
Great Black HawkButeogallus urubitinga
White HawkPseudastur albicollis
Grey-lined HawkButeo nitidus
Broad-winged HawkButeo platypterus
Short-tailed HawkButeo brachyurus
Zone-tailed HawkButeo albonotatus
Barn Owls (Tytonidae)
American Barn OwlTyto alba
Owls (Strigidae)
Tropical Screech OwlMegascops choliba
Spectacled OwlPulsatrix perspicillata
Ferruginous Pygmy Owl (H)Glaucidium brasilianum
Mottled Owl (H)Strix virgata
Trogons (Trogonidae)
Green-backed TrogonTrogon viridis
Guianan TrogonTrogon violaceus
Collared TrogonTrogon collaris
Motmots (Momotidae)
Trinidad Motmot (Endemic)Momotus bahamensis
Kingfishers (Alcedinidae)
Ringed KingfisherMegaceryle torquata
American Pygmy KingfisherChloroceryle aenea
Green KingfisherChloroceryle americana
Jacamars (Galbulidae)
Rufous-tailed JacamarGalbula ruficauda
Toucans (Ramphastidae)
Channel-billed ToucanRamphastos vitellinus
Woodpeckers (Picidae)
Red-crowned WoodpeckerMelanerpes rubricapillus
Red-rumped WoodpeckerDryobates kirkii
Crimson-crested WoodpeckerCampephilus melanoleucos
Lineated WoodpeckerDryocopus lineatus
Golden-olive WoodpeckerColaptes rubiginosus
Falcons and Caracaras (Falconidae)
Crested CaracaraCaracara plancus
Yellow-headed CaracaraDaptrius chimachima
MerlinFalco columbarius
Bat FalconFalco rufigularis
Peregrine FalconFalco peregrinus
New World and African Parrots (Psittacidae)
Lilac-tailed Parrotlet (H)Touit batavicus
Blue-headed Parrot (H)Pionus menstruus
Yellow-crowned AmazonAmazona ochrocephala
Orange-winged AmazonAmazona amazonica
Green-rumped ParrotletForpus passerinus
Blue-and-yellow MacawAra ararauna
Typical Antbirds (Thamnophilidae)
Great Antshrike (H)Taraba major
Black-crested AntshrikeSakesphorus canadensis
Barred AntshrikeThamnophilus doliatus
Plain AntvireoDysithamnus mentalis
Northern White-flanked AntwrenMyrmotherula axillaris
Northern White-fringed AntwrenFormicivora grisea
Silvered AntbirdSclateria naevia
White-bellied AntbirdMyrmeciza longipes
Ovenbirds and Woodcreepers (Furnariidae)
Olivaceous WoodcreeperSittasomus griseicapillus
Plain-brown WoodcreeperDendrocincla fuliginosa
Cocoa WoodcreeperXiphorhynchus susurrans
Straight-billed WoodcreeperDendroplex picus
Streaked XenopsXenops rutilans
Yellow-chinned SpinetailCerthiaxis cinnamomeus
Stripe-breasted SpinetailSynallaxis cinnamomea
Manakins (Pipridae)
Blue-backed ManakinChiroxiphia pareola
White-bearded ManakinManacus manacus
Golden-headed ManakinCeratopipra erythrocephala
Cotingas (Cotingidae)
Bearded BellbirdProcnias averano
Tityras and Allies (Tityridae)
Black-tailed TityraTityra cayana
White-winged BecardPachyramphus polychopterus
Tyrant Flycatchers (Tyrannidae)
White-throated Spadebill (H)Platyrinchus mystaceus
Ochre-bellied FlycatcherMionectes oleagineus
Slaty-capped FlycatcherLeptopogon superciliaris
Yellow-olive FlatbillTolmomyias sulphurescens
Ochre-lored FlatbillTolmomyias flaviventris
Southern Beardless TyrannuletCamptostoma obsoletum
Forest ElaeniaMyiopagis gaimardii
Yellow-bellied ElaeniaElaenia flavogaster
Euler’s FlycatcherLathrotriccus euleri
Olive-sided FlycatcherContopus cooperi
Northern Tropical PeweeContopus bogotensis
Fuscous FlycatcherCnemotriccus fuscatus
Northern Scrub FlycatcherSublegatus arenarum
White-headed Marsh TyrantArundinicola leucocephala
Pied Water TyrantFluvicola pica
Venezuelan FlycatcherMyiarchus venezuelensis
Brown-crested FlycatcherMyiarchus tyrannulus
Great KiskadeePitangus sulphuratus
Boat-billed Flycatcher (H)Megarynchus pitangua
Streaked FlycatcherMyiodynastes maculatus
Tropical KingbirdTyrannus melancholicus
Grey KingbirdTyrannus dominicensis
Vireos, Shrike-Babblers, and Erpornis (Vireonidae)
Rufous-browed PeppershrikeCyclarhis gujanensis
Scrub GreenletHylophilus flavipes
Golden-fronted GreenletPachysylvia aurantiifrons
Swallows (Hirundinidae)
Southern Rough-winged SwallowStelgidopteryx ruficollis
Grey-breasted MartinProgne chalybea
White-winged SwallowTachycineta albiventer
Sand MartinRiparia riparia
Gnatcatchers (Polioptilidae)
Trilling GnatwrenRamphocaenus melanurus
Wrens (Troglodytidae)
House WrenTroglodytes aedon
Rufous-breasted WrenPheugopedius rutilus
Mockingbirds and Thrashers (Mimidae)
Tropical MockingbirdMimus gilvus
Thrushes and Allies (Turdidae)
Cocoa ThrushTurdus fumigatus
Yellow-legged ThrushTurdus flavipes
White-necked ThrushTurdus albicollis
Spectacled ThrushTurdus nudigenis
Waxbills and Allies (Estrildidae)
Tricolored MuniaLonchura malacca
Common WaxbillEstrilda astrild
Finches, Euphonias, and Allies (Fringillidae)
Trinidad EuphoniaEuphonia trinitatis
Violaceous EuphoniaEuphonia violacea
Troupials and Allies (Icteridae)
Crested OropendolaPsarocolius decumanus
Yellow-rumped CaciqueCacicus cela
Yellow OrioleIcterus nigrogularis
Shiny CowbirdMolothrus bonariensis
Giant CowbirdMolothrus oryzivorus
Carib GrackleQuiscalus lugubris
Yellow-hooded BlackbirdChrysomus icterocephalus
New World Warblers (Parulidae)
Northern WaterthrushParkesia noveboracensis
Masked YellowthroatGeothlypis aequinoctialis
American RedstartSetophaga ruticilla
Tropical ParulaSetophaga pitiayumi
American Yellow WarblerSetophaga petechia
Golden-crowned WarblerBasileuterus culicivorus
Cardinals and Allies (Cardinalidae)
Red-crowned Ant TanagerHabia rubica
Tanagers and Allies (Thraupidae)
Masked CardinalParoaria nigrogenis
White-lined TanagerTachyphonus rufus
Silver-beaked TanagerRamphocelus carbo
Blue-grey TanagerThraupis episcopus
Palm TanagerThraupis palmarum
Speckled TanagerIxothraupis guttata
Turquoise TanagerTangara mexicana
Bay-headed TanagerTangara gyrola
Blue DacnisDacnis cayana
Purple HoneycreeperCyanerpes caeruleus
Red-legged HoneycreeperCyanerpes cyaneus
Green HoneycreeperChlorophanes spiza
Bicolored ConebillConirostrum bicolor
Saffron FinchSicalis flaveola
Blue-black GrassquitVolatinia jacarina
BananaquitCoereba flaveola
Black-faced GrassquitMelanospiza bicolor
Olive-grey SaltatorSaltator olivascens
Total seen213
Total heard only9
Total recorded222

Mammal List

Common NameScientific Name
Opossums (Didelphidae)
Common OpossumDidelphis marsupialis
Silky Anteater (Cyclopedidae)
Silky AnteaterCyclopes didactylus
Agouti and Acouchis (Dasyproctidae)
Red-rumped AgoutiDasyprocta leporina

Reptile and Amphibian List

Common NameScientific Name
Sea Turtles (Cheloniidae)
Green TurtleChelonia mydas 
Freshwater Turtles (Geoemydidae)
Spot-legged Wood TurtleRhinoclemmys punctularia
Alligators and Caimans (Alligatoridae)
Spectacled CaimenCaiman crocodilus
Anoles (Dactyloidae)
Bronze AnoleAnolis aeneus
Common Geckos (Gekkonidae)
African House GeckoHemidactylus mabouia
Iguanas and Chuckwallas (Iguanidae)
Green IguanaIguana iguana
Neotropical Ground Lizards (Tropiduridae)
Collared Tree LizardPlica plica
Skinks (Scincidae)
Greater Windward SkinkCopeoglossum aurae
Dwarf Geckos (Sphaerodactylidae)
Ocellated Gecko (Endemic)Gonatodes ocellatus
Whiptails (Teiidae)
Giant AmeivaAmeiva ameiva
Amazon RacerunnerAmeiva atrigularis
Gold TeguTupinambis teguixin
Boas (Boidae)
Common BoaBoa constricto
Central American Tree BoaCorallus ruschenbergerii
Colubrids (Colubridae)
Forest FlameOxyrhopus petolarius
True Toads (Bufonidae)
Cane ToadBufo marinus
Cryptic Forest Frogs (Aromobatidae)
Trinidadian Stream Frog (Endemic)Mmannophryne trinitatis


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

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