Wow, it's been almost a whole month since I got a Skywatch post up! Amazing how time flies... and speaking of flying, this weeks post is a of a Broad-winged Hawk that has caught a lizard of some sort, which we spotted while on vacation in Tobago.
For more, go to
Friday, February 27, 2009
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
We woke up Sunday morning thinking that we'd be heading home and probably not adding much to our bird list. Throughout the trip, for some reason, I would start thinking that I didn't get any good pics of a certain species or another, and would try to get as many pics as I could. This particular morning I was worried that I hadn't got any good pics yet of a Blue-gray Tanager, and thought that the flowering immortelle tree would make a nice setting for a photo so I concentrated my efforts there:
Our ride picked us up at 8:30am, and we were happy to see that it was Ingle again. We enjoyed the ride west across the island, talking about what we'd seen the last few days and chatting about the world, politics, education, and the job market in Tobago. We'd made pretty good time crossing the island on a Sunday morning and Ingle suggested a quick side trip near Bon Accord to see if we could pick-up any wetland birds along the way. We readily agreed and within a few minutes were looking at Snowy Egrets, Little Blue Herons, Anhingas, and Common Moorhens. We also had great looks at Southern Lapwings: Then we got to see another bird that I had hoped to see, but wasn't quite expecting to - White-cheeked Pintails. Again we had great looks but they were too far away for photos. (And the digi-scoping set-up was all packed away for the trip home) Oh well, I was happy just to see them.
At the airport in Tobago, we stopped for a quick breakfast. When we were at the inn, our meals were accompanied by turnstones and chachalacas - at the restaurant across from the airport it was Carib Grackles:
At the airport we caught up again with our friends Dave and Linda and heard all about the Cuffie River Nature Retreat - the other Tobago location that Caligo makes arrangements for. Back in Trinidad, we had a few hours before our plane was scheduled to leave, so Pam and I took a walk at the airport in hopes of seeing the Yellow-headed Caracara again, and I really wanted to find Red-breasted Blackbird. We dipped on the blackbirds, but did get spectacular looks at a Savannah Hawk perched atop a light pole, much the same way we often see Red-tailed Hawks here:
Finally, the last birds we saw before re-entering the terminal (and the last new birds for the trip) were Ruddy Ground-Doves:
And although that was the last bird of the trip - it was unfortunately not the end of our trip. We had just began a day long odyssey of boarding and "de-planing", re-scheduling and re-scheduling again of connections, and hours in the American Airlines terminal in Trinidad. Sunday for us ended at 11:15pm and finally getting vouchers for cab fare and hotel arrangements, which we were able to use for a few hours. Then we had to be back at the airport in the early morning to re-check-in and board the plane for the third time, fingers crossed. Apparently third time's the charm for American Airlines, as we got off the ground and finally heading home.
I've not yet had a chance to enter sightings into AviSys, but I believe the tally for the trip was about 135 species of birds, 4 of which were "heard-only" birds, and 97 of which were "lifers."
In closing, I want to thank everybody for their comments, compliments, encouragement, and especially patience with this series of posts. The trip was truly amazing and a life changing experience, and I encourage all birders to seriously consider a trip like this in the near future. I plan to create one last post with links to information for anyone wanting to take a similar trip!
Monday, February 23, 2009
Thanks to everybody for hanging in there through all these posts. I really had not intended for this to go on for so long, but there really was so much to see every day - and I am sure I am forgetting quite a bit too!
Saturday morning we were (re)scheduled to go out with Frank's Glass-bottom Boats to Little Tobago Island at 9:00am. We started the day walking to the spot where Gladwyn suggested we check for the Ruby Topaz, and although I had great looks of one just a few feet away from me, Pam was in the wrong spot. Running out of time if we were going to get breakfast before the trip, we headed to the inn for breakfast with the Rufous-vented Chachalacas and Ruddy Turnstones. This time, I tried getting a few movies of each...
We were also pretty entertained by the crabs on the beach...
Turns out that our friends Linda & Dave from earlier in the trip were also on this day's trip along with two British couples, Chris & Yvonne and Trevor & Jill, that we'd seen around the inn and restaurant for the last few days. The crossing to Little Tobago Island, a nature sanctuary that was made famous by David Attenborough in his "Trials of Life" series, was a little rough but not too bad. I'd been looking forward to this part of the trip for a while, as there are birds on Little Tobago that aren't really seen at any other part of this trip. We'd seen Brown Pelicans and Magnificent Frigatebirds since we arrived, but we were about to see some seabirds that I'd not seen before. We landed on the island, disembarked, and led by a guide from Frank's tour, headed to a lookout over a bay that provided wonderful looks at a bird I've been dreaming of seeing since I first opened a field guide - Red-billed Tropicbirds.
Although a scope was needed (and we did bring one) we also got great looks at Brown Boobies as well as both the brown and white color morphs of Red-footed Boobies. I tried a bit of digi-scoping at about 60x to document these sightings:
White and brown morph Red-footed Boobies at nest
Then we were permitted, two at a time for just a few moments each, to visit a Red-billed Tropicbird on it's nest:
On the ride back, the glass-bottomed boat really came into play, as we passed over coral reefs including "Einstein" one of the largest brain corals in the Caribbean. We then had lunch, a brief refreshing swim in the bay, then decided to hike along the Starwood trail on the Blue Waters Inn property - a successful walk which finally got Pamela great looks at the Ruby Topaz (although still no pics), as well as picking up a few new lifers including White-fringed Antwren, and Black-faced Grassquit. We also passed a few employees of the inn on the entrance road who pointed out a large green Iguana lounging on a nearby tree branch:
After another long day, full of birds, warm weather and sun, we headed back to the room to relax, think about all the wonderful experiences of the past week, and to pack for our trip back north to wintry Massachusetts. Little did we suspect that we still had a few new birds to see before that happened though.
Sunday, February 22, 2009
On Friday morning, I woke ready and raring to go. I stepped outside our room to check the flowering immortelle tree outside the entrance of the inn and it was full of activity. The chachalacas were up there eating the petals of the flowers. They were joined on the tree by Tropical Mockingbirds, Pale-vented Pigeons, Palm Tanangers, Blue-grey Tanangers, Bananaquits, Copper-rumped Hummingbirds, Black-throated Mangos, and Great Audubon's Ghost! - a male Ruby Topaz hummingbird. Pamela hadn't seen it at Waller Field the other day, and this was one of the target birds for the day! It only stayed for a few moments then was off. I tried to get Pam to stand a vigil with me at that tree until we met Gladwyn, but the allure of breakfast and especially coffee was too strong for her, and every time she stepped away for a few minutes, the bird seemed to show up. (Hey, it happes to us all at some time or another) By the time Gladwyn arrived, we did manage to add another bird to our list - a Red-crowned Woodpecker which visted the same immortelle tree:
After a few minutes getting together lunch for the day, we were off. On the way out, Gladwyn pointed out another area where the Ruby Topaz like to visit that was in walking distance of the inn, and infact we did see a few distant birds, but not well enough for Pam to put on her list yet. (And I was determined that she would not go home without seeing this bird well.) We continued on to the Roxborough-Bloody Bay Road, which bisects the island, and going from the ocean side to the carribean side through the Tobago Main Ridge Preserve - the oldest nature preserve in the western hemisphere. After gaining some elevation, we opened the windows and were listening for birds as we crawled along. Gladwyn quickly picked up on a Golden-olive Woodpecker, and as we got out to get better looks, he also spoted a bird I wasn't expecting to see - a Red-legged Honeycreeper, and then a few minutes later found the first of our target birds for the day (and one of the two main reasons we hired him)a Blue-backed Manakin. We got pretty good looks, but again I was able to appreciate how difficult it was finding, much less trying to photograph birds in the rainforest. Any pics I tried to take of these birds turned out simply black. We then continued on, made a quick rest stop at the Bloody Bay Recreational Site, where a forrestry building used to be, an the foundation for a new building is, although no work has been done on it for a while. The restrooms were still functional though, and there is a fantastic view. We then went to the entrance of Gilpin Trace, a rather well-known trail for birding and general nature watching in the rainforest. An enterprising gentleman there rents out rubber boots for those visiting the site, and we were glad to pay the few dollars each to do so. (There were a few occassions where I knew that I would've been pretty miserable if we hadn't!) We arrived at the same time as a class of children, which obviously worried Gladwyn a bit. A loud group of kids would likely scare the birds further away from the path, and more importantly would've made it very difficult for him to hear. We managed to get past them pretty quickly and further down the trail, and soon it was obvious that we'd made a very good choice in hiring Gladwyn. (Warning: shameless plug to follow) Now I realize that we were in an entirely new environment with unfamiliar birds & sounds, so we can be forgiven for not being able to pick up on a lot, but Gladwyn really had excellent birding skills. I swear at times he just sensed the birds. I found that a lot of birds sounded very similar to me in the rainforest, but he was able to tease out their identities pretty easily. And to say that seeing birds that are moving furtively through this sun-dappled and shadowed environment is difficult, would really be an understatement. I felt like we were brand new birders again - not just in see new birds, but in spotting ability! The other amazing ability that Gladwyn had, was that(like many of the guides we encountered on this trip)he was able to do the calls of many of the birds incredibly well. OK - so you get the sense we were impressed? With Gladwyn's help we continued adding birds to our lists - Yellow-legged Thrush, Scrub Greenlet, Stripe-breasted Spinetail, Cocoa Woodcreeper. Pamela spotted a flycatcher for us that turned out to be a Fuscous Flycatcher. We got some better looks at some birds we'd seen in Trinidad like Rufous-breasted Wren and White-necked Thrush. We heard a few birds whose vocalizations were easily as interesting what they looked like, like Olivaceous Woodcreeper and Venezuelan Flycatcher. We also got great looks at two other big target birds for the day: Rufous-tailed Jacamar:
And the other main reason we hired him, the White-tailed Sabrewing:The White-tailed Sabrewing was thought for a while to have been wiped out in Tobago by hurricane Flora in 1963. Thankfully, this was not the case, and the population seems to be recovering well.
While we were walking out, and I was desperately trying to take photos of everything, I noticed this one large bug. I haven't been able to identify it yet, but I got a few pics, and noticed when I got home that in one of them that it was checking out something I missed entirely while there:
UPDATE: see Patrick's comment about both the spider and id of the insect in the above photo.
When I caught up with Pam and Gladwyn, they had found another Blue-backed Manakin that provided better looks, but sadly no real good photos.
After our 3 1/2 hour hike in Gilpin Trace, we returned the rubber boots and enjoyed a nice lunch near the entrance, where an inquisitive Motmot checked us out for a while and waited for handouts:Notice the dirt on it's bill? Motmots nest in tunnels dug out of high bank, and I suspect that this bird had been working on one for the upcoming nesting season which starts in March. We got to see a few of these tunnels in a bank near the entrance to the trace. After a fine lunch supplied by the restaurent at the Blue Waters Inn, we worked our way slowly back down Bloody Bay Road, with one of the highlights being Gladwyn calling in a Collared Trogon for pretty good looks.
Back at the inn, the thanked Gladwyn for a great day of birding and went in to cool off and relax for a while, and we both nodded off for a late afternoon nap listening to the ocean outside our door. Once we were up again, I spent more time watching the immortelle tree, hoping for the Ruby Topaz to return, when Pamela spotted another new bird for the trip - a Yellow-bellied Elania.
That evening at dinner, we ate while listening to a live steel drum band that I understand played every Friday night. What a treat!
That's it for this post. Next part will be Little Tobago Island...
Saturday, February 21, 2009
After our last dinner at Asa Wright we returned to our room to pack up and get a good night's sleep before leaving in the morning. One thing I had hoped to find in our room each day, but had not yet was a gecko. For some reason, in my mind I felt like it would've meant good luck, and was rather disappointed that we didn't have our own room gecko. As we walked into the room and turned on the light, I found one close to the door and as soon as I tried to get Pamela to see it, he scooted out the door. A few minutes later I spotted a second one, but this was was so small as to be almost cartoonishly cute. It blended in with the floor so perfectly that I was worried we'd lose track of it, so I coaxed it onto my hand to bring it to our porch where it could do it's gecko thing without fear of being trod upon.
In the morning we were packed and ready to go by 7am, and head a hearty breakfast that was set out early for us. Our driver wasn't scheduled to pick us up until 8:30 so for an extra hour and a half, we wandered the grounds and took our last looks and photos of Asa Wright:
Pamela in the reading room where tea and coffee is served in the morning. (the veranda is to the left of this photo)
The veranda as seen from the Discovery Trail
The feeders from ground level
And I finally got a photo of an Agouti that I was happy with.
I also took a few quick movies. The quality isn't great but this gives a small idea of what the activity at the feeders is like:
At 8:30am we met Charan to pack the car and head back to Piarco Airport to catch a quick flight over to Trinidad. Just as we pulled into the airport, I spotted a bird on one of the chain-link fences that surrounds the airfield which turned out to be a Yellow-headed Caracara.
The flight to Trinidad is only about 20-25 minutes so you spend more time at the airport waiting than you do in the air! Our friends Linda & Dave from the lodge were on the same flight and we chatted about the things we'd seen, and the respective places that we'd be staying at in Tobago. At Trinidad we were met by Denise James, (the daughter of the well-known Tobago bird guide Adolphus James) who arranged for our transportation to the Blue Waters Inn in Speyside. Before leaving I asked her if she knew if her father was available at all to guide us one day, and she gave us her brother Gladwyn's number who does most of the guiding these days. Adolphus apparently still does some guiding when needed, but is passing most of the business on to his son. We had a very pleasant ride to Speyside which is at the far eastern part of the island with Ingle, (our driver) who was very knowledgeable about the island, the wildlife, history, people, etc. Along the way we were treated to stunning ocean views that gave us some impression of what we had in store for us the next few days:
The drive from one end of the island (where the airport is) to Speyside takes about an hour and a half, and as you can see, is a beautiful ride. We arrived at The Blue Waters Inn in the early afternoon, checked in, then went down for a quick lunch before deciding what to do with the rest of our day. One thing I had read about the inn, is that there are Ruddy Turnstones there that are not only very accustomed to people, they actually join you for lunch in the open air restaurant.
Of course, once the Ruddy Turnstones have found you, it's not too long before the Rufous-vented Chachacalas pick-up on what's going on and need to check into it themselves.
The Bananquits were abundant here too - about as ubiquitous as the Black-capped Chickadees at home in Massachusetts, so after a while I was only giving them passing glances to confirm ids. On the other hand, any time a Motmot was around, it had my attention:
After lunch, I made a call to Gladwyn to see about arranging a guide for Saturday, and since he was on his way to the inn to meet some other guests, we arranged to talk when he arrived. In the meantime, we decided to just walk the grounds a bit to see what was being seen locally. Walking up the entrance road, Pamela spotted a line of leaf-cutter ants on a tree and while I was trying (and failing) to get a nice close-up photo of them, she also found this amazing caterpillar:A little research once we got home (I love BugGuide.net!!) identified this as a Frangipani Hawkmoth.
Another guest pointed out a hummingbird nest alongside the entrance road. Sure enough, a female Black-throated Mango was sitting in her delicate little cup made of spider-web strands and what I presume were lichens of some sort:
Over the next few days, I looked at that branch every time we passed, either on foot or in car, and she was only there about 1 in 4 times, which makes me wonder if she was still laying eggs. I never did spot a male here, but there were plenty in the area - especially visiting the Swamp Immortelle tree right in front of the inn's entrance. When Gladwyn showed up and was able to check his availability, it turned out that he was completely booked for Saturday (the day we had free) but was available for the next day. I mentioned that we couldn't make it because we had been scheduled to go to Little Tobago Island with Frank's Glass-bottom Boat tours. He said it would not be a problem for them to re-schedule us for Saturday, and that he would take care of it for us. We were also able to confirm this with the folks in the office at the inn (where you arrange the trip to Little Tobago to begin with). I have to say, everybody there is very cooperative in making sure that you get the full experience, and everything went off without a hitch over the next few days. We made our arrangements with Gladwyn to meet the next morning, then decided to go for a swim in the beautiful warm ocean water- I mean come on, how could you resist this?This is the view from our balcony at Blue Waters Inn. We spent the rest of the day relaxing and studying up on the birds we would see the next day birding Tobago's 'Main Ridge' and Gilpin Trace - which will be the subject of the next post...
Friday, February 20, 2009
This morning on my way into work, I heard a short story on Morning Edition on WBUR (one of our local PBS stations) about Snowy Owls at Logan International Airport in Boston. It's pretty common knowledge that they arrive there every winter, and through a cooperative effort of Massport and MassAudubon they are removed to wilder places (often times the Parker Rivern National Wildlife Refuge on Plum Island) both for their protection as well as for the planes.
I though you might be interested in it too. You can read the article here or can listen to it here.
I've not had nearly as much time to grab the stick and surf the ol' interwebz in the last few weeks, so my roundup feels a bit thin to me as I approach it this week. Perhaps by the time this posts I'll be able to fill it out a bit more. (And, hopefully you have all been enjoying my posts about out trip to Trinidad and Tobago and will cut me a bit of slack.)
One of the first items that hit my woodpecker radar once I had the chance to do some browsing, was this amazing photo posted on National Geographic's site, taken by Martin Lukasiewicz in Rondeau Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada, capturing a fight between a Northern Flicker and a Red-headed Woodpecker. I have to admit, I think that this is an early and almost sure winner for my favorite photo of 2009.
Bev at Behind the Bins had two posts this week that caught my eye. The first was a snap of a male Downy Woodpecker that showed a split nuchal patch (that red spot on the back of their heads) - something that is normal for Hairy Woodpeckers, but pretty rare on Downies as far as I can tell. Then she followed up with a post about searching for - and finding - endangered Red-cockaded Woodpeckers in Sam Houston National Forest while on a business trip to Houston TX.
And speaking of Texas, Kyle over at As the Mind Wanders is a birder after my own heart. You will recognize his name from pretty much every roundup so far as he just keeps finding, photographing, and posting about the various woodpeckers he finds. This week he posted some pics he got of an immature Red-headed Woodpeckers for his "Bird Photography Weekly"
James at Coyote Mercury posted a few photos this week of a Ladder-backed Woodpecker, a local speciecs he has become adept at finding in his neck of the woods, and that he got to spend some time with while taking part in the GBBC last weekend.
Hannibal, of Hannibal's Animals blog, posted some amazing photos of Pileated Woodpeckers this week, but I have to admit that my favorite is the first one on this post showing FIVE in flight.
Jeff Gordon's (no not the NASCAR driver) blog is regularly updated with some great images, often from central America, and this particular post had a fantastic image of a Linneated Woodpecker, a species I just say myself for the first time a few weeks ago.
Need an Ivory-billed Woodpecker update fix? Cyberthrush is always on top of things, keeping careful track of news and updates. Of particular interest to me this week was an update on Dr Geoff Hill's teams search for IBWOs in the Florida panhandle.
Gerard Gorman of the Probirder site just got back from a trip to Brazil, and recently posted a pic of one of the seven species of woodpeckers that he saw while there, a Blonde-crested Woodpecker. I for one, can say I'm looking forward to seeing if he has any pics of the other six he saw.
And don't forget to periodically check in on Gerard's other site, Woodpeckers of Europe for plenty of good photos, drawings, and information.
Finally, and I apologize for ending on a low note, the residents in Rossmore, a retirement community in Walnut Creek, California are continuing with their plan to bring in permitted sharpshooters to try to rid themselves of Acorn Woodpeckers that are drilling into their townhouse homes. They claim to have tried a variety of methods to deter the woodpeckers. It just disgusts me that this is still considered a viable solution, and that they believe that this will solve their problem. How many birds do they plan to kill before they realize that it will not work? It is especially disheartening that this is being carried out on a such a strongly communal species, where family bonds are very strong. I can rant about this for hours on end, and have sent letters, signed petitions, etc but will spare you the current rage that is building inside me as I write.
LATE ADDITION: Just found this one. Chris of Vermont had a great post on his Tales of Birding blog about Acorn Woodpeckers and their social structure, cooperative breeding, and communal behavior. He cites information from Walter Koenig, who literally wrote the book(with Ronald Mumme) on this species: "Population Ecology of the Cooperatively Breeding Acorn Woodpecker" I loved the book (go figure) but can be a bit pricey. I would highly suggest reading Chris' post for a very nice summary of the fascinating behaviors of this woodpecker! (and some nice pics he took on a recent trip to SE Arizona)
As always, if you have some cool info or a post about woodpeckers, drop me a line - I'd love to know about it.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Back on my first post I talked a little bit about the Crested Oropendolas, and the amazing sounds they make. At the time, I had forgotten about a great on-line resource called Xeno-canto, which
has a wonderful library of bird calls and songs.
If you want to hear the crazy sounds that the oropendolas make, select any of the recordings found on this page.
(Then play around on the site and find out what other sounds they have in the collection.)
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Wow - I can't believe I am at part 5, and I am only starting to post about our third day of birding - I need an editor! I think that if I need two big posts to describe a single day, I'm probably being a bit too wordy, so my aim for the next several posts is to just have one post per day of the trip. Let's hope it works out.
I woke up to our third and last full day at Asa Wright listening again to a Ferruginous Pygmy Owl tooting somewhere nearby. Although I felt like I'd seen most of the birds that I was going to see from the veranda, I nevertheless wanted to be there at first light again. Hey, you never know what might show up! I'm glad I did, as I saw a few Short-tailed Nighthawks doing their last few sweeps before heading to roost, and had my only good looks at Rufous-browed Peppershrike. After a cup of tea and a lot of good-natured ribbing about my mis-pronunciation of "tityra" from the local guides after I spotted one in the distance that provided nice scope views but poor photo ops, we went in for breakfast. (BTW it is pronounced ti-tyra - with the first syllable cut short and the emphasis on tyra, like the name - NOT titti-ra which had the guides almost in tears)
We noticed that a bird we had seen a day or two earlier in the dining room still seemed to be caught there (must've come in through a low open window and couldn't figure out where to get back out) and Pam, among others, was seriously concerned about it and mentioned it to Mukesh who found a ladder and after breakfast was able to rescue the bird with the help of a butterfly net. He brought the bird to the veranda so we could all have a good look at her before he let her go. It was a female Golden-headed Manakin:
The good news is that she had plenty of energy, no feather damage, and appeared to be finding food while stuck there. I'm sure she was thrilled to be free though. I wonder how often this happens here, as we also had a Bananaquit fly into our room and to our enclosed porch the day before, and I had to catch and release it myself.
After breakfast, Linda, Dave, Kathy, Jim as well as a few other guests had our hike to the Dunstan Cave - the site on the grounds where Oilbirds nest and roost. This trip is only done once or twice a week, and only for guests that spend three or more nights at the lodge (no day-trippers) in order to minimize the disturbance of the birds at their roost and nest site. These are large fascinating birds with quite a history. Really - take a moment and check that link to read about them. I promise, I'll be here when you get back...
Cool, huh? Well, it's not cool that the locals used to harvest the fat oily chicks to use for lamp oil (in some cases apparently just putting the fresh carcass on the end of a stick and lighting it on fire). Overnight I had heard something that I swore was one of the local feral cats fighting with something (we have two indoor cats that don't get along so I know what an angry cat sounds like!) but learned that it was probably more likely to be the Oilbirds which were foraging in the area where we stayed. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get any pics of the Oilbirds in the cave - too dark and wet and understandably couldn't use a flash. Other bird spotted on the way there or back included Tropical Pewee, Forest Elania, a single shy Green Kingfisher that only a few of us in the front got to see, Collared Trogon, and just as we returned this White-tailed Trogon:Note the different tail pattern and pale blue eye-ring which helps to differentiate it from the Violacious Trogon, which I blogged about earlier here.
Once we were back at the veranda, I was determined to get as many pics of the regular birds as I could since we'd be leaving tomorrow, and I didn't know how much time we'd have in the morning. White-chested Emeralds, a hummingbird that we'd seen only briefly over that last few days, seemed to be visiting a lot more, so I made sure to get a few pics:
The White-necked Jacobins seemed to be begging to have their photo taken, so of course I obliged:
Also a very frenetic male Tufted Coquette was visiting one of the flowering bushes next to the veranda and I tried again to get some photos, with limited success:
Some other photo opportunities that presented themselves were both male and female Barred Antshrikes:
And the beautiful Violaceous Euphonia:
Also the more common Tropical Kingbird and Great Kiskadee - both birds that you can get in the US if you go to the right places, but hard to resist photos of when they are hanging out just a few meters away from you:
Just before lunch, we were approached by two gentlemen that had arrived a day or so earlier, Vincent & Colin and who had been making the most of their time there, and they asked if we'd like to join them for a trip they'd arranged to go to Waller Field to see Red-bellied Macaws. A win-win situation for all of us - we'd get to go to a location we hadn't planned on, and the per person cost was minimized for a larger group. We readily agreed and planned to meet them that afternoon. Charan, who had picked us up at the airport when we arrived, was our driver and guide, and was easily as talented and adept a birder and guide as all the others that are in the employ of As Wright. We arried at Waller Field, an old US air base from WWII, which now has a lot of construction of a new university, just as a light drizzling rain started. After checking through a security gate, where they obviously knew Charan and were used to him brining birders here, we quickly picked up on a perched falcon, which turned out to be a Merlin. Parking the car, we started picking up new birds right away - Moriche Oriole & Sulphury Flycatcher were two great finds by Charan, who seemed to take it in course. Then the Red-bellied Macaws started flying in to the palms across the street. We got out the scopes to get better looks at these beautiful birds, as more and more joined the first few that arrived, and it seemed like the rain might abate a bit. I kept checking a tree that Charan had mentioned that he'd seen Ruby-topaz Hummingbirds visit, and was rewarded with a brief but beautiful look at one of the dazzling birds. Unfortunately, I was the only one who got a good look, then the rain started coming down again. We grabbed an umbrella, and Pam and I decided to try and stake out the spot for a while in hopes that it would come back and she would get a good look - after all, we have had plenty of experience with seeing hummingbirds in the rain. After 45 minutes or so, while the rain continued to come down harder and harder, we threw in the towel and joined the rest of our group under a thatched roof shelter that still provided good looks at the macaws. We enjoyed our afternoon tea and rum punch under the shelter and tried to wait out the rain, but after a while longer, we decided that it was starting to get dark (which wouldn't have been bad for crepuscular birds and nighthawks and which this was a good spot for) and that the rain simply was not going to stop. So we loaded up the car and headed back to Asa Wright. The roads were absolutely flooded and there were brief moments of concern about whether we would be able to make it the whole way, but we did indeed make it back safe and sound, enjoyed a arm dry dinner, and packed it in for the night after another full day of birding.
I did it - I managed to get a full day into one post! Next up, our last morning at Asa Wright, and then heading over to Tobago.