The islands of Trinidad and Tobago work wonderfully as an introduction to neotropical birds, as many species are easily observable and the diversity of species within families is less intimidating than on the mainland. Trinidad is geologically part of South America, located only ten miles from the shore of Venezuela. Trinidad offers a good sample size of northern South America bird species. Tobago is much smaller with many species that are not found in Trinidad. When we have free time to bird at the lodges, we will offer mini-lectures on the different neotropical families.
We will spend five nights at the Asa Wright Nature Center with plenty of downtime to enjoy the easy birding around the lodge grounds. From the famous verandah you can see up to twelve species of hummingbird at the nectar feeders including Tufted Coquette and Ruby-topaz Hummingbird. Other tropical birds such as Bat Falcon, Channel-billed Toucan, and Red-rumped Woodpecker can be spotted from the comfort of the verandah.
The world-class local guides at Asa Wright will join us on many excursions throughout Trinidad during our stay. One morning we will visit the famous Oilbird cave located on the lodge grounds. This will involve an easy hike, less than one hour, through the rainforest to the cave to watch these bizarre, fruit-eating members of the nightjar family. In the afternoon at Caroni National Park we will bird by boat, looking for Boat-billed Heron, American Pygmy-Kingfisher, Red-capped Cardinals, and others. Ultimately we will settle into the mangroves at dusk to watch the sky fill with Scarlet Ibises returning to their roosts in the mangrove swamp forests of Caroni Swamp. This is guaranteed to be a memorable, breathtaking experience.
A day long excursion on Blanchisseuse Road into the beautiful habitat of the Northern Range of Trinidad may yield Collared Trogon, Ornate Hawk-Eagle, Lilac-tailed Parrotlet, Stripe-breasted Spinetail, Rufous-breasted Wren, Speckled Tanager, and many others. Some of the species possible on a night excursion to lower elevations from the lodge are Sulphury Flycatcher, Moriche Oriole, White-tailed Nightjar, Common Pauraque, Common Potoo, Tropical Screech-owl, and Spectacled Owl. Another day we will visit the Aripo savanna with the likelihood of watching Savanna Hawks soaring over the stunning landscape.
Another highlight will be visiting one of the best turtle watching spots in the world, Matura Beach, at sunset to watch giant Leatherback Turtles come ashore to lay eggs at the beginning of their nesting season.
A twenty minute flight transports us to Tobago, the smaller island paradise of mountainous ancient rainforest, dramatic waterfalls, and pristine beaches. We will stay four nights at the luxurious, highly regarded Cuffie River Nature Retreat. Some species found here that are not easily found on Trinidad include Rufous-vented Chachalaca, Red-crowned Woodpecker, White-fringed Antwren, and the Venezuelan Flycatcher.
On Tobago we have the opportunity to explore lower montane rainforest habitat. We will walk the Gilpin Trace Trail within the Tobago Main Ridge Forest Reserve, the oldest wildlife sanctuary in the Western Hemisphere, to look for species such as Yellow-legged Thrush, the near endemic White-tailed Sabrewing, Yellow-legged Thrush, and Blue-backed Manakin.
We will take a short trip on a glass-bottomed boat to the incredibly scenic island of Little Tobago to enjoy nesting seabirds (Brown Booby, Red-footed Booby, Magnificent Frigatebird). We will also have an opportunity to find the endemic Trinidad Motmot and to marvel at the Red-billed Tropicbirds gliding over their breeding grounds. Snorkeling equipment will be available for anyone that wishes to get a closer look at over thirty species of coral and countless tropical fish, easily viewed in the shallow reefs surrounding Little Tobago.
We hope you join us on this relaxing, slower-paced ecotour to a biodiverse tropical paradise.
- Trip Leaders: Erin Law, Greg Smith, and local guides
- Fee: $4,995 members / $5,495 non-members
- Deposit: $2,700
- Single supplement: TBD
- Group size: Limited to 10 participants
*Trip fees cover all ground transportation, double-occupancy lodging, all meals, local guides, entrance fees, excursions and the services of your skilled leaders. Fees do not include alcoholic beverages, airfare to and from Trinidad and one internal flight from Trinidad to Tobago (approximately $150 round trip).
Erin fell in love with birding while working at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. After college, she studied Red-throated Loons, Common Loons and shorebird migration at Grays Harbor, Washington. Erin is passionate about the natural histories of birds, conservation, and advocating for environmental and social justice. She has traveled throughout Latin America and East Africa and loves nothing more than sharing her knowledge and enthusiasm for birds and the natural world, and for all cultures around the world.
Gregory has been a field biologist studying seabirds for the past ten years. Their work has taken them from the Florida Everglades to offshore islands on both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. Gregory is passionate about connecting people with nature, in particular communities historically underrepresented in the natural sciences.