DAY 1 - Travel day. Once you arrive in the capital city of the Port of Spain, you'll be taken to the ASA Wright Nature Center in the Arima Valley, about an hour's drive from the airport. Upon arrival at the nature center, you can visit the veranda where feeders are set up and they attract a wide variety of species including hummingbirds such as Blue-chinned Sapphire, White-chested Emerald, White-necked Jacobin and the beautiful Tufted Coquette. Other stunning tropical birds to be seen at the feeders include tanagers, such as Blue-gray and Silver-beaked tanagers, and the lovely Turquoise Tanager. Enjoy the nature center's famous rum punch before a delicious evening meal.
DAY 2 - We'll have morning coffee & tea on the veranda, looking for more tropical treats at the feeders, perhaps spotting 35-40 species before we even have breakfast. Sticking close to the nature center today, we will explore some of the local trails, such as the Discovery Trail. Here, we will learn about the forest and its birds from our local guide. One species we will look for this morning is the Bearded Bellbird, as well as the endemic Trinidad Motmot. Spectacled Thrush, Golden-headed Manakin, Guianian Trogon, Channel-billed Toucan and the attractive Rufous-browed Peppershrike are just a few more species we will look for along trails at the center this morning.
After lunch we'll have a siesta and then late afternoon those who want to can venture out for an evening outing in search of nocturnal species. As dusk falls, we'll watch the skies for Fork-tailed Palm Swifts, and we could see Sulphury Flycatcher as well. Once it is dark, we'll look for such gems as White-tailed Nightjar, Common Potoo, Common Pauraque, Tropical Screech-Owl, Barn Owl and perhaps if we're lucky, a Spectacled Owl.
DAY 3 - Today we will explore Trinidad's Northern Range, birding along the Blanchisseuse Road, where in addition to the fantastic birding, we will enjoy lunch and a demonstration at a cacao farm at Brasso Seco. Our journey today will take us through the picturesque village of Morne la Croix, where we will enjoy a little tea and coffee break as we watch parrots coming in to their evening roost. The habitats we visit today are not only excellent for birds, but they are also good for butterflies, tropical flowers and with luck perhaps we'll encounter an army ant swarm. Raptors we may find on our travels today include the elegant Swallow-tailed Kite as well as the impressive Ornate Hawk-Eagle. Forest species we will search for include Collared Trogon, Red-rumped Woodpecker, Stripe-breasted Spinetail and Speckled Tanager to name just a few. We will watch for Blue-headed and Orange-winged parrots coming in to roost, and we'll also keep our eyes open for the relatively tiny Lilac-tailed Parrotlet.
DAY 4 - This morning we will explore low-lying areas of the Aripo Valley, where different habitats such as open farm fields, attract a different list of species. Some of the birds we will be searching for here include Savannah Hawk, Wattled Jacana, Green-rumped Parrotlet, White-headed Marsh-Tyrant and Red-breasted Meadowlark.
We will have lunch at the Atlantic, and we will stare out over the open ocean for seabirds from the beach at Manzinilla. Brown Pelicans are a common sight here, as are lanky Magnificent Frigatebirds. Next, we visit the estuary of the Nariva River and the Nariva Swamp, where mangroves provide excellent habitat for birds. Common Black-Hawk, a species often seen in mangrove habitats, should be seen here, and with luck we'll spot the tiny and beautiful Pearl Kite this afternoon. We'll check waterways for Green and American Pygmy kingfishers, and perhaps a sharp-eyed observer with discover a Pinnated Bittern hiding in the swamp. Before the day is done, we'll look for Red-bellied and Blue-and-yellow macaws, and we may also see a couple of primate species, such as the Red Howler and White-faced Capuchins.
DAY 5 - After an early breakfast we depart for an area of savannah and sugar cane fields, yet another habitat for us to explore within easy reach of our home base at ASA Wright. In addition to the savannah and cane fields, we'll also visit an area of evergreen forest known as the Arena Forest, where we will have our lunch and search for a variety of interesting species of birds. In the skies over the savannah we could spot raptors including Gray-headed Kite, Plumbeous Kite and the long-legged Savannah Hawk. In the forest, hummingbirds such as the White-tailed Goldenthroat and the thrilling Ruby Topaz are possibilities. Other tantalizing species we may see today include Striped Cuckoo, Little Cuckoo, Crimson-crested Woodpecker, Short-tailed Pygmy-Tyrant and White-throated Spadebill.
Local guides at ASA Wright are available in the evenings to take us out in search of nocturnal birds, and other critters.
DAY 6 - This morning is fairly relaxed as we explore the veranda and some more of the local trails around the nature center. The big attraction today will be a visit to Caroni Swamp. We'll depart after lunch, and make a few birding stops along the way to the swamp. Traveling by boat, we'll find a quiet spot in the mangroves of Caroni and we'll wait for the spectacle of hundreds, if not thousands, of brilliant Scarlet Ibis to fly in to roost for the night. Though the ibis are sure to steal the show, there are other birds found in this area that are quite unique as well, such as the Long-winged Harrier, the Bicolored Conebill, Red-capped Cardinals, White-cheeked Pintail, Boat-billed Heron, Black-crested Antshrike and the bizarre nocturnal Common Potoo.
DAY 7 - It is sadly our last morning at the ASA Wright Center, though it is not a hurried morning. We'll have time for breakfast and to enjoy morning coffee on the veranda before departure. We'll also make time to visit Dunston Cave, where one of the nature center's most unique avian residents have a thriving colony. Oilbirds, bizarre fruit-eating nocturnal birds, related to nightjars, inhabit this cave and we'll make the short, but relatively steep walk down to see them. Other species we hope to encounter on this morning's adventure include Black-faced Antthrush, White-bellied Antbird, Gray-throated Leaftosser and Red-crowned Ant-Tanager.
From the airport in Port of Spain we will catch our short flight to Tobago, where our local guide will be waiting for us. As soon as you arrive, you will notice Tobago has the classic Caribbean feel to it. The beaches are lovely, the waters are blue and people are very laid back. From the airport, making some birding stops along the way, we'll make our way to our accommodations, right on the beach. During our stay here, in addition to the birding you can also indulge in snorkeling, swimming, and kayaking. Local restaurants prepare for us, delicious meals of lobster, and Caribbean flying fish wraps, amongst other yummy dishes. A few of the more regularly encountered birds near our accommodations are Rufous-vented Chachalacas, Trinidad Motmot, Red-crowned Woodpecker, and Black-faced Grassquit.
DAY 8 - This morning (or afternoon, depending on weather conditions) we'll visit the island of Little Tobago, on board a glass bottom boat! While on the boat, we'll look for colorful tropical fish and perhaps we may even see a Hawksbill Sea-Turtle or two. Seabirds nesting on the island include Brown Noddy, Red-billed Tropicbird, Red-footed and Brown boobies, and Sooty Terns. In the dry tropical forest on the island we may see a few passerines such as the Chivi Vireo and Brown-crested Flycatcher. We'll also watch out for two species of pigeon today, Pale-vented and Scaly-naped pigeons. We will return to our beachfront abode for lunch and then you will have a free afternoon.
DAY 9 - This is our last full day on Tobago and we will make the best of it, heading high into the mountains to explore the Tobago Main Ridge Forest Preserve. Trails through the forest here have yielded 210 species, and though we don't expect to see anywhere near that number today, we will still be on the lookout for some of the more sought-after bird species. These species include the White-tailed Sabrewing, a large hummingbird, once presumed exinct, as well as Blue-backed Manakin, White-fringed Antwren, and Yellow-legged Thrush. Later on in the afternoon we'll return to base and enjoy one last dinner together as a group.
DAY 10 - After breakfast we head for Port of Spain and the airport, where the tour officially concludes.