Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Trinidad & Tobago Birding Trip 2016 - Day 4 - Thursday August 04th

Masked Cardinal - Paroaria nigrogenis
The fourth day of the trip was to be mainly a shopping day.  The plan was to spend a few hours in the capital, Port of Spain, visit the mall at Trincity in the afternoon, fit in a few minutes of birding at the Trincity Sewage Treatment Plant which is just across the road from the mall and then head off to the airport to check-in for our 6:30pm flight to Tobago.  Needless to say things did not go as planned.
I got an early morning WhatsApp from Wendell saying he was planning a visit to Waterloo for a few hours and since I missed it the day before, he asked me if I wanted to go with him.  Of course I jumped at the opportunity for more birding.  On hearing that I really wanted to see the Large-billed Tern and the Masked Cardinal he was also going to take me to see them.  While on the same highway which I was on just the day before on route to the Pitch Lake, he took the turn into the Caroni Sanctuary but stopped before crossing the overpass.  We then followed a mud road and we were standing before a large lake.  “Caroni Lake” he announced.

Caroni Lake

Masked Yellowthroat - Geothlypis aequinoctialis
I immediately noticed six Large-billed Terns feeding a few feet out.  A few Common Waxbills were also feeding on the seeds of the grass in the area. The surprise though, was when I saw two yellow birds I first thought to be Yellow Warblers but was told that they were Masked Yellowthroats.  It was then that I saw the black masked like marking around its eyes.  Wendell said this was the first time he saw them there.  Other highlights were a Ringed Kingfisher, a lifer, and a very cooperative Anhinga which was sun drying on the bank not too far from where I was standing.  The forty minutes spent at Caroni Lake felt longer but we had to move on. 

Caroni Rice Fields

Black-necked Stilt - Himantopus mexicanus
Wendell decided to cancel Waterloo and took me in search of some raptors in the Caroni Rice Fields.  It was a large area to bird with rice plants and fields at different stages of production attracting various types of birds.  The ever present Southern Lapwing was well accounted for along with Black-necked Stilts and there were Rock Pigeons everywhere.  I was surprised by the size of the Limpkin and was happy to land another raptor, the Long-winged Harrier.  I also saw Yellow-hooded Black birds and Red-breasted Meadowlarks.  We spent two hours at the Rice Fields and then started or journey back to town but after one more stop.

Caroni Swamp

Masked Cardinal - Paroaria nigrogenis
Yes! Back to Caroni Swamp with the hopes of seeing one of the birds I was hoping to see the day before.  That bird was the Masked Cardinal and we were not disappointed, we saw two birds around the entrance to the swamp’s visitor’s center.  My bonus was the Black-crested Antshrike, a lifer, and a poor to fair image of a Rufous-browed Peppershrike.  I then met my family in Port of Spain just after 11:00am but because my shoes and socks were wet, I returned to the Guest House for a shower and a change of clothing.  On my way there I saw my first Pale-vented Pigeon, for the trip.

Trincity Mall

Collared Plover - Charadrius collaris
We finally reached Trincity after 2:00pm, I erased all thoughts of going to the Trincity Sewage Treatment Plant, noticing that there was no safe way to cross the four Lane Highway without a pedestrian crossing. So I did some birding in the Mall’s car park adding a Collared Plover to my Year list.  We left for the airport around 5:30pm and eventually arrived in Tobago after some delays at 8:00pm headed to our guest house and to collect our rental as we prepared for day 5 -
a day of birding in Tobago.

New Species for the Day: 20
New Lifers for the Day: 09
Total Species for the Trip: 107
Total Lifers for the Trip: 76

Caroni Lake: Common Waxbill, Masked Yellowthroat, Ringed Kingfisher, large-billed Tern, Common Gallinule, Anhinga, Black-bellied whistling Duck,

Caroni Rice Fields: Long-winged Harrier, Limpkin, Pale-breasted Spinetail (h), Purple Gallinule, Black-necked Stilt, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Semipalmated Plover, Least sandpiper, Lesser Yellowleg, Rock Pigeon.

Caroni Swamp: Masked Cardinal

Trincity Mall: Collared Plover

Incidental: Pale-vented Pigeon    
Here are some of the images from Day 4
Common Waxbill - Estrilda astrild
Large-billed Tern - Phaetusa simplex
Anhinga - Anhinga anhinga
Spotted Sandpiper - Actitis macularius @ Caroni Lake

Yellow-chinned Spinetail - Certhiaxis cinnamomeus@ Caroni Lake
Ringed Kingfisher - Megaceryle torquata
Masked Yellowthroat - Geothlypis aequinoctialis

Purple Gallinule - Porphyrio martinicus
Black-necked Stilt - Himantopus mexicanus
Yellow-hooded Blackbird - Chrysomus icterocephalus @ Caroni Rice Fields

Masked Cardinal - Paroaria nigrogenis
Collared Plover - Charadrius collaris
Rufous-browed Peppershrike - Cyclarhis gujanensis @ Caroni Swamp