Entries Tagged 'Observations' ↓

Noteworthy bird sightings: October & November 2011

The months of October and November proved to be very productive for birdwatchers with some extraordinary sightings coming out of Central and South Trinidad.

On 15 October a flock of 14 White-faced Whistling Ducks (Dendrocygna viduata) was found in the South Oropouche Lagoon. It is not known whether these birds were genuine visitors from the mainland or releases from the Wildfowl Trust, however their nervous behavior could indicate that they were wild birds.

White-faced Whistling-Duck (Dendrocygna viduata) Photograph © Cyril Coomansingh

Later that day, a playing field in Penal produced both a Hudsonian Godwit (Limosa haemastica) and two Buff-breasted Sandpipers (Tryngites subruficollis). Both are migrant sandpipers, on passage through Trinidad and Tobago.

Hudsonian Godwit (Limosa haemastica) and Buff-breasted Sandpiper (Tryngites subruficollis)

In November, at least two Prothonotary Warblers (Protonotaria citrea) were found feeding in the mangroves at Carli Bay by N. Lallsingh and D. Smith. At least one Blackpoll Warbler (Dendroica striata) was also in attendance

Prothonotary Warbler (Protonotaria citrea) Photograph © Nigel Lallsingh


Blackpoll Warbler (Dendroica striata)

At Orange Valley, a Caspian Tern (Hydroprogne caspia) was found by D.Smith and N. Lallsingh at the gull roost. This is the third reported sighting for Trinidad & Tobago.

Caspian Tern (Hydroprogne caspia) Photograph © Nigel Lallsingh

While not considered a rarity, several Yellow-billed Cuckoos (Coccyzus americanus) were reported from both islands. Yellow-billed Cuckoos are migrants from North America on passage through Trinidad and Tobago, on their way to South America.

Yellow-billed Cuckoo (Coccyzus americanus) Photograph © Fayard Mohammed

An adult Black-collared Hawk (Busarellus nigricollis) was seen circling over the Rousillac Swamp on 16 November. This species was last reported in Trinidad & Tobago in 1998.

Black-collared Hawk (Busarellus nigricollis)

Finally, a pair of Scaled Doves (Columbina squammata) was found at the Pitch Lake in La Brea by S. Parasram. Undoubtedly the most extraordinary sighting of the period, this species has rarely been reported on mainland Trinidad.

Scaled Doves (Columbina squammata) Photograph © Sanjiv Parasram

Noteworthy bird sightings: September 2011

An adult Jabiru (Jabiru mycteria) was observed in South Trinidad on 9 September. This large member of the stork family was found feeding in a cattle pasture in Mon Desir, South Oropouche by A. Ramsaroop and T. Maharaj. The Jabiru is a rare visitor to wetlands in Trinidad and Tobago and was last reported in 2009 in Nariva Swamp (see The Nariva Jabirus and Icacos Swamp 2009.07.20).

Jabiru (Jabiru mycteria) - Photograph © Tarran Maharaj

Noteworthy bird sightings: August 2011

A single Upland Sandpiper was flushed from a dry field in the South Oropouche Lagoon  on 31 August 2011. The Upland Sandpiper is a rare North American visitor. Unlike other sandpipers, the Upland Sandpiper is usually found away from water on dry land and is said to be fond of exposed perches such as fence-posts. Oddly enough, this bird was found less than 100 feet away from another field where an Upland Sandpiper was observed in June 2008.

Upland Sandpiper (Bartramia longicauda)

Noteworthy bird sightings: June 2011

An American Oystercatcher (Haematopus palliatus) was present at the Orange Valley mudflats in June. The single adult was seen roosting amongst the other shore birds on 19 June at dusk by N. Lallsingh. The bird was present on the following two days but disappeared thereafter. American Oystercatchers are considered to be rare visitors from North America although there are resident (non-migratory?) populations in the northern Caribbean.

American Oystercatcher (Haematopus palliatus) - Photograph © Nigel Lallsingh


Noteworthy bird sightings: May 2011

In the month of May, two male Muscovy Ducks (Cairina moschata) were observed in the Icacos Swamp.

Muscovy Duck (Cairina moschata)

A wild Muscovy Duck can be distinguished with care from a domesticated bird by the lack of white on its chests and underside. A wild male also has a distinctive crest and several red growths about its face, but lacks the extensive red/pink wattles found on a domestic bird. The Pointe a Pierre Wildfowl Trust operates a breeding programme for this species but it is unclear whether or not these birds in Icacos were released from the Trust or are genuine wild birds, perhaps visitors from the nearby wetlands of Delta Amacuro in Venezuela (approximately 13 miles to the south west).

Elsewhere in south Trinidad, a Mottled Owl (Ciccaba virgata) was seen in Cat’s Hill late in May.

Mottled Owl (Ciccaba virgata)

This rarely seen nocturnal resident of Trinidad’s forest was located just before dawn by its vocalizations.

Noteworthy bird sightings: March 2011

An adult Rufous Crab Hawk (Buteogallus aequinoctialis) was observed at Los Gallos Swamp in Icacos in late March.

Rufous Crab Hawk (Buteogallus aequinoctialis). Photograph © Dave Smith

This species has been seen frequently at this tower since 2009 and my sightings here are as follows:

23 August 2009 – 1 bird

21 September 2009 – 1 bird

30 May 2010 – 2 birds mating on tower

26 March 2011 – 1 bird

Whether this species is now resident or is still just a visitor to mangrove swamps in Trinidad is not entirely clear.

Noteworthy bird sightings: February 2011

During the month of February, several interesting gulls were present at Orange Valley in Central Trinidad. At least three individual Ring-billed Gulls (Larus delawarensis), two Franklin’s Gulls (Larus pipixcan) and a Common Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundus) were reported by observers (see photograph captions). These gulls are rare winter visitors from North America with a few individuals recorded every year along the west coast of Trinidad.

Ring billed Gull (Larus delawarensis) - Photograph © Dave Smith


Franklins Gull (Larus pipixcan) - Photograph © Dave Smith


Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundus) - Photograph © Nigel Lallsingh

Noteworthy bird sightings: October 2010

In the month of October a Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus pallidicaudus) was seen in the Caroni Rice Fields. The bird was perched on an elevated bank of dirt in a harvested field. This is just the second documented report form Trinidad and Tobago. The first documented record was of two birds in 2001, also in the Caroni rice project.

Asio flammeus pallidicaudus

Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus pallidicaudus)

Also seen in Caroni that day were two Bobolinks (Dolichonyx oryzivorus), migrant Icterids from North America. A separate group of at least 5 birds was observed feeding in the South Oropouche Lagoon on October 30th. They usually migrate in large numbers and a flock of 20 plus birds is not unusual.

Bobolink (Dolichonyx oryzivorus)

Noteworthy bird sightings: September 2010

Crested Doradito (Pseudocolopteryx sclateri)

Crested Doradito (Pseudocolopteryx sclateri) in the South Oropouche Lagoon, Trinidad

The month of September brought to an end an extraordinary event for the local bird-watching community occasioned by three pairs of Crested Doradito (Pseudocolopteryx sclateri) that attempted to nest in the South Oropouche Lagoon. The six birds were first detected in late July while still in the process of gathering nesting materials. However by the start of September it seemed clear that two of the nest sites had been abandoned or destroyed and there was no sign of the birds. The third and last nest site was active until late September but was also eventually abandoned. All birds have apparently left the area without successfully rearing any young. Crested Doraditos are very rare breeding visitors from South America and they have not been recorded in Trinidad since a previous breeding attempt in 1984.

Crested Doradito (Pseudocolopteryx sclateri)

A male Crested Doradito at dawn in the South Oropouche Lagoon

Noteworthy bird sightings: August 2010

Several rare birds  were recorded in the month of August in south Trinidad. The South Oropouche Lagoon yielded several Paint-billed Crakes,  two Dark-billed Cuckoos and an Aplomado Falcon. A visit to the Rousillac Swamp produced a Lesser Elaenia. Elsewhere in south Trinidad, Lined Seedeaters were observed.

Paint-billed Crake (Neocrex erythrops)

The Paint-billed Crakes (Neocrex erythrops) were first seen in late July (the bird seen here was spotted on 25 July), but were seen occasionally in August. In all about four (4) birds were seen in various parts of the South Oropouche Lagoon during the period.

Lined Seedeater (Sporophila lineola). Photo by Dave Smith

Lined Seedeaters (Sporophila lineola) have been reported visiting areas in south Trinidad for four (4) years now. After a weak showing last year the birds have returned in larger numbers. Fewer males (like this one digiscoped by Dave Smith) are seen than females.

Small-billed Elaenia (Elaenia parvirostris)

This Small-billed Elaenia (Elaenia parvirostris) was seen in the Rousillac Swamp on 15 August. Initially mis-identified as a Lesser Elaenia, it may not be as rare as believed – the bird easily escapes attention in its scrub habitat

Dark-billed Cuckoo (Coccyzus melacoryphus)

At the end of the month a pair of Dark-billed Cuckoos (Coccyzus melacoryphus) were seen in the South Oropouche Lagoon. A bird was spotted by Nigel Lallsingh on 31 August and a second bird was seen shortly after. A rare visitor to scrub.

Aplomado Falcon (Falco femoralis)

And luck would strike twice that day as an Aplomado Falcon (Falco femoralis) was seen flying low over the open fields near to the pair of Dark-billed Cuckoos. A rare visitor from the north usually recorded later in the year.