Looking for a diversion from boat chores we headed to the mountainous interior of Trinidad for a one night break from Sage.
We chose the Asa Wright Nature Centre for Conservation. It’s focus is as a centre for bird watchers and research of indigenous bird species. The centre features a lodge with an incredible balcony overlooking the Arima Valley and the main dining area for people who are staying at the centre.
From the balcony in the early morning hours and in the late afternoon the balcony offers magnificent views of the valley and the hundreds of birds that come to the garden to feed off the plants and flowers planted to attract various bird species of which include toucans, humming birds, honey creepers, tanagiers, mannakins, bearded bell birds etc You get the picture.
There is nothing like sitting on the balcony sipping on locally grown and roasted coffee at 0600hrs as the light is increasing to see the change in species feeding at the feeding tables and insects. Slowly the sunrise reveals the valley and the bird species start to change.
One could sit on the balcony all day to watch the various bird species but heading out an a walk through the forested areas with a guide reveals so many more species but more difficult to see. The centre has miles of trains scattered through their 1500 acres of property.
We could have spent more nights there as the accommodation was excellent. With three meals a day plus morning coffee on the balcony and a late afternoon rum punch we thought we were in the lap of luxury – which when you look at it we were!
There was one more stop before heading back for more boat chores and that was the Coroni Bird Sanctuary. Yes, another birding adventure but this time on the water. The sanctuary is primarily a series of mangrove channels with numerous open lake type areas where the main feature is the scarlet ibis.
Getting out to the scarlet ibis roosts takes one through the numerous mangrove channels where one can see dozens of egrets as well as snakes that are curled around the branches above the boats that take people out to see the ibises.
This has to be one of the most incredible natural sights to see. My top three natural sites are the sand dunes of the Namibian Desert, the Alaska Peninsula on a sunny day(!) and number three is the scarlet ibises.
One can go early in the morning (0430hrs) or late in the afternoon (1600-1830hrs). One has to go out by boat so we joined a boat holding about 20 people. Motoring out through the mangrove channels we stopped numerous times for different birds and snakes. Finally we arrived at a rather large expanse of open water within the mangroves and tied up to a stake placed in the water.
Initially, there were no scarlet ibises to be seen but there were a few great herons and egrets all in white standing out against the mangrove forested background. Around 1730hrs a lone scarlets ibis flew in to roost on the island in front of us. Okay, we were impressed but where were the others? Slowly individual ibises appeared increasing the population on the higher levels of the treetops.
At around 1800hrs larger flocks started to appear. Coming in low over the water from the west they swooped across the waters edge, made a few turns around the island to make sure their roost was available and then started to paint the island orange.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have either the camera equipment nor the presence of mind to think of what was needed for photo taking at this site. I would love to return with a better idea of what is needed for photographing this natural phenomena.
By the end we were just gobsmacked at the number of scarlett ibises. I only wished we had Sage sitting in the middle of the lagoon to stay all night to see them leave in the morning. Instead we had to leave the lake before dark but as we motored back to the beginning the ibises continued to come straight toward the boat we were in as we motored along the mangrove channels.
All I can say is that it’s worth coming to Trinidad just to see this natural event. And if you stay you can attend Carnival…