Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Tobago - Birds

Some of the many Brown Pelicans on our beach

'Brian' The injured Red Crowned Woodpecker

A rare White Tailed Sabrewing


Stunning Hummingbirds

Male Barred Antshrike

Yellow Crowned Night Heron

The ubiquitous Bananaquit

The Stunning Mot Mot

There are over 210 species of birdlife in Tobago, including :- Hummingbirds, Woodpeckers, Kingfishers, Flycatchers and Beeaters. Not forgetting of course the turkey-like Chachalaca, which is commonly known as the Cocrico and is also the national bird of Tobago.
Many species of smaller bird, such as the yellow and black Bananaquit or sugarbird, can be seen around the hotels. Attracted by sugar-water feeders, they fly in and cheekily snatch titbits from the tables. Amongst the smaller birds there are six different species of beautiful hummingbirds with colourful iridescent plumage.By the end of the trip I was lucky enough to have seen them all.Including the rare White Tailed Sabrewing. This was thought to be extinct at one stage following the 1963 Hurricane. The most common is the Copper-rumped Hummingbird – iridescent green above and below with coppery bronze on back and white tufts on the thighs. Mot-mots, with their striking plumage of green upperparts, black crowns ringed with bright blue, russet under-parts and blue tipped tails, usually inhabit the forest undergrowth but some are tame enough to fly in for scraps of food. Blue-Grey tanagers, with brilliant violet-blue patches on each of their wings, can also be seen flying around in noisy groups.
We also spent a great day in the Rain Forest with our guide Peter Cox where we spotted wonderful Blue Backed Manakins. The male birds frequently congregate to display themselves to each other and to the females by jumping rapidly from perch to perch beside a prepared ‘lek’ – a patch of forest cleared of all vegetation – which he defends. Other notable sightings were the brightly coloured Jacamar, male and female Barred Antshrikes and a Red Legged Honeycreeper.
On our beach and around all the coast of Tobago it is possible to see the Magnificent Frigate birds gliding high above the sea searching for fish. With their distinctive long tails occasionally divided into a deep fork, they will often attack and bully the smaller seabirds, snatching the fish from their beaks. Brown pelicans, usually in flocks of about a dozen, dive from great heights into the sea, folding their wings just before they hit the water, and scooping up fish in their enormous pouched bills. Booby birds, further out to sea than the gulls, terns and pelicans, glide low over the water with their long, pointed wings.
As we left the Rainforest Peter spotted a bird trapped in the grill of a parked car. When he managed to free it he discovered it was a male Red Crowned Woodpecker. Unfortunately it had sustained a broken wing. We gave it water and some cake crumbs and tried to make it as comfortable as possible. We then made a detour and took the poor little fellow that Marina named 'Brian' to the local vet's.
The good news being that the Vet thought there would be a good chance of a full recovery/ Lets hope so!

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