Birding at Asa Wright Nature Centre in Trinidad and Tobago

Linda Rockwell is a nature photographer based in New Mexico. We’re very excited that she’s agreed to share the story of her trip to Asa Wright Nature Centre with us.

I do not like to stay home at Christmas. I usually travel to Kaua’i with my son to escape the season, but this year he had a new job and could not take time away. I had heard interesting and intriguing reports about Trinidad and Tobago, and so I decided to travel there on my own. It was a fine decision. I contacted Caligo Ventures, which my friends had recommended as a good way to put together a trip. I would spend six days at Asa Wright Nature Centre in Trinidad and three days at Blue Waters Inn in Tobago.

When I arrived in Trinidad after a long day’s flight, I was met at the airport by Roodal Ramlal, who would be my guide and driver for the next six days. I do recommend having a driver when you travel to Trinidad. In addition to driving on the left, which is confusing for me, the roads outside of the cities are often in poor repair. I am a fairly intrepid driver, but I was happy to leave the driving to Roodal, especially the drive up dark and winding Blanchisseuse Road to the nature center at night.

There were two other women who would arrive via Caligo one day after me, and we would spend the rest of our time together. Fortunately they were absolutely delightful people, and it was a pleasure to spend time with them.

I had intentionally planned to arrive one day earlier than everyone else so that I would have a day to enjoy being at Asa Wright before the start of the planned activities. I was awakened my first morning, and every morning thereafter, by the unmistakable call of a Great Kiskadee outside my window.

Great Kiskadee

Nothing that you may hear from other visitors really prepares you for your first morning on the veranda at Asa Wright. The veranda looks out over acres of rainforest.

View from the Asa Wright Center veranda

You hear the calls of Orange-winged Parrots, Crested Oropendola, and countless other birds in a lovely dawn chorus. And oh the birds! There are many hummingbird feeders and table feeders that attract a large number of beautiful birds. The honeycreepers were so incredibly colorful!

Green Honeycreeper, male

Green Honeycreeper, male

Green Honeycreeper, female

Green Honeycreeper, female

Purple Honeycreeper, male

Purple Honeycreeper, male

Purple Honeycreeper, female

Purple Honeycreeper, female

Bananaquits were everywhere. These bold little birds would even fly into the dining room looking for handouts.

Bananaquit

Honeycreepers and Bananaquits would wait in the trees for someone to put out a freshly-filled hummingbird feeder.

Honeycreepers and banaquits on feeder

As soon as a fresh feeder was set out, the colorful birds would swarm the feeder.

bananaquit swarm

Once the honeycreepers and Bananaquits could no longer reach the nectar, the hummingbirds would move in to feed. The beauty and variety of the hummingbirds was amazing! Here are a few of the hummingbirds I saw at Asa Wright:

White-necked Jacobin

White-necked Jacobin

White-necked Jacobin, another view

White-necked Jacobin, another view

Green Hermit, female

Green Hermit, female

White-chested Emerald

White-chested Emerald

Brown Violetear

Brown Violetear

Rufous-breasted Hermit

Rufous-breasted Hermit

Asa Wright provides all-inclusive accommodation. They begin by serving coffee and tea on the veranda starting at 6:30 a.m. Lunch is at noon, tea is at 4:00 p.m., rum punch is served at 6:00 p.m., and dinner begins at 7:30. I enjoyed the food, which relies heavily on local cuisine. Meals were in the dining room at family-style tables, which allowed for plenty of conversation among the guests, who were from Trinidad, Canada, Europe, and the US.

Asa Wright Nature Center dining room

It was lovely to sit on the veranda in the evening, drinking a rum punch and watching the sunset.

Sunset at Asa Wright

In the evening, once the hummingbirds, honeycreepers and Bananaquits retire for the evening, Leaf-nosed Bats come to the feeders. I was fascinated by these little creatures.

Leaf-nosed bat at feeder

There will be many more sights and many more birds to come. Stay tuned.

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