Having been born and raised in Trinidad, it may seem somewhat odd to refer to somewhere else as “home” – but let me tell you something: the moment I step off the boat/plane onto the land mass known as Tobago – I breathe easier, I feel like I have come home. Maybe it’s the laid back, traditional attitude of the society across there. Maybe it’s the lack of traffic, lack of hustle and bustle. Maybe it’s the lack of trash on the roadside. Maybe it’s the unspoiled nature of the island. Maybe it’s the friendliness of the people. Hell, it could be anything, there are so many reasons to choose from!
If you think I’m talking from a purely subjective point of view, well, I am, sort of. It is my view that Tobago seems more like home to me, perhaps it also has a lot to do with my personality generally. I am indeed, very much a laid back person myself, and I value many of the things Tobago holds dear. Now I photograph birds, and I have been doing so for a few years now on both Trinidad and Tobago. Even though I’d encounter the same species on both islands, there is something about Tobagonian birds that they just trust humans more than Trinidadian birds. Hmm. I wonder why…
The recently designated Trinidad Motmot should really be named Tobago Motmot, as it can be seen very readily on Tobago, much less so on its namesake island. This particular bird let me spend a considerable amount of time with it – I had to turn my camera in portrait orientation to squeeze the entire bird in the frame. A little fluffed feathers and yawn sealed the deal 🙂
Sometimes one must approach the setting before the subject. I noticed that a young male White-necked Jacobin was occasionally perching on a delicate piece of vine, so when he went off on one of his feeding missions I moved into position. And sure enough, he returned. I don’t think the result came out too shabby. The White-necked Jacobin’s juvenile male plumage is actually my favourite dress for this species. Males, females and juveniles all look drastically different, I remember the first time I saw one in this plumage I thought it was an entirely different species.
Basking in the early morning light was a gorgeous male Ruby-Topaz.
Eventually he too, allowed me a close approach, but not after at least an hour of getting used to my presence!
I should mention that all of the images featured in this blog post were made at the incomparable Cuffie River Nature Retreat. I stay nowhere else. While we were having a heavenly breakfast, there was a thud and I saw something fall into the bushes nearby. With all the frenzied activity at hummingbird feeders, sometimes these little fighter jets get a little carried away. And sure enough, upon investigation revealed a dazed Rufous-breasted Hermit. Fortunately all it needed was a time-out and a wash-face, and it flew off to a nearby tree to recuperate properly.
Something else that you can do on Tobago that you generally avoid when in Trinidad is enjoy a night stroll. Let the forest speak to you, without smartphones, lights or any passing vehicles, it’s another kind of calm. Of course, avian life doesn’t stop when darkness creeps over the land. In the deep blue hour, this White-tailed Nightjar hunts for insects using its excellent vision.