Seven days from today, the fifth Trinidad and Tobago Bioblitz will be getting underway. Once a year for the past four years, scientists, experts, hobbyists and enthusiasts have all been getting together to document as many species as possible within a certain radius of the designated basecamp. For 24 hours everyone scours the area, from mountain to reef, recording all that is seen. After all surveying is complete, numbers are tallied, specimens are put on display and the public is invited for a little lesson in “allyuh find dat here?”
This year’s event is carded from the 4th to 6th November, centred around a basecamp within Port of Spain. Now trust me, when I first heard that it was going to be held in the capital city I was convinced that coordinator Mike Rutherford was playing a cruel joke on us bush-lovers/city-haters. But he was as serious as a good beard. The radius this year includes the well known Caroni Swamp, the Diego Martin River, Lady Chancellor Hill, Invader’s Bay and Fondes Amandes. So we’re going to have a fair assortment of habitats to investigate. Of course, all areas within the city limits are included as well. City birding is different, many of the birds do not fear humans as much. One morning at the Trinidad Hilton I spent at least twenty minutes observing a flock of Orange-winged Parrots preening in nearby trees. I can assure you that we’re going to see lots of these noisy characters next week!
Within the coming week I’ll recap the four previous Bioblitz events; the first was in 2012, in Tucker Valley, Chaguaramas. You can see a lovely little video about what was found here.
Although surveying was done from the Saturday afternoon, I decided to get there early on Sunday morning. Arriving before the sky even started thinking about getting bright gave the small group of us ample time to listen out for any calling nightbirds. And sure enough, within a few short minutes, we recorded the calls of four different species of owl. Really makes you wonder about how they manage when it’s Carnival season here. I remember it getting really hot really quickly as we walked up the hill. Birds were calling furiously, but not showing themselves at all. Of all birds to get a decent view of, a Long-billed Gnatwren briefly paused in the bramble to allow me to fire off a single shot.
A Cattleheart Butterfly flitted by, I pointed and fired. Turned out my flash was still on the “Faraway Bird” setting 🙂
The only other meaningful image was made while resting after the climb, a Collared Treerunner (plica plica) shared my view of the valley. This time, I had enough time to ensure that my settings were on point, as this little lizard hung around for a bit.
685 species were counted for the Tucker Valley Bioblitz. You can stay updated here.