By the time midday rolled around and we had recorded our final two species for the am session in Aripo Livestock Station (Pinnated Bittern and Grassland Yellow Finch – not complaining at all) the now drastically reduced group decided to break for lunch, and reconvene later in the afternoon to continue the count in another location – Orange Grove. Now this was a relatively new location for me, it didn’t have half of the extensive history the Livestock Station had with birdwatchers, but varied habitats within this farmland coupled with its proximity to civilization has boosted its popularity in recent times.
So myself and my group of one person (told you the group was smaller than before) went to grab a bite. This somehow took three hours. Long story, hahaha. Let’s just say, it was a public holiday, we’re vegetarian, there were long lines and lots of flies. Put those details together how you wish 🙂
We eventually commenced our count at 4pm. The pond area – although smelling quite horrid – harboured an astounding density of bird life. A group of ten Wattled Jacanas flew past, some stopping by to chatter and run around, others relaxed and preened. I love how the juveniles of this species look entirely different from the adults, yet behave exactly the same. The first time I saw juveniles, I thought they were another species of jacana. Can you see both feet of this juvenile?
Common and Purple Gallinules also breed here, which underscores its importance for the perpetuation of our avian friends. Separating young gallinules can be challenging, but this bird’s reddish “shield” (read: forehead) is a dead giveaway – Common Gallinule. Common Gallinules used to be called Moorhens once upon a time. You can see the head of an adult Purple Gallinule if you look sharply enough – note the difference in shield colour.
Also nesting en masse were at least four pairs of Pied Water Tyrants.
I ended up getting a little distracted photographing some of the adult birds bringing baby food to the nest.
The area was rife with common birds, which means that we had a good chance of seeing something out of the ordinary. This Spectacled Thrush tested our optimism, though. This particular species is one of my “false hope” species – you always think it’s something else, only to then have to deal with the crushing disappointment of recording another ubiquitous (and sometimes rather obnoxious) species.
Also on the common bird list was this Great Kiskadee.
Tropical Kingbirds were in attendance as well, it seemed as if wherever one looked, there was a Tropical Kingbird perched, sallying or calling. But then one Kingbird appeared that seemed different from the rest. It did not have the typical yellow wash to its belly, as Tropical Kingbirds usually do. Its bill was also far thicker than that of the Tropical – confirming a pretty good sighting – a Grey Kingbird. Grey Kingbirds are usually found in Tobago, however they have been found sporadically in various areas in Trinidad. This time, we recorded four of these beauties. The smaller Tropical Kingbirds were giving these Greys quite the time though, constantly dive-bombing them and chattering loudly. We can only imagine what they’re saying.
Another unexpected sighting was this Black-throated Mango, sharing its bamboo perch with a Blue-grey Tanager.
Before long, 6pm rolled around, and after recording Ruddy Ground Dove after Ruddy Ground Dove, then trying to bust our brains separating Grey-rumped from Short-tailed Swifts; we packed up and left. Another wonderful day.