If it’s one thing that has always captivated me about seabirds is their natural grace. The tough thing about seabirds is that they’re not always easily accessible. A visit to Little Tobago island, however, allows for unparalleled views of some of our most sought-after species.
At the right time of year, the cliffs of this uninhabited island come to life with breeding seabirds. At the start of the year, the Red-billed Tropicbirds (and this year one extremely uncommon White-tailed Tropicbird) take a break from their pelagic wanderings to see about the next generation. After they’re finished, the gulls and terns come in to take their turn. Boobies nest sometime in between. In fact, here’s the only place in T&T where you can find an active breeding colony of Red-footed Boobies. They come in two colour morphs – the regular brown version as well as completely white. Juvenile birds are also white, take a good look and see if you can spot any here.
All year round the pirates patrol, though. Magnificent Frigatebirds are known thieves as they cannot get their feathers wet – so no diving for fish, they can’t even alight on the surface.
But what everyone comes here to see is the ever graceful Red-billed Tropicbird. No matter how many times I see this bird, I will never tire of it.
Their long streaming tails only add to their appeal.
It’s a photographers’ dream, the birds provide many easy opportunities to craft excellent images. If there’s any tip I would share – shoot in Manual mode. The rapidly changing background will drive any camera in auto mode up a wall. Within a few seconds your background can change from land to sea to sky. Expose for your subject and ignore the exposure meter after that.
We had a grand time there as usual – I highly recommend that you visit, whether interested in birds or otherwise. The surrounding waters are always crystal clear and allow for excellent viewing of marine life. Last trip we had good views of a Hawksbill Turtle among the coral. So give my good friend a call at (868) 470-7084, ask for Z. Ever pleasant and extremely knowledgeable, he runs perhaps the best known tour company out of Speyside, Frank’s Tours.
I’ll leave you with my favourite image of the day. It’s not often one gets a dorsal view of a seabird!