Many moons ago, I wrote a post on the cutest wetland couple – the seemingly inseparable male and female White-headed Marsh Tyrant. Nothing like a tyrant at all, this tiny bird is a member of the flycatcher family; so perhaps to a bee or wasp it might just be the most terrifying sight imaginable. A visit to any swampy area within Trinidad is bound to yield at least one couple of these adorable little birds. And I say one couple because once you see a male, you will see a female and vice versa.
On this occasion we spotted the female first. Her delicate appearance belies the killer’s agenda as she scans her immediate environment for any potential prey buzzing around.
Being familiar with the nature of this species, we began to search for her mate. His high-contrast black and white plumage is usually a beacon – but this time he was nowhere to be found. Then we realized he was indeed close by as was expected, albeit laying very low in the reeds. We waited for a bit as we knew he’d eventually pursue a passing insect and possibly land on another more accessible (to our lenses) perch. But no matter how long we waited, and how many sallies this little one carried out, he stayed low.
I decided to use a different tactic. Slowly I got lower and crawled to a position where I could get a clear view of him from within the vegetation itself. And voila. Had no idea why I didn’t try that method from the get-go. But all’s well that ends well.
The south-western peninsula of Trinidad is a hotbed of different habitats and diverse lifeforms and a casual drive can pass through dense forest, scrubland and marshland within an hour. This affords one the opportunity to enjoy scores of different species within a very short time – something that makes this country unique and most attractive in terms of being a preferred eco-destination. I’ve said it before and I’ll continue to bray about it. Trinidad and Tobago has it completely made to be one of the premier eco-destinations of the world. We have some of the best natural resources in terms of vistas, flora and fauna. Whether it’s the view overlooking Parlatuvier, the ground orchids of Aripo or the dense flocks of Scarlet Ibis that coast over the western mudflats – we already have the resources and infrastructure, all we need to do is market the damn thing.
Anyway, back to this particular geographical area. Less than ten minutes’ drive (at crawling speed) from the swamp landed us in some scrubland where we found numerous migratory Fork-tailed Flycatchers.
Also nearby was a forested area, where a short walk yielded much sought-after gems such as multiple species of hummingbirds, tanagers and even a couple jacamars. Our Rufous-tailed Jacamar is not too dissimilar from the bee-eaters of the Old World; and this isn’t surprising as they occupy a similar niche habitat.
The more one looks is the more that becomes apparent. I can’t even begin to think of the amount of times my eyes may have passed directly over a stick insect and it never clicked to me that it was alive. True masters of camouflage.