Testament to Tardiness

Sometimes when I get a little time to organize my life, I try my best. When it comes to the blog, if I have a backlog of images I tend to sort them into loose blog posts, which means that I toss pictures I’d like to publish together into a haphazardly named folder. They are all sorted chronologically, so I would know what’s next and what’s been covered already.

In this case, the images for this blog article were in a folder entitled “migrants from the south”. Now I’ll give you some context. T&T, being a tropical country, is afforded the luxury of enjoying migratory species from both northern and southern hemispheres. Mainstream media in our country ensures that we all know when the northern winter is. That’s when we get all our warblers, ducks and shorebirds. They’re all escaping the cold of the north. But there is another winter, surprise surprise.

During the middle of the year, the southern hemisphere enjoys its share of winter. And we have a number of species that drift northward to rally out these few months.

Bear in mind these birds come here during the middle of the year. It is now December. Refer to the title of this post.

Some of these migrants are conspicuous, like the Fork-tailed Flycatcher. For as long as I can remember, seemingly endless flocks of these birds could be seen in the early morning and late evening, moving from roosting location to feeding location and vice versa. Some people call them “scissorstail”, I thought they were some species of swallow when I was a child. Yeah, I am a nerd since I was very little.

fork tailed flycatcher-4







Large and often conspicuously perched on some exposed snag, Plumbeous Kites are acrobatic raptors that actually take more insects than anything else. Adults are a beautiful shade of grey, with orange-tipped wings. One morning I saw one of these birds fly low across the road behind my vehicle (I actually saw it in my rear-view mirror) and I decided to take a few wrong turns in the hope of seeing this bird. Truth be told, I wasn’t certain of its identity, so I really was hoping it was some ridiculously rare raptor I would happen upon.

Eventually after some driving, I came upon a valley where about twenty of these birds were wheeling, diving and gliding. Although I was glad I had solved the identification mystery, I was a bit miffed at not finding anything super rare. But, instead of driving off in a huff, I decided to tarry a while and make some images. This bird pictured below is a juvenile – curious as all children are.

plumbeous kite juve










By the way, I didn’t eventually get lost. I just took longer than usual to find the road I was supposed to be on :-)

The real gems are the birds you don’t see though. I had seen Small-billed Elaenia once before, and their superficial similarity to countless other flycatchers has interfered with their ability to be easily detected. See how I shifted blame there? It’s an art.

small-billed elaenia







Another closely related species that visited from the south is the Lesser Elaenia. This was a lifer for me – and as they say, any view is a good view!

lesser elaenia







This season we also had a Dark-billed Cuckoo that stayed for a few days. No luck seeing that one though. There’s always another time!