Of all types of cultivation, somehow cocoa estates retain some of the highest percentages of native wildlife. The primary reason for this being that the largest, oldest trees are usually kept as shade trees, thus keeping the majority of creatures happy. The cocoa trees that dominate the lower story within the forest allow for a higher level of visibility – well that’s if there are things to see, of course.
The most visible of birds in the understory are flycatchers, calmly waiting their turn to nab an unsuspecting insect or two. The generous clearings that abound within cocoa estates allow one to easily view different members of this family, most of which are usually hidden behind a tangle of branches.
On a very casual walk one Saturday morning, we managed to observe four different species of flycatcher, the most vocal of which was this Yellow-breasted Flycatcher.
Also located by voice was this Tropical Pewee, a pair were hunting in a territory just off the main path.
Some motion in the dry branches above led me to a bird I initially thought was a Piratic Flycatcher, but upon closer inspection, I realized that it was, in fact the much rarer Variegated Flycatcher. Woohoo on a birdnerd level 🙂
Similar to the previous bird, but larger and much more commonplace was this Streaked Flycatcher. A couple of them were noisily interacting with one another – it is after all breeding season for many of our birds and they’re all very busy seeing about the next generation – irrespective of the stage of that project, be it courtship, copulation or incubation.
While typing this blog post, I was reminded of another visit to the cocoa estates of central Trinidad we made a few weeks prior, during which I got excellent views of a bird I hadn’t seen in years. Which just happens to be another flycatcher. Dusky-capped Flycatchers are noted to be residents of higher elevations, but many of the cocoa estates are in fact part of the sprawling Central Range, which is just one of the factors that makes this an excellent birding location.
And I’m including this Rufous-tailed Jacamar as another bird that shares the same diet as the flycatchers, but isn’t related at all. They can however be found with a fair degree of regularity in the cocoa estates as well.