birding

The Good Old “Fight-up”

If there was a single bird that I could've identified in the past as being my nemesis bird - a subject that I had tried with and had little to no success - it'd be the male Silver-beaked Tanager. Quite a common species around Trinidad, these moody tanagers have taunted me for many years. Ever since the first time I laid eyes on my first specimen at Asa Wright Nature Centre, I was hooked. I was shooting with my first camera, a Canon Powershot SX20, but the image was burned in my memory - a red plumage deeper than the ocean, and a bill that shone brighter than the full moon on a clear night.               After...

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10 Images that Fail at Instagram

Having poked around within the social media platform that forms the title of this blog post, I've learned a few things. One of the most important lessons that's been gifted to me is that some images, no matter how much I love them, are just not going to fly well on the platform. So thus I bring you these images, which I have very low expectations for to be honest. After all, I enjoy them, and art being the subjective beast as it is, does not force any one being to feel a certain way about anything. Perhaps you'd see a commonality among this set of ten. 1. This immature Tufted Coquette posed...

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Flycatchers in the Cocoa

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...

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Studying Birds: Ruby Topaz

It's been many years since I was first blown away by the brilliance of a male Ruby Topaz, that flash of bright red and gold while feeding an early morning in one of Trinidad's southern wetlands back in 2011. Coming from such a dull, dark brown bird it was (and still is) nothing short of plain amazing. But for most of that time, I haven't had much good luck with this bird, only securing one or two decent shots over the years. After photographing it at its most resplendent (see here) I realized that the most interesting aspect of this transformation is not the end product, but the journey itself...

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A Little Heavy On The Cute

There are many descriptive words used to portray birds as we see them, however simplistic or fanciful we perceive them to be. Few words are as over-used as "cute", though. And for good reason, as birds are covered in well, something terribly soft and delicate that they can make even fluffier than usual at will. Chilly weather encourages this behaviour, as the extra air within the feathers acts as an insulator. This Black-faced Grassquit was feeling mighty chilled on an unusually biting morning at Cuffie River, halfway up to Main Ridge Forest Reserve. After having clear weather for a few days,...

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2017′s 1-17

As we sit on the cusp of another new year, another notch in the bark, another eye over the shoulder that makes all of us ponder our existence for a brief moment - it's that customary time of sharing "best of", or as social media would have it called "most popular". Because popularity is a thing that we use to measure ourselves, for reasons that are understood but yet make little sense. It's that time of year when we all try to make our existence seem as grand as humanly (or inhumanly) possible. Only for prying eyes, of course. Because that's what matters. As photographers, we're lucky that a camera...

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Bioblitz 2017

Bioblitz this year for us was indeed a blitz. We got there (Icacos - south-western tip of Trinidad) somewhere between three and four in the morning. Missing the previous afternoon's session due to another engagement, we were determined to make some sort of meaningful contribution nevertheless. Even though it was still within what would be termed the dead of night, we recorded our first species. Common Pauraques sat intermittently on the roadway, under streetlights to maximise their productivity. No other nocturnal birds, though. The crack of dawn found us along one of the trails, identifying...

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Merry Christmas (Bird Count) 2017

While birdwatching might be getting trendy of late, the Audubon Christmas Bird Count has been in existence since 1901. Which enhances the hipster appeal, or so I'm told. Personally, I've been participating in this count for six years - and I've been leading my own group for three of those. Our area is the Aripo Livestock Station, which has been for a number of years a hotspot for birdwatching. It's been an accessible location to get great views of Red-breasted Meadowlarks, Pinnated Bitterns, Ruddy-breasted Seedeaters and Grassland Yellow Finches - especially for folks who are staying at Asa Wright...

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Front or Back Lit? (Yet Again)

I spent some time with a couple Snowy Egrets some weeks (months?) ago. The sun was just getting low in the sky, but the light was still very strong. I was sitting on a road that ran north-south with ponds on either side; each pond had its own Snowy Egret stalking. The beauty was that one was strongly front-lit, and the other strongly back-lit. With the bright sun, I was able to finally use a fast shutter speed to freeze the action. First priority was the front-lit bird.                   I then continued, using the exact...

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Parasitic

Some of you may have realized the increasing level of infrequency these posts have managed to rack up over the past few weeks. As they say, sometimes life gets in the way? At least in my case it's all been enjoyable, and even though I haven't been writing much here, I still penned a couple articles for the Tobago Newsday within the last month - one on shorebirds (my loves) and the other on Frigatebirds (my first loves, adapted from an article I first posted here) - so the engine is still relatively warm. And since I managed to land my paws on a new phone that has the memory capacity to run Instagram,...

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