colours

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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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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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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Confusion

Life seemed to be so much simpler when I didn't know about Wood-Rails. Specifically, our resident species of Grey-cowled Wood-Rail. I wrote previously on the split that occurred within the Grey-necked Wood-Rail species - into Grey-cowled and Russet-naped Wood-Rail, both species differing in vocalization and plumage to a certain degree. Trouble is, there are multiple official bodies that are involved in the naming of birds - and they still haven't come to a definite agreement it seems. So although some purists (like myself) enjoy using the name "Grey-cowled Wood-Rail"; if you refer to this...

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Girls, Girls, Girls

I wish I had a dollar for every time someone made that joke about the kinds of birds I go looking for. It's one of those jokes that probably was funny under a certain circumstance, once, eons ago. It's not offensive or anything (to me at least, I can't speak for any avian glares that may ensue), but it's like that Hispanic buddy named Jesus who's constantly given bottles of water with the expectation that they'd suddenly change chemical composition. Anyway, in writing yesterday's post I realized how many female hummingbirds I ended up photographing. Today I'm still stuck on females - but we're...

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Hitting the Target Part II

In a post some days ago, I spoke about our quest for a rare breeding visitor - a quest that took us into the Northern Range, led us up and down hills frustratingly for a few hours with an eventual out-of-this-world reward shot (see it here). After that mission, we got wind of another exceedingly rare bird - this one isn't even listed in the current edition of the Field Guide. Two years ago, when I finally laid eyes upon the holy grail of local hummingbirds - the Rufous-shafted Woodstar - I enjoyed a period of approximately two weeks having seen all 17 species of hummingbirds within T&T. Why...

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Birding Hacienda Jacana: May/June

This edition of the regular Hacienda Jacana mission found nesting season in full swing. Coinciding with the flowering of many native trees, there was much hurried activity - which funny enough, made the forest quieter than usual. It's almost as if frivolous activities like singing one's life away for no apparent reason were sidelined for the more serious business of securing the next generations. Oh, how this world would be if politicians took that lesson. Hah. Interestingly enough, the mornings were even more devoid of birdsong than the afternoon periods. Even the Orange-winged Parrots were...

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Hitting the Target Part I

A few weeks ago I got wind of a special bird that was spending some months here in the northern hills of Trinidad. We're accustomed to the general pattern of migratory birds - from the northern hemisphere that is. Each year, from August or September, these birds would be escaping the cold grip of the northern winter - only to depart the following March/April. From warblers to falcons - they're all well documented. But what is a visitor doing here in the middle of the year? The less documented migrants that appear from the south do swell our forests considerably during the months of the southern...

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