trinidad

Birding Hacienda Jacana: September/October

The most recent count that took place at Hacienda Jacana just slid in under the door as October drew to a close. With all the flooding that went on in October, we almost didn't make it. But with a little faith and a lot of desire to be immersed in the forest, we made the journey into the heart of the island for yet another installment of this series. The timing of our arrival couldn't have been  more perfect. Once we unpacked our stuff, I followed my inner voice that was directing me to a copse of tall trees just beyond the cottages. Somehow I knew exactly where to look; my eyes fell very swiftly...

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What Makes the Magic?

I remember reading a photography blog many moons ago (Wild Eye - can't locate the exact post though) and there was a debate as to which element within an image makes the bigger difference. Is it the subject or is it the setting? Far too often we're preoccupied about one and forget the other. The trouble is, we can't have the subject without the setting. In practical terms, if there is no habitat there will be no bird. Which is a big reason why I tend to include lots of habitat in my images. It's just as important, and perhaps more important than the bird itself. Simply speaking, if you plant...

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The Standoff

Many of us resident in T&T are familiar with (at least the sound of) Southern Lapwings. For those of us who like to go and play a little football in the afternoon run the risk of being bombarded by these noisy, seemingly always angry birds. And as with most things ubiquitous, they tend to go under the radar of most. More on this later. Just a couple other common friends to throw in to the mix as well, Greyish Saltators are traditionally referred to as "pitch-0il" for their call - nothing else. Their distinctive voice frustrates many, as these shy birds tend to stay out of the limelight.                   Yellow-bellied...

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On Being Eye Level

It's one of the cardinal rules of wildlife photography - or any form of photography for that matter - the eye is the most important aspect of a strong image. The eye is the window to the subject's world, where the viewer can somehow by any small stretch of the imagination, put himself/herself in the shoes of the subject. The concept of being "eye level" gets introduced whenever this subject isn't a regular human, at regular human height. Birds, being (usually) much shorter than us, require an adjustment in perspective. For those birds that are not generally found in trees - such as waterbirds...

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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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Hunters

Sharing a couple images of two terrorizers of small creatures everywhere. Not saying that arachnophobia or herpetophobia isn't real though. These creatures are often misunderstood, and are usually met with a swift swipe of the broom. Lots of misinformation surrounding these two as well. The Pink-toed Tarantula is slightly smaller than a species I photographed some months back (see here), but its temperament is very similar. Cute and docile, they rarely (if ever) sink their half-inch long fangs into human flesh - they'd much rather beat a hasty retreat. This particular individual was one of two house...

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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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