Bird Tours and an Unexpected Wildlife Show

Arima Travel Blog

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The morning dawned cloudy and grey.

I’m glad it was sunny when we arrived at Asa Wright, because I awoke around 6:30 am to a cloudy morning that soon gave rise to a 30 minute rainstorm. That's the rainy season in a rainforest for you. I had some tea on the porch, then ate breakfast at 7:30 am. Today we had arranged to go on a special tour to the cave of the rare oil birds; a colony of about 150 of them live at Asa Wright. 

I always try to avoid being a stupid tourist when I travel, so I researched Trinidad before the trip. One thing I learned was that the island has four poisonous snakes: two coral snakes, the 12-foot bushmaster and a large, aggressive snake called a fer-de-lance, which blends into its surroundings exceedingly well. I had planned to spend a lot of time walking around the property, so I brought a pair of snake-proof chaps before the trip (the chaps said they were guaranteed against all North American snakes, and I hoped that guarantee extended to Caribbean snakes as well.

Breakfast!
 As we began the hike Molly, the naturalist leading it, told us the narrow trail we’d be taking to the oilbird cave was where we’d likely see fer-de-lances. For some reason I didn’t realize that this trip to the oilbirds involved traipsing through the rainforest, so I had left my thick hiking boots and chaps in my room and instead I was wearing Vibram shoes and shorts. D'oh! None of us were clad appropriately for that trip except Molly, who wisely wore calf-high rubber boots. I stuck close behind her, relying on her sharp eyes to spot the snakes in time.  

We arrived at the oilbird cave safely, and the birds were well worth the trip. Molly said their red eyes and the weird cry they make when disturbed, which sounds like a cross between vomiting and coughing, made the original residents of the island think they were evil spirits.

Along the path to the oilbird cave.
We returned to the main house without seeing a single fer-de-lance, though before we left Asa Wright the snakes had been spotted by two tour groups. 

A few of us took a dip in one of the natural pools before lunch, then after lunch we set off on another tour. This time I came prepared in my thick hiking boots and chaps, and I stomped boldly through the rainforest daring the snakes to do their worst. I’d like to think I intimidated them, for once again I didn't see any. After the hike another fellow and I continued down the trail to see the Asa Wright’s old hydrogenerator. It has been built in the 1970’s but had been abandoned in the name of modernization. Now with clean energy becoming popular and necessary, the generator will be used once again.

An oilbird and its chick.
Actually, looking at it I’m pretty sure it’s well past repair and will have to be replaced. 

We had tea and drinks at 4 pm, and about an hour later the excitement began. A snake that was later identified as a Cook’s Tree boa appeared above the bar. It slowly moved along the roof beams, seemingly trying to decide which of the bird nests it wanted to visit. Finally it chose one, and we were treated to a real-life nature show as the snake devoured two chicks. Afterwards we enjoyed another delicious dinner, then someone found a large tarantula hanging out on the back of a sign. What a wonderful evening! 

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The morning dawned cloudy and grey.
The morning dawned cloudy and grey.
Breakfast!
Breakfast!
Along the path to the oilbird cave.
Along the path to the oilbird cave.
An oilbird and its chick.
An oilbird and its chick.
Me and Molly.
Me and Molly.
The stairs leading to my room. I s…
The stairs leading to my room. I …
Tall, thick yellow bamboo surround…
Tall, thick yellow bamboo surroun…
One of the natural pools at Asa Wr…
One of the natural pools at Asa W…
The pool was surprisingly shallow.
The pool was surprisingly shallow.
Kent and Cheree enjoy the waterfal…
Kent and Cheree enjoy the waterfa…
Chatting after lunch.
Chatting after lunch.
Lounging on the porch.
Lounging on the porch.
An agouti.  Dun kept referring to …
An agouti. Dun kept referring to…
The hydrogenerator.
The hydrogenerator.
The snake saga begins. We were han…
The snake saga begins. We were ha…
Hello there!
"Hello there!"
Even the snakes were friendly in T…
Even the snakes were friendly in …
After a while the boa doubled back…
After a while the boa doubled bac…
The boa is about to head along tha…
The boa is about to head along th…
I could have sworn I smelled dinn…
"I could have sworn I smelled din…
An appallingly large tick attached…
An appallingly large tick attache…
Hey... how you doin?
"Hey... how you doin'?"
Hey little fellas. Are you okay h…
"Hey little fellas. Are you okay …
**OM NOMNOMNOMNOM**

The snake…
"**OM NOMNOMNOMNOM**" The snak…
Another delicious Asa Wright meal.
Another delicious Asa Wright meal.
Someone made the mistake of holdin…
Someone made the mistake of holdi…
Arima
photo by: fonsfervidus