Brian Keating returns from Trinidad and Tobago and tells the CBC about seeing over 300 species of hummingbirds.
The Online Journal of Brian Keating, check here for breaking news & exciting stories!
It was after dinner when the haunting call permeated the night air! The Common potoo! The descending 5 or 6 notes sounded absolutely bizarre, and without question was one of the strangest bird calls we have ever heard. I carry my tiny policeman’s flashlight in my video case, all kept close at hand tonight in case this bird did show, and within moments, we were set up on the 2nd floor balcony, within 10 meters of the bird. This is the resulting photograph. It would call every few minutes, pumping his body with enthusiasm as if playing some kind of musical pipe with each note emitted. Often the bird would sally forth to catch an insect, returning to the same branch.Have a listen to one of the strangest bird calls I have ever heard: http://neotropical.birds.cornell.edu/portal/species/overview?p_p_spp=693936
Brian was just finishing his own lunch when he noticed a very surprising guest at the hummingbirds’ lunch table! Yes, you are seeing this correctly: a Red-crowned woodpecker landed on the feeder and enjoyed a long sip of some sweet energy, a bit like a mid-afternoon Tim Horton’s coffee or perhaps a bird’s equivalent of a RedBull!
Brian just reported that he identified his 11th species of hummingbird in Trinidad and Tobago, the Ruby Topaz. He was able to photograph this beautiful male at a feeder right outside of his room. At times there were several species of hummers arguing over feeding rights! These avian jewels have been a constant highlight on these rich Caribbean islands!Ruby TopazCopper-Rumped HummingbirdPurple Honeycreepers
Even a naturalist like Brian Keating has wildlife viewing items on his bucket list! This week on the CBC The Homestretch, Brian talks about his first encounter with Oilbirds.
“We could hear the throaty calls of the birds, and as soon as we entered the cave, we saw some fluttering at the far end where a shaft of light permeated the canyon. The echolocation clicking was also audible. Several birds were perched on nests right above us, and with the assistance of our guides flashlight, I was able to get a few very good photographs.”
After a steamy ascent through the thick forest on the small island, we descended down the far side where we were met with a pleasant ocean breeze. And then, right beside the trail, we came upon a tropic-bird on her ground nest with a near-fully grown chick! The young appeared to have more body weight than the parent bird! They were not the least bit fussed by our presence. Two more adult birds, likely on eggs or chicks, were found further along the trail. Normally tropic birds nest on inaccessible cliffs, so this was a rare treat indeed and I was able to full frame the bird with my iPad! In all our tropical travels, we have never encountered this incredibly beautiful bird in such proximity.
And then the show really began. We left the dark mangrove channels and entered a large brackish lake. A huge island with towering trees had a few flocks of herons and egrets flying towards it and landing on the branches. But within moments after getting there, flock after flock of Scarlet ibis came in! At first a few dozen, but soon flocks of 50 or more began to arrive. The green wall of tall trees soon looked as if decorated by Christmas ornaments! By the time we needed to head back, the island had no less that 3,000 birds. It was astounding. At one point the birds spooked and flew up and around, eventually alighting back onto the island. All this with the towering pink clouds behind them as a result of a superb sunset. The low light from the setting sun appeared to make the ibis glow from within to a rich velvet red.
Wildlife columnist Brian Keating speaks to the CBC about bird watching from Trinidad.
Up before sunrise to be sure to experience the “dawn chorus,” we met up with our birding guide, Nicholas Alexander, and headed out into the forest. From a clearing that afforded a 360 degree view, we spotted our target bird: the endemic Trinidad piping guan, high up on a wild nutmeg tree. The bird gave away its presence with a thin whistle call. The red legs, white blotched dark wings, a huge, pendulous dark blue wattle and a smooth light blue face made the bird unmistakable. The naked blue face had the appearance of smooth porcelain. It stood on a branch high in the trees, feeding on the tree fruits. I photographed it through my scope with the iPad with surprising results.
Brian and his wife, Dee, are in Trinidad this week, on a bird watching expedition. Here, Dee is walking a remote, quiet beach of NE Trinidad, at the foot of some mountains that represent the northern most peaks of the Andes! Thick forest dominates this coast, with parrots, toucans, hummingbirds and more. Due to the proximity to continental South America, nearly 500 species of birds call Trinidad home. Brian’s first impressions upon leaving the airport yesterday: “The bush is ringing with bird life!” The birding should be very productive indeed.