Tobago probably separated from Trinidad and the mainland about 12,000 years ago, due to sea level rise after the last ice age, whilst Trinidad separated from the South American Mainland as recently as 1,500 years ago! This means that whilst Tobago shares much of Trinidad’s avifauna it is not all and, moreover, it has its own endemics.
Ruddy Ground Doves Columbina talpacoti © Greg Smith Naturalist Journeys
On Tobago I stayed at the Blue Waters Inn and could see tropicbirds and greater frigate birds from my window and there were hummers nesting in the trees and turnstones running between your feet on the beaches. [Fatbirder]
On Shirvan Road that takes you from Crown Point to Mt Irvine it goes into a long dipping right-hand turn; at the base of the dip and apex of the corner on the left hand side is a wooden gate. Pass through this gate and walk along the grassy road. Along the way you may see Green-Rumped Parrotlets, Barred Antshrikes and others. Soon you reach a lagoon, around this are Whistling Ducks, Jacanas, Lapwings and Warblers. This can also be accessed from the Fishing Depot at Buccoo Bay; just walk south along the beach, then follow the dirt road/trail.
Grafton Bird Sanctuary (Map)
Grafton Bird Sanctuary On the Western road from Crown Point (which takes you past Turtle Beach and the golf course) there is a sign on the right about 1km from the golf course, with a steep short track to the reserve. It once boasted a restaurant (now closed) and is still clearly managed for birds with a feeding programme. This attracts all sorts to feeders and a table of fruit including hundreds of Bananaquits and dozens of Palm and Blue-gray Tanagers (a different sub-species to all those you saw in Trinidad); Chachalacas and the tamest Motmots anywhere. I also saw a Red-crowned Woodpecker (not to be found in Trinidad) on a hummingbird feeder and in the woods. The very short trails were productive of Woodcreepers, White-fringed Antwrens, Fuscous Flycatcher, warblers and very confiding Jacaranda. At the end of the left hand trail Blue-backed Manakins may be found. The whole place is a great photo opportunity as well as somewhere to pick up Tobago specialisms with relative ease.
Violaceous Euphonia Euphonia violacea © Greg Smith Naturalist Journeys
Frigates, Red-footed and Brown boobies, Red-billed Tropicbirds and a good head of passerines. All the specialist birds can be scoped from Speyside and you will get an occasional close up from them early morning or late evening. The island also has nesting Audubon ‘s Shearwater that you might see in their tunnels with a strong torch. Even these can be seen occasionally from shore, coming in just as the light is dying.
Blue Waters to Little Tobago © Peg Abbott Naturalist Journeys
Mountain Road (Map)
Here I refer to the road that goes from just south of Roxborough through to Bloody bay taking you past the entrance to Gilpin Trace. In my check-list I refer to it as the Mountain Road. I found it to be good birding for its entire length with a few tracks, open areas and nooks worth checking each time you pass. I also found one very productive piece of the roadside observable from the car (well, I would wouldn’t I). En route from Roxborough to Bloody Bay there is only one patch of bad road-surface where there are usually tethered cows and a small hut. This is approximately 3k up the road between a sharp right hand bend and a left, all up hill. (Even if they improve the road there should be evidence of the new surface and gravel and lumber on the verge to give you a clue). If you park on the left facing back downhill in the Roxborough direction, there is a slightly open forest edge with several immortelle trees in bloom (they are always in bloom until no more rain is due according to legend – which means all the time). This site produced 3 red-legged honeycreepers, 2 sabrewing, tanagers, an evening roost of 10 orange-winged parrots, Venezuelan flycatchers, an over-flight by a yellow-legged thrush and more common stuff.
The Dam itself can produce Shorebirds, Ducks andAnhingas, and on the wires on the way into the dam Caribbean Martins can be seen. The forests around it are good for Rufous-tailed Jacamars, Collared Trogons, Flycatchers, Motmots, Hummingbirds and Tanagers.
Turtle Beach (Map)
This is the main tourist area but still the best place for congregations of pelicans, gulls and terns. It is also a good spot for seashore loving waders. I also saw brown boobies diving into the bay fairly close to the shore. It can be a hassle here if you are outside of the hotel compounds – the only place we had to avoid youngsters trying to charge you for smearing you with unwanted gobs of aloe vera. A good view can alsobe had from Fort James on the headland that is the north end of the beach; it can be accessed through Plymouth.
Major Source: © Fatbirder
Map Source: Googlemaps™
Photo Source: © Naturalist Journeys