Skipper and First Mate Millard (Big Bear and Pepe)
Tue 17 Nov 2009 23:27
Private Visit to the Caroni Swamp
As a treat for finally and actually bib-bobbling on the water in Beez Neez, a day off for Bear and an amazing opportunity for me. Bear allowed me to book a private trip through Jesse to return to the Caroni Swamp and have Shawn in a boat all to ourselves. Alan came to pick us up at 06:15 from Coral Cove.
This is the daily commute into Port of Spain EVERY day from the south. We got through before the southbound queue had started.
We arrived ahead of Shawn at around 07:00 and while we waited Alan caught a little chap and didn't flinch when he started nipping - all for art.
Shawn soon arrived and asked Alan to drive a short distance toward the electric sub-station (using the back road as not to get in the traffic) as there were a few of our intended birds sitting in the trees. I have left this at normal size to show how hard it is to see them, despite their colour. These were obviously waiting for the tide to go out before going for breakfast.
A 'cattle picker' as the white egret is often called. A closer look at the Scarlet Ibis and even a trio. After this early success we returned to Shawn, outboard on and ready to go.
Off we went along the channel into the swamp and soon saw one sitting quietly.
We are so used to seeing egrets standing on the ground or poking around feeding - it was so strange to see him fly and nestle on a tree
Then a gang going to a regional meeting went off for breakfast
We saw a rare rale, a dragonfly and how Shawn spotted this nocturnal Silky Anteater sleeping high in the tree, we have no idea. It took him a while and a laser pen to get us to see him
We spotted these adolescent birds - their faces have not turned fully red. When I was ready to try to get shots of them taking off, Shawn started to bang the side of the boat, this was as alarmed as they got.
Our ambition was to see a bird feeding in the mud. Shawn was skeptical because we left at high tide. After we had explored for over an hour Shawn remembered where the water exposed mud first. He quietly moved as close as he dared as not to alarm the bird. Bear took this picture to show just how far he was away from us........ H he should be above the h in the dark part of water, just below the trees.
The same chap taken with the "beast" Shawn was beginning to relax as we were watching what we had come to see.
Shawn decided to risk going around a small mangrove and double back unseen to see if we could get a little closer. He nosed the boat into a mud bar - still quite a long way from our new friend. How chuffed was I that I had the opportunity to watch a scarlet ibis feed but land next to a whole company of Fiddler Crabs, I was really enjoying myself now. Bear had to drag my eyes away from watching them to get back to the task in hand - to try - to picture our chap eating. Shawn was skeptical again, not that I wanted much........ By the way the place where they gather in flocks to feed is totally inaccessible and therefore safe to the birds.
Couldn't resist these chaps. You can certainly see by the handsome chap on the right where the birds get their colour.
Finally Shawn spotted the act through his binoculars - sadly the boat wiggled and this was my only opportunity, so I had to put it in.
Back to ......
Just by way of a change.....
The day belonged to this chap, unconcerned about anything but feeding.
Bear took this shot of a really happy Alan (left- who had come with us) a relieved and pleased Shawn (mentioned in the 'thanks' in the Trinidad Bird Book - for services, knowledge and spotting) and well, what can I say about me, how thrilled was I to put a huge tick at something so unique. Oh and meet the beast - my 50th birthday present, Bear bought early so I can become proficient by next June.
ALL IN ALL WOW. SHE MUST HAVE BEEN CHUFFED AS SHE BOUGHT US ALL KENTUCKY ON THE WAY BACK - WITH CORN ON THE COB