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Tobago

Red-crowned Woodpecker Melanerpes rubricapillus ©Ian Montgomery Website

See the Trinidad and Tobago page for information relating to both islands or just Trinidad.

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 Trinidads avifauna it is not all and, moreover, it has its own endemics.

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]

Top Sites

Buccoo Swamp

PDF

Satellite View

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

Satellite View

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.

Little Tobago Island

Website

Satellite View

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.

Mountain Road

Satellite View

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.

Roxborough Dam

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

Satellite View

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.

Number of Species

National Bird: Rufous-vented Chachalaca Ortalis ruficauda

Useful Reading

Birding Tobago

Jacamars, Jacobins and Johnny Jump-Up Malcolm Rymer Running time: 90 minutes. Malcolm Rymer See Fatbirder Review

ISBN: 143032

Buy this book from NHBS.com

DVD - Birding Tobago - Jacamars, Jacobins & Johnny Jump-up

Buy direct from the filmmaker: http://www.wildlifevideos.net/tobago_new.html

Useful Information

Guides

David Rooks - P. O. Box 348, Scarborough, Tobago, West Indies (868) 756 8549 and (868) 660 6168 (speciality: birds)
Pioneer Journeys - Pat Turpin, Charlotteville, Tobago, West Indies (868) 660-4327
Renson Jack - Delaford, Tobago, West Indies (868) 660-5175 (speciality: plants)
William Trim - Goldsborough, c/o Goodwood Post Office, Tobago, West Indies (868) 660-5529

My Tobago

The My Tobago webste at http://mytobago.info/index.php is a good source of background information on the Island for intended visitors.

National Bird

The Cocrico Ortalis ruficauda

Guides & Tour Operators

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Newton George

Tour Operator

I am a professional birdwatching and nature tour guide with 32 years of experience. If you are visiting Tobago, and are interested in nature, I can help you to make the most from your visit, and to see sights that you might otherwise miss…

Tobago's specialist bird-watching guides

Listings

…Every guide on Tobago will know more about the island’s natural history and birdlife than the average tourist, so it is very easy to be misled by someone with a nice line of chat. Misleading or incorrect information can often be worse than no information at all, so it is best to avoid these so-called opportunists. After all, no good guide needs to tout for business on the beach….

Trip Reports

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CloudBirders

Trip Report Repository

CloudBirders was created by a group of Belgian world birding enthusiasts and went live on 21st of March 2013. They provide a large and growing database of birding trip reports, complemented with extensive search, voting and statistical features.

2014 [11 November] - Paul Davis

Report

At 5.30 am the first birds started to sing, they were Tropical Mockingbirds and a very pleasing sound it was. Shortly after the Rufous-vented Chachalacas pitched in, not so melodious, then Bananaquits and Tanagers. I hopped out of bed, got my gear together, sprayed the repellant on, just in case, and headed out to watch the sunrise. The sun rose over the island of Little Tobago across a short stretch of water. A small gang of White-tipped Doves gathered in a fruiting tree above me joined by a few Pale-vented Pigeons. Blue-grey Tanagers darted in and out of the same tree. After a sumptuous breakfast, I took a stroll around the grounds and spotted a couple of Agoutis foraging in the half light. On the beach a resident pack of Ruddy Turnstones rushed towards hotel guests hoping for some morsels of breakfast muffin or some other delicacy. These lovely little birds were always ready and willing to pose for photos. At about 9.30 most mornings the staff would put out sugar feeders on a number of poles dotted about the property. Within minutes Bananaquits, Copper-rumped Hummingbirds and the occasional Rufous-breasted Hermit arrived and stuck around for most of the day. Several Brown Pelicans gathered on the boat jetty and fished the bay very successfully...

2015 [03 March] - Stephen Burch

Report

...Turning right at the first roundabout and then right again leads to the Admin building and a more productive quieter area, with a heronry close by on the right - full of Cattle Egrets, some in breeding plumage, and Tri-coloured Herons. We saw our first Eared Doves by the road here. Further on past the Admin building to the right there was another pool that had a few White-winged Swallows over in the late afternoon sun of our first visit, and some squabbling Smooth-billed Anis in the surrounding bushes...

2015 [07 July] - Petri Hottola

Report PDF

The main target species on the island include: Rufous-vented Chachalaca, White-tailed Sabrewing, Trinidad Motmot (much easier to see than in Trinidad, to say the very least), Northern White-fringed Antwren, Grey-throated Leaf-tosser, Stripe-breasted Spinetail and Venezuelan Flycatcher.

2016 [02 February] - Eric Hynes & Doug Gochfeld

Report

...Gilpin Trace was the focus of our birding in the Main Ridge Forest Reserve the next day. We did well with a number of island specific targets like: Yellow-legged Thrush, White-tailed Sabrewing, Olivaceous Woodcreeper, Blue-backed Manakin, and Scrub Greenlet. Finally seeing Trinidad Motmot was a relief and more looks at Rufous-tailed Jacamar and Common Potoo were welcomed...

Places to Stay

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Blue Waters Inn

Accommodation

From the deep blue of the Atlantic, to the golden sandy beach of Batteaux Bay, to the brilliant green of our lush hills - this is Blue Waters Inn. We offer Tobago`s finest hiking and birdwatching. Be awakened by a symphony of birds celebrating the birth of a new day. - I loved this place, Fatbirder

Candles in the Wind

Accommodation

Welcome To Enchanting Tobago. At Candles, we provide cosy, comfortable air conditioned accommodation in a homely environment…

Cuffie River Nature Retreat & Eco-lodge

Accommodation

The Cuffie River Eco-lodge and Nature Retreat is situated in beautiful Tobago, the gentle and tranquil half of the nation state of Trinidad and Tobago - the most southerly of the islands comprising the Caribbean island chain. Tobago gently charms her callers with deserted beaches … the famous Buccoo Reef, a protected Marine Park with a fascinating underwater world of untouched coral …mountainous grandeur … unexpected waterfalls … beautiful and exotic birds … warm hearted and generous people…

Kariwak Village

Accommodation

I loved it… great birds in the grounds! Fatbirder

Palms Villa Resort

Accommodation

Five three bedroom luxury villas each with own pool, located in ten acres of gardens frequented by numerous birds…

Sherwood Park Apartments

Accommodation

Sherwood Park Apartments is located in the south of Tobago, halfway between Crown Point airport and the capital of Tobago, Scarborough. Sherwood Park is situated in quiet green surroundings, close to Pigeon Point and other well-known beaches, golf courses and excellent locations for swimming, snorkeling and diving. Both local and international restaurants are within easy access. Sherwood Park is situated slightly uphill, which means there is a constant refreshing sea breeze.

Speyside Inn

Accommodation

The Speyside Inn is a small, affordable, owner-operated country Inn situated on the outskirts of a small fishing village on Tobago's North East coast. It is utterly unique, and uniquely enchanting.

Tosca Villa

Accommodation

Located next to the Grafton bird sanctuary, Malcolm & Annie Taylor`s traditionally designed semi-detached villa affords luxury accommodation within the secure Sanctuary Villa estate, close to Mt Irvine Bay and up the hill from the village of Pleasant Prospect, which boasts not only a fine restaurant - the Indigo, but also a bar, a shop, and an all important (but rare) cash point.

Organisations

Environment Tobago

Website

Tobago`s first conservation organisation

Other Links

Bird Watching in Tobago

Website

Trinidad and Tobago perch off the coast of Venezuela, twin islands offering scuba diving and deserted beaches. While bird watchers have long visited Trinidad, a few are beginning to flock to Tobago, where more than 200 species of birds nest…

Birdwatching in Tobago

Website

The following text was written by Dr Steve M. R. Young after a birdwatching holiday in Trinidad & Tobago…

My Tobago

Website

Birdwatching in Tobago…