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What could possibly be better than birding on one Caribbean island? Being able to travel to many different Caribbean islands and go birding on all of them!!
My name is Ryan Chenery and I am the Professional BirdingPal Guide for Barbados. In 2017 I will be leading the following 2 Caribbean birding tours of the islands of the Lesser Antilles and Trinidad.
Please see my website www.birdingtheislands.com for detailed itinerary and pricing, and please note that by virtue of your being a BirdingPal you will be entitled to a 2.5% discount off of the price quoted on my website.
When you add a large number of critically endangered endemics to a lengthy list of indigenous regional species, a birding trip to the islands of the Lesser Antilles is already guaranteed to yield a host of spectacular species.
However, by combining our exploration of these Caribbean Islands with a journey to Trinidad (an island absolutely teeming with over 250 South American species) and by ensuring we are in the region when bird numbers are further saturated by numerous over-wintering North American migrants and this promises to be a very rewarding birding trip indeed. It's the perfect North American, Caribbean and South American birding combo! (Potential for 380 species on Tour 1, and 400+ species on Tour 2).
Join me as we explore secluded cays sheltering huge colonies of seabirds; delve into lush tropical montane and elfin forests - havens for raucous parrots, colourful tanagers, and vibrant hummingbirds; and journey into vast mangrove wetlands and open savannahs, whose intricate ecosystems support some of the richest and most threatened bird life in the Western Hemisphere.
Do all of this in the knowledge that during "down time" you will also be able to sit back and relax on some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, or go for a swim in warm turquoise waters, bathed in tropical sunshine.
A truly unforgettable birding adventure in paradise awaits...
Please note, the below is merely an abridged overview of each island. For a full, detailed itinerary of Tour 1, including Pricing, (remember that as a BirdingPal you are eligible to a 2.5% discount off of the total quoted price), please click on this link www.birdingtheislands.com/tour-1
Tour 1: The Perfect Combo Islands Visited: Barbados, Dominica, St.Lucia and Trinidad
Our incredible journey through the Caribbean begins with 2 days of birding an island regarded as one of the most biodiverse in the region. With it's dry coastal woodlands in the east - providing a haven for one of the rarest species on the planet - the White-breasted Thrasher, to it’s expansive wetlands to the south – with populations of West Indian and Black-bellied Whistling Duck – we cover all prime birding habitats. But it is perhaps when we find ourselves standing in the shadow of the majestic Piton mountains, and exploring the lush Des Cartiers Tropical Rainforest that the true wonders of St.Lucia reveal themselves. This is a haven for several of the islands splendid endemics and regional specialties. These include the magnificently coloured St.Lucia Parrot, vibrant St.Lucia Oriole, secretive St.Lucia House Wren, delightful St.Lucia Warbler, the shy retiring Ruddy Quail Dove, Scaly-breasted Thrasher and Rufous-throated Nightjar.
Our second day on the island is reserved for exploring the coast, where we make our way into sheltered cays to the west of the island, frequented by colonies of Red-billed Tropicbirds, flocks of brown, red-footed and masked boobies and myriad species of gulls, terns and over-wintering shorebirds.
Maintaining our coastal theme, we board a ferry later that day in order to make for the second island on our trip. Bathed in sunshine high atop the upper deck of the sleek and modern L'Express Des Isles Ferry we scan the crystal clear waters for shearwaters, frigatebirds and all manner of gulls and terns, but also for marine turtles breaking the surface for air, leaping dolphins and even the unmistakeable spout of Humpback and Sperm Whales. The passage between St.Lucia and Dominica is frequented by migrating pods of whales, and the dates of the trip have been specifically selected in order to give us the best chance of seeing these spectacular behemoths of our oceans.
Arriving in Dominica, one is immediately struck by the island's vast expanses of undeveloped natural landscapes. With black volcanic sand beaches characterizing it's coastline and a river for every day of the year coursing through it's swathes of tropical, montane and even elfin forest, Dominica provides a stunning backdrop for views of a host of Caribbean species. Deep within the heart of the island, ancient primary stands of trees now protect the last remaining populations of the largest Amazona species in the world - the majestic Imperial Parrot. This impressive species shares these forests with an array of forest dwelling birds, including: Red-legged Thrush , White-crowned Pigeon, Purple-throated Carib, Bridled Quail Dove, Red-necked Parrot, Antillean Euphonia and Plumbeous Warbler.
Following our birding excursions on the “nature-lovers island”, we make the short 40 minute flight to the smallest country on our tour. At 18 miles long and 11 miles wide, St.Vincent is a tiny Caribbean gem perhaps best known for it's warm, friendly people and it's being the gateway to the Grenadines. However our visit promises to also reveal an island positively teeming with birdlife, and one which (thanks to it's small size), will be able to be explored thoroughly in one day. St. Vincent's Amazona species of parrot is one of the largest in the world, and as we descend into the Buccament Valley we have the opportunity to view this threatened bird in it's natural habitat. This impressive Amazona shares these forests with other endemic and indigenous range-restricted species such as the comical Whistling Warbler, Lesser Antillean Tanager, Yellow-bellied Elaenia, and Rufous-throated Solitaire, and we will be looking to get incredibly close views of all of these and several other species as we travel across the island.
Having enjoyed an array of wondrous Caribbean species, the second leg of our tour sees us turn our attention to those species that inhabit the neighbouring continent of South America. We have reserved 4 full days for you to delight in this country's plethora of South American species. Our lodgings for the duration of our stay on the island will be the internationally renowned Asa Wright Nature Centre. Here we are treated to breakfasts on verandas surrounded by up to 7 species of hummingbirds, as well as a host of various species of tanagers, honeycreepers and euphonias. We stroll along the vast network of trails crisscrossing the Centre's 1,500 acres of tropical rainforest, where we will seek out some remarkable treasures, including: Channel-billed Toucans, Trinidadian Piping Guans, Golden Manakins, Collared Trogons, Trinidad Motmots, and Bearded Bellbirds. We set out on night excursions around the Centre in search of Common Potoo, nightjars and owls and also enter a gargantuan cave-mouth in order to get incredible views of the prehistoric-looking Oilbird. In addition to our time spent at the reserve we are also taken on daily safaris to a range of varied habitats across the north-west territories of the island. Here we will explore mangrove swamps, vast grasslands and secluded groves of palm forest, each home to an abundance of dazzling, exotic species, such as Red-bellied Macaw, Bat Falcon, Scarlet Ibis, Rufescent Tiger Heron, Pearl Kite, Spectacled Owl, Crimson-crested Woodpecker, Scarlet-shouldered Parrotlet, Venezuela Flycatcher, Rufous-tailed Jacamar and White-throated Spadebill. The sheer number and variety of species on offer serve to make Trinidad a mecca for birders the world over.
For the Top Twenty Species we will be targeting on each island, as well as the total list of species likely to be seen on this trip please click this link: www.birdingtheislands.com/the-birds
Tour 2: Every Endemic in The Lesser Antilles (with optional extension to Trinidad) Islands visited: Barbados, St. Lucia, Martinique, Dominica, Guadeloupe, Antigua, Barbuda, Montserrat St. Vincent, Grenada and optional extension to Trinidad
Tour 2 is an extended version of Tour 1. It sees us journey to an additional 3 countries in the Caribbean. This provides us with the opportunity to expand the already impressive number of endemics, indigenous regional species and migrants from North and South America that can be seen on Tour 1. Signing up for Tour 2 ensures you will bird the majority of islands in the Lesser Antilles and round off your trip with a 3 day tour of the Republic of Trinidad and it's wondrous array of South American species.
On Tour 2, not only do we visit all of the islands already listed in Tour 1, but we also visit Barbados, Martinique and Grenada. I have included a brief overview of each of these 3 additional islands below.
For a full, detailed itinerary of Tour 2, including pricing, (remember that as a BirdingPal you are eligible to a 2.5% discount off of the total quoted price), please click on this link: www.birdingtheislands.com/tours
Barbados We will be granted exclusive access to the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary, a World Heritage Site and largest mangrove wetland on the island - home to the first nesting colony of Little Egret in the Western Hemisphere, and supporting breeding populations of among others: Caribbean Coot, Masked Duck, Scaly-naped Pigeon, Antillean-crested Hummingbird, Green-throated Carib, Caribbean Elaenia, and Barbados Bullfinch.
Our visit to this popular tourist destination also includes journeying to the wave battered coastline of the north of the island in order to enjoy courtship displays of Grassland Yellow Finch and Black-faced Grassquits as well as take in the frenzied hunting techniques of Caribbean Martins and Black Swifts.
Martinique Our accommodation on the island is within the scenic Presquille de Caravelle Nature Reserve, but before settling in for the night, we explore this small reserve located in prime birding habitat for a number of target species, including the Martinique Oriole, delightful Blue-headed Hummingbird and charismatic Grey Trembler.
Grenada It is certainly not the parrots alone that are threatened on the islands. On Grenada (our final Caribbean island before making for Trinidad and South American species) our number one target is the shy unassuming Grenada Dove with a surviving population of less than 150 individuals. While on the ‘Spice Isle’ we will also journey to every prime birding habitat on the island in search of, among others, the local race of Hook-billed Kite, Grenada Flycatcher, Lesser Antillean Tanager and Rufous-breasted Hermit.