If you are a birder on a trip to a country you have not visited it pays to make every second count. That is why on my trip to Trinidad and Tobago I was up early before the other participants and birding whatever area was available to me. Ditto for time between activities and generally whenever I had a spare moment. Birders are always birding and this goes triple for when we are in a place loaded with potential life birds.

Barred Antshrike

Barred Antshrike Thamnophilus doliatus

While we were in Tobago for the first couple of days of the trip we stayed at the Bacolet Beach Club Hotel, a gorgeous boutique hotel right on Bacolet Bay. I could see the sea from my hotel room and access it by going down the stairs behind the hotel through some nice garden-like vegetation. Gardens and seas are both great habitats for birds so even though it was a tiny area I was birding I saw lots of good stuff in my explorations of the grounds of the hotel. By getting familiar with the garden birds I also put myself into position to at least recognize when something more rare crossed my path.

Spectacled Thrush

Spectacled Thrush Turdus nudigenis

Whether it was the dirt common Spectacled Thrush (which are a pretty cool bird even if they are everywhere in Trinidad and Tobago) or the spectacular Trinidad Motmot, there was always at least one bird in view or in earshot at the Bacolet Beach Club Hotel. I particularly liked the Palm Tanagers which regularly checked the balconies for bugs while making their annoying, squeaky vocalizations and the Green-rumped Parrotlets which are just an absolutely adorable little bird.

Palm Tanager

Palm Tanager Thraupis palmarum

Perhaps the best bird I saw at the hotel was the Black-faced Grassquit, which I would have missed had I not seen the pair that regularly foraged along the staircase that leads down to the beach.

Black-faced Grassquit

Black-faced Grassquit Tiaris bicolor

It paid to keep an eye to the sky as well because Caribbean Martins and Short-tailed Swifts often flew overhead, to say nothing of the near-ubiquitous Magnificent Frigatebirds and Laughing Gulls.

Caribbean Martin

Caribbean Martin Progne dominicensis

Magnificent Frigatebird

Magnificent Frigatebird Fregata magnificens

Also nice were the Rufous-vented Chachalacas which foraged all over the property and called from the tops of the trees in the morning. The national bird of Tobago was a great bird to see and I got no better looks than I did at the hotel. (Both Trinidad and Tobago have a national bird – Trinidad’s is the Scarlet Ibis.)

Rufous-vented Chachalaca big

Rufous-vented Chachalaca Ortalis ruficauda (Click the image above for a bigger version.)

Rufous-vented Chachalaca

If you ever plan to visit Tobago you could do much worse than to stay at the Bacolet Beach Club Hotel. Though it is a bit pricey it is well worth the money. The staff is warm and helpful, the food in the restaurant is great, the rooms are marvelous, and the beach is superb. Just don’t forget to pay a bit of attention to the birds and other living things that you can see on the grounds of the hotel. You just might be surprised at what you see…

female Silver-lined Tanager

female White-lined Tanager Tachyphonus rufus (That’s a male at the top of the post.)

My visit to Trinidad and Tobago was sponsored by the Trinidad and Tobago Tourism Development Company but the views expressed in the blog posts regarding the trip are my own. For more information about visiting Trinidad and Tobago a good place to start is the official tourism website.

Written by Corey
Corey is a New Yorker who lived most of his life in upstate New York but has lived in Queens since 2008. He's only been birding since 2005 but has garnered a respectable life list by birding whenever he wasn't working as a union representative or spending time with his family. He lives in Forest Hills with Daisy and Desmond Shearwater. His bird photographs have appeared on the Today Show, in Birding, Living Bird Magazine, Bird Watcher's Digest, and many other fine publications. He is also the author of the American Birding Association Field Guide to the Birds of New York.