What to Expect
Trinidad is a wonderful place for birding offering many species that can be found in South America with highlight species including the Crested Coquette and Ruby Topaz hummingbirds as well as the bizarre Bearded Bellbird and the beautiful Scarlet Ibis.
The weather is generally warm and fairly humid though it generally feels pretty comfortable with average temperatures averaging in the mid 80’s during the day and mid 70’s at night. Rain is likely at any time of the year though what is considered to be the rainy season ranges from June to December.
Since we will be doing photography we will be generally moving at a slow pace so the trip should not be very strenuous. The trails at Asa Wright Nature Centre are generally well maintained and not too difficult. The rest of the birding will be near our van or from a boat. Our goal is to achieve quality photographs so we typically try to stay with a good photographic opportunity when one presents itself in favor of chasing after the maximum number of species.
We arranged this trip with photography in mind and will be visiting places in which we have had the greatest photographic success in the past. Our goal is to make sure that you come home with photos that you are proud of and that you have fun while taking them. We will do whatever we can to help you build your skills and are always eager to hear your questions and to learn from everyone.
To ensure that our guests have the best chance for success we will limit the number of participants to six. This trip will be led by Greg Lavaty along with our local guide who we have worked with for many years. We are knowledgeable about the birds and experienced photographers. We will use this knowledge not only to locate interesting species but to get you into good position to obtain great photos. Our goal is not to list the largest number of species but to obtain quality photos of those species that we do encounter. This means that we are happy to spend more time with an accommodating bird in order to maximize photographic opportunities even though it means we may not see all of the birds possible. Of course we do all we can to make sure we don’t miss the really fancy species.
Insects (mosquitoes, chiggers and such) are typically not a problem though they may be encountered. Clothes treated with insecticide/repellent are not a bad idea; (especially with the potential of Zika) I haven’t regretted bringing along a bottle of insect repellant along yet. In the past chiggers were a bit of a problem so it is a good idea to spray repellant on your ankles when out walking around.
As far as gear is concerned I find that a long telephoto lens is usually a good idea. I prefer to use a 500mm f/4 lens as it lets in enough light to get reasonable shutter speeds in the wooded areas without requiring excessively high ISO settings. It also gives enough magnification that a reasonable amount of detail can be captured of even the small birds. Since our pace is generally pretty slow it isn’t a problem to work from a tripod. I have found that a telephoto zoom lens such as a 70-300mm, 100-400mm or 150-600mm lens is quite useful on this trip as we will be spending time photographing at feeders and the birds tend to be quite close. We will also be photographing from a boat and a smaller lighter lens can be easier to handle since a tripod is usually not practical on the water. The scenery in Trinidad can be quite pretty and I find it useful to carry a wider angle lens like a 16-35mm or 24-70mm lens to take advantage of the landscapes and people photography opportunities. I find the mangroves in Caroni Swamp to be particularly photogenic.
We do usually try to offer the opportunity to do a few after dark excursions. We do carry a spotlight but it is probably a good idea for you to bring a small flash light so you can see where you are going if you decide to join us at night.