Martyn Kenefick (Trinidad)
We found a grand total of 206 species of birds, or 207 species if, as Martyn
would promptly chime in, those lacking consciences include Rock Pigeon.
My co-leader on Trinidad and T&T Rare Bird Committee Chair, Martyn Kenefick, met us at Piarco Airport so he and I could greet the group together.
It was also one of the few records of the species for Tobago, which meant that I was duty-bound to write up documentation for submission to the T&T
Rare Bird Committee (which included Martyn
and me!), and which I prepared later that afternoon.
Arriving in Trinidad
at 9:10 a.m. after another 20-minute flight, Martyn
met us and introduced us to Eric, our maxi-taxi driver for the Trinidad portion of the tour.
Eric turned out to be an easy going, pleasant fellow with a great sense of humor.
was also a careful, thoughtful driver and, I think, a "closet" birder.
With great difficulty Martyn
and I cajoled the group into retreating to an inside room of the British colonial mansion so Martyn
could give his
covered meal times, the field trip schedule, recommended attire, the weather forecast, and all manner of other critical details.
We paused at a roofed structure at the beginning of the final descent into the steep-sided riparian gorge through which flows the Guacharo River while Martyn
gave a lecture about the Oilbirds, the history of this Oilbird colony, and instructions as to how we would visit the cave in groups of three at a time so as to disturb the birds minimally.
gave another exceptionally thorough lecture about the activities of the following day, and then we retired after this extremely long and exciting day.
Martyn and I shared the Cocoa Suite, which had served as a lumber shed as long as I could remember but which recently had been transformed into a lovely A-frame cabin.
Arriving at our lunch stop at Manzanilla Beach on the Atlantic Ocean, Martyn
and I unpacked the food coolers and got everyone down to the business of chowing down.
charm on the security guard, who allowed Eric to drive the bus in.
magic again, locating a vanishingly rare Epaulet (Moriche) Oriole.
We were all in very good spirits, not just because of the good birding but because Martyn
and I were passing out cups of strong rum punch, with which we saluted an excellent evening.
brought the group up to speed on the logistics for the next day, and we retired to our rooms for the evening.
and I subsequently wrote up documentation for these swallow sightings and submitted them to the T&T
Rare Bird Committee, where I'm sure they'll get at least two votes to accept -- his
A pair of Red-capped Cardinals (no relation to our Northern Cardinal) flew past along the stream, providing a brief and wholly unsatisfactory look at this very attractive species.
had urged me to take the group to this locale for several reasons, among which was to provide me (and all of us) with a very special life bird -- a chickadee-sized, confiding species called a Spotted Tody-Flycatcher.
Within a few minutes he
had achieved this goal, producing not one but about a dozen of them during our walk.
We walked slowly along the track until the sun climbed high enough to be uncomfortable, at which time Martyn
cell phone to call Eric to come and pick us up.
I love high tech!
and I served lunch atop a concrete wall to the sounds of Rufous-tailed Jacamars, Blue-crowned Motmots, Blue-headed Parrots, Rufous-browed Peppershrike, Pale-breasted Spinetail, and other species.
As compensation for the rather slow birding, and as a final example of his
excellent birding skills, Martyn
picked up a White-winged Becard from among the sun-speckled foliage where it had been silently perching.
The last new species we'd get, the becard was another rarity, never expected on any T&T birding trip.
As a special treat to commemorate our last foray, I had Eric drive us to LC's Store in Cumuto Village, where we enjoyed ice cream, cold sodas, and local snacks.
Here are Nancy, Katharine, Libby, Martyn
, Carol, and Betsy at LC's:
Pictured here is Eric with Martyn
, Libby, Debby, and Katharine, standing in front of LC's next to the maxi, with the Northern Range in the background:
Even with all of us searching the trees, it was probably 15 minutes before Martyn
quietly announced, "I've got him!
Lining up directly behind Martyn
, each of us finally was able to get a view of this highly ventriloquial species.
With fondness and profound thanks we bid farewell to Martyn
, my talented and highly skilled co-leader, and burly Eric, who had safely and comfortably transported us over so many miles.