Monday, 6 May 2013

Birding on Tobago - Day 5

Pre-breakfast I searched out Bon Accord as I did on most mornings once I had the car – I’ve actually  grouped all the sighting in this one section of the report to save it getting too repetitious.
To get to Bon Accord from Coco Reef I turned off the Milford Road down Alfred Crescent then followed the road till the T junction where I turned right (east) this lead to a heavily overgrown swampy area on your right with what looked like a deserted (and hence dry) sewage works on the opposite side of the road (behind a chain linked fence). I also followed some of the tracks which had water filled ditches on either side but failed to find open water anywhere. The area had to be visited at first light because by 7.30 a work force would turn up clearing the ditches and scaring off most of the bird and the locals started walking the tracks.
Every visit yielded spotted sandpiper (on the road and alongside the ditches), cattle egret(~25), great white egret (1), little blue hereon(2) and green backed heron(lots). I also had single sightings of yellow crowned night heron, tricoloured heron, snowy egret and belted kingfisher (a fly past). House wrens were the most numerous scrub based bird and on my first visit I found a prothonatory warbler (the only warbler I saw all week) and on one visit 2 yellow headed caracara landed about 200 yards away.
Spotted Sandpiper
Prothonotary Warbler
Yellow-headed caracara
All in all Bon Accord was a disappointment – well the bits of it I found were a disappointment - and the only picture of merit I took was a spotted sandpiper. The herons were always too distant for anything other than record shots and I’d got better images of these on Antigua.
On day 5 I started at Bon Accord but quickly moved onto the Tobago Plantation (was the Hilton ponds) and paid my $20 TT (£2) for a permit to enter.   To get there from Coco Reef you drive east along the Milford Road towards Scarborough and the entrance is un-missable on the right. The first lake had southern lapwings roosting on the bank and on the lake were anhinga, least grebe, green backed heron and an osprey which came in to fish then sat in a tree on the far bank annoying an anhinga who was frequenting the same branch.
Southern Lapwing
Least Grebe
Green Heron

Across the golf course I found a couple of small hyacinth covered ponds with janacanas and the pond by the entrance to Magdalena Hote had spotted sandpiper, greater yellowlegs, moorhen and more jacanas.
Wattled jacana

Spotted Sandpiper
There was quite a lot of bushy vegetation around the golf course that would have been interesting to search out but I didn’t have the time though by pushing through some bushes to view another  pond I did see a purple gallinule and another anhinga.
Reading other reports on Tobago these ponds are supposed to be the place for herons and ducks. Well the only herons I saw were cattle egret (~15) on one of the fairways and I didn’t see a single duck; I thought they should have been around at this time of the year.
By 8.45 my time was up and it was back to the hotel for breakfast and a lazy morning in the sun.
In the afternoon we went “Swimming with Horses” at Bucco – an interesting experience where you effectively ride bare back along the beach  then on the return leg the horses go into the sea  wading and occasionally swimming. This was Angie’s idea and she loved it. Me ?  I’ve only ever ridden a horse once before so I hung on like grim death and avoided drowning –  a result given the circumstances.
Drowning with horses

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