Trinidad and its Trifectas – 10,000 Birds

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As talked about in lots of different posts on this weblog, the avifauna of Trinidad & Tobago consists of a number of species and household teams occurring very apparently, in threes. I hadn’t observed this till I started compiling my very own e book on the birds of T&T some years in the past, and I believed it relatively uncanny. The final time I spoke about this was over a yr in the past, and when you’re doubting the prevalence of this, check out this checklist:

Bitterns Trogons Antshrikes Spinetails Manakins Hermits Honeycreepers Warblers | Myiarchus

Over the previous few days we’ve been having fun with each day – or ought to I say nightly – sightings of Quick-tailed Nighthawk. A pair has been roosting close to to the place we’re at present residing, and every night these cryptic birds take to the wing searching for flying bugs. I’ve been unable to discover a day roost regardless of my greatest efforts. Photographing these nocturnal rockets has confirmed to be fairly the problem, I don’t assume I’ve ever furiously deleted so many photographs in my life.

Quick-tailed Nighthawk (above and beneath)

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General, this species appears to be poorly identified, which is comprehensible given its habits. Usually, they look ahead to the solar to be comfortably beneath the horizon earlier than rousing in any method. They haven’t been noticed to name from the roost; a single hen silently takes to the wing, dropping virtually vertically out of its roost tree. It then flies round for a couple of minutes till it’s joined by the second hen; that is when the vocalizations start. Over the course of normally the subsequent twenty minutes (or nevertheless lengthy it takes for darkness to tightly grip the scene) the pair chases bugs and one another, all of the whereas making quite a lot of chirps and buzzes.

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Photographing the Quick-tailed Nighthawks concerned workout routines firstly in monitoring their fast, erratic and extremely bat-like flight, and secondly in processing the remaining photographs as soon as 99.99% had been deleted.

One night whereas wanting on the nighthawks, I famous the presence of a 3rd hen. Equally sized and proportioned to the nighthawks, this one determined to perch on an uncovered snag. Unbelievable, I believed – was this my likelihood to lastly land an honest photograph of this species? To my bare eyes within the darkness its cream throat appeared a little bit off for a nighthawk, however maybe it was a juvenile? As soon as I regarded by means of correct glass nevertheless, all doubt was blown to smithereens – it was a Bat Falcon.

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When this Bat Falcon departed this perch, it made the Quick-tailed Nighthawks seem to be they had been operating on low-octane gasoline.

All of this to say that lastly I’ve documented all three species of nighthawk present in T&T. Nicely, form of. A pair years in the past some birders photographed an odd wanting nighthawk that was inside a small flock of Lesser Nighthawks; this hen is but to be recognized however is both Antillean or Widespread Nighthawk. For my egocentric functions of gathering threes, I’m not together with this thriller right here.

The primary Lesser Nighthawks I noticed had been from a mall carpark; the birds would collect in nice quantity to feast on the various bugs attracted by the nauseating (to me) floodlights. I attempted photographing them at the moment; the outcomes had been embarrassing.

A few years later, I heard of one other group of Lesser Nighthawks that had converged on a close-by wetland. After a failed try and discover a day roost, I attempted one other morning with a special technique. Arriving within the darkness of the pre-dawn, I merely waited for the birds to return to their roost. I want life was all the time this straightforward.

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Lesser Nighthawk

Rounding off the three is the biggest of the bunch, the mighty Nacunda Nighthawk. This was truly the primary nighthawk I noticed correctly, a few years in the past at daybreak. Over the course of the subsequent decade, they’ve been pretty common guests to a wetland within the south of Trinidad and are one of many simpler nocturnal species to look at throughout the appropriate time of yr.

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Nacunda Nighthawk

It should be famous that no calls or different lures had been used to {photograph} any of those birds, and that sleeping birds had been left in place to relaxation for so long as they desired.

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