Hiking The Vermont Trail, St Vincent

The highlight of a birding trip to St Vincent is undoubtably the lush tropical Vermont Trail.  Most people of good fitness seem to make it up to the Parrot Lookout in an hour of steady hiking.  Being of poor fitness, it took me about 2.5 hours!


From the Beachcomber’s Hotel, I took a minibus to the market.  It was a Saturday morning so they weren’t as frequent and despite my early start, it was 7:30 by the time I arrived at the market.  I was alone, my husband needed a rest day by the pool.  I waited another half hour for the minibus to the start of the Vermont Trail.  I would have had to walk up another hill from the main road so I paid the driver to take me all the way to the entrance.

It costs $5 to enter but there weren’t any staff on hand so I just walked in.  I did pay on the way out.  They seem used to birders doing this.

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It starts out as a pretty well-marked trail with a gradual ascent.dscn4156 dscn4157 The trail gets more challenging as you keep going up.  They do have signs to point the way. dscn4160 dscn4161

There were some parts where I could barely tell which way to go.  dscn4162 dscn4163

Rest area about halfway up.dscn4165 dscn4166 dscn4167a


Finally you reach the parrot lookout.  This is the best place to stop and just listen and wait.  They fly back and forth the valley.  You will hear them first, then try to find them!dscn4172 dscn4173 dscn4174 dscn4175 dscn4178

Along the trail, I saw both Purple & Green-throated Carib Hummingbirds.  Unfortunately I couldn’t get them in decent light.img_7974 img_7974a img_7977a

I was at the Parrot Lookout by around 10am.  They kept me waiting almost 2 hours and I was getting worried I hiked all the way up there for nothing.  Thankfully they appeared and started swooping the valley before noon.  It is really hard to get a good shot unless you are lucky enough to have them perch near you (which I wasn’t).  When they flew against the sky all I got were silhouettes, when they flew against the trees I couldn’t get them in focus – green bird against green tree background and I don’t have that good aim!img_7987 img_7988a img_7993 img_7996a img_8002a img_8003a img_8007a img_8009 img_8009a img_8010a img_8011a img_8019a img_8022a img_8026a img_8027a img_8029a img_8030 img_8040 img_8041a

They stopped swooping after around half an hour so I walked back down to the office, paid the $5 fee and looked around their displays.dscn4181

I wish they would have had smaller ones like this for sale!dscn4183a dscn4184 dscn4186 dscn4185

Of course there were no taxis or buses to take me back down.  Many people will pre-book one but I had no idea what time I would finish as I wasn’t going to leave until I saw the parrots even if it took all day!  Finally a car came and dropped off a staff member and I got a ride back to the main road.  From there I got a minibus back to town.

A Quick Visit To Castries Market

After the birding tour, we had some time to spare so we asked to be the last ones dropped off so we could get a look around Castries while other people were dropped at their hotels.

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We got off at the market which was near closing time but still a few stalls open.  I knew what I wanted – anything with a St Lucia Parrot on it.dscn4109 dscn4111 dscn4112 dscn4113 dscn4115 dscn4116 dscn4117 dscn4119 dscn4121

Maybe someone is tired of shopping?dscn4123

In the taxi on the way to the airport.dscn4124 dscn4126 dscn4128 dscn4129 dscn4131

I love this airline’s logo!dscn4134

The islanders are proud of their native parrot, the St Lucia Parrot!dscn4132

Des Cartiers Trail – The Highlight Of Birding St Lucia

I have already blogged the main part of the birding trip but I think Des Cartiers Trail deserves a post of its own.

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This is a ranger station where you pay to enter the trail although this was included in our tour fee so Vision paid for the group.dscn4039 dscn4040

Good information at the ranger station and restrooms as well.dscn4041 dscn4042 dscn4043

Vision whistling at a bird to lure it closer.  The trail is uphill and challenging for the unfit (like me) but well maintained and relatively easydscn4044 dscn4045 dscn4047 dscn4048 dscn4051 dscn4058 dscn4063

We finally arrived at a small platform where we settled in to watch for St Lucia Parrots.dscn4066 dscn4068 dscn4070 dscn4074 dscn4075 dscn4076 dscn4077 dscn4078

We didn’t have to wait long, the St Lucia Parrots were swooping back and forth in the valley.  Getting a photo was a challenge as they were far away and hard to focus on.  Below you see my best attempts.  Others have been luckier and the parrots perched in the trees near the platform.

St. Lucia Parrot

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St. Lucia Oriole

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St. Lucia Parrot

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St. Lucia Oriole


St. Lucia Parrot

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St. Lucia Oriole

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Purple-throated Carib

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Purple-throated Carib

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Birding Day Trip Around St Lucia

Since we only had one full day in St Lucia, I had organized a birding day trip with our lodge, A Peace of Paradise.  The company is WIldLife Ambassadors and our guide was Vision, who was very knowledgeable about the island’s birds and managed to find most of the endemics for us.

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Our first stop was near Mamiku & Praslin where we saw several endemics.  The lighting was bad but I tried!  eBird Listdscn4029 dscn4030 img_7651 img_7662 img_7666 img_7681 img_7686 img_7693 img_7697 img_7705 img_7717 img_7723 img_7729 img_7771 img_7772 img_7774

Next stop was to be the highlight of the trip – Des Cartiers Trail and will be on a separate post.

The third stop was Eau Piquant Pond where we saw a number of waders and sea birds.

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The birds weren’t the only ones fishing!img_7945 img_7950 img_7953 dscn4089 dscn4090 dscn4091 dscn4093

We stopped here to buy sandwiches/takeaway for lunch.dscn4095

The final stop was on a hill top overlooking the sea.  At this point, the group went for a walk but it was so hot I decided to stay behind and relax a bit.dscn4097 dscn4098 dscn4100 img_7954 img_7956

We then drove back to Castries dropping off birders at their hotels along the way.  Since we were catching a plane to St Vincent, we asked Vision to drop us in town so we could do some shopping, then get a taxi to the airport.

Guided Walk For Visitors At Asa Wright Nature Centre

If you are a day visitor at Asa Wright Nature Centre, you will get a 90 minute nature walk included in your admission and this should not be missed!   Our guide came to collect us and led us down the stairs out to the main trail.  It was a small group, just me and two other ladies.  My husband decided to rest on the verandah.

Tegu Lizard


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Proceeding down the trail, the guide pointed out some local plants.dscn3880 dscn3889 dscn3891 dscn3894 dscn3896 dscn3899 dscn3900

A very shy Golden-headed Manakinimg_7319a img_7327a dscn3903 dscn3904

Plump little White-bearded Manakindscn3907 dscn3912 dscn3916 dscn3918 dscn3921 img_7395 img_7377a img_7341a img_7346

Beards are clearly in style at Asa Wright’s as this Beared Bellbird shows off!img_7351a img_7358a img_7360a dscn3926 dscn3928 dscn3929 dscn3931

Going back, there is a slight incline but manageable.

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Wake up!  How can my husband doze off with all those hummingbirds around?dscn3945

Birding The Verandah At Asa Wright Nature Centre

Whether you are a lodge guest or a day visitor at Asa Wright Nature Centre, you will be amazed at the beauty and variety of birds seen on the verandah.  Lazy birding at it’s best!  Hummingbirds need to feed every 15 minutes so don’t worry if you miss one, he’ll be back so you can keep trying for those stunning photos!  There are guides available to help you identify the birds.  This is my eBird list, not bad for about 5 hours!


Bananaquit, Violaceous Euphoniadscn3875

Turquiuse Tanagerimg_7123a img_7154a img_7159

Blue-grey Tanagerimg_7474 img_7165

Purple Honeycreepersimg_7148 img_7141 img_7194a img_7197 img_7187a img_7183

Silver-beaked Tanagerimg_7181 img_7279 img_7423

White-chested Emerald img_7430 img_7436a

Copper-rumped Hummingbird img_7450 img_7464 img_7506

Crested Oropendulaimg_7649a img_7641a img_7639a img_7632a

Palm Tanagersimg_7480 img_7482 img_7491 img_7502

White-necked Jacobinimg_7516 img_7129 img_7136

Crested Oropendulaimg_7170a img_7173 img_7249
Long-billed Starthroat img_7256a img_7260a img_7267 img_7268 img_7271 img_7146 img_7212

Tufted Coquettesimg_7238 img_7294a img_7295a img_7519a img_7520a img_7523a img_7530a img_7532a img_7533a img_7552a img_7559a img_7560a img_7561a img_7583a img_7562a


Birding Aripo Livestock Station, Trinidad

One of Trinidad’s top birding spots is the Aripo Livestock Station.  Having wasted far too much time the day before getting lost, this time I was determined to get there early to maximize birding. Since we didn’t have a gps in the car I would have to research the location and handwrite the directions.  Google maps doesn’t have the location loaded but by using eBird’s hotspot, I was able to map out the route and make note of which exit came before so I would know where to turn.  From the Churchill Roosevelt Highway, turn left at the Demerara Road, then right on Eastern Main Road and look for the property on the left.


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This sign is easy to spot.  Turn down the road and go past the guard point.dscn3851

Pull into the main building parking lot and they will register your presence and give you a visitor pass like the one below.  This is all routine and they are quite used to birders.dscn3850 dscn3804

From here it’s a matter of driving slowly around the property with your eyes and ears open.  Birds are everywhere!dscn3805 dscn3806 dscn3807

I was over the moon to see some Green-rumped Parrotlets in a tree not far from the entrance.  Parrotlets have always been a difficult bird to spot, see how well this little guy blends in!img_7050 img_7051a img_7062a img_7066a img_7073a dscn3808 dscn3810 dscn3825 dscn3837a dscn3843a

Lilac-rumped Parrotlets are also found here but I wasn’t lucky this time.  We drove around for about 90 minutes as we still had to get to Asa Wright’s before the morning tour started and picked up a fair few birds.  There were also Amazon Parrots flying overhead but I couldn’t tell which ones as we had been stopped for breakfast and didn’t grab the binoculars in time.dscn3845 dscn3846 dscn3848 dscn3849 img_7036 img_7038 img_7042

Southern Lapwingimg_7048

Ruddy Ground Doveimg_7086

Great Kiskadeeimg_7091a

Hummingbird, not sure which kindimg_7098a img_7110a

Rock Pigeonsimg_7115

Tropical Mockingbird



A Boat Trip To Caroni Bird Sanctuary, Trinidad

After a very full day of rushing around in the car, getting lost and seeing some amazing birds, we were ready for a nice relaxing boat ride in the Caroni Bird Sanctuary.  As usual, we arrived late after getting lost but another couple also arrived late so we shared a boat all to ourselves.  The crew at Nanan’s were very friendly and the guide found a few water birds along the route even though we were an hour late.

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Only one other couple on the boat.dscn3762

Great Blue Heron

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Emerging into the main lake.dscn3769

We cruised around the lake slowly as the Scarlet Ibises and Egrets flew to their roosts in several small groups at a time.  Despite having lots of trees and islets to choose from, tey all chose to roost together in one area.  There were so many bird the trees looked like they had tons of white and red flowers!dscn3770 dscn3778 dscn3779

Another tour groupdscn3780 dscn3782 dscn3786 dscn3789 dscn3792 dscn3793 img_6966 img_7024 img_7020 img_6990 img_6978 img_6973 img_7026 img_7028 img_7031 img_6952

Finally the specacle was over and the birds settled in for the night.  All boats started heading back to the docks……………………dscn3797

…………..but not before we watched the sun set over the swamp!dscn3795 dscn3796

Yerette Hummingbird Sanctuary, Trinidad

Theo & Gloria Fergusson, the owners of Yerette must have one of the best lifestyles in the world!  Their beautiful home high atop a hill in the lush Maracas Valley in Trinidad is a sanctuary for 1000’s of brilliant glittering hummingbirds!  Out of all the bird species we don’t have in Australia, hummingbirds are the one I miss the most so I like to take any opportunity to see them overseas.  The general consensus on Trip Advisor is “magic” and I have to agree!

The word “Yerette” means hummingbird  in the original Amerindian language.Trinidad even features them on the national Coat of Arms, currency and passport, as the hummingbird is an important symbol of the country.  Caribbean Airlines has the hummingbird as their logo as well.

At Yerette, visitors are able to see and observe 13 of the 17 hummingbird species recorded in this country, of hummingbirds at a very close range. These include:

1.Black-throated Mango

2.Blue-chinned Sapphire

3.Brown Violetear

4.Copper-rumped Hummingbird

5.Green Hermit

6.Green-throated Mango

7.Little Hermit

8.Long-billed Starthroat

9.Ruby Topaz

10.Rufous-breasted Hermit

11.Tufted Coquette

12.White-chested Emerald

13.White-necked Jacobin

I managed to see 10 out of the 13 (bolding) and did my best to identify the photos below but many are too dark or blurry.  I did get Tufted Coquette at Asa Wright’s so it’s really necessary to visit both places to see as many Trindadian hummingbirds as possible.

The price of admission is $TT150, and includes a light meal, interesting presentation by Theo on the hummingbirds and access to all the hummingbird feeders in the garden where you can TRY to take photos of these rapidly flittering flying jewels.  Theo has photos for sale which are better quality than most people will get on their own.  You need to book in advance by calling 1-868-663-2623 as there are sessions at different times of day.  They will email you precise directions when you book.  It doesn’t matter which session you choose as hummingbirds must feed every 10 minutes throughout the day.

The area where Yerette is located.


Entering Yerette and the hummingbird garden.dscn3622 dscn3623 dscn3624 dscn3625 dscn3626 dscn3627

Theo’s presentation on the hummingbirds.dscn3646 dscn3628 dscn3633

Green-throated Mango dscn3639a dscn3641

Green-throated Mango dscn3650 dscn3658

White-necked Jacobin dscn3661

Copper-rumped Hummingbird dscn3670

Little Hermit dscn3684

Black-throated Mango dscn3688

Rufous-breasted Hermit dscn3692 dscn3699

Ruby Topaz dscn3702

Ruby Topaz dscn3702a

Ruby Topaz dscn3703a

White-chested Emerald dscn3704

White-chested Emerald dscn3705a

Brown Violetear dscn3708 dscn3710 dscn3715

Purple Honeycreeper


Green-throated Mango dscn3724 dscn3727 dscn3732

Ruby Topaz Hummingbird? dscn3740a

Blue-chinned Sapphire dscn3744

Black-throated Mango img_6938a

Ruby Topaz Hummingbird? img_6927 img_6925 img_6918 img_6911

White-necked Jacobin img_6898aYellow Oriole img_6856 img_6851

Blue-chinned Sapphire dscn3749 img_6840 dscn3747

It started raining as we headed back down the steep hill, you can see how high it is.