Thursday, 26 July 2007

Rosie's Photos

This is the white bearded manakin. This is one of the males. We were very entertained by them as they do an elaborate dance for the female early in the morning and then spend the rest of the day practicing their swoops and calls. They dislocate their shoulders with a sharp, popping and clicking noise which is part of the show. Each male has a small space on the forest floor which is his "courtyard" and it is his job to keep it clean and tidy. The best dancer/serenader with the tidiest "court" wins the female. When we saw them on the forest floor at about 2.30pm they were hard at work practicing. The next time that I am lining up in the bank or stuck in traffic, I am going to remember the hard working white bearded manakin. We all have our missions in life. Not so?

Palm Tanagers having a dip.
Coming in for a late lunch.
These photos are taken by my friend Rosie. She has only recently come to live in Trinidad and is embracing it with both arms. Interested in everything and everyone, I find this comes through in all of her shots. There is a delicacy to her angles that is beautiful.

Asa Wright Nature Centre

Once you begin to climb the winding road that leads out of the Arima Valley and up into the Northern Range, it becomes obvious that this is virgin rainforest. Miles and miles of untouched forest lie on the horizon. It is, quite simply, a bird watcher's paradise. 2007 is the 40th anniversary of Asa Wright Nature Centre and there is an interesting display that gives a good overview of the history. The original house was built in 1906 and was run as a privately owned cocoa and coffee estate. With the crash of cocoa prices in the 1920's the estate was put up for sale and was purchased by an American engineer, Joseph Holmes. In 1946 it changed hands again and became the property of Dr Newcome Wright and his wife Asa.
A neighbouring estate, Simla, was purchased by Dr William Beebe, the first curator of birds at the Bronx Zoo. Beebe donated the property to the New York Zoological Society and the Tropical Research Station of the New York Zoological Society was established here. The relationship between the two estates was excellent. Asa took over the reins of the estate after the death of her husband and welcomed nature lovers and researching naturalists. In 1967, it was established as the Asa Wright Nature Centre and was officially opened as such on 5th November 1967. Asa continued to live in her home until her death in 1971. In 1974, the 265 acre Simla was gifted to the AWNC and continued to function as it does up to today as a Tropical Research Centre. Today the Centre is managed by a Board of Directors and is the recipient of several international awards. In 1973 the National Audubon Society's conference on the Conservation Needs and Opportunities in Tropical America was held at Asa Wright and the centre has been instrumental in several landmark publications. The first publication was the highly regarded and indispensable "A Guide to the Birds of Trinidad and Tobago" by Richard ffrench. This text is still the definitive guide and is sitting next to me right now as I type this!
The house is virtually unchanged. Guests are invited out onto the large verandah to view the birds who come to the feeders. On an average morning, it is possible to see as many as 25 species of birds.Barry our very knowledgeable guide.
The lovely waterfall on the estate.
A Baby Mappepire. Yes, he is deadly. He belongs to the pit viper family and they are quite common in our forests. They are hatching at this time of year and it is best to be wary. Notice howwell camouflaged he is in the leaves.

Asa Wright

I'm very happy to be back on-line. Had a DSL glitch that is hopefully resolved. I went to Asa Wright yesterday which is a lovely eco-resort in the Northern Range.
Below is the flower of the Calliandra or Powder Puff. When translated the word Calliandra means "beautiful stamens". When the tree is in full flower, the effect is quite magical with the little tufts of pink decorating the branches like ornaments.

A beautiful variety of ixora with a perfectly formed head. This seems to be the year of the ixora. Every one that I have seen has outdone itself this year. To be honest, we have become accustomed to them because they are so much a part of the landscape. But this year, something in the weather has been perfect. Who knows what subterranean signal goes out to each member of the family, instructing them all that it is a good year to bloom with passion.

The hummingbirds love this plant. I don't know what it is called but it grows wild in the underbrush of the forest.
A palm tanager stops by for a snack.
Tree ferns are very difficult to grow out of the mountains. They become petulant and lose their gloss. But up in the Northern Range, they are sleek and smooth.