Swamp Four Seasons

Swamp Four Seasons
Blessed by the beauty of Creation -
Sharing what I see from my little place in His world!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

T & T Part 3: The Hummingbirds!!!

Back in January, soon after we signed up for our trip; I purchased a guide to the birds of Trinidad and Tobago.  When it came, I started studying it and dreaming of the birds we might see.  If you had asked me which birds I was most hoping to see, my answer would have been "Hummingbirds".  I was NOT disappointed!

The "Species Checklist" that Caligo Ventures sent us before our trip lists 18 kinds of hummingbirds.  Of those 18, we were lucky enough to see 12.  I have so many hummingbird photos that I've been having a tough time narrowing down which ones to post.  (A post on hummers taking a bath? Hummingbirds on nests? Hummers preening?  You get the idea!)  I finally decided to just post my favorites-- while also showing you many of the different species we saw.

One that we saw a lot of because they were coming to the feeders at the Asa Wright veranda were White-necked Jacobins.
In that photo you can see why they got the name "White-necked".  I don't have any idea where the "Jacobin" part came from!  I tried to research the history of hummingbird names but didn't come up with much, other than, "some of the names are poetic or historical epithets".
Actually, besides their white necks, they also have beautiful white tails, which you can see in the photo of the one above taking a 'shower' in the rain.
This one was sitting and preening.  I like the photo because you can see its beak and tiny feet.  The size and shape of their beaks can be one helpful detail to tell hummingbird species apart.
This photo shows a mature and an immature White-necked Jacobin (with the rusty patches on the head).  In flight, their white tails set them apart from the other hummers we saw at Asa Wright.
One of the favorites of the photographers on the veranda were a species that didn't come to the feeders, but instead sought out the flowers nearby.
The unique-looking Tufted Coquettes were challenging to get good photos of, to say the least!  One strategy was to focus on a nice flower and hope that when the bird was making its rounds, it would make a brief stop at that flower.  It worked for me once with this female...
and then I just got lucky with this one of a male.
The best shot I got of him was when he perched during a rain shower.
I love how you can see the tiny beads of water on his forehead!

Next we have a Black-throated Mango.  In my field guide in the written description it says, "outer tail chestnut glossed purple".  Sure enough, you can see that in the following photo!
I like to try to catch birds doing something besides just sitting.... so I snapped this photo while one was 'scratching an itch'.
The female Black-throated Mango looks a little different, but I think she is beautiful as well.  This is the best photo I got of a female. 
And, I think the next photo is also a Black-throated Mango, but it's got some interesting colors showing up due to the way the light is hitting it.  That seems to happen a lot with hummers.
For instance, the Ruby-topaz Hummingbirds that we saw on Tobago--  depending on the way the light was hitting them, they looked black... or fiery red and gold.
The next view even shows a little green in the throat.
In this last Ruby-topaz shot, I'm not sure what the bird is doing!  
One of the more common hummers were the Copper-rumped Hummingbirds.  That doesn't seem like a very nice name for a beautiful little hummer, but keep in mind that there are somewhere around 330 species of hummingbirds in the world (the exact number is debated due to some subspecies or closely-related ones).  It must have been hard to come up with different names for each of them!
They have emerald green chests, copper rumps (of course!) and little white pantaloons, which you can see in the photo above.

Quite the territorial birds, like most hummingbirds, we soon learned where we would see them sitting.
Even though I had studied my book and tried to have an idea of what hummers we would be likely to see, it still wasn't easy to identify them.  A drawing of a side view of a hummingbird in a book is very different from a buzzing, high-speed live version!  So I was glad to be able to capture in photos and figure out what the next ones were (at least, I think I have them right!)


Above and below are White-chested Emeralds (which also happens to have a copper rump!).
The next photo is a terrible photo, but it's the only Green-throated Mango we saw (and it was identified by our guide for us!).   At least it's a record that we saw it. Too bad it wasn't sitting in better light.

I also prefer photos of hummers not on feeders, but the next one is the best (and one of the few I got) of a Blue-chinned Sapphire.
Finally, the one and only shot I have of a Rufous-breasted Hermit.  (Well... I do have a few shots of a nest with one sitting in it, but you can only see the tip of its tail!). Notice its very long, curved bill.
So, I wished for hummingbirds on our trip, and I was blessed to see many!  But, I also saw lots and lots of other beautiful and interesting birds.  In posts to come, I'll share some of those with you!