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Asa Wright Nature Centre and Lodge; Birds, Trails, Wildlife, Afternoon Tea and Rum Punch

Asa Wright Nature Centre (AWNC) is an old cocoa, coffee, citrus plantation that has been partly reclaimed by secondary forest and is now operated as an engaging Nature Reserve. It's a rewarding place to visit whether as a day visitor or staying full board in the Lodge. Its included in many packaged and bespoke birdwatching tours to Trinidad and Tobago from Europe and North America and accommodates independent travellers. The centre is in the stunning Arima and Aripo valleys part of Trinidad’s northern mountain range..

The main attraction its superb birds; Trinidad has 457 species (Ref 4) and 166 have been recorded in the reserve. I photographed around 33 species from the veranda, in the garden and along the trails, all featured in the Forest & Garden (1) webpage (opens in a new window/tab). I'm a photographer not a tick a checklist birdwatcher so I don't have a record of other species my wife and I saw but it must be around a dozen or so that were too fast or too far away to photograph.

Main House and Veranda

Images of the charming main house interior, the veranda and a view across the Arima valley are highlighted in the gallery below. The veranda has several bird feeders and every morning fresh fruit is placed in the grounds to attract birds. The view across the Arima Valley towards the crested oropendola bird colony can be spectacular. Accommodation is on full board basis; three meals plus, afternoon tea and rum punch before dinner staying the main house rooms or a cottage in the grounds.

Trails and Wild Animals

After breakfast on the first morning and for day visitors you get an informative orientation tour that follows the discovery trail to visit both the golden-headed and white-bearded manakin leks and ends in the territory of the bearded bellbird. If you stay for several days you get a guided tour to Dunston Cave, home to the oilbird colony.

Residents have full access to the trails but day visitors do not. There are a couple of short and half-a-dozen longer trails that take about one to three hours to complete. As well as eye-catching birds, there are opportunities to see and photograph other plants and animals. The driveway is also rewarding for birdwatching and photography and if you're lucky the on-duty senior guide may organise a driveway night walk to see nocturnal animals such as impressive tarantulas.

The gallery below features images of the trails and some animals that can be seen in the reserve:

(a) Red-rumped agouti (Dasyprocta leporine) neotropic native inhabiting forest and degraded forest;

(b) Gold tegu (Tupinambis teguixin), known locally as tiger lizard and lesser windward skink (Marisora aurulae) both are native to Trinidad;

(c) Chevron tarantula (Psalmopoeus cambridgei) photographed in a handrail on main drive;

(d) Manicou crab (Eudaniela garmani), a freshwater land crab found near mountain stream, I photographed this subject at Dunston Cave;

(e) Julia (Dryas iulia) Butterfly part of the Nymphalidae (Brush-footed butterflies) family;

(f) Leaf-cutter ants carry leaf segments to their nest where they mulch the leaves and grow fungi for food, which the queen and others in the nest colony eat. Two photographs feature workers carrying leaf segments back to the nest, on one leaf is a smaller that is ant being carried. This ant is not taking a free ride but is a guard ant, which this there to stop parasitic fly attacks on the larger worker ants. Parasitic flies lay eggs on worker ants heads. The egg hatches into larvae, which burrows into the worker ants head killing and eating it.

Birds

A small selection of birds photographed at the nature centre are highlighted in the gallery below. Several birds are shown feeding on flowers in and around the garden.

Gallery images include:

(a) four hummingbirds; white-chested emerald, male tufted coquette, male ruby-topaz and an immature male white-necked jacobin; (b) three neotropic passerines; bananaquit, female green honeycreeper and a barred antshrike;

(c) one non-passerine; an oilbird in Dunston Cave.

More birds photographed at AWNC and other locations are featured in webpages: Forest & Garden (1), Hummingbirds, Neotropic Passerines and Neotropic Non-Passerines (hyperlinks open in a new window/tab).

In the gallery, the images caption gives the species scientific and common name.

Plants

Tropical plants are not well documented so identification can be difficult. Trinidad and Tobago has over 2,500 species of which 2,160 are flowering plants but only 110 endemics (Gov T&T refers). Of the flowering plants, I photographed at AWNC only eight species appear to be native to the region, others are introduced or naturalised together with a few ornamentals, none appear to be on T&Ts Invasive Alien Species (IAS) list.

Native Flowering Plants

The gallery features eight native flowering plant species that I photographed in the grounds and forest trails at the nature centre:

(a) Four images show herbaceous heliconia; bastard plantain, pendant heliconia, Heliconia chartacea and Heliconia mathiasiae. The heliconia main pollinators are humming birds that feed on the nectar they provide.

(b) The second four images feature herbaceous changeable velvetberry, vervain and gueule de loup (Fr) and the shrub hot lips. Vervain and changeable velvetberry flowers in the grounds attract both ruby-topaz and tufted coquette hummingbirds.

In the gallery, the images caption gives the species scientific and common name.

Introduced Flowering Plants

Sixteen introduced, naturalised or ornamental species feature in this gallery:

(a) Ornamental trees and shrubs that attract nectar feeders, such as hummingbirds and bananaquits, include the mimosa or silk tree and the sanchezia shrub. Several other images of ornamental trees and shrubs feature the lollipop-plant, chenille plant, rose apple and poisonous angel trumpet (white), a member of the nightshade family.

(b) Herbaceous flowering plants include red and torch ginger, probably escapees from the garden, the latter seems to have spread along the trails near the house.

(c) Robusta Coffee, a tree/shrub from North Africa origin introduced in the original plantation for commercial purposes, the images are young plants so probably self-seeded.

In the gallery, the images caption gives the species scientific and common name, where known.

Abbreviations

AWNC: Asa Wright Nature Centre

IAS: Invasive Alien Species

References

Gov T&T. Government of Trinidad and Tobago (2012). T&T Biodiversity. [Online] Available from: http://www.biodiversity.gov.tt/home/trinidad-a-tobago-biodiversity.html [Accessed 10th May 2016].

Main House corridor to the Veranda, Asa Wright Nature Centre, Trinidad, 2015 Sitting Room, Asa Wright Nature Centre, Trinidad, 2015 The Veranda, Asa Wright Nature Centre, Trinidad, 2015 Crested Oropendola (Psarocolius decumanus) nest colony, Asa Wright Nature Centre, Trinidad, 2015 Lodge Cottages, Asa Wright Nature Centre, Trinidad, 2015 Rum Punch on the Veranda, Asa Wright Nature Centre, Trinidad, 2015 Bananaquit frenzy at a feeder, Asa Wright Nature Centre, Trinidad, 2015 View of the Arima valley from the veranda, Asa Wright Nature Centre, Trinidad, 2015 Fungi, Oilbird Cave Trail, Asa Wright Nature Centre, Trinidad, 2015 Gold Tegu (Tupinambis teguixin), Near Discovery Trail, Asa Wright Nature Centre, Trinidad, 2015 Agouti (Dasyprocta leporine), Near Discovery Trail, Asa Wright Nature Centre, Trinidad, 2015 Discovery Trail, near the white-bearded manakin lek, Asa Wright Nature Centre, Trinidad, 2015 Leaf-cutter ants, Main House Garden, Asa Wright Nature Centre, Trinidad, 2015 Leaf-cutter ants, Main House Garden, Asa Wright Nature Centre, Trinidad, 2015 Chevron Tarantula (Psalmopoeus cambridgei), Handrail on Main Drive, Asa Wright Nature Centre, Trinidad, 2015 Greater Windward Skink (Marisora aurulae), Asa Wright Nature Centre, Trinidad, 2015 Manicou Crab (Eudaniela garmani), Oilbird Cave, Asa Wright Nature Centre, Trinidad, 2015 Butterfly, Discovery Trail, Asa Wright Nature Centre, Trinidad, 2015 Oilbird Cave Trail, Asa Wright Nature Centre, Trinidad, 2015 Bananaquit (Coereba flaveola) on Sanchezia (Sanchezia parvibracteata) flower, Asa Wright Nature Centre, Trinidad, 2015 Oilbird (Steatornis caripensis), Dunston Cave, Trinidad, 2015 Immature Male White-necked Jacobin (Florisuga mellivora), feeding on mimosa, Trinidad, 2015 Female Green Honeycreeper (Chlorophanes spiza), Trinidad, 2015 Male Tufted Coquette hummingbird (Lophornis ornatus), feeding on Vervain, Trinidad, 2015 Male Ruby-topaz hummingbird (Chrysolampis mosquitus), feeding on vervain, Trinidad, 2015 Barred Antshrike (Thamnophilus doliatus), Trinidad, 2015 White-chested Emerald hummingbird (Amazilia brevirostris), feeding on changeable velvetberry, Trinidad, 2015 Bastard plantain (Heliconia bihai), Forest Trail, Asa Wright Nature Centre, Trinidad, 2015 Pendant heliconia (Heliconia rostrata), Forest Trail, Asa Wright Nature Centre, Trinidad, 2015 Heliconia chartacea, Forest Trail, Asa Wright Nature Centre, Trinidad, 2015 Heliconia mathiasiae, Forest Trail, Asa Wright Nature Centre, Trinidad, 2015 Changeable velvetberry (Stachytarpheta mutabilis), Main Drive, Asa Wright Nature Centre, Trinidad, 2015 Vervain (Stachytarpheta jamaicensis), Garden, Asa Wright Nature Centre, Trinidad, 2015 Gueule de loup (Fr) (Kohleria hirsuta), Main Drive, Asa Wright Nature Centre, Trinidad, 2015 Hot Lips (Psychotria poeppigiana), Forest Trail, Asa Wright Nature Centre, Trinidad, 2015 Sanchezia (Sanchezia parvibracteata) and Bananaquit (Coereba flaveola), Garden, Asa Wright Nature Centre, Trinidad, 2015 Mimosa (Albizia julibrissin), Garden, Asa Wright Nature Centre, Trinidad, 2015 Coral Aphelandra (Aphelandra sinclairiana), Main Drive, Asa Wright Nature Centre, Trinidad, 2015 Angel's-trumpet (Brugmansia candida), Main Drive, Asa Wright Nature Centre, Trinidad, 2015 Rose Apple (Syzygium jambos), Forest Trail, Asa Wright Nature Centre, Trinidad, 2015 Lollipop-plant (Pachystachys lutea), Main Drive, Asa Wright Nature Centre, Trinidad, 2015 Chenille Plant (Acalypha hispida), Main Drive, Asa Wright Nature Centre, Trinidad, 2015 Unidentified red and yellow flower, Main Drive, Asa Wright Nature Centre, Trinidad, 2015 Torch Ginger (Etlingera elatior), Forest Trail, Asa Wright Nature Centre, Trinidad, 2015 Unidentified flower, Garden, Asa Wright Nature Centre, Trinidad, 2015 Unidentified black berries and red flowers, Forest Trail, Asa Wright Nature Centre, Trinidad, 2015 Robusta Coffee (Coffea canephora), Berries and Ant, Forest Trail, Asa Wright Nature Centre, Trinidad, 2015 Unidentified red flower, Main Drive, Asa Wright Nature Centre, Trinidad, 2015 Red Ginger (Alpinia purpurata), Main Drive, Asa Wright Nature Centre, Trinidad, 2015 Cardinal's Guard (Pachystachys coccinea), Main Drive, Asa Wright Nature Centre, Trinidad, 2015 Robusta Coffee (Coffea canephora), Forest Trail, Asa Wright Nature Centre, Trinidad, 2015

Main House and Veranda

Trails and Wild Animals

Birds

Plants

Native Flowering Plants

Introduced Flowering Plants

Page Contents