We learned from our tour of the Asa Wright Nature Center and the Caroni Swamp that the national bird of Trinidad is the scarlet ibis. The national bird of Tobago is the cocorico. Together, they ordain the Trinidad & Tobago coat of arms. They both also appear prominently on their currency.
In the Caroni Swamp, we would see them in spades, well, perhaps diamonds as it more represents their beautiful bright red color. Ask anyone in the world what a flamingo looks like and they can tell you thanks to their pink beauty and their prominence in zoos and as lawn displays.
After seeing hordes of scarlet ibises, it made me wonder why these birds are not so well known. I think I would rather have a scarlet ibis on my lawn instead of a pink flamingo, yet the world knows very little about this colorful bird.
This is not so in Trinidad as they are passionately revered. We had seen a few of this amazing birds back in the mangroves of the Caroni Swamp, but we would soon get our fill when we made open water outside the channels.
The scarlet ibises roost here in the Caroni Swamp and during the day they fly all over the island and across the straights to Venezuela in search of food. They return nightly to the Caroni Swamp and provide a daily spectacle as hundreds of crimson birds fly in v-shaped formation over boats filled with adorning scarlet ibis paparazzi.
While sitting in the boat taking one photo after another of the returning birds to the island, we were fortunate enough to see another colorful natural wonder. A rainbow broke out over the swamp momentarily deflecting the cameras from birds to sky. Rainbows happen anywhere and at anytime, and soon the cameras refocused on the island scene filled with bright red birds intermixed with some egrets and tricolored herons.
Just like at Asa Wright with the hummingbirds at the feeders, I could have stayed here all day zooming in on the island, taking photos of the bright creatures. Soon, the sun started to descend, which ended the tour and photos.
The birds seen through the channels was amazing enough, but the beautiful scarlet ibis seen in such numbers was a thrilling conclusion to an amazing day in Trinidad & Tobago.
Caroni Swamp is a protect area in Trinidad & Tobago and can only be entered via permit. It is my understanding that in order to get a permit entrance must be with a guide. You can either do a group tour or you can kayak Caroni Swamp with a personal guide. The tour I took was combined with Asa Wright and was an awesome day tour for $80.00 per person with Jesse James. I highly recommend this tour operator and this tour. For more adventurous kayak tours, check out this outfit.
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