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Main Ridge Rainforest

Birds, spiders and bamboo

View Bird watching, snorkelling and sunbathing. Sunbathing? Tobago & Trinidad 2012 on Grete Howard's travel map.

Another insipid sunrise

The day did not start well. During yesterday's pre-breakfast swimming, I decided to swim out to the little off-shore floating sundeck – although 'swimming' was probably a very loose term, as my arthritis prevented me from using my right arm, so it was more like a doggy-paddle gone wrong. Not that it stopped me getting to the platform in my very own personal style, and I thought that maybe trying to push myself to use my arm more, would loosen it up a bit. Wrong! I was awake half the night with terrible pain in my shoulder, and this morning I couldn't even lift my arm to tie up my hair. Anyone who has ever tried putting hair in a ponytail using only one hand will know how difficult it is!

The next bad thing that happened this morning, was that the breakfast box for John and Ali (the other couple coming with us on the rainforest tour this morning) was not ready in the restaurant like ours was. When Newton arrived he blamed it totally on John and Ali, as they should have ordered it in the afternoon rather than in the morning as they did – because there is a shift change-over at 14:00 and staff can't possibly be expected to pass a message on. Really? I could tell John and Ali were not impressed, but they got the manager out of bed at 05:50 to make the sandwiches! Having experienced extremely disappointing breakfast boxes in the past, I was very impressed with getting a small cool box complete with two sandwiches, two apples, two bananas, two fruit juices and two bottles of water. Well done Blue Waters Inn.

Breakfast box

Main Ridge Forest Reserve
We only left about ten minutes late in the end as a result of the missing food box, at 06:10. We slowly made our way up into the Main Ridge National Park, the mountainous volcanic spine of Tobago. The forest extends for about two thirds of the length of the island, from the north east tip and is the oldest forest reserve in the western hemisphere, dating back to 1776,shortly after the island fell under British rule.

The main function of the Main Ridge Reserve is a protective one, it protects
1. the soil and landscape from erosion by wind and rain
2. river valleys and other agricultural areas from floods
3. the wildlife offering them food, water and shelter
4. the leeward side of Tobago from the effects of prevailing North East tradewinds.
5. orchids and other epiphytes by way of support provided by the trees
6. perches and nesting sites for birds and flowers from which honey bees obtain nectar.
7. stream flow and water quality by serving as a watershed
8. the survival of the fine reefs and beaches found around the island as a result of many of the above

Newton George
Newton came highly recommended as Tobago’s premier bird watching and natural history guide by several websites. Although by no means knowledgeable or experienced bird watchers, we felt it would be prudent and make our birding more enjoyable, to have a guide. So we chose the best. And my goodness were we rewarded with a bird watching experience never to be forgotten. We all agreed we would most likely have seen a mere 1% of the birds we saw had it not been for Newton. A rough estimate would be around 55 different birds in a morning's hike, with the bird of the day apparently being the Olivacious Woodcreeper as it is notoriously difficult to see. Most of the birds were either too far away to photograph, the jungle was too dark or they flew before I even had my camera focussed.

Broad Wing hawk


Grey KIngbird


The Gilpin Trace trail was a nice little path, mostly easy hiking, with the odd clambering over roots or through streams. In terms of non-bird stuff, the highlight was a trap-door spider's nest – the spider makes the most elaborate contraption featuring a hinged door and an early warning system with a string of a root or leaf to warn the spider of approaching predators, giving him (or her) a chance to effectively seal the trap door shut. Their main predator is the tarantula wasp. You would never know the nest is there – I am amazed how Newton spotted it!

Trap door spider's nest

After a quick lunch back at the hotel, made a lot more interesting with some hot hot hot sauce, we took a hike up the steep path to the main road for amazing views over Batteaux Bay, the beach and our hotel; followed by a stroll along the beach and spending some time with the big boys photographing the humming birds. After some chilling time on the balcony, we thought we'd try out a little snorkelling, but it was a very disappointing experience. It didn't start too well, when I fell flat on my back in the shallow water as I was trying to walk backwards in my fins – much to the amusement of all the buys at the diving school. The visibility was very poor, but it didn't matter too much, as there wasn't much to see. I did see a school of pale blue fish, but that was about the only excitement.

Hot sauce

Batteaux Bay

Our beach

Lens envy

Humming birds at the feeder

Relaxing on the balcony


We knew there was going to be a steel band playing tonight, and as we were having a snifter of Duty Free, on the balcony while watching the humming birds, mockingbirds and bananaquits in the trees and listening to the waves crashing in, we could hear them playing in the distance. We couldn't believe that all but one table (the one nearest the band) were taken around the pool area by 18:30! Tonight was my first experience of 'blue food' (unless you count a blue soup at a Bridget Jones party...) - the famous Tobagonian root vegetables. Dasheen is the root of the calleloo vegetable, and it much nicer than its other half. They laid on quite a spread, with king fish, chicken, pork, vegetables, dasheen in coconut milk, rice, vegetables, soup and chocolate cake! I was amazed at how many nuances of notes the musicians could manage to get out of an oil drum, with tunes such as Rock around the clock!.


Posted by Grete Howard 15:24 Archived in Trinidad and Tobago

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Glad things brightened up after the sorry start.
Admitting that I wish I too had seen you go *SPLAT* into the water....<EG>

by Homer Gardin

You did much better at snorkeling than I would! I hope your shoulder is coming along today.

by Helen

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