When I’m staying at the Asa Wright Nature Centre in Trinidad, there is no temptation to roll over, hit the snooze button and sleep a little longer when my alarm goes off just before dawn. Outside, the pre-dawn chorus of insects and birds has already begun! I freshen up and I’m ready to go. Camera, binoculars, field guide – check!!

Leaving the cabin and stepping carefully over a busy trail of Leaf-cutter Ants, a beautiful zebra-striped Barred Antshrike flies across my path. Off in the distance, I see several Orange-winged Parrots in silhouette sitting in their favourite tree, and I hear their squawks as several more arrive. As I climb the stairs to the verandah at the main lodge building, many more sounds reach my ears, but one is a standout: the amazing ‘bonk’ of the Bearded Bellbird.

Lizard and ant
Golden Tegu Lizard, Leaf-cutter ants

The view from the verandah is spectacular as the sun slowly illuminates the lush Arima Valley below the nature centre. Hot water for tea and an urn of coffee are already present as are two of the excellent lodge guides. They are busy topping up the sugar water in the numerous hummingbird feeders and placing freshly cut fruit on the platform feeders. Several hummingbird species are already jostling for space at the feeders and taking advantage of the many flowering plants nearby.
Purple Honeycreepers and BQs
 Purple Honeycreepers and Bananaquits

Tanagers are a highlight here, and various colourful species begin feeding on the fresh pineapple and watermelon slices along with Bananaquits (pronounced ‘bananakeets’) and both the Green and Purple Honeycreepers. The nearby fruiting Trema tree has several other tanagers busily foraging. Looking carefully at one of the platform feeders, I spot a large butterfly getting its fill of the sweet juices, an Illioneus Giant Owl.

Other animals have also begun to arrive at the feeders located in the gardens below. Several Red-rumped Agoutis and a Golden Tegu lizard are consuming scraps of fruit that have been knocked to the ground by birds above.
Blue-gray Tanager
Blue-gray Tanager
Our group members trickle onto the porch and it’s a very collegial atmosphere as everyone has a chance to enjoy the show and view more distant birds such as a Channel-billed Toucan. One of our lodge guides shouts ‘bellbird’ and we all rush over to take turns looking at the bizarre looking Bearded Bellbird through a spotting scope. The distance this bird’s call travels cannot be overstated, a reality that sinks in as we then try to find it with our binoculars!
Bearded Bellbird
Bearded Bellbird
The chef rings the kitchen bell to announce that breakfast is ready and so we head to the dining room. There we are regaled with delicious offerings including warm bread, fresh fruit, and an omelette station…just the provisions we need for the day’s adventures ahead!

Perched in the Northern Range mountains of Trinidad, Asa Wright is a must-visit location for nature-lovers who want an immersion in the incredible diversity of bird and other life that tropical habitats produce and that’s why we stay there during our annual Trinidad & Tobago tour. So much happens there, even before breakfast!