Quarter in Review – Jan/Mar 2016

JANUARY 2016

The new year began with our Annual General Meeting on 14 January where we reviewed the highlights of the year gone and some of the plans for the year to come. At this point we also held elections for the 2016 management committee and the results were as follows:

President: Kris Sookdeo
Vice President: Palaash Narase
Treasurer: Selwyn Gomes
Secretary: Amy Deacon
Assistant Secretary: Renoir Auguste
Committee Member: Dan Jaggernauth
Committee Member: Imran Khan
Committee Member: Darshan Narang

January’s field trip took us to the Cumaca Caves. Here members were able to observe the cave’s oilbird colony, look for the cave catfish and learn about the tragic events which took place here in 1964 in which two divers died while exploring the cave.

Members at the Cumaca Cave - January 2016

Members at the Cumaca Cave – January 2016

Plate at cave entrance in memory of the two divers.

Plate at cave entrance in memory of the two divers.

The bird group was off to Chaguaramas in January for a bit of “night” birding as members looked for nocturnal species such as nightjars and owls. Paraques and tropical screech owl were reported but the rufous nightjar remained elusive.

FEBRUARY 2016

In February we were treated to a lecture by Amy Deacon on the subject of “Human disturbance and tropical freshwater communities” which looked at the impact of human activity on the stream environment.

The 'River Lime' Effect

The ‘River Lime’ Effect

We had a large turnout for February’s trip to the L’Eau Michele mud volcano in Penal. The volcanos and the surrounding environment are fascinating, with a range of interesting plant observations. We then visited the nearby L’Eau Michele beach – a beautiful gem on the south coast.

Members at L'Eau Michele in February

Members at L’Eau Michele in February

We mounted a display at Bishops Centenary as part of their Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) programme during the month and students were able to get a taste of the marvelous biodiversity of T&T – hopefully some of them will decide to become naturalists!

Display at Bishops Centenary

Display at Bishops Centenary

MARCH 2016

The Aripo Savanna was a recurring theme in April. We began the month with a presentation by Renoir Auguste on the reptiles and amphibians of the Aripo Savanna which highlighted the various species documented for the area. We were reminded that the potentially dangerous fer-de-lance was a relatively common species there.

Herpetofauna of the Aripo Savannas

Herpetofauna of the Aripo Savannas

We would keep that in mind for later in April when we overnighted at the savannas. Members were able to explore at their leisure late into the evening with groups looking at insects and bats. More members came out the next morning to join those already there for a walk – birds, plants and the area’s historic link to World War 2 being the main attractions.

Aripo Savanna at dusk

Aripo Savanna at dusk

While the main trip had us in the lowlands, the bird group headed up the hills into Brasso Seco for their overnight stay. The heights offer a great vantage point for raptors and other forest birds. White Hawk, Trinidad Euphonia, and Blue-headed Parrot were just some of the highlights.

Birding in Brasso Seco

Birding in Brasso Seco

Many years ago we had a sub-group called Conservation in Action within the TTFNC, the members of which tried to take a more direct approach to environmental stewardship. As part of the Club’s celebration of its 125th Anniversary this year we are trying to resurrect the group. We needed a relatively simple exercise to allow the group to get into the groove of things so Conservation in Action had its first activity in March in the form of a beach cleanup under the guidance of the Las Cuevas Eco-Friendly Association (LCEFA). The activity took place at the end of the beach, beyond the stream, where more turtles lay. A great activity for the launch of the group!

Cleanup at Las Cuevas

Cleanup at Las Cuevas

Quarter in Review – Oct/Dec 2015

October
October’s activities began with a lecture by Danielle Morong entitled “Distribution of the invasive frog Eluthrodactylus johnstoneii in Trinidad”. Chances are you have been hearing this foreign amphibian in sub-urban environments, probably without knowing what it is!

October’s field trip took members to Fishing Pond for the annual geology trip where Mr. Philip Farfan pointed out the interesting characteristics of the area’s rock formations.

Members exploring the coast in October's Geology trip

Members exploring the coast in October’s Geology trip

For the fourth year, the T&T Field Naturalist’s Club has been a proud facilitator of the BioBlitz. Coordinated by Mike Rutherford of the UWI Zoology, this year’s BioBlitz was held in Charlotteville Tobago with the assistance of numerous groups, with particular thanks going to the team at ERIC.

The TTFNC birders with Carl Fitzjames and the bird-banding group at the 2015 BioBlitz.

The TTFNC birders with Carl Fitzjames and the bird-banding group at the 2015 BioBlitz (Photo courtesy T&T BioBlitz).

November

Our hearts were set a flutter in November when Imran Khan related his personal quest to understand and experiment with commercial butterfly rearing in his lecture “The business of butterflies”.

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The birders had a nice time out in the Aripo Livestock Station in November and also spent some time in nearby Mexico Road.

The birders at the Aripo Livestock Station

The birders at Aripo Livestock Station

The last field trip for the year 2015 ended with a bang as members had a thoroughly enjoyable trip to La Foret where we explored the rugged and scenic coastline.

Beautiful La Foret!

Beautiful La Foret!

The Club lent a hand to the El Socorro Centre for Wildlife Conservation (ECWC) at their informative biodiversity display for schools in San Fernando at the Creative Arts Centre. As always the ECWC team put on an amazing educational presentation and the kids loved every moment of it.

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The TTFNC had an opportunity to put forward its views on wildlife management at November’s “Hunting Roundtable”, held at the Caroni Swamp Visitor Centre. The presentation is available here for viewing.

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December

December offers a chance for Club members to get together and celebrate the year gone by at our year-end lunch. This year, we headed for the hills to the Brasso Seco visitor centre where the Brasso Seco Tourism Action Committee prepared a feast for kings! Parang, cocoa pone and sorrel – what more could you want?

Roma and Dan hand out a few tokens of appreciation at the Christmas lunch.

Roma and Dan hand out a few tokens of appreciation at the Christmas lunch.

Always on the move, the able Dan Jaggernauth still wasn’t done yet for 2015 as the Tableland Pineapple Farmers Association and the Trinidad and Tobago Field Naturalists’ Club attended the Laventille West constituency Christmas treat in December at the St Barb’s basketball court where they helped to spread the word on the importance of agriculture.

Tableland Pineapple Farmers Association and the TTFNC at the Laventille West constituency Christmas treat. (Photo from Trinidad Express)

Tableland Pineapple Farmers Association and the TTFNC at the Laventille West constituency Christmas treat. (Photo from Trinidad Express)

That brought to an end the TTFNC’s activities for 2015. We look forward to a productive 2016.