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Quarter in review – January/March 2017

January

With the start of the new year, the TTFNC’s first order of business was its Annual General Meeting. The management committee for 2017 was elected as follows:

  • President: Darshan Narang
  • Vice President: Palaash Narase
  • Secretary: Amy Deacon
  • Asst. Secretary: Renoir Auguste
  • Committee Members: Dan Jaggernauth, Danielle Morong and Kris Sookdeo

Homad Waterfall in Grand Riviere was the destination for the first club trip of the year. The Northern Range had been wracked by inclement weather over the previous weeks and the signs were visible at Homad with mangled trees littering the area around the falls.

The area around the falls at Homad was choked with debris.

The birders also started the year on a high when they decided to visit Mount St. Benedict. The highlight of the trip was a Blue-tailed Emerald hummingbird, a rare find outside of the NW peninsula.

Mixed flock at Mt. St. Benedict

The club also took some time off in January to host a display at the STEM Science Fair at the NESC, Couva.

STEM Science Fair at NESC, Couva

February

Our first lecture of the year really raised the bar when Diva Amon presented on the Deep Sea Biology of Trinidad, drawing what was quite possibly the largest turnout at a general meeting. Diva’s fascinating lecture is available on our YouTube channel’s “Lecture Series”.

Icacos was the target for the club trip in February. Members visited the old World War 2 bunkers before the main goal, which was the mud volcano at Bonasse. The volcano is unique in that it actually sits within the compound of a temple and forms part of the temple’s activities.

Bonasse mud volcano

February found the birders heading to Gran Couva where they stalked the cocoa fields and secondary forest in search of birdlife.

Golden-olive woodpecker on a cocoa pod

Members of the TTFNC Herp Group along with several guests took a slow wet walk along the Morne Bleu ridge from the TSTT station. It was a quiet night with only a few frogs calling and the wind and rain increased as the night progressed. However, there were many invertebrates to be found including some of the largest beetles in the world and close relative of the beetle on the Club logo.

Hercules beetle

March

The Aripo Savannas Scientific Reserve was the focus of March’s lecture when Lisa James spoke about both the area’s biodiversity and its conservation. Also present were members of Sundew Tours who spoke about their history and their activities in the savanna.

After visiting La Foret in 2016, members of the club vowed to return for a night. And so they did in March, allowing members to enjoy the scenery and attractions of the area at leisure.

La Foret

The club hosted a small biodiversity display at St. Anthony’s College for their Earth Day celebration.

Earth Day Celebrations at St. Anthony’s College

Finally, always on the move, the birders overnighted at Brasso Seco for their March trip to round off the first quarter of 2017.

Quarter in review – October/December 2016

October

In October, Rakesh Bhukal gave a presentation on the Scorpions of Trinidad and Tobago where he highlighted the findings of his MSc thesis titled: Niche Separation of Scorpions in Low-land Evergreen Forests. He investigated how different species of scorpions are able to coexist in the same locality and the findings of his project showed that they are able to do so by the selection and use of different foraging microhabitats. His presentation also highlighted general information about the different species of scorpions such as their venom toxicity, species of medical importance, as well as their distribution throughout Trinidad.

October’s Lecture: Niche Separation of Scorpions in Low-land Evergreen Forests by Rakesh Bhukal

With the Bioblitz rescheduled to November, the Club decided to make a quick visit to Rio Seco in October. The trip took an exciting turn at the end when water levels suddenly started to rise, turning the tranquil falls and plunge pool into roaring torrent.

Rio Seco before and after the surge. [Photo by S. Warren-Gittens]

November

For the November trip, members visited the so-called “Jumbie Cave” in Caura. A hive of bees at the cave mouth, however, deterred all but the hardiest of souls from exploring the inside.

Guy Marley spoke to the Club on the “Fish of the Caroni Swamp” for the November lecture. Guy gave us some background to the Caroni Swamp, and the aims of his PhD research. He talked us through his fishing methods for this challenging research environment, and then showed us many of the interesting and varied species he has recorded in the field. Thirty-six of the species he found were new records for the swamp, and many are of commercial importance. His research shows that there are many more important research questions that need to be addressed for us to understand the functioning of this mangrove ecosystem and the effects that humans may have on it.

For the birders, it was off to Rio Claro in November, where the group looked for forest species in Poole.

Channel-billed Toucan in Rio Claro. [Photo by L.James]

But the highlight of the month was the Port of Spain Bioblitz. While POS and environs might seem like an odd place for a biological survey, the teams found a surprising diversity of wildlife at the various sites which included the hills overlooking the city, the Diego Martin river and the Botanic Gardens (no cheating by counting animals in the Zoo!). By the end, over 700 species were recorded! Above all, the event was well attended by the public including several schools who visited.

December

While no meetings or trips are held in December, the TTFNC did have its annual year end function. Again we decided to hold the function in Brasso Seco. The village has only just started to recover from terrible storms which affected several parts of the Northern Range so members took along some relief supplies. As always, a good time was had by all.