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Quarter in review – October/December 2016


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]


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.


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.

The Living World goes digital!

Interested in reading about a new caiman species in T&T? Or perhaps the apparent absence of Chytrid infection in Trinidad’s frogs? The 2016 issue of the Living World is now available at our new journal website.

This year Living World has reached a major milestone in that we are now published online. This enables Living World to be more widely accessible and, even more importantly, to be searchable online through Google Scholar and similar services. This issue of Living World contains seven research papers, six nature notes, and one report. We cover a wide range of animal taxa including insects, arachnids, molluscs, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals.

Quarter in review – July/September

July 2016

July’s general meeting featured our annual member’s evening, in which members present to the memberships on various topics including drone footage from the L’Anglais Mud Volcano in Palo Seco, the use of the datwan (traditional toothbrush) in T&T, ethospecies, the natural history of Grenada, one man’s journey to discover the mushrooms of T&T and a short update on the Club’s 125th strategic planning session.

On July 17th, The birdwatching group journeyed to Plum Mitan and Caltoo Trace in East Trinidad. Members had to hit the road early to get on site as early as 5am but were rewarded with Blue Ground Dove and other lovely birds. The final tally: 55 species

This Blue Groud Dove was the star of the show (Photo: Lawrence James)

This Blue Ground Dove was the star of the show (Photo: Lawrence James)

As part of our 125th Anniversary celebrations, the July trip was a night time turtle watching trip to Matura in recognition of the Club’s turtle tagging project. Starting in 1963, the  TTFNC  first  investigated  reports and  confirmed  that  a  large  number  of  leatherback turtles were being killed on the Matura beach. Beach patrols  continued  at  Matura  during  1964  and  in 1965,  Peter  Bacon,  the  Vice  President  of  the  Club, was  appointed    coordinator of the Club’s Turtle Project  .  The  Club  commenced  a  programme  of regular  patrols  on  the  beaches  beaches  at  Matura, Fishing Pond, Big Bay, Toco, Grand Riviere, Maracas and  Las  Cuevas. In  1970,  the  Club  began  a  Turtle  Tagging  Project  using  equipment  supplied  by  the  University  of Florida at Gainsville.  During the next eleven nesting  seasons  333  leatherbacks  were  tagged. In May 1973, based on its many years of observation  and  information  gathering,  the  Club  submit- ted a report prepared by Dr. Bacon to the Minister  of  Agriculture,  Lands  and  Fisheries  entitled  “The  status of sea turtles in Trinidad and Tobago”

August 2016

In August, guest speaker Jack Torresdal spoke to members about the elusive Golden Tree Frog. Traditionally believed to be an endemic to the cloud forests of Trinidad, the frog has now been discovered in Venezuela. Jack spoke about the research that his group has been doing on the tree frogs and discussed some of their findings.

The field trip for this month was the long awaited annual overnight camping trip to Gran Tacaribe where members are able to explore a range of habitats including snorkelling in the shallow rocky reef, hiking to Madamas and exploring the forest. Not to mention a chance to kick back and relax on one of Trinidad’s most beautiful beaches!

Beautiful Gran Tacaribe

Beautiful Gran Tacaribe

Orange Valley was the target of the birders in August as they tackled the unenviable task of shorebird identification. It was a good learning experience for all as they distinguished between tricky species such as Western, Least and Semipalmated Sandpipers.

Shorebirds at Orange Valley

Shorebirds at Orange Valley

September 2016

In recognition of our 125th Anniversary, a special dinner was held at the Namaste India Restaurant. The all vegetarian course had some members uncertain but they were pleasantly surprised! Members were recognised for their contribution to the Club over the years and a good time was had by all.

125th Anniversary Dinner

125th Anniversary Dinner

The 125th Anniversary’s School Art Competition was really the highlight for September. With over 400 entries, the judges really had their work cut out for them! The winners were  recognised at a prize giving ceremony where their fantastic work was on display. See link for some of the artwork.

The 125th Anniversary's School Art Competition award presentation.

The 125th Anniversary’s School Art Competition award presentation.

Another long awaited trip is the Club’s annual geology trip. The focus was on onshore geological features related to the petrochemical sector in South West Trinidad. The group visited Pt Fortin to see evidence of the Los Bajos fault, the Stollmeyer Oilsand Quarry near Guapo, an active oil extraction facility in Parrylands and the Pitch Lake.

Stollmeyer's Quarry

Stollmeyer’s Quarry