Thursday, June 20, 2013

A walk in the Lowlands of Tobago
Our home is in a large near sea level environment that is teeming with wildlife.  A lot of the property is open and landscaped beautifully.  It also has a large mangrove swamp with a complex boardwalk through it that reminds you of something out of the Hobbit.  Much of the property is dedicated to an 18 hole golf course which is beautifully groomed.  In and around the golf course is the natural environment of mangroves, lakes, tall grasses and forested environment.
We were required to move to a new home three weeks ago and we have been very limited on our ability to use the internet.  Our previous landlord was generous to let us go to his home to visit with our family and the branch office has the internet where I was able to conduct church business.  Since I haven't been able to blog but have been taking photographs in Tobago and Trinidad (we went there for a senior outing that lasted for a couple of days), I thought I would do three or four blogs over the next few days that would summarize the the last three weeks.

This first blog will highlight our experiences of walking in this remarkable environment.  We take a one to two hour walk  each morning and often a short walk in the evening.  We get up early so we can be out of the home by 5:30 or 6:00 - just as it's getting light.  We are usually able to start our "missionary day" by around 8:00.  We do try to go out with the missionaries four times a week but that doesn't always happen so we do get some evening walks in also.

Off we go!

Early morning light as the sun starts to come up over the Atlantic ocean just beyond the horizon.

Within 15 minutes we reach the beaches.  Lately it has been high tide and our walks on the beach have been limited.  The next blog will be beach walking.

I'm always amazed at the detail under foot.  These little mushrooms are perfect miniature umbrellas

This beautiful little flower was hiding in one of the waterways along the trail.  I've tried to identify it but so far haven't been able to find a name.  It is native to the underbrush and I've only seen it once or twice.

Closeup of an unidentified (by me) flower


With the weather always in the low to mid 80 degree and consistent rains, everything is very green.  This groundcover is typical and varied in plantlife.  If you look at the photograph below in the exact same place you will see a dark footprint shape in the middle of the frame.  I put my foot down and the leaves of this plant fold tight when they are touched and the footprint is the darker underside of the folded leaves exposed.

If you wait a couple of minutes the leaves open and you can't see where you've stepped.


This is one of the many birds we see every morning.  I've never been able to get a good picture of it and have taken this one off the internet.  It is a "Southern Lapwing" and if you get near it's nests, the male and female begin their attack dives with a very loud call.  They come straight at us and make a sharp turn about five feet from your face and it's startling.  Their about the size of a medium sized seagull and their aerobatic swift flight is very intimidating.  If you carry a stick they will make their diversion turn ten feet away but carry on their attack nevertheless.  Their nests are in the grasslands and the many trails take you through several mating pairs during a two hour walk.  We've learned to ignore them and they haven't hit us yet.

A gentle and beautiful little Dove.  They are very tame and we have one that comes up on our porch and almost, but not quite, eats out of our hand.  They have a beautiful soft cooing call in the afternoons and evenings.

This is an Anhinga.  I have always called it a snake bird because it swims underwater and sticks it's long slender neck out of the water when it tosses down a fish or comes up for air.  It is a large bird that startled us once when we were crossing over a small pond bridge and one swam underneath us.  It was about the size of a medium turkey and it swam very fast.  This picture also came off the internet - they are hard to get close to.

With the many ponds along the trails there are Caiman in most of them.  This is one that we came upon early in the morning while it was raining.  The pond is quite small and he was lying in the grass about 30 feet from us.  We took our pictures and quietly walked on.  I estimated it to be about 5 feet long.

This strange little guy will concentrate so hard on his prey that you can walk very close to it and it won't budge.  It must be some kind of crane or heron - I haven't identified it yet.  It looks like it's surfing through the undergrowth.

Telephoto shot.  When concentrating - he's motionless

This bird reminds me of a heron.  It is small and somewhat elusive

The beautiful trees edge the mangrove.  We've walked by 
the red one several times and we're always impressed by it's stark beauty

Another grove of beautiful trees in a manicured green

As night comes on, the toads come out. There are hundreds of them and many of them become casualties of night security vehicles on the roads and golf paths.

Flat as a pancake

Evening sunsets are spectacular

This very large moth flew into our home as we were enjoying the early evening.  It lit on the wall and didn't mind my taking it's picture.  It took a bit of work to get it safely outside though.

Friendly parrot that likes to say goodbye 

Tomorrow we will take a walk along the beach

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