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Natureman's Return to the Rainforest

After the world-changing pandemic events, I finally got the opportunity to explore another rainforest. I went back to Trinidad and visited the Arima Valley - it had been nearly four years since I had been in this incredible habitat. The high humidity and botanical scents excited me about what unusual animals I might encounter.

The first thing to do was to set up a couple of camera traps, one on a trail and the other on the main pathway. I used chilli sauce to attract some animals (which is frequently done in South Africa to attract predators) and fruit for the other camera.

After waiting a couple of days, I went back to check the cameras! The one baited with fruit was stolen and had no evidence of where it could have gone. I quickly went to recover the second camera, which thankfully was still there, but sadly hadn't been triggered once!

One of my goals was to see some of the fantastic woodpecker species, so I downloaded an app with all the bird species and their calls and woke up early to play woodpecker calls through a speaker. I did call some beautiful woodcreepers, but I only heard the lineated woodpecker and did not capture one on camera.

A highlight was seeing a blue and yellow macaw, a species that was pushed to the brink of extinction in the 1970s, and after an extensive captive breeding project, this species is now holding on well in the wild. There are very few places in the world where you can see these giant parrots living their life in their natural habitat.

High on my list of animals to see will always be snakes, and thankfully this trip was rich with different species. I found many coffee snakes; these are tiny solid black snakes which fully grown are around 15cm long. I also managed to get a huge tree boa out of its tree, all without taking any bites to the face - which was a surprise as tree boas are well known for being a little snappy!

It turns out a fer-de-lance had taken up residence in the pond outside the research station, so it was nice to see it out hunting frogs each night!

I witnessed hundreds of flamingos coming into roost one evening in a nearby swamp. These birds have just started to go across to Trinidad from Venezuela, about 7 miles away. Still, they put on a fantastic display of colour and relatively awkward flying abilities.

Hopefully I won't have to wait so long to explore rainforests again!

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