ITINERARY & DAILY ACCOUNTS
v 23 October Flight Amsterdam to Paramaribo. Evening transfer Hotel Residence Inn.
v 24 October Bird-trip to Peperpot and Weg naar Zee. Overnight Residence Inn.
v 25 October Travelday to Raleigh Falls. Overnight at Tamanua Lodge on Fungu Island.
v 26 October Pre-breakfast birding. To Cock-of-the-Rock lek. Overnight Tamanua Lodge.
v 27 October Pre-breakfast birding. Trip to the “Mother Falls”. Overnight at Tamanua Lodge.
v 28 October Morning birding. Afternoon flight to Paramaribo. Overnight at Residence Inn.
v 29 October Trip to Brownsberg. Afternoon birding until 6:00PM. Overnight at Brownsberg.
v 30 October Full day birding the trails of Brownsberg. Overnight at Brownsberg.
v 31 October Morning birding Brownsberg. Afternoon to Paramaribo. Overnight Residence Inn.
v 1 November Long Bird-trip savannah from 4:00AM to 7:00PM. Overnight at Residence Inn.
v 2 November Morning birding Cultuurtuin. Afternoon transfer to airport and flight back home.
v 3 November In the morning arrival at Schiphol airport followed by a two hour drive home.
ADDITIONAL ITINERARY BY ROLAND & ANNE-MARIE:
v 3 November City and Culture tour in Paramaribo. Overnight at Residence Inn.
v 4 November Plantation Tour with Blue Frog Travel. Overnight at Residence Inn.
v 5 November Morning bird count Weg naar Zee. Afternoon relaxing. Overnight Residence Inn.
v 6 November Birding with Otte to Old Paramaribo and Peperpot. Overnight at Residence Inn.
v 7 November Morning at hotel. Afternoon transfer to airport and flight back home.
v Saturday 23 October
With a 30 minutes delay we took off from Schiphol Airport at 4:05 PM. The direct flight to Paramaribo took about 9 hours. The local time in Suriname is – 5 CEST (-4 when we came back) so we landed at around 8.00 PM. After going through customs we picked up our luggage and changed some money. Our hotel transfer was pre-arranged but we had to wait for about 30 minutes because the driver had to wait for other travellers. First birds we spotted in the dark were lesser nighthawks flying high around the spotlights. We left the airport at around 9.30 PM and after dropping off other travellers at other hotels we arrived at 10.45 PM at the Residence Inn. After checking in we immediately went to bed since an early start was planned for the next morning.
v Sunday 24 October
Because of the time difference we were already awake before our wake up call at 5.30 AM. I waited outside for sunrise were I had my first birds in the garden: silver-beaked tanager, great kiskadee and tropical mockingbird. We were picked up at the hotel reception by Otte Ottema at 6.30 AM for a full day bird-tour to the Peperpot plantation and Weg naar Zee. After introducing each other we left for Peperpot. During the 20 minutes drive we already expressed our hope to Otte to see great potoo. Otte said that we had a small chance since he had not seen one for 6 months. Arriving at Peperpot we immediately started birding the track into the plantation. Near the entrance we saw house wren, a perching grey hawk, an abundance of great kiskadees and several other flycatcher species. After walking about 50m Otte pointed out a tree to the right of the track and asked us if we knew what bird was in it. My first reaction was an owl, but Otte said to have a better look on it. As a total surprise it appeared to be a great potoo!!! What a great bird to start the day with. Otte apparently made a joke in the bus, but he said it was true that he had not seen one the last 6 months but that he had re-discovered this one just a week ago. We examined this amazing bird for 15 minutes through the scope before walking further down the track. At the corner were the main track turns to the right we had blackish antbird. At this point we saw a fruiting tree straight on along a narrow trail with lots of bird activity. Because the light was not so good from our side we decided to walk the trail past the tree to have a better look on it. The tree turned out to be very productive. We saw amongst black-spotted barbet, forest elaenia, white-ringed & rusty-margined flycatcher, lesser kiskadee, tropical gnatcatcher and turquoise tanager. In the scrubs here we also saw a pair of black-throated antbirds, and further along the trail a perching black-collared hawk. At 9.30 AM we walked back to the bus to have some drinks and fruit. From the bus we saw several lesser yellow-headed vultures on the opposite side of the road. While our ladies drank coffee we walked a little bit back on the track were we had violaceous euphonia. Afterwards we walked back down the track and took a right after about 150m down the main track. Along a stretch of about 1.5km we saw amongst white-lined & hooded tanagers, cinereous becard, green-rumped parrotlet. We also found a glittering-throated emerald on his tiny nest. Further down the track we had blood-coloured woodpecker, arrowhead piculet and green-tailed jacamar. We walked back to the bus at 11.00 AM after having our last look at the great Potoo. After a drink at the bus we left for our drive to Weg naar Zee. We decided to first take a look at the mudflats near the crematorium. While driving through the swamps and marshes we already saw pied water tyrant, white-headed marsh-tyrant, carib grackles, wattled jacanas, snail kites and both smooth-billed & greater ani. Arriving at the crematorium the tide appeared to be already quite high. We decided to drive back to the Hindu temple were we walked a track along the coast to the left for about 300m. Here we had amongst ruddy turnstone, willet, least sandpiper, semipalmated plover and a juvenile yellow-crowned night-heron. While walking back we had great views on a zone-tailed hawk (a rare bird in Suriname) soaring above the trees behind the track. At 1.30 PM we had lunch under the roof of a stand next to a football pitch. From here we already had distant views of the first black skimmers. After that we decided to cross a small canal over a narrow wooden bridge and followed a track along the coast to the right which eventually ran through scrubs. Here we had amongst osprey, cocoi-, little blue-, and tricoloured heron, laughing gull, grey plovers, short-billed dowitchers and thousands of semipalmated sandpipers. A flock of brown-throated parakeets passed over, and in the scrubs and trees surrounding the trail we had plain-bellied emerald, fuscous flycatcher, straight-billed woodcreeper and buff-breasted wren. Then we walked to the headland near the Hindu temple were we had great-billed terns, a single brown pelican and close views of a large flock of fishing black skimmers. From here we drove back to check out the swamps and grasslands along the road. We stopped near a canal were we had yellow orioles, red-breasted blackbirds, yellow-headed caracara and an excellent view through the scope of a snail-eating snail kite sitting very close on a post in the sun. Just before driving back to the crematorium a beautiful male long-winged harrier soared low over our heads. Back at the crematorium Wilma and Anne-Marie decided to stay at the car while we checked out a trail to the right along the coast. The scrubs produced spotted tody-tyrant, yellow-throated spinetail, yellow warbler and black-crested antshrike, while the mudflats produced greater yellowlegs, a new wader on our day list. After we saw a snake that caught a rat in the grass along the trail we walked further down the track on search for the last specialty bird of the area: rufous crab-hawk. Finally we found one perching in a tree near the sea. It was already 6.15 PM and totally exhausted but with a feeling of satisfaction we walked back to the car. While driving back we had our last new bird for today. A bat falcon sitting on a telephone wire. We arrived at the hotel at 7.00 PM and said goodbye to Otte and thanked him for the great day we had. Our total list for today has stopped at an amazing 101 species. We went to our rooms to take a well earned warm shower and afterwards met each other for a nice dinner at the hotel restaurant. We bought a large bottle of Parbo beer and toasted on our very successful first day in Suriname.
v Monday 25 October
Today was the start of our four-day trip to Raleigh Falls. After a quick breakfast we took a taxi to the office of Blue Frog Travel were we had to be at 7.00 AM. We were welcomed there by Marga who introduced us to our fellow travellers Kees, Vicky, Ada and Guus. We expected to leave immediately but it appeared that our guide Elton did not arrive yet. We had to wait for about 2 hours until he arrived which was a shame since we could have filled in our time better by having a more relaxed breakfast and do some bird-watching in the hotel’s garden. Accompanied by our very friendly cook called Carmen we finally left at 9.15 AM. Just before the airport at Zanderij we saw a savanna hawk sitting on a post in the field. We turned right here on an unpaved road through savanna woodlands and forests. After driving for about 2 ½ hours we stopped near a creek at an open spot in the forest. Here we saw a very strange looking caterpillar with long red hear, two blue dacnises and a group of about ten red-rumped caciques nesting in a tree. We headed on and underway we stopped a few times for paradise jacamar, white-banded swallows and a black nunbird flying across the road in front of us. After taking the wrong road we finally arrived at Witagron after 5 ½ hours. From here the journey continued over water in dug-out motorized canoes. The three hour boat trip was one of the most memorable experiences of the journey. Especially the last 1 ½ hours before dusk produced beautiful bird sightings. New birds observed during the trip are amongst: capped heron, black caracara, king vulture, blue-and-yellow macaw, blackish nightjar (at 4.00 PM!!!), ringed and amazon kingfisher, white-winged swallows, yellow-rumped cacique, shiny and giant cowbird and several parrot species. Wilma who was sitting in the other boat also saw green ibis, anhinga and black curassow. We arrived at Fungu Island at 6.00 PM were we stayed in the Tamanua Lodge. While sitting under the terrace we had a most enjoyable evening drinking beer and talking with our fellow travellers. After Carmen served the soup Elton explained the program for the coming days. The initial plan for tomorrow was climbing the Voltzberg but the four of us and Ada and Guus preferred to visit the Cock-of-the-Rock lek. We asked Elton if this was possible to arrange and he told us he had to ask the local guide in the village. After 15 minutes he arrived back with the good news that everything was OK. By arranging this he certainly made up for the two hours delay he caused this morning. While a few of us went to bed we opened another beer and finally went to bed also at 10.30 PM.
v Tuesday 26 October
It was still dark when I woke up around 5.00 AM and met Kees at the hallway to the bathrooms. He could not sleep either since he heard a strange scratching noise under his bed. At 5.30 AM Roland was up also and we walked to the riverside to spot possible nightjars or owls. A crested owl which we heard before flew over our heads. At 6.15 AM we woke up Wilma and Anne-Marie for some pre-breakfast birding at the airstrip. The airstrip appeared to be an excellent spot since it provides nice open views of the surroundings. We mostly saw bigger birds like crane hawk, green oropendola, white-headed piping-guan, lineated and red-necked woodpecker, black-necked aracari and excellent views of several channel-billed toucans. There was a continuous flow of parrots and macaws flying over the airstrip. We could identify scarlet macaw, red-and-green macaw, mealy amazons and red-fan parrots. We walked back for breakfast at 8.15 AM were we had streaked antwren and plain-crowned spinetail in the bushes behind the lodge. After breakfast a flock of painted parakeets landed in the tree in front of the lodge. Around 9.00 AM we started our trip to the Voltzberg. After a short boat ride we started to walk the 8km trail through the forest which started on the other side of the river. At the beginning of the trail we saw a closely perching white hawk, long-tailed hermit and Roland also had rufous-tailed foliage-gleaner. After about 4km we had close views of a beautiful great jacamar. During the whole trail we were accompanied by the typical sound of screaming pihas. From the rocky plateau just before the Voltzberg we were accompanied by local guide Sidanou to lead us to the lek, while Kees and Vicky climbed the Voltzberg with Elton. We had a short stop at the reseach station for a drink and a sandwich before heading further on an overgrown trail to the lek. After 30 minutes we arrived at the cock-of-the-rock lek were about 15 beautiful males were sitting together in the trees. When two females visited the place the males got agitated and started fighting and displaying. We watched this unforgettable spectacle for about an hour before walking back the trail. The trail was longer than expected and strenuous because of the heat. We had to catch the boat at 5.30 PM so there was not much time for birds during the walk back. Despite that we managed to see two black curassows. At 5.15 PM we were back at the river so we had some time left to paddle our tired feet in the river. After that the boat picked us up and we arrived back in the lodge at 5.45 PM. Kees and Cindy who arrived back earlier from the Voltzberg went fishing for piranhas with the locals. After taking a shower we enjoyed a nice cool beer and Carmen served a delicious dinner. Later in the evening Elton served the fish which Kees caught earlier this afternoon. It tasted delicious.
v Wednesday 27 October
After a good sleep we woke up at 6.15 AM and went again to the airstrip. Besides birds that we saw there before we had white-throated toucan, crimson-crested woodpecker, laughing falcon, crested oropendola, little chachalaca and marail guan. On the way back to the lodge the bushes behind the lodge produced black-crested antshrike, pectoral sparrow, southern beardless tyranulet and tropical pewee. We arrived back at the lodge at 8.15 AM for breakfast. After breakfast we checked out the trees on the opposite side of the river where we had green aracari. At 9.15 AM we left the island. During the short boat trip to the other side of the river we had bare-necked fruitcrow. We than walked the 2km trail to the “Moedervallen” which means the “Mother Falls”. It was very quiet in the forest. The only birds were spotted by Roland: lineated-woodpecker and plain xenops which was a new one for the trip list. We arrived back at the lodge around 2.00 PM and decided to relax during the hot hours of the day. While sitting under the terrace we had a nice cool beer and were able to tick a few birds that visited the trees in front of the lodge. We had red-throated caracara, purple honeycreeper and red-fan parrots. A plumbeous pigeon apparently was looking for shade also since it landed under the roof of the lodge. At 4.30 PM we left for some late afternoon birding. When we left a green-tailed jacamar sat on a wire next to the lodge. We called Guus who is a hobby photographer for the opportunity to make some nice pictures of the bird. This time we walked a forest trail to the left which eventually also ended up at the airstrip. Along the trail Stinasu has recently built new two person open lodges which looked very nice. Apart from chestnut woodpecker and short-crested flycatcher we did not see much new things this evening. Despite that we had wonderful views of all three large macaw species landing in the trees behind the airstrip and a group of red howler monkeys. We went back to the lodge at 6.15 PM. We again had an enjoyable evening with our fellow travellers and again the food was great. We went to bed around 10.30 PM.
v Thursday 28 October
Today is our last day on Fungu Island. Since we will be flying back to Paramaribo in the afternoon we are free in the morning to do our last birding here. From 6.30 to 8.00 AM we birded the forest trail to the right behind the village. We walked the trail for about 500m and saw amongst white-tipped dove, green-tailed jacamar and plain-brown woodcreeper. After breakfast we went back and walked the same trail were we had black nunbird, crimson topaz, variable seedeater, plain-crowned spinetail and black-eared fairy. At 10.00 AM it became already quite hot and we decided to relax and do some bird-watching from the lodge. The trees in front of the lodge produced white-necked jacobin, buff-throated saltator, violaceous euphonia and turquoise tanager. After an early lunch we heard our plane landing on the airstrip at 1.00 PM and we walked towards the airstrip. After taking off we realised were we had stayed the last four days. During the 50 minutes flight we only saw rainforests as far as our eyes could reach. After the pleasant flight we landed at airport “Zorg en Hoop” which is located in the middle of Paramaribo. We were transferred to the office of Blue Frog Travel were we arrived at 2.30 PM. Here Stefan from Blue Frog Travel told us the bad news that our accommodation at Brownsberg had been double booked and we had to stay in another cabin. We were then brought back to the hotel at 3.30 PM and filled in the rest of the afternoon by relaxing and having a swim in the hotel’s pool. At 5.30 PM we went back to our rooms for a shower and had dinner at the pool restaurant. We toasted on our unforgettable trip to Raleigh Falls and went to bed at 10.00 PM.
v Friday 29 October
Today was the start of our three day trip to Brownsberg Nature Park. We had a relaxed and delicious breakfast at the pool restaurant and afterwards went to the hotel reception where we were supposed to be picked up at 8.00 AM. After waiting until 8.15 AM Blue Frog Travel called us that the driver was late and that we would be picked up at 8.30 AM. At 8.45 AM a taxi picked us up to bring us to the office. We finally left at 9.15 AM. Our driver Vincent (who was also our driver to Raleigh Falls) picked up a tape of our favourite music and we headed on for the three hours drive via Zanderij on a dusty road to Brownsberg. After a steep climb we arrived on top of Brownsberg at 00.15 PM. Our first birds at Brownsberg were king vulture and a group of about twelve grey-winged trumpeters feeding in front of the restaurant. Alma who was supposed to be our private cook introduced us to Rabin, our bird-guide for the next 3 days. Rabin also worked for STINASU and actually was Otte’s assistant. Rabin was a nice person. He was good company and his knowledge of bird sounds was great. We first had lunch at the restaurant and afterwards checked our rooms which appeared to be small huts with smelly bedclothes and no other facilities like a porch or terrace with chairs. Despite the fact that we had our own private cook with us we had to eat and spend our evenings in the centrally located restaurant between 20 to 30 noisy French people. What a shame … and what a difference compared to the enjoyable atmosphere at Raleigh Falls. Luckily Blue Frog Travel arranged a special bird-guide to make it up with us, although you should ask yourself if that was worth having bites all over your body caused by bedbugs which itched for over two weeks. But OK enough about that. We walked to the lookout point opposite our huts were we saw several swallow-tailed kites. At 2.30 PM we walked back to the restaurant were Rabin waited for us. We started with a part of the circular trail that started to the right of the restaurant. We did not expect too much birds at this time of the day but we were surprised by the many flocks we encountered. On this 300m stretch of the trail which ended up at the main road we had the following birds: grey-fronted dove, golden-green woodpecker, coraya wren, three woodcreeper and eight antbird species. Roland had taken his tape recorder with him. He spent a lot of time at home making all the sound recordings and his first effort to attract a bird certainly paid off well. Immediately after playing the song he received response and two beautiful ferrugineous-backed antbirds approached us within two metres. What a success!!! During our next three days his recordings appeared to be a great success and brought in more birds then we ever had expected. After the trail ended up at the main road we walked left towards a parking lot. During this walk we saw amongst white-tailed trogon, black-spotted barbet and we heard bright-rumped attila and blue-crowned motmot. While sitting on a bench at the parking lot we scanned the area but nothing showed up. At 5.15 PM it started to rain and we walked back to the restaurant via the main road. We drank a beer together and while the others went for a shower I stayed at the restaurant and had a chat with Rabin. When the others returned at 6.30 PM we had dinner and afterwards played a game of UNO (which is our favourite game during holidays). We went to bed at 9.45 PM.
v Saturday 30 October
We were up at 6.00 AM. The sunset from the viewpoint was beautiful. Rabin appeared already at our huts before 6.30 AM. Rabin’s plan is first to visit a golden-headed manikin lek. We walked the main road back to the parking lot. Although the bird activity was at a low level we saw golden-olive woodpecker, wedge-billed woodcreeper, curve-billed scythebill and several antbirds. From the parking lot we followed the trail towards Irene Falls. Just after a viewpoint over Brokopongo Lake we ended up at the golden-headed manakin lek. Although difficult to spot we managed to see one or two of these tiny beautiful birds. While walking back to the restaurant for breakfast a large tree just 150m before the restaurant produced fine views of flame-crested tanager, white-shouldered tanager and red-eyed vireo. After breakfast at 10.30 AM we went to the viewpoint behind Tapir Lodge were we had painted parakeets, blue-headed parrots and golden-winged parakeets flying over. At 11.15 AM we decided to walk the long track towards Mazaroni Falls. Meanwhile bird activity was tending to get higher which is strange since it is almost noon. We see such a large number of birds that the walk took more then 3 ½ hours until the 0.9km sign of the trail. We saw amongst green-throated mango, yellow-billed jacamar, golden-collared woodpecker, fasciated antshrike, helmeted pygmy-tyrant, white-bearded manakin, black-faced dacnis, white-necked thrush, three new woodcreepers and several antbirds. We also had close views of a thrush-like manakin attracted by Rabin’s whistle. It was already 3.00 PM and the ladies are tired and walked back to the restaurant. On Rabin’s advice at the 1.2km sign Roland played the amazing sound of the white bellbird who immediately responded to it. We followed the sound which became ever louder until the 1.9 to 2.0km sign. The bird had to be very close. Suddenly the bird stopped calling and we waited another 15 minutes while playing back his call. Damn it, we must have scared it off by making to much noise while walking over the dry leaves. What a shame that we missed that one although the sound itself was already a kick piece. Meanwhile it is already 5.00 PM and we walked back. At the 1.4km sign we heard the strange noise of the capuchin bird but it was far too distant to follow it. We arrived back at the restaurant at 6.00 PM. We had some drinks and dinner and went to bed early at 9.30 PM.
v Sunday 31 October
I was up at 5.45 AM and it was still dusky. I found three blackish nightjars sitting on the track in front of our huts and was able to approach them within a few metres. I immediately warned Roland and we observed the birds until it became light. Rabin is as punctually as always at 6.30 AM. He suggests to first have a look for honeycreepers at a fruiting tree behind Tapir Lodge. This turned out to be a major success since we saw al four possible honeycreepers in Suriname within 20 minutes: purple-, red-legged-, short-billed- and green honeycreeper. Besides these beauties we had swallow-tailed kites and red-bellied macaws flying over us. From here we took the circular trail from the other side behind the visitor centre. The trail produced three yellow-billed jacamars and several bay-headed tanagers high up in a tree. The road back to the restaurant produced ashy-headed greenlet, fulvous-crested tanager and fulvous shrike-tanager. Just 50m before the restaurant we had fine views on a couple of beautiful red-and-black grosbeaks. After breakfast we decided to have another try to locate the white bellbird on the Mazaroni trail. We again walked to the 1.9 to 2.0km sign. Again he responded to the sound recording but sadly enough the calls were too distant. We tried to attract him for about 20 minutes but without success. Despite that we again saw some new birds like buff-cheecked greenlet, white-crested spadebill, lesser swallow-tailed swifts, ruddy pigeon and waved woodpecker. We arrived back at the restaurant at 1.00 PM for lunch. After lunch we packed our luggage. We said goodbye to Rabin and thanked him for his excellent guiding. Our bus did already arrive but we had to wait because we had to take three other people with us back to Paramaribo. We finally left Brownsberg at 3.15 PM. Halfway to Paramaribo we stopped at a large farm were we had savanna hawk, red-breasted blackbird, plumbeous kite, swainsons flycatcher and fasciated antshrike. Near Zanderij we had another short photo stop at a small village. Apparently there must have been a major downpour in Paramaribo because all the roads were flooded which also caused some traffic jams. We finally arrived far too late at the hotel at 7.00 PM. We had a quick shower and met each other again at the pool restaurant for dinner. We went to bed early at 9.00 PM because we have to get up very early the next morning.
v Monday 01 November
Today the savannah tour with Otte is on the program. It is going to be a long and strenuous day today. We were woken up at 3.30 AM by the hotel reception. Already before 4.00 AM Otte was waiting for us outside. We decided to leave immediately because we wanted to use as much time as possible before dawn for watching nightjars. At 5.00 AM we arrived at the airport at Zanderij and took a partially paved road directly south of the runway. After about 300m we had our first nightjars sitting on the road. We stopped several times to get them in the scope with the headlights of the car shining on them which was not easy. Despite that we managed to identify pauraque, white-tailed- and spot-tailed nightjar. Around 6.00 AM it started to become light and we waited at the end of the runway for the dawn chorus to awake. This was really a wonderful experience. It started with a few lesser nighthawks soaring around us, then an eastern meadowlark started to sing (great views in the scope), followed by two white-tailed hawks passing by and several parrot species flying over our heads. When the sun started to rise we saw a large number of great birds in a flowering tree: burnished-buff tanagers, black-faced tanagers, red-shouldered tanagers, grassland sparrows and several beautiful hummers like crimson topaz, ruby-topaz hummingbird and rufous-throated sapphire. We left the spot at around 8.00 AM. Initially Otte could not find the track to the lek of the saffron-crested tyrant-manakin and we suggested to him to use the early morning for birding instead of finding the right track to the lek. He agreed with that and suggested to visit the lek later since the birds will be at the lek all the time. We slowly drove back the road along the runway were we had a close view of another eastern meadowlark and pale-breasted spinetail. We then took a left to a quiet spot surrounded by forest patches and some palm trees. Here we had yellow-headed caracara, grey-headed kite, scaled pigeon, pale-vented pigeon, red-shouldered macaws and several roadside hawks. After drinking some fruit juice we went back to the road along the runway which runs all the way around it. We went to the other (north) side of the runway where we took a right into the Hanover savannah. Here we had variable seedeater and a great black hawk who just had caught a large snake flying in front us. While our driver parked the car under some trees in the shade we walked over an open plain towards a forest edge. Here Otte tried to attract spotted puffbird but he did not succeed. We then walked back to the forest edge on the other side where Otte heard calls of a trogon. After he played back their sound a few times three very active violaceous trogons showed up in the tree in front of us. A walk further to the right of these trees produced a pied puffbird sitting in the top of an open tree. Meanwhile it was 11.00 AM and it was getting pretty hot already. We had a drink and some sandwiches at the car and went back to the other side of the runway to find the lek of the saffron-crested tyrant-manakin. This time Otte found the right track immediately. When we arrived at the lek we already heard the strange calls of the birds which more or like resembles the sound of an insect. We were immediately successful and had close views of a bird sitting on a 3 metre high branch right in front of us. At an open spot next to the lek Otte tried to attract bronzy jacamar by playing back his call. We were standing right in the open trying to attract the bird. Meanwhile it was 1.00 PM and it became not quite hot but cracking hot. After 10 minutes we had to give up our effort not only because the bird did not respond but also because of the heat. We decided to drive to the village of Berlijn to have an afternoon rest and lunch near a creek in the shade. As we drove back along the road at the beginning of the runway Otte heard an interesting bird sound at an open field with in the back a few palm trees. We stepped out of the car and scanned the area. Great listening of Otte and amazing good spotting of Roland produced a very special bird for today’s list: point-tailed palmcreeper!!! I set up the scope and we had great views of this beautiful and very special bird. After this spectacle we continued to Berlijn village. Back at the main road we turned to the left following the bumpy road in the direction of Brownsberg for about 10km, and then took a right turn on a better unpaved road to Berlijn. Just behind the deserted old village the road ended at a small creek. There was not much water left in the creek so the proposed swimming was no option. We took off our long trouser and shoes and sat down under a roof on a bench to have lunch. After lunch we rested and talked a bit but as always our attention was diverted by bird movement around us. The bare tree in front of us produced a nice pair of moriche orioles. At 3.45 PM we decided to do some forest birding on the opposite side of the creek while the ladies decided to stay under the roof a little longer. We crossed the rickety wooden bridge over the creek. After about 200m the forest trail ended up at an old cemetery at an open spot in the forest. Here we had excellent views through the scope of green oropendolas building nests in a high tree in the open. A group of five purple-throated fruitcrows kept on flying from one tree to another. Further down the trail we had a black-throated antbird. We then checked out the open savanna plain in the back of the forest where Otte again tried to call in bronzy jacamar but again without success. It was still quite hot and as a result of that the bird activity was at a low level. We decided to go back into the shade of the forest. While I walked back to the creek to pick up Wilma and Anne-Marie, Roland and Otte waited at the cemetery where they saw a pygmy antwren. Sadly enough I missed that one. Afterwards we also heard yellow-throated woodpecker and Otte had a black-tailed tityra. After pointing out the green oropendolas and purple-throated fruitcrows to the ladies we continued again to the savannah behind the forest. Since it was already 5.00 PM the bird activity had become higher but despite that we were not able to score any new species. We walked back to the car at 6.00 PM and had a drink and some fruit. Meanwhile it started to get dark. The last new bird of today we saw was a short-tailed nighthawk. We decided to drive back to Paramaribo, and while driving the road back towards the airport we had several blackish- and white-tailed nightjars sitting on the road. Totally exhausted from our birding marathon we arrived back at the hotel at 7.45 PM. This probably must have been our longest bird-watching day ever: nearly 16 hours in total!!! Again the trip with Otte was a great success. Today we scored 82 bird species of which 32 where new on our trip-list. We said goodbye to Otte and thanked him for all his excellent arrangements. Otte told us he enjoyed the day as much as we did. After a quick shower we had dinner at the pool restaurant and went to bed at 9.30 PM.
v Tuesday 2 November
This was already the last day in Suriname for Wilma and me. Roland and Anne-Marie stayed for another five days to relax a bit, do some culture and who knows maybe do some bird-watching. I was up at 6.00 AM and met Roland at the hotel reception. The ladies decided to stay in the hotel to have a relaxed breakfast and a swim in the pool. Our plan for this morning was a visit to the “Cultuurtuin”, a park in Paramaribo just 3km from our hotel. Within five minutes the taxi we asked for stopped in front of the hotel and we arrived at the park at 6.30 AM. We did not expect too many new birds since we had already seen an amazing number of birds but we were very much surprised by the number of good and also new birds occurring. During the 3 hours of birding in the park we saw 48 bird species of which 7 were new ones. Especially the area around the artificial lake was a great spot. We birded the area around the lake until 8.15 AM and had amongst green kingfisher, wattled jacana, grayish saltator, gray kingbird, yellow-bellied elaenia, black-crowned nightherons, pied water tyrant and white-headed marsh-tyrant. We also had two birds which we had hoped for to have on our list but did not expect anymore: fork-tailed flycatcher and the beautiful black-capped donacobius. From here we walked a track at the back of the lake which eventually ended up at the main road. Here we had amongst little cuckoo, golden-collared woodpecker, common tody-flycatcher and close views of a pair of cinnamon attila’s feeding a young. Also a black-collared hawk soared low over our heads. Back at the lake the flowering trees attracted lots of hummingbirds like black-throated mango and glittering-throated emerald. On the opposite side of the lake a wooded area produced three thrush species: pale-breasted, cocoa and bare-eyed thrush. Around 9.45 AM we were picked up by the same taxi as earlier this morning to bring us back to the hotel. We were just too late for breakfast but a friendly waiter arranged a nice sandwich for us. We relaxed a bit beside the pool and took a swim. At 11.30 AM we went back to our room to take a shower and to pack our luggage. Afterwards we had lunch together and talked about our successful holiday which we all enjoyed very much. At 2.15 PM we were picked up for the transfer to the airport. At the reception we said goodbye to our dear friends and wished them a successful and enjoyable continuation of their holiday. When we left Anne-Marie waved to us until we were completely out of sight. We arrived at the airport at around 3.45 PM and immediately checked in our luggage. Our flight was due to depart at 7.25 PM so we had enough time to have a drink outside on the terrace. At 4.45 PM we went through customs. After a descent check of our hand luggage we waited at the gate and had a drink and cigarette in the smoking area to the left. We also met Vicky again who was one of our fellow travellers during the Raleigh Falls trip. Our flight appeared to be delayed and we finally took off 1 ½ hours late at 8.45 PM. We were tired and slept for about 4 ½ hours in the plane.
v Wednesday 3 November
A fog was hanging above Schiphol airport and it took 45 minutes before we were allowed to land at 9.45 AM. Due to the strict surveillance at customs because of drugs tourism it lasted about 2 hours before we were outside the airport. We picked up our car at 11.45 AM and headed home. Sadly enough another successful bird-watching holiday has come to an end …………….
And those of us who were lucky enough to stay for a bit longer:
v Tuesday 2 November
After Jos and Wilma had left we just stayed at the pool and relaxed. It was strange to be without them! We had dinner at a very good pancake house in town.
v Wednesday 3 November
A day off for our binoculars… We first went to the STINASU office to buy some books, posters, etc. We then spent most of the day in Paramaribo to do some sightseeing. What we didn’t know was that it was going to be 42 degrees Celsius. So it was hot and for most of the day no power in town, so even the locals were a bit itchy. Anyway that didn’t stop us. We walked from the hotel to the palm garden which is not much more than palms. Afterwards we went to the Tourist Information Center and then visited the Fort Zeelandia. Inside is a very interesting museum so we spent quite some time there. Later we walked through the old part of town with lots of old wooden buildings – this is actually UNESCO World Heritage listed. Some (few) houses were in good to excellent conditions but most are totally run down and help is urgently needed. But who should pay for it? Otte told us that it is difficult nowadays to get good wood that has been given time to rest – so now wood only lasts for 10 years or so while it used to last for 50 years or so. We visited the big market at the river, which sells lots of strange things that are supposed to be good for your health – no idea what most things were. The cathedral was closed – apparently one can visit it on Saturdays but we didn’t check if that was true. It is quite run down, we were told that the catholic community is very poor in Suriname. We also went to the office of Conservation International to pick up information material from a very helpful employee.
v Thursday 4 November
We had booked the plantation tour with Blue Frog travel. First we went to the Fort Nieuw Amsterdam, which includes an open air museum with an old prison, ammunition house, canons, etc. With a guide like we had and good explanations it is well worth a visit. Afterwards we visited Marienburg and the sugar plant – it is a ruin now and they were currently selling the old metal but it is extremely impressive and a pity that they don’t preserve it. We had a great time there and picked up some old papers that were lying around (for our photo book). We then crossed the Commewijne River by boat and had lunch at the Frederiksdorp plantation. One can stay here overnight and it looked very nice. We met a Dutch guy who had stayed there and liked it a lot. Apparently he saw there scarlet ibis, both tiger herons, and much more. I believe he mentioned to have seen over a hundred species.
Afterwards we went by boat a bit upriver passing several ospreys, lots of sandwich terns and even two yellow-billed terns. We then tried to visit a prawn plant but were not allowed to enter the grounds. Here we had our only lined seedeater. We went by boat back towards Paramaribo where our guide picked us up.
v Friday 5 November
Otte had to go to the coast to count waders and he took us with him. We spent about 2 hours at the coast – highlights were lesser yellowlegs and greater yellowlegs next to each other at a little canal just a few meters from the car, so perfect to compare the two species, pectoral sandpiper, and tens of thousands of semipalmated sandpipers. They kept on moving so it was very difficult to count them. Later that day we went back to town to buy a hammock for Anne-Marie and again had dinner at the pancake house.
v Saturday 6 November
We had asked Otte if he would like to spend another day with us and luckily he had time. Together we decided to first go to Old Paramaribo and then later back to the Peperpot Plantation. Old Paramaribo was a very thinly populated part with small patches of forest, swamps, agricultural fields, etc. Bird-wise it was quite similar to Peperpot but still we managed to find a few new species: silvered antbird (male and female), very close good looks at a small canal; pygmy kingfisher and green-and-rufous kingfisher at the same spot within an hour or so while we tried to attract the next species; spotted puffbird, we heard it and it came once for a few seconds very close into open view to check us out; green ibis were heard several time, seen flying over, some landed in a dead tree relatively far away and 1 settled quite close to us; lots of blue-black grassquits; we missed out on the slender-billed kite which had nested close by but we couldn’t find it; white-tailed goldenthroat; arrowhead piculet and blood-colored woodpecker; yellow-crowned eleania; white-winged becard. At a different spot we had little hermit (lek), crimson-hooded manakin (lek), and we heard striped cuckoo. After a lunch break at the hotel we went to Peperpot where we first had to wait for an hour because of heavy rainfall. Bird activity was low afterwards and we did not see much – but great highlights were a white-tailed trogon and 2 spotted puffbirds with a 3rd heard at the same time.
TOP OF PAGE