At number 6. The Caribbean Islands

The stunningly beautiful wild ginger flowers which grow wild in the forest, Dominica_wm(2)

The stunningly beautiful wild ginger flowers which grow wild in the forest, Dominica

Over the years I’ve been fortunate enough to visit many of the Caribbean Islands,  but none of them have been quite like Dominica. As you fly in to the island’s main airport  called Melville Hall(only one small building) the small plane sweeps down a forested valley and you can see rare parrots practically fly past the window.

It’s steep! So now a bit from Wikipedia- it’s only 290 sq miles but rises to a height of  1,447m. It’s mostly forest and what beautiful forest it is. Every trail leads you through a primary forest that could only have been built for a film set.  Each plant is perfectly positioned and as you walk and the perspective changes  another perfect view is revealed. Dominica has a population of only 77,000 so they can all fit into Wembley Stadium with 20,000 seats to spare!

Wildlife is quite tough to find. We did glimpse one of the world’s rarest parrots, the Sisserou and the other endemic, the Jaco up at Syndicate Reserve which also has some of the most beautiful forest.  The green iguanas are endlessly entertaining. We found the best place to see them was on Champagne beach where a large colony nests in the wooded bank behind the beach.  Fights break out all the time, and while they’re busy fighting, the little ground lizards nip into their burrow to eat their eggs.

Dominica, a wild island_wm

Dominica, a wild island, Caribbean

A humbling experience with an ancient animal_wm

A humbling experience with an ancient animal, Caribbean

From Dominica we flew to Trinidad. To be perfectly honest most of Trinidad is pretty ugly. Unlike Dominica, Trinidad is mostly flat with large built-up areas and rubbish everywhere and especially on the beaches which would otherwise be wild and fantastic.  In spite of this there were 3 highlights. The first was the Scarlet Ibis. We came upon  a flock of 200 in the mangrove and managed to get pretty close.  Certainly close enough to see the little red crabs they were hoiking out of the mud  and which give the ibis their incredible colour. The second must see is the Asa Wright Nature Centre, a small private reserve up in the hills which is quite rightly a mecca for bird watchers.

Certainly the best place to see a lot of species of hummingbird  and one of the best places in the world to see the weird and amazing oilbirds.…incredible! The third highlight of this shoot was the leatherbacks nesting at Grande Riviere. It’s a humbling experience to lie next to one of these monsters as it digs a nest, knowing that it’s swam across oceans and dived to the greatest depths. Look it directly in the face though and you realize you’re looking at something very, very ancient indeed! Mindblowing!!

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