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Birdwatching at the Mouth of the Maraval River in Trinidad

Trinidad and Tobago has been described as a tropical bird watchers paradise with over 460 different species of neo-tropical birds, making it one of the richest birding countries per square mile with avian spectacles at every turn. On both islands there are several birdwatching hotspots that are well known. There are however, other birding hot spots that are infrequently visited but provide much viewing pleasure and the mouth of the Maraval River is one of those.

On hearing the name Maraval River most individuals will think of the Maraval Valley and the river does escolhasegura flow through the valley. Most persons however do not realise that after the Maraval valley, the river continues along the edge of St James and through Woodbrook flowing along the side of the Hasely Crawford stadium to eventually empty into the Gulf of Paria at Mucarapo Bay next to the Marriott Hotel. While many will not think of the Maraval River as entering the sea at Mucarapo even less will think of it as a birdwatching location. Yet the mouth of the Maraval River is a good birding spot for a short birdwatching trip.

The river flows under the Audrey Jeffers highway and through a short stretch of mangrove before arriving at the sea. As the river water encounters the ocean it loses its force and spreads out depositing soil to create mud flats. It is this mixture of mud and water that creates the habitat loved by some bird species.

At the end of the river, bamboo stools brought down the river in times of flood have lodged themselves. On these stools the Neotropic Cormorant, which visit between December and August, perch to spot the fish before diving and afterwards come to spread their wings to dry.

At the river mouth a shifting tidal bar creates a shallow lagoon and slowly foraging in the lagoon can be seen Whimbrels and Willets. These winter visitors slowly move through the water, at times standing motionless as they scan the water for their prey. On the tidal bar in the afternoons you can see large groups of Laughing Gulls while on the mud of the river bank collared plovers and semipalmated plovers pick their way.

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