We began in cool, breezy hills at the western end of the Northern Range – near the village of Paramin, a farming community famous for music, blue devils and cool breezes.
Unfortunately the view from the ridge was non-existent as we were greeted by sheets of rain, even though March is traditionally one of the driest months here. This also meant that the downward hike was treacherous, with slippery rocks and leaves underfoot. We were forced to take a very slow pace, watching our every step – and even so, several of our party ended up on the ground at various points. Thankfully no serious injuries were sustained, and the forest in the misty rain was magical.
Soon we smelled that we were not alone – a huge dead tarpon (1.5m) lay in the tide line. Just as we were speculating on what might have killed such a big fish, we noticed a fully inflated spiny porcupine fish lodged in the tarpon’s mouth. It seems that this predator chose the wrong dinner – and the story didn’t end well for the tarpon or its prey.
After lunch, a few of us decided to scramble around the corner of the bay to find the waterfall that could be seen from afar, and to enjoy a refreshing shower.
The way back up the hill was less slippery, but hard work all the same. Thankfully the forest was full of distractions that acted as welcome excuses to stop and catch breath. First we spotted a ‘jep tatu’ wasp nest (Synoeca surinama), named because the nest resembles a tatu (the local name for armadillo). Luckily for us, the nest was high up a tree – as this species is known for possessing a particularly painful sting. Next, we found a friendlier bark mantid (Liturgusa trinidadensis). These masters of camouflage live on tree trunks, actively hunting for prey.
By now the clouds had lifted and we enjoyed some spectacular views looking back towards the sea.
On reaching the top, we were rewarded with panoramic views of the island. As I looked across at the layers of mountains to the east, I tried my best to identify the hills and valleys where my field sites lie…and was very grateful that my tired legs would not have to venture to them the following morning!