by Bennett Hennessey
Trinidad is the best birding city I have come across in the world. Natural Chestnut-fronted Macaws roost in the church steeple. Blue-and-yellow Macaws fly around the outskirts of the city. A marsh area 5 minutes on the edge of the city has over 100 bird species. The city is the capital of the department of Beni, the great vast tropical savannah of Bolivia. The main habitat here is the Savannas of Beni, one of three endemic habitats in Bolivia with its assortment of endemic and suspected endemic species (see Beni Endemic Bird Area). The birds in the area tend to be plentiful and easy to see. A day in Trinidad is necessary for a full Bolivia trip, especially to pick up three Beni Bolivian Endemics.
The objective near Trinidad is to try and see the Unicolored Thrush, Beni Softail (still recorded as Plain Softtail) and the Beni Grackle (still recorded as the Velvet-fronted Grackle). With luck these birds can be found in the river edge forest of San Ramon.
From Trinidad the most convenient birding spot is the paved road of Laguna Suarez, a 10 minute taxi drive, or 20 minutes from the airport (a perfect birding spot if you have a three hour lay-over at the airport). The other spot you should try is the forest and open areas of San Ramon and Puerto Ballivian.
Access and accommodation
Lonely Planted can help you with the city logistics. I have worked with Jorge Vargas of Vargas Rent a Car (telf: 46-212260, Cel 72816999). He has a very pleasant clean 4x4 with air. He rents his vehicle with himself as driver for around 100 USD a day, $50 USD half-day (a morning). Jorge knows the birding sites San Ramon and Laguna Suarez. You can also rent a 100 cc motorcycle at the central plaza per hour, and it is possible to negotiate a morning or afternoon price for a local taxi.