Newton George, avid birder, former game warden and custodian for Little Tobago has been featured in several documentaries internationally including Sir Richard Attenborough’s renowned The Trials of Life. A native of Speyside Tobago and student of wildlife conservation through the Eastern Caribbean Institute for Agriculture and Forestry, his company NG & Company Nature Tours is now sharing the beauty of the twin-island as a birding destination with hundreds of visitors annually.
Newton’s love of birds came first from his father who was also the Custodian for Little Tobago – the last resident one too. Growing up in the seaside village of Speyside tucked away in the north of the island, they would spend their vacations on Little Tobago – the tiny island located just off the coast. They would be the only residents on the island which also serves as home to dozens of species of birds once including the Bird of Paradise, last sighted by Newton in November 1981. “I was just about eight years old when my father introduced me to birding. Of course, as a boy I loved to play cricket and football too – I was very involved in sports. But once you are introduced to birding, you never go back. The colour and beauty of each of the species is something that draws you in. And given that Tobago is home to 261 documented species in just 116 square miles, there is no better place on earth to get into it. Tobago also ranks fifth per capita for birds – which is part of the innate beauty of the island. To date, I’ve seen about 3,000 species of birds on my list which is about one-third of the 10,000 that exist!” he proudly asserts.
For the last 19 years, Newton has attended the annual British Bird Watching Fair and connected with like-minds and friends from around the world. He has also travelled to Panama, Costa Rica, Brazil and parts of Africa and India to promote Tobago and develop his interest in a life-long hobby. He has delivered talks at the British and Canadian fairs in addition to appearing on several local and international television features. After several years of service in the Tobago Forestry Division, responsible for the oldest protected rainforest in the Western Hemisphere, and as custodian for Little Tobago, his early retirement allowed him to explore his pastime further, resulting in a touring business which makes daily trips to Little Tobago as well as parts of the main islands of Tobago including the rainforest he once tended.
So entwined is his life with the love of birds, that his home in Speyside is a destination-must for visitors to the island to witness the myriad of hummingbirds that sip at the feeders scattered around the property. While his son is just getting into the family’s favourite activity, he also recently took several children under his wing and began training tours for a new generation, all at the age he was when his father first took him on birding adventures. “I want to establish this group as a way of keeping this tradition and respect for what we have to offer alive. I want that and them, to be my legacy.”