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24 June - 4 July 2005

by Jeff Hopkins

In the summer of 2005 I took a trip to the Dominican Republic (DR) and Puerto Rico (PR).  I used a guide, Miguel Angel Landestoy, for my time in the Dominican Republic, because it seemed that the birds would be harder to find and the roads harder to negotiate, but drove around Puerto Rico on my own.  Miguel charged $80 US plus expenses for his services.  He organized all the accommodations except for my night in Santo Domingo, and I organized the rental 4WD from Avis in the states.  I would not recommend Avis in the DR.  I set up everything in PR myself, including the rental car from Budget, with whom I had no problem.

In the DR, we found most of the endemics, missing the Greater Antillean (Hispaniolan) nightjar and gray-headed (Hispaniolan) quail dove although we heard one of each, and the eastern chat-tanager which we didn't try for.  In Puerto Rico I missed the PR nightjar, only heard the PR owl (several times), and didn't try for the PR parrot.

I used "A Guide to the Birds of the West Indies" by Raffaele, Wiley, Garrido, Keith, and Raffaele as my field guide, and "Where to Watch Birds in Central America, Mexico, and the Caribbean" by Wheatley and Brewer as a site finding reference in addition to the various trip reports online.  I used the Lonely Planet guides for my general sightseeing references.

A species list with some remarks follows at the end.

Day 1  24 June  Not an Auspicious Start

First the alarm clock didn't go off and I had to rush to the airport.  Then my USAir flight from Philadelphia to Fort Lauderdale was delayed by mechanical problems and they had to get a new plane (fortunately the crew from the Philly to Lauderdale flight was continuing to Santo Domingo).  And when I arrived in Santo Domingo two hours late it was pouring.

Miguel was waiting for me at the Avis desk as we'd agreed, and after making our way to the rental office on the other side of the airport, we processed the paperwork on the Suzuki Jimmy 4WD and we were on our way o the gas station  Surprisingly, Avis provided us a vehicle with an empty gas tank.  On top of that, my credit card was rejected at the gas station!  I fortunately had a spare card and off we drove through Santo Domingo.  We then made a stop at Miguel's home in Bani where he picked up his gear and we saw house sparrow and rock dove.  Miguel let me use the phone to call my credit card company.  It seems they'd stopped my card simply because I attempted to make a purchase out of the US.  How parochial! 

Once we got out past Bani we started to see some of the more common species, like cattle egret, american kestrel, northern mockingbird, and smooth-billed ani. Miguel saw a palmchat that I missed and he also pointed out a village weaver colony that was unoccupied.  We even saw a green heron fly across the road.  As it got closer to dark we started hearing and seeing Antillean nighthawks.

We arrived in Barahona just after dark, bought provisions for the next two days at a supermarket on the edge of town, and checked in at the Hotel Caribe.  Miguel introduced me to his friends Walter and Nacey who would be birding with us the next day, then he and I had a quick meal in the hotel restaurant before we headed off to a brief nights' sleep.

Day 2  25 June  The Backwards Trip Begins

We all gathered at 3:30 in the morning and headed off to Baoruco National Park keeping our eyes on the sky for lightning and rain. The goal was to be up at Zapoten for the LaSelle thrush at the break of dawn.  Just outside of Duverge we hit a wall of rain that made us pull over and wait for it to pass. Once it did we found the turn in Duverge (there's a "Brughal" sign with "Puerto Escondido" on the city sign on the bottom on the south/left side of the road).. Just beyond the town limits the road turned to dirt (actually eroded limestone with rocks embedded in it). 

After a few km, the road got steep and rough, and we started spooking burrowing owls off the road.  Miguel got out the spotlight, and we caught a few in the light, one of which had some prey in its talons. Miguel followed that one into the trees with the light and then shouted for us to get on the bird.  It wasn't a burrowing owl. It was an ashy-faced owl!  It flew further away but Miguel kept the spotlight on it and we got great looks.  We were stunned.  Other trip reports had to work to get this bird or missed it entirely.  For us it was the first endemic bird of the trip! By the way, the prey was apparently a mockingbird. 

We continued on through Puerto Escondido to the T just beyond town, where we were stopped at the military checkpoint.  Miguel spoke with the soldier there who gave us the bad news:  there had been so much rain this season that the road was washed out.  It was extremely unlikely that we'd be able to make it up to Zapoten, even with our 4WD.  We debated turning around, but decided we'd push ahead as far as we could and hope we'd get high enough for the montane species.  On the way we spooked some killdeer away from a puddle in the road, as well as the first of many mourning and common ground doves we'd see on the trip.

However, because it was now unlikely we'd get to the top in time to see LaSelle thrush, we decided to stop at La Placa ("The sign"), where there's a sign that says "Observatorio de Aves" as well as another trail marker sign.  We pulled over, put on the mosquito gear (essential), and started birding.  We could hear lots of bird sound, especially the chipping of green-tailed ground-warblers and the "jui" of stolid flycatchers, but it was still way to dark to see anything.  One bird's call stood out over the others though: a Greater Antillean Nightjar doing his "pitangua" call.  Miguel got out the mini-disc player and tried to call it in, but it wouldn't come any closer. He also tried the northern potoo call but got no reply.

By this time it was starting to get light.  Nacey pointed out a bird flycatching from the road that turned out to be a red-legged thrush, though we'd see one much better later.  Miguel heard a loggerhead kingbird song, and said "when I play this," meaning the mini-disc, "he's going to perch right there."  The bird flew to the opposite side of the road at the sound of the disc player, but the second time Miguel played the song, the bird went right back across to the perch he pointed out.  Impressive. 

We birded a bit more along the road at La Placa after that.  Miguel pointed out a black swift and noted that they're the less common swift in the DR.  We focused in on this buzzy little sound that turned out to be a broad-billed tody, which we saw well enough to note the black tip on the underside of the bill.  Such a cute little thing!  We were also able to pish in one of the green-tailed ground-warblers. Miguel pointed out that that it really wasn't a warbler, but was more closely related to the tanagers, and it was probably going to be reclassified as such.  We also saw several stolid flycatchers having breakfast and a Greater Antillean Mango.

We hopped back in the jeep, and crossed some very muddy patches which we hoped were the part of the road we weren't supposed to be able to get through.  Suddenly Miguel shouted "Bay breasted cuckoo! Stop! Stop!" (he heard it call) and we all tumbled out of the jeep.  Miguel got out the mini-disc, played the song, and out popped this big, beautiful bird, on a lower bare limb of a nearby tree.  We couldn't have hoped for a better view, and Miguel was just thrilled  he said he really couldn't get enough of that species.

While we were looking at the cuckoo, we heard a flat-billed vireo.  Once again the mini-disc brought the bird in close, and we watched it sing back at us at eye level.  It has a very un-vireo-like warbling song.  Also we could compare the call with the many nearby black-whiskered vireos singing their Julien Chivi (or Bien te Veo) song.  As we did, a distant pair of Hispaniolan parrots flew overhead.  Miguel also pointed out the call of a ruddy ground-dove, although we had no hope of getting to it in that thick brush.  After another quick look at the cuckoo, and some more todies, we headed onward. 

From there, the road started to climb and got narrow and rougher.  The road bed turned from mud to pebbles.  Essentially, we were driving in a river bed.  We managed to cross an area where the stream along the road crossed the road bed again keeping our fingers crossed that this was the uncrossable point.  I followed the wheel ruts as well as possible until we hit a spot, with a few small boulders in the main track, and deep gullies on either side of the road.  We tried to move the rocks but they were too heavy.  After some debate, we decided we weren't going any further.  So we turned the jeep around and ate some breakfast.  As we were eating, a couple of Haitians rode up on a motorbike and confirmed there hadn't been a four-wheeled vehicle to get up the road in almost two weeks.

While the others were finishing up, I walked down the road a bit and noticed this small brown bird crawling up a branch on a bare tree.  It was an Antillean piculet.  I called the others over, but the bird flew off before they could get to me.  After they grilled me to make sure it wasn't a woodpecker and a check of the field guide for confirmation, I was sure of my ID.  At this point. Miguel noted that I was seeing all the birds in a backwards order.  We'd seen the most difficult bird first (the owl).  Then we saw the less common swift, the more difficult of the two cuckoos, the more difficult of the two vireos, and the more difficult woodpecker all of which we got without having seen the "easier" species.

After breakfast we started up the road.  As we were hiking up we heard more todies, and a Hispaniolan lizard cuckoo calling.  To our surprise, the cuckoo flew across the road giving us a good look, then perched in a tree and called again.  Miguel heard a distant trogon, which was the bird Walter most wanted to see, so we picked up the pace a bit.  Black-capped Palm Tanagers were common.  We kept hiking up the road and we all heard the trogon again as well as a second bird on the opposite side of the road calling back to it.  I imitated its call, and got the near bird to respond, but it didn't come any closer. 

Miguel found an opening through the thick brush beside the road, and we followed him in after the trogon.  All the while I kept imitating its call to keep it singing, though every time we got close it seemed to move.  Miguel climbed a steep ridge ahead of us, and finally was able to see the bird, but as the rest of us made our way up the ridge  with Walter pointing out the "poisonwood" tree that I almost brushed against  I learned two words in Spanish that no birder likes to hear: "Se fue" (loosely, it's gone).  So we headed back out to the road.

And the bird promptly started singing again.

Back we went into the bush, this time from a point further up the road so that we were at the top of the ridge, with Miguel leading the way.  Again he got on the bird, but this time, we caught up to him in time.  Not that the bird was going anywhere.  It was perched in a bare tree out in the open.  We all got spectacular looks at a beautiful bird.  I love its checkerboard pattern.

When we got to the road, a small flock of Hispaniolan spindalis (spindalises?) in a distant tree wrapped up the mid-elevation endemics we were likely to see where we stopped.  Since we already had the hard species from that area, Miguel suggested we head back down to some of the thorn scrub areas where we might see a quail dove (either gray-fronted or Key West, but more likely the latter).  We stopped partway to La Placa in a thorn scrub area, and while we didn't find any quail doves, we did get killer looks at a red-legged thrush, which was apparently defending a nest based on how aggressively it behaved.  Miguel also got some beautiful pictures of the bird.

When we got back to the jeep, Miguel pointed out that one of the tires was going flat!  So we unloaded some of the gear, found the jack and the lugwrench, and tried to remove the tire and the spare.  I say tried, because they had two different sized lug nuts on it!  After Miguel, Walter, and I each tried to get the oddball lug nut off, we poked around in the back of the jeep some more and eventually we found an adaptor for the other nuts tucked away in a little side compartment and changed the tire.

Next stop was La Placa again.  This time we drove down the side road for about a 1/2  kilometer and parked.  The key target was Key West Quail Dove.  Unfortunately, Walter wasn't exactly on board with the program.  He wanted to talk about the wildlife or the insects or history r whatever.  He had seen his target earlier, so he wasn't focusing on the birds.  At first I got frustrated  I shushed him once  but eventually I calmed down, since it was 11 AM by now, it was pretty unlikely we'd see the quail-dove anyway.  At one point, I wandered away from the others and when I did turned up a Greater Antillean Bullfinch and of course, more todies.

Back in the jeep, we came to a pasture just above Puerto Escondido where there was the possibility of seeing crows in the palms on the far side of the pasture.  Miguel pointed out a Village Weaver colony.  As we walked down the road finding numerous yellow-faced grassquits (the common grassquit in the DR) we heard Antillean siskins.  There were ten or more, with several males in the flock. A calling shiny cowbird drew us down the road, where we found a Greater Antillean Oriole male, possibly two.  After that Miguel led me through the scrub to a pair of Hispaniolan parrots, preening each other at much closer range than the two fly-bys in the morning.  We also turned up a calling yellow-billed cuckoo.  Back at the pasture, Miguel saw a plain pigeon fly by, but it was just a blur to me.

We drove back to the T at Puerto Escondido to the Rabo de Gato (Cat's Tail) trailhead which I believe was on the opposite side of the pasture we were looking at.  There were a couple of Hispaniolan Woodpeckers working their way up one of the coconut palms.  Miguel pointed out a large cattle egret colony across the field.  Then we heard a couple of Greater Antillean Grackles, which we were able to track down.  Miguel was working hard to find an Antillean Euphonia, but we came up empty.

We stopped at a fork in the road a kilometer or two up the trail, hearing a Limpkin along the way.  Walter and Nacey had some lunch while Miguel and I tried again for the euphonia.  We heard one but couldn't coax it in.  We also heard a white-necked crow, but Miguel said we'd see them later in the afternoon, so we didn't chase it.  It was just too hot to keep birding, and the birds had really quieted down (except for a lizard cuckoo right over our heads), so Miguel and I grabbed some lunch and then I took a quick siesta, though I really couldn't get a decent sleep because the mosquitoes kept waking me up. 

At about 2:30, we headed back down to Duverge to get the tire fixed.  We stopped at a Gomera, where they told us that the tire had actually been previously repaired, but they put the patch in the wrong place and it didn't hold.  Avis strikes again!  We waited at the bar next door while they patched the tire correctly, and after about 10 minutes they were done.  We paid about 50 pesos to the owner for the repair job, and Miguel suggested I tip the repairman another 30 pesos for doing the job so quickly.  And we were back on the road again.

We headed west from Duverge to a bar/disco called La Zurza (The Source) which was built beside a natural spring that they had turned into a swimming pool.  We drove through their parking area and onto a dirt road into the pastures beyond.  The pasture was full of Antillean Palm Swifts and a Caribbean Martin or two.  Although he thought it still was a bit early, Miguel tried his amazing white-necked crow imitation, and two birds flew right in to a nearby palm.  You could even see their white necks as they flew.  We picked a few mangoes for the road,  headed back out the way we came, and kept heading west.

After a few kilometers, we pulled off the main road at an unmarked turn onto a small dirt road to the right.  It turns out this was the old road to Jimani.  The first stretch of the road was along another pasture on the shore of Lago Enriquillo.  We checked that pasture for palm crows, but came up empty.  We followed the road until it turned to asphalt came out into an open area along the shore of Lago Enriquillo.  A small mud-flat had a couple of black-necked stilts, and we spotted two burrowing owls  and adult and a juvenile - out in the open. 

We kept going until we found an area where there were cacti  Miguel said we wouldn't find the crows unless there were cacti - and waited.  We explored the scrub a bit, and Miguel pointed out that the stones ware actually fragments of an old coral reef that had long ago been pushed above sea level.  After about 45 minutes, we were just about to give up when a flock of six Palm Crows flew in and started playing in the cacti.  The call was more like other crows - much different than the white-necked.  Miguel also made sure that I could see the differences between the palm crow and the white-necked crow.

There were no endemics left to find in that area, and it had been a long day, so we headed back to Barahona where the four of us had dinner at the hotel.  Over dinner, Miguel and I discussed our options for Plan B and seeing the high elevation endemics.  We pretty much narrowed it down to two choices.  We'd either have to cut our time in Barahona and spend some time in the Cordillera Central - though we'd miss the white-winged warbler - or we'd have to get another even earlier start and try for them from the southern approach from Pedernales.  Either choice was far from foolproof.

Anyway, I was too exhausted to think much more about it. 

Day 3  26 June  Plan C (or You Call This a Road?)

Our plan today was to go up to La Charca for the pine forest endemics and golden swallow.  Fortunately, most of those species could be found at mid-day so we didn't have to be up early the next morning. I could sleep in...relatively.  We were up at about 6:30, had a quick breakfast in the hotel restaurant, and headed off to Pedernales, taking the occasional scernery photo along the way.  The road along the south coast is paved in most places, though there were a couple places where it washed out and hadn't been repaved. It's also very winding, and goes through a few towns (speed bumps!) so it took about two hours to go the 130 km to the Alcoa Road.

You'll recognize the Alcoa Road as you pass it, since there's no other road around it.  The trick is getting onto it.  Just after you cross over the road, and just before the 11 km marker, you turn left onto a small ramp that takes you down in the opposite direction back to the coastal road.  Turn left and head uphill.  After the road yesterday, the Alcoa road was just amazing.  It's a four lane wide paved road with almost no other traffic (there's some dump trucks hauling dirt away along the lower section).  And it was teeming with butterflies.  I have never seen so many.  

After a few kilometers, there's a massive gate into the national park, but nobody was at it so we kept going.  Beyond that, at a particular spot, Miguel said to pull over. I didn't note the kilometer marker, but here's a description.  After a long straight upward run, the road makes a hard switchback to the left.  In front of you just before the switchback is a steep slope with pine trees on top of the slope.  There are also a few pine trees on the right.  The left hand side before the switchback is open and actually slopes slightly downward away from the road giving it an open look.  Pull over at the open area and work both sides of the road. 

He told me our goal here was Antillean euphonia, but little did I know he had a few tricks up his sleeve.  He started doing his euphonia imitation, and we got a distant bird to respond.  Again, he wouldn't come any closer.  As we were walking around near the car, we heard a grey-fronted quail dove deep in the brush.  There was no way we were getting through the brush to see it, so we had to satisfied with hearing one of the rarest birds in the DR. 

There were a lot of palm tanagers and bullfinches around and a lone female spindalis, all making very squeaky high pitched calls, but somehow in all that Miguel picked out the call of a western chat tanager, which is very similar.  As noted in other reports this species is a bit of a skulker, so we didn't have much hope of getting it to come out.  Miguel also pointed out a flowering tree where he said we could see any of the three hummingbirds in the DR, including the two we'd missed so far.  As if on cue, a mango flew into it.

This was turning out to be a pretty incredible spot.  There were plenty of Caribbean Martins flying around and Miguel pointed out an occasional golden swallow, though we couldn't see the golden color from that angle.  We also saw a couple of olive-throated parakeets, which Miguel said were pretty common there, and several white-crowned pigeons.  A Hispaniolan emerald buzzed by, but I never saw it.  We were on a bit of a schedule, so we noted a possible entry into the scrub for later to try to go after the dove and the chat-tanager, and headed up to La Charca.

At La Charca (there's a sign), we pulled of the main road and parked beside the pool.  The swallow show hadn't started, and the crossbills weren't around yet, so we sat there having a snack.  As we did we started hearing crossbills in the distance.  When we went to find them, we took three steps and they were behind us.  Then the light went on: they weren't far away, they were just quiet, and they were in the tree just above the jeep!  There were a couple birds deep in the pines, but we were able to see a nice male.

We heard some parakeets which Miguel said we Hispaniolans, so we walked out to the road to see them.  Eventually we saw a distant pair flying along the far ridge line.  Miguel also found a pair of piculets out in the open and took a few pictures.  We went back to the pool since the golden swallows were coming in.  We sat and watched them for a while, seeing the shining color well in the sun.  As we sat, a few grassquits and siskins flew by.  We also heard a pine warbler singing, but couldn't find him, and heard a trogon singing in the distance.

We headed down to Pedernales for some gas and for lunch at the Jalicar Restaurant.  They had palm tanagers and bananaquits in the flowering trees at the restaurant.  Miguel tried calling a local birder friend, Nicolas Corona, in order to find out the condition of the road up to the national park, but was only able to get his mom.  And as we were eating our (delicious) fried chicken, Miguel dropped Plan C on me: If we headed up to the sierra right after lunch, we could be there in time for dusk and have a chance at the LaSelle thrush. It would make for another very long day, and we'd probably get home well after dark, but if I wanted to try, we could go for it.  I loved the idea, so we quickly settled our check and headed out.

Just as we were heading out of town, a man on a motorbike rode up beside us.  It was Nicolas!  He had seen us drive by the local swimming hole and knew where we were heading (his mother had called him on his cell), so he jumped on his bike to catch us.  He and Miguel talked for a while, though I only understood part of what they were saying (Dominicans speak very quickly).  After they were done Miguel told me that Nicolas confirmed that the road to the top was passable.  He also said that Nicolas told him of a Stygian Owl near La Charca!  We decided we'd stick with plan C and head up the mountain, and save the owl for the next day. 

We headed uphill from there without stopping for any other birds.  The road up was in decent shape for about an hour's drive  at least comparable to the road from Duverge to Puerto Escondido.  We passed a ranch or two, and then we started seeing bare mountainsides.  I asked Miguel if that was Haiti on the horizon, because there were no trees, but he wasn't sure, since the hills in the southwest DR near the border are in bad shape now, too, thanks to the influx of Haitians crossing the border.

We continued to wind our way up through the mountains and the road began to change from decent, to bad, to horrible.  We made one wrong turn on the way up, since all of Miguel's landmarks had been cut down.  Also, the road was in such awful condition that I couldn't imagine that was where we were heading.  Essentially, the "road" was two steep ruts in the dirt, worn to the bare uneven rock, with tall grass growing between them.  We could barely drive 20 kph, but we eventually made it to the military checkpoint at Los Arroyos (which looked to me like a small green castle).  The soldier there at first tried to keep us from heading into the park, but eventually let us through. Miguel and I both thought he was angling for a bribe.

After another stretch of terrible road, the road smoothed out again and we knew we'd made it to the national park.  We stopped at the first patch of forest we came to and as soon as we got out of the jeep, we heard the rufous-throated solitaires singing their flute-like song.  We walked a short distance up the road, and found a narrow-billed tody.  Raffaele's field guide doesn't show the comparison with broad billed very well.  The pink on the sides extends most of the length of the breast, and the white malar stripes are much more pronounced than on the broad-billed.
We found a short, muddy trail through the woods, and were able to call in a solitaire, but I didn't get the best of looks at this fairly shy species.  Miguel used the mini-disc to bring in a Greater Antillean Elaenia, another high altitude specialty, though not a DR endemic.  We also found a flock of spindalis, and I finally got a good look at a male.  As we continued on the trail, we came out into a pasture.  Turns out the forest was just a small fragment of unattached woods bordered by denuded hillside.  So we got back in the jeep and kept heading upward.

When we hit a decent patch of woods, we immediately heard the "song" of LaSelle Thrush. This was earlier than we'd counted on, I suppose because of the overcast sky.  We explored the road, and Miguel saw one briefly, but I was looking the other way.  We tried the mini-disc, and a pair of them shot across the road and into the brush.  We tried again and they shot back across the other way.  After a couple more tries, one sat up and gave us a perfect look.  As has been noted elsewhere, the bird is very dark.  Plate 57 in Raffaele looks more like the bird, not Plate 82.

We walked further up the road, hearing more solitaires and the occasional tody.  I got a look at a warbler, but it was a green tailed.  We also heard a few Hispaniolan parakeets, and eventually they came into view.  Miguel went back down the trail to get the jeep.  I though I heard him call, and yelled back, but got no answer.  Suddenly he came driving up and said "Get in. I've got white-winged warblers."  We drove back to where we parked and saw the thrushes.  We spent nearly half an hour pishing trying to get the birds into view, but the best we could do was two tiny birds flying across the road.

We drove up into the pine forest hoping for the warbler.  We saw a lot more spindalis, and the only scaly-naped pigeons of the trip.  I also saw a flock of 30 or so parakeets settling into their evening roost.  We'd walk a bit, then Miguel would go back and get the jeep.  At one point, he stopped just short of me, where he'd found some western chat tanagers.  He played the mini-disc and got a pair to respond, and I could see branches moving, but as expected, they never came out of the deep scrub.  We kept heading down the hill and made it back to the spot where we'd seen the warblers earlier.

It was getting late, so Miguel went back up the hill to get the jeep, when I heard him call again.  This time, I ran back to where he was.  I arrived, out of breath to find Miguel had spotted another white-winged warbler.  It was in the branches and wasn't easy to see, especially with me panting like that, but I could see the white breast as it foraged and the long warbler tail cocked upward, but it flew off before I could see it well.  Tickable, but better view desired. 

At this point it was starting to get dark, and I decided that rather than try for another warbler, it would be better to start down before it got completely dark.  So we inched our way back down the road to Los Arroyos.  Ironically, the soldier who tried to shake us down, now needed a ride down to Pedernales, but we decided "why not?" and had him hop in.  After a bone rattling drive down, during which Miguel spotlighted some large (150mm long!) endemic tarantulas, some burrowing owls, and a couple of crab species crossing the road, we reached civilization. 

A quick refill of the gas tank, and then back on the road to Barahona.  We made it back by about 10 PM, and despite it being Sunday night, the Malecon was hopping.  We had a quick meal at a local open air restaurant, and over dinner discussed our options for the rest of the trip.  I had intentionally left the last night of birding open with no set plan.  That way, we could choose to go to Ebano Verde for the eastern chat-tanager, Los Haitises for the Ridgway's hawk, or stay in the southwest to get any species we might have missed.  At this point, given how difficult is was to see the western chat-tanager and how much of a "raptorphile" I am, I decided that we'd go for the hawk, and asked Miguel to make the appropriate lodging reservations.  That decision made, I tumbled into bed, tired but satisfied with our success.

Day 4  27 June  An Easy Day for a Change

The goal today was the stygian owl and another pass at the Alcoa Rd. 

We skipped breakfast in order to get to the lower stop earlier than we did yesterday.  On the way to our lower stop, Miguel spotted a Vervain Hummingbird perched on a bare tree.  We got out and heard it chattering from its perch. 

From there, we then drove up to the switchback where we had so much luck the day before.  Miguel tried his euphonia imitation again, and once again we got an answer from a distant bird.  We walked up and down the road, seeing another vervain hummingbird and plenty of the more common species.  In the process, two Hispaniolan emeralds shot by us.  Miguel saw one, and we both heard both of them, but one quick chip note and they were off.  We eventually spotted the euphonia, high in a pine tree on the ridge. Although he was far away, his bright colors stood out well.  Every trip seems to have a bird that should be easy, but that makes you really work for it.  The euphonia was that bird for my trip.

Now we had one more bird to try for at that spot: the western chat-tanager.  Miguel tried the mini-disc nd two birds responded.  We slowly walked over to that spot and tried again and one of them poked their head out.  I could see the spot in front of the eye!  We also noticed there was a small opening in the brush.  A little exploration found a concrete drain sluice.  We sat quietly on the concrete and spotted some movement below us.  We slowly used the mini-disc to coax the bird to about two meters away.  It was facing us with its head tilted up and I could see its throat vibrate as it sang.  We were both thrilled.

Next stop was La Charca.  Miguel had some approximate directions to the owl from Nicolas, but it turned out they were a bit vague.  We poked around in the pines for an hour, but came up empty.  However, the visit wasn't a total loss because we finally saw a Hispaniolan Emerald who perched on the top of a small pine.  Also, we saw most of the birds as the day before  crossbill, siskin, pine warbler and both swallows. 

We decided the best option would be to go down to Pedernales find Nicolas and get more details, or possibly have him come up with us.  We went to a local telephone office, where Miguel tried calling him.  Once again, we got his mother, who was able to give us partial directions to his home.  After a few stops for better directions we found his house (his name was painted on the side!) but nobody was home.  We asked the neighbors if they knew where he was, and they suggested a nearby school where the government was handing out food.  He hadn't shown up there, but some people there agreed to let him know we were looking for him.

We went to the restaurant for lunch (hint: if it's a weekday, order the daily special or you'll wait a long time for your food), and after that, went back to Nicolas' home.  He still wasn't home, but two boys were playing in the yard.  They directed us to a house where Nicolas' wife was visiting.  After tracking her down, we found out that he'd gone up to the national park.  Not only would he not be able to show us the owl, he was out of cell phone range.  So we headed back to Barahona empty-handed.  Along the way we spotted a little blue heron in a coastal lagoon.  Miguel also saw a few laughing gulls offshore, but I was too busy driving.

After a rare mid-afternoon nap, we stocked up on provisions for the next day and cash to pay for the hotel the next night and went out for some night birding.  Our target this night was the least poorwill.  We headed down the coastal road, and just before the military checkpoint on the outskirts of town turned inland on a dirt road.  We'd checked it out earlier in the day and confirmed that the road was passable, so it was just a matter of heading to the right spot and waiting.  We played around with a lizard cuckoo while we waited, but at about 7:15 the first poorwill sang a few times.  A half hour later a second bird sang a few times.  We tried the mini-disc, but didn't get any response from either. 

We walked the road a bit, and Miguel scanned the tree for eye-shine, and eventually he spotted one, high on a branch.  We played the mini-disc and he sang a few times and growled at us.  I could see him turning his head back and forth, but he wouldn't come closer.  Eventually, Miguel went back for the jeep, leaving me with the spotlight.  I kept imitating the bird and every time he'd growl back, but he never moved from that perch.  Eventually Miguel came with the jeep and the bird flew off, so we went back into town, had dinner at the same open air restaurant, and got to bed early.

Day 5  28 June  Disaster Strikes!

Another 3 AM start because we wanted to be up at La Placa before dawn in order to make one more try for the nightjar we'd heard the first day.  On the way up, Miguel tried spotlighting some of the trees and to our surprise, turned up another Ashy-faced Owl sitting on a fencepost.  He tried to get out of the jeep to get a photo, but the bird flew off as soon as he moved toward it.  We kept spotlighting and turned up a pair of bright red eyes on a distant hillside.  Miguel said it was a northern potoo, but I'd have to take his word for it.  It was just too far away.

However, we drove just a short distance and found another closer bird. This bird was perched out in the open, hunting.  It was still pretty far away, but was close enough to make out the shape.  Definitely a potoo.  One time it flew off and then returned to its perch.  We also found a third pair of eyes nearby, deep in the trees.  I wondered whether it may have been a female on a nest with her mate hunting, but it was too dark to tell.

We made it up to La Placa about a half hour before dawn.  We could hear both the nighthawk and the poorwill calling.  Miguel tried the mini-disc for the nightjar but it stayed put.  We also tried the poorwill tape, and had a bird take a run at us.  By this point, it was starting to brighten and we were running out of time.  We headed a little further up the road, where we heard a distant limpkin calling and tried the nightjar call again.  No luck.  With the sun up, we headed back to La Placa for another try for the Key West Quail-dove.

We heard them as soon as we pulled off the main road.  Seeing them was a whole other story!  We slowly made our way through the scrub trying to track the sound of the bird.  We had to be exceptionally quiet as every time we snapped a twig our target stopped calling.  After 20 seconds or so, he'd start again.  Finally we got so close he must have been right in front of us nd he stopped singing.  This time he didn't start again.  We waited for 10 minutes and he didn't start again.  So we decided to try to track down a different bird.  But when we got far enough away, he started again.  Finally, we got back to about where we just were when I spotted him through an opening in the canopy.  He was perched on a branch right above us!

Our plan for the rest of the day, was to drive to Santo Domingo to see the West Indian Whistling Ducks that hang out at the zoo, then continue on to Los Haitises arriving well before dark.  According to Miguel the best time to see the ducks was mid-afternoon, and since it wasn't even 7:30 yet, we had time to kill.  We went back to the Rabo de Gato trailhead, where we had some breakfast.  The grackles and woodpeckers were still there, and Miguel pointed out a nutmeg manikin.  Eventually, we were able to call in a couple euphonias.  No adult males, but a female and at least one immature male (you could see the beginning of some of the adult plumage). 

With that taken care of, we headed down the mountain at a leisurely pace.  Miguel tried to get a picture of a smooth-billed ani drying its wings like a cormorant.  We stopped at a flowering tree where Miguel said he often finds hummingbirds, in hope of a better look at an emerald. . We did see a vervain, but no emerald.  We also saw a black-whiskered vireo  the only one we'd see on the trip, although we heard hundreds of them.  After a fuel stop in Duverge, we drove past the edge of Laguna Cabral and found a couple tricolored herons in addition to the more common great and cattle egrets.  Then it was off to Bani where Miguel dropped of some things at home, checked in with his family, checked his email, and showed me his wonderful photographs.  We were taking our time.

We arrived in the capital at about noon.  We stopped at a gas station / fried chicken fast food restaurant on the west side of town.  While we ate, it started to pour - a typical rainy season downpour.  We quickly ran back to the jeep when we were done, jumped in and nothing.  The car wouldn't start!  It struck me as a dead battery, but the windows still worked and the anti-theft light was blinking.  We tried a couple times and once when we did the horn sounded a couple times.  Maybe we did something that activated the anti-theft system?  We didn't know. 

We called Avis' emergency hotline, who promptly gave us a different number to call.  We called that number.  He gave us a way to reset the anti-theft system.  It didn't work.  I tried the window again, and it went down, but wouldn't go back up.  Uh oh.  Dead battery.  But how do you end up with a dead battery after driving 300 kilometers?  We had an electrical problem. 

Getting Avis to do something about it would be our challenge.  We called the number they gave us, but they weren't answering any more.  We tried calling the original number and they said they'd take care of it and call us back.  They never did.  We even started calling the number for the rental office in central Santo Domingo.  Between calls we found a woman with a set of jumper cables and tried jump-starting the engine, which didn't work.  The owner of the gas station even came over to us and offered his help.  We called someone at Avis pretty much every 15 minutes, hoping someone would take some action, but all we got was a runaround.  Miguel and I debated just abandoning the car, but with the window stuck open, I worried about it being stolen and me being liable.

After about two hours of being put off, I finally got on the phone, got someone who spoke English and started yelling.  At this point they said the rental office said they'd JUST sent someone and he should be there within 15 minutes.  It took him a half hour to arrive, and when he did, he eventually started the engine with a battery charger.  He advised us to follow him to the office. 

We got there and found out the three numbers we'd been calling were all at the same location.  No wonder they could blow us off so effectively!  And once we got there it kept going.  They couldn't give us a replacement car because they didn't know whether they could fix the one we had.  Once we insisted on that, they said they'd give us a car, since they didn't have any more 4WDs in the size we had, only larger, more expensive ones and unlike a US location, they were totally unwilling to upgrade us.  We finally agreed to accept a car, and they pointed us to a car they were cleaning.  We put our bags in that car while they cleaned it.

During this time, the mechanic replaced the battery in our jeep with a brand new one, which promptly went dead.  He agreed there was an electrical problem and told his boss so.  After another half hour of doing nothing, the manager finally told us they'd changed their minds, and we were getting a different car!  So we moved our bags and Miguel inspected the car while I pushed the manager to get the paperwork done.  In the process, they pulled another scam:  The paperwork said the car had a full gas tank, though we didn't notice that until we turned the car in.  When we got in, we saw it was only half full, which was just fine  the jeep was only half full, too.
By about 5:30 we were back on the road again.  We decided to skip the zoo, since I could go there on my own later and Miguel wanted to be at Los Haitises before dark.  We made it quickly across Santo Domingo, and stopped for gas and snacks near Boca Chica.  The only new birds we saw on the trip were a few cave swallows flying along the shoreline near the airport.  We made it to the Cano Hondo Ecolodge at about 8:00, just after dark.  They checked us in, and fed us.  They have a couple of "pet" white-necked crows at the Ecolodge who begged for scraps as we ate dinner.  Miguel and I agreed on a time to meet the next morning and we called it a day.

Day 6  June 29  The Buteo Death March

When I told Miguel over dinner in Barahona that I preferred to go to Los Haitises instead of Ebano Verde, he asked me, "Do you have boots?" and proceeded to tell me the trail would be pretty wet.  Little did I know this would be a warning of the wet, dirty morning to come.  Miguel knew a place where the Ridgway's hawks nested, and the last he knew they were still in the general area.  Getting to them required a "short hike."

We met for breakfast at about 7, and headed from the Ecolodge into the park.  After spending several days in the mountains, the heat and humidity at Los Haitises was oppressive.  It had rained overnight, it was in the mid-to-upper 20's, and water was dripping off everything. Miguel told me it would be about an hour's hike to were the hawks were.  We'd start off level, have a hill to climb, a level stretch, then another climb before descending to where the hawks nested.

The hike started with about a fifteen minute walk through some very wet fields with essentially no shade.  We didn't take the straightest route because we were avoiding puddles.  After 5 minutes the jeans I was wearing were soaked all the way up to my knees.  We saw a couple anis but that was about it.  I could see some steep limestone hills in front of us, and noticed a gap between two of them.  I figured that's where we were heading.  Boy was I wrong!  We got to the base of one, went through a gate and there was a very well formed trail through the woods at the base of the hill.  The good news was that this portion of the trail was in the shade.  The bad news was the trail was ankle deep mud.

We slowly worked our way through the mud avoiding the abundant poisonwood.  I fell once and almost lost my shoe a couple times.  Miguel kept assuring me that the trail would get dry, though I think even he was surprised how badly beat up the trail was.  Finally we reached a point where the trail started switchbacking its way up the hillside.  Miguel asked whether I wanted to take the steep short trail, or the easier, longer trail.  I am not in good shape and was already exhausted from the heat and the mud, so I picked the easier way. 

Good choice.  These were very steep switchbacks and while the mud wasn't so deep, the trail was still very muddy and slippery.  It was also very rocky.  And did I mention the poisonwood?  For those of you who've been to Big Bend, imagine the steeper hike to Boot Springs in the middle of the day with high humidity on a muddy trail.  At one point I mentioned to Miguel that if I'd have known it would be so tough, I'd have picked Ebano Verde instead.  He laughed and said that would actually have been a harder trek. 

This was easily one of the most difficult hikes I'd ever attempted in my life.  For a while I was wondered whether I'd be able to make it.  We had to stop fairly frequently for me to catch my breath or to just cool down.  A campesino on a mule passed us and even offered me a ride.  However, I decided that I started this hike and I'd finish it. So I thanked him for the offer, but politely declined.

After a little over an hour from the lodge we made the top of the ridge.  We were looking into a giant limestone sink hole about 300-500 meters across and 100-200 meters deep.  The floor of the sink hole was a small farm.  Before heading down, I took an extended rest and let my body temperature get back to normal while Miguel took some pictures of perched turkey vultures.  But as soon as we started into the crater, we heard the hawk calling from the far side.  This got my energy up again. 

We carefully made our way down past the farm fields and were just barely staring to head up the other side when we heard the hawk call again.  It was a juvenile perched high on a lone bare horizontal branch out in the open.  I was surprised at how much it looked and sounded like a red-shouldered hawk.  It was very slim, with a small head, although it had a streaky breast, but of course, no red-shoulders.  I was content to look at it from a distance, but Miguel went in closer to get some pictures.  After a while another bird called from the hillside, and our bird flew off to join it.

Then came the hike back to the Ecolodge.  I rested again once I got back up to the rim of the crater but I was in bad condition.  I must have brushed up against some poisonwood, because my left arm was burning.  Between that, and my general discomfort, I was just intent on getting back.  I think Miguel wanted to take some more pictures as we went, but I just single-mindedly did the rest of the hike back in essentially a single push.  I didn't even try to avoid the mud or the puddles.  I just slogged my way back.

We got back to the Ecolodge and I proceeded to drink down two bottles of ice water followed by a soda.  I went back to my room, washed the worst of the mud out of my shoes, socks, and pants, then washed the rest of the mud off of me.  I went back to the bar, drank another bottle of water and another soda and settled our bill.  When Miguel came down from his room, he said that it looked like I hadn't even showered, because I still looked so sweaty!  It would be another hour or so before I cooled back down to normal.

The drive back to Santo Domingo proved uneventful although we did have two ruddy quail-doves shoot across the road at one point.  We got to the airport and went to the Avis office to turn in the car.  We returned the car with a half tank, since that is what they gave us.  They had no problem with us showing up with a different car, since we had all the paperwork.  But then they pointed out that the form for the gas tank level said it was full when we took the car and therefore we needed to pay for half a tank of gas.  After a "discussion" they gave in and dropped the fuel charge.  I later found out, they played with their computer program to change the "Airport Fee" from 7% to 10% to get the money they felt I owed them.

Miguel and I got a ride over to the terminal, grabbed some lunch, then shared a taxi into the capital.  On the way I thanked Miguel, and of course paid him, then dropped him off at the bus stop.  I then continued to my hotel in the Zona Colonial.  I checked in, took all the soggy clothes from the morning out to dry, and asked to hotel to call me a taxi to go to the zoo for an hour.

Just as we arrived at the zoo it started to rain. And I had left my umbrella at the hotel!  I rushed over to the entrance booth where everyone else had gathered and waited.  After twenty minutes I started to get impatient, especially since I still had a taxi sitting there waiting for me.  I could see where I needed to get to, and there were a bunch of picnic tables with thatched umbrellas over them between me and the pool.  So, I made a dash for a shelter.  My feet got a little wet, but I stayed reasonably dry.  So I headed for the next shelter.  It's umbrella was full of holes!  By now I was soaked, so I simply walked across the plaza to the pool where the ducks can be found in the rain.

I didn  even have to get to the pool.  Since there were no people out, three West Indian Whistling Ducks were wandering around the path.  I watched them through the bins a bit and didn't see any bands on them.  Then I walked closer and they walked away.  I walked a little  closer and they flew off.  They definitely behaved like wild birds.  So, confident in the sighting, I happily strolled back through the rain to the waiting taxi.  He was nice enough not to laugh at my condition.  We left the zoo, and immediately after getting a block away, the rain stopped.  Basically, it was only raining at the zoo!

After another change of clothes, the rest of the afternoon was spent sightseeing in the Zona Colonial.  The only birds I saw were the pigeons at Parque Colon and a woodpecker that flew into a nest hole in the wall of the Cathedral.

Day 7  June 30  A Day Off

This day was originally intended to be the day I flew to Puerto Rico.  However, because Pan Am changed my flight, I had an extra day for sightseeing in Santo Domingo.  I pretty much restricted myself to the Zona Colonial.  I did see a couple brown pelicans offshore along the Malecon and a few palm swifts in the trees, but otherwise, the only birds seen were city birds:  pigeons, house sparrows, and bananaquits.

Day 8  July 1  Back in the USA (Sort Of)

I slept in and caught a taxi at 8AM for the airport.  On the way I saw a green heron near the floating bridge in Santo Domingo and a few cave swallows along the coastal road.  After a brief delay by the airport staff in processing the flight's paperwork (no reason given), we made the quick flight to San Juan. 

There were cave swallows flying around the San Juan airport as we walked into the terminal.  After quickly being processed by US immigration and customs, I walked out into a crush of bodies in the terminal.  I made my way outside (where there were quite a few greater antillean grackles), found the rental car shuttle queue and after a brief wait, and a little paperwork, was on may way to La Parguera. 

As other reports have described, the road to the southwest (Rte. 52) is a tollway for about 100 kilometers as it winds its way up and over the central mountains to the south coast.  It becomes a four lane road with traffic lights for about 10 km near Ponce, and then starts up again as a freeway which continues up the west coast of the island.  All distances and exit numbers are posted in kilometers, but all speed limits are in miles per hour.  I suspect this is because the cars are all from the mainland USA, where the speedometers are all in m.p.h.  There was plenty of traffic the entire way.  Essentially the only birds I saw along the route were grackles, which were common.  Once I got to the southwest, I also started seeing kettles of turkey vultures.

My original plan was to spend my first night in Puerto Rico in La Parguera.  With the flight change I lost that night, and couldn't re-book a single night on the Sunday of 4th of July weekend, so the revised plan was to stop at the Parador Villa Parguera for the yellow-shouldered blackbird and then head up into the mountains to Hacienda Juanita for the night hopefully arriving before dark.  I got off the freeway at Guanica (exit 194).  This gave me a chance to locate the turn-offs to the two entrances to Guanica State Forest for later.  Since it was only 3 PM there was no rush to get to La Pargurera, so I drove Rte. 314 to La Parguera rather than the main road, Rte. 116,  There were some mudflats along the way where I saw plenty of black-necked stilts and a few least terns.  I also saw a mockingbird chasing a kestrel, but not much else.

I easily found the Parador Villa Parguera  it's hard to miss.  There was a ringed turtle dove on the wires across from the hotel parking lot.  I strolled through the lobby to the pool and lounge area.  There were plenty of grackles in the palm trees.  Some were feeding nestlings.  Offshore were a magnificent frigatebird or two, and there was a steady stream of cattle egrets flying from the mangroves.  Unfortunately, the blackbirds hadn't shown up yet.  I wandered along the back of the hotel a bit checking out the mangroves and turned up a yellow-crowned night heron, a female yellow warbler, and a couple bananaquits, but not the star of the show.  So I settled in a the pool and did a little people watching.

At about 5:00 I noticed a bird perched on the roof of the hotel.  It was all dark, but short-tailed.  Just another grackle?  No, this bird had dark-eyes.  Then the wind blew exposing the yellow shoulders.  Beautiful!  It flew to a bush at the far side of the hotel and posed with its yellow epaulets gleaming.  I got within ten feet of it and it didn't budge.  After a while it flew off.  So at about 5:15 I headed off.  I got lost trying to find the freeway in San German. There's construction and a couple of detours, plus the roads aren't well marked in the towns, but I eventually found Rte. 119 and made my way up to Hacienda Juanita.

I checked in, getting the latest info on the resident screech-owls, dumped my bags and tried to get in some last birding before dark.  I heard one squeaky, scratchy sounding bird that reminded me of a thrush.  But when I got on it, it turned out to be a pearly-eyed thrasher, a bird I'd missed on my trip to the Lesser Antilles. It wasn't the best look, since the light was gone, but I was pretty sure I'd see another the next day.  I rushed through an uninspiring dinner at the hotel restaurant and grabbed the bins and my tape player to do some owling.

According to the woman at the desk when I checked in the owls were usually found at the far end of the parking lot near the garbage shed.  When I got there I could hear the soft trilling of a screech owl.  I tried to play the tape I had and the batteries were dead!  I tried scanning the trees for eye-shine but got nothing.  The rap music coming from the pool and game room wasn't helping me find it either.  After about a half hour of this I wandered to the office to see if they had any batteries, but they didn't.  So I went back to give it another try.  I finally got the tape to play and the bird shut up. 

He then started up again further away  up on the highway (Rte. 105).  So I wandered out there and gave it another try.  The neighbors were none too pleased (nor was their dog), but when I explained I was looking for an owl, they laughed and wished me a sarcastic "good luck."  Eventually I walked back down to the hotel, and spoke with the woman who was there when I checked in.  She was able to come up with some batteries for me from an old TV remote they don't use anymore.  Back I went to the area near the garbage shed.

When I got there, I heard him so I tried the tape.  And he promptly stopped calling.  After a few minutes he started up again back near where I came from.  So I strolled over there and discovered he was somewhere on the hillside just above the parking area.  In fact, he was right in front of MY car.  He kept calling, and I tried every single angle to find him.  I know he couldn't have been more than 2 meters from me, but he was in the thick brush and nothing I could do would bring him out.  So one last time, I tried the tape.  You guessed it.  That was the last I heard him that night.

Frustrated, I called it a night.

Day 9  July 2  From The Mountains to the Ocean and Back Up Again

Today's plan was to bird at Maricao National Forest in the morning, try to find a few things at Laguna Cartagena in the afternoon, and finish up at Guanica State Forest at dark for the nightjar, and possibly another shot at the owl.  I got up at sunrise to an avian alarm clock  gray kingbirds flycatching in the streetlights outside my window.  I didn't have far to drive as it's only a few km from Hacienda Juanita to the National Forest.  I drove with the windows open and heard bird sound at km 17.5, so I pulled over and started to looks for the birds.

First thing I heard was a quick little buzz just down the road  It wasn't exactly the same as in the DR, but I recognized it as a Puerto Rican Tody.  He was easy enough to pick out as he hopped around at eye-level.  Next on the menu was a Puerto Rican Vireo.  He was in the thick upper branches of a short tree, but a try of the tape brought him into view.  Some high, buzzy calls nearby turned out to be a couple of Puerto Rican Tanagers.  Such a drab looking bird, compared to other tanagers.

Not hearing anything else, I went back to my car to find a Key West Quail Dove calling over my head.  I moved to find him, and just like the birds in the DR, he stopped calling.  Oh no, I wasn't playing that game!  I had bigger fish to fry.  So I headed off to the picnic area at km 16.2.

The gate to the park office was still closed, so I parked at the picnic pavilion.  I could hear a few things calling across the road that sounded high and squeaky like bullfinches, so I wandered over there.  The hillside was covered with this brush just like at the Hacienda.  I did hear a bulfinch sing once, but from deep in the cover and I couldn't coax him out.  Then a lizard cuckoo sang.  I moved a bit to try to find him and heard a screech owl silently calling.  This surprised me, because it was pretty light out (It was about 7:15).  I spent a while trying to see him, and occasionally trying for the lizard cuckoo when he called, but was totally unable to see either.  So far I had three "heard-only" birds and had no sign of the days main target, the elfin-woods warbler.  I headed up the road at the picnic area until the locked gate at the substation.  I wandered around there a bit but came up empty except for another tody. 

After more time in a fruitless search for anything at the picnic pavilion, I headed back onto Rte. 120.  Just as I got on the road, I heard birds buzzing, and pulled over.  The buzzing took me a while to locate  it was another tanager, but while I was looking for him, a lizard cuckoo  probably the one I heard from the picnic area  called then hopped onto a bare branch right in the open.  Finally, I had a lifer for the day.  Happier, I continued up Rte. 120 stopping at various transmitter roads and pull-outs and eventually had good looks at Puerto Rican Bullfinch and Puerto Rican Spindalis, and the expected better look at several pearly-eyed thrashers and one red-legged thrush (I thought they'd be more common).

When I got to about km 14, I turned around and went back to the now-open Park Office (it opens at about 8 AM).  I heard greater antillean orioles in the tall palm there, and saw a loggerhead kingbird flycatching.  I also heard a pair of shiny cowbirds calling to each other, but the noisy dogs at the house made birding rather difficult.  I spoke to the man at the office (in Spanish only), but the ranger who knew about birds was off that day.  I walked down the hill beyond the office for a bit, and did turn up a Puerto Rican Emerald and plenty of calling zenaida doves, but I also found a young sharp-shinned hawk, which I suspect was keeping most of the birds quiet.

So I went back out to the picnic pavilion for another walk along the road back toward Rte. 120.  I heard a bullfinch singing and went to look at it for a while, and searched some of the brushy edges next to the picnic area.  As I was walking back to my car to give up for the morning, I found a feeding flock in a fruiting tree.  Of course, the first bird I put the bins on was an Elfin-Woods Warbler (the best birds are always back at the car).  I watched him hop around overhead, and noticed there was a second warbler with him.  I'm guessing they were a pair.  Satisfied with that sighting, I watched a family of tanagers for a while and headed back to the Hacienda.

I sat in the garden for a while tallying up the morning's sightings while looking for a hummingbird.  After a while I wandered toward the area behind the kitchen and just as I did, in flies a Green Mango that perched in an avocado tree.  I watched him a while and even got to hear him sing once or twice.  Then it was time to head on down the mountain.  I got lost in San German again, but eventually made my way to the Laguna Cartagena area. 

The map I had showed Rte. 305 heading west from Rte 303 along the south shore of Laguna Cartagena.  There is a paved road at that point, though it's not marked as Rte. 305.  I took that to the town of Maguayo where the road turned to a dirt track.  Having experienced the roads of the DR a few days earlier, I figured this wouldn't be so bad.  I'd forgotten I was driving a sedan!  There were a couple places where the road narrowed to the width of my car and not much more, and there were a few muddy pools and bad ruts in the dirt, but for the most part the car took it like a champ.  I wound up denting the frame in one spot, but I haven't seen any extra charges from the rental car company, so I guess they didn't find it.

Unfortunately, the laguna was nowhere near that road.  I could see a depression a half a kilometer away in the distance, that must have been the lake, but no sign of anything but field birds, black-faced grassquits and smooth billed anis.  I also spooked a lot of common ground doves from the road.  Finally I came to a gate on the right with some signs for the National Wildlife Refuge.  I got out to take a look, but couldn't find an opening in the fence and I didn't see a trail to the lake shore.  But I did hear a woodpecker behind me.  I found an opening in that fence, walked a few meters and found a Puerto Rican Woodpecker working on a big tree.

After another km or so, I came to a right turn.  I took that road a short distance and could see a bit of the lake just beyond the trees.  I carefully worked my way down the bank and scanned the small inlet: lots of ruddy ducks, cattle egrets, and black necked stilts.  I saw a couple of common moorhens and heard even more calling, and eventually one of the black birds turned out to be the bird I'd come for, Caribbean Coot.  Once I found the first, a few more appeared.  I drove a little further and found an outlet weir for the lake and was able to see more of the same birds.  I also had a very brief look at the tail end of a brown rail-like bird, but I couldn't find it once it ducked into the grass.

At this point, I was totally disoriented as to exactly where I was, but since I knew at this point I needed to head away from the lake to get back to a main road, I went back to the road I came in on and continued in the direction I was heading when I found the turn.  Eventually the road quality started getting better, and it even showed some patches of asphalt.  After about 2 km, the road came to a T, I turned right onto the better quality road, and eventually this road came out in the town of Betances, near the intersection of Routes 101 and 103.  Back in civilization!

My plan for the evening was to head to one of the entrances to Guanica Forest and try for the nightjar.  I had plenty of time so I worked my way along the coastal entrance (Rte. 333) and was surprised at the traffic along this road.  Along the way, I stopped to tape in an Adelaide's warbler in the thorn scrub.  When I got to the gate at the end of the road, I was lucky to find a parking space.  I hadn't realized that this was a major swimming beach, and given that it was a holiday weekend, everybody and their brother was at the beach.

There were some mudflats just beyond the gate, where I found two semipalmated plovers, a ruddy turnstone and a few killdeer.  I walked a bit along the shore into the thorn scrub, but really didn't turn up much except a few more warblers, so I came back to the gate area where I  found a small pool with a common moorhen, a little blue heron and a couple stilts.  There were also cave swallows flying around picking up the mud.  At this point, I decided there was still time to get to the other entrance.

I worked my way back out of the park. I could hear the Antillean nighthawks staring to call, and stopped to watch one for a bit.  At another stop I saw a little flycatcher that I tried to turn into a pewee, but it turned out to be a Caribbean elaenia (I heard a few more as I left).  I also saw a brown pelican flying offshore.

I got to the gate at the end of Rte 334 which by this time was closed for the night. Unfortunately, there was a major party going on at the house beside the end of the road.  Despite that, I tried to walk the road beyond the gate a bit.  I was able to pick up one new bird for the trip, a Puerto Rican Flycatcher, and there were plenty of todies and Adelaide's warblers.  I also had a mangrove cuckoo give me a good look.  Unfortunately, I wasn't able to hear any nightjars, nor coax one in with the tape, though I heard several Antillean nighthawks.  So I decided I'd give it one more try the next morning.

I tried to find my way back up to Maricao by way of Rte 120 in Sabana Grande, but got completely lost again (some of the arrows are missing on the road signs), so I headed back out to the freeway to San German, bought some Chinese take-out at a strip mall, and headed up to the Hacienda via Rte. 119.  After dinner, I tried once again for the screech owl, but as was the case the night before, he didn't want to be seen.

Day 10  July 3  Pewee's Big Adventure (Sorry!)

I got another early start and headed back to Guanica Forest at the Rte. 334 end.  I hoped that by getting there early, I'd have another chance at the nightjar and the owl.  Also, still hadn't seen a Puerto Rican Pewee.  This was the last endemic I had a chance of seeing, so I decided to head down to Guanica by way of Rte. 120 instead of Rte. 119.  That way, I'd learn where it came out in Sabana Grande, in case I needed to head back up to Maricao.  Unfortunately, there was no sign of either night bird at the end of 334. 

As it got lighter, most of the same birds as the day before were there.  Once it started getting light, I decided that the nightjar wasn't going to call, so I quickly made a run to the end of Rte 333 hoping to beat the beach traffic and keeping my fingers crossed that I'd find a nightjar still calling.  This time, instead of hiking along the beach I hiked inland.  As on the day before, Adelaide's warblers were common as were todies.  I also was able to find two mangrove cuckoos, which is interesting since I was nowhere near the mangroves.  Antillean nighthawks flying overhead were common.  But be warned: wear plenty of mosquito repellent if you attempt this hike!

New birds on the hike were a likely pair of troupials shooting across the path, though I didn't see them well enough to count.  Fortunately, I saw two more of them flying across the road as I drove back out.  I also had a small flycatcher along the road that I was hoping was a Puerto Rican pewee, but after tracking it through the scrub for a half-hour I eventually realized it was a Caribbean elaenia, not a pewee. 

So back up the mountain I went to the Maricao National Forest picnic area and headquarters (good thing I figured out how to get up Rte. 120).  I wandered around there for a while hoping for the pewee, but only turning up the more common species (kingbird, tanager, bullfinch, tody, etc.) and the sharpie from the day before.  I also had a couple of Puerto Rican woodpeckers and what I'm pretty sure was a plain pigeon on the wing.  But no pewee.

So even though I'd already checked out, I went back to Hacienda Juanita to hike their forest trail. I had some great looks at a singing male spindalis, and after all the work in the DR, I got some great close-up looks at a few Antillean euphonias.  Tanagers were numerous and I turned up a few yellow-faced grassquits in the brushy areas.  Towards the end of the loop, I got to do a size comparison of loggerhead and gray kingbirds on the wires below the hotel.  I also went back near the kitchen and found the green mango in the same tree as the day before.  Needless to say, no sign of a pewee.

At this point, I re-read the field guide and saw that the pewee was likely to be seen in the low branches in wooded areas. So I tried one more idea: Sosua State Forest.  I headed to the end of the entrance road only to find it was a picnic area, which was fully occupied with holidaymakers.  I could barely find a place to park!  But I walked back out to the wooded area just before turning into the picnic area, and headed down the closed road to the cabin area.  As I did, I heard a Key West quail-dove calling.

Just when I got beyond the gate I saw two distant small flycatchers sallying off some low branches over the trail.  Praying they'd let me approach, I slowly crept up to them and confirmed that I finally had found my Puerto Rican Pewees!  I continued down the trail to an area with some cabins and heard both a ruddy quail-dove and another Key West quail-dove calling.  Figuring I had time, I decided to try to see the Key West. 

As I approached the hillside where it was calling, the ruddy spooked out and flew across the path.  But as I got close to the Key West, it stopped calling.  I waited a while but it didn't start singing again, so I walked back to the road.  Of course, it started singing again.  Being a glutton for punishment, I went back to try to find it.  This time it kept singing until I got much closer.  But as soon as I started bushwhacking my way up the hillside, it stopped again.  That was enough for me.  I walked back to the road and the nasty little bugger started singing again.  He could sing all he wanted.  I wasn't going back again.

I walked back to my car birding along the way.  I turned up a Puerto Rican flycatcher and woodpecker on the way back.

With a bit of a drive ahead of me, I hopped in the car, and headed up to San Juan.  I got there at about 4 PM, and decided I was done birding for the day.  I did see a few Caribbean martins over the hotels in Condado as I walked to dinner.

Day 11  July 4  Happy Independence Day

This was a day reserved for sightseeing in old San Juan.  I started at El Morro Fort, where I found a couple of Java sparrows near the parking area.  There were plenty of zenaida doves on the lawn in front of the fort and a colony of Caribbean martins nesting in the walls (over the water).  After my tour of the fort, I wandered down to La Princesa, where I found a monk parakeet in one of the trees.  A quick wander around the old town, where I found a few more Java sparrows, and I headed to the airport for the uneventful flight home.

<>Species Accounts

Brown Pelican (pelicanus occidentalus) – Two separate birds fling along the Malecon in Santo Domingo (DR).  One bird flying along the beach at the end of Rte. 333 at Guanica (PR)

Magnificent Frigatebird (fregata magnificens) – A few birds flying above the Parador Villa Parguera.  One along the coast near Rte 333 at Guanica (PR).  <>

Great Egret (ardea alba) – One or two birds seen anywhere there was fresh water (DR / PR). 

Snowy Egret (egretta thula) – A few scattered birds in the southwest.  The least common white egret.  (DR). 

<>Little Blue Heron (egretta caerulea) – One bird in a lagoon along the coast road near Enriquillo (DR) and one at the pond at the end of Rte. 333 at Guanica (PR).    <>

Tricolored Heron (egretta tricolor) – Two birds at Laguna Cabral (DR).    <>

Cattle Egret (bubulcus ibis) – Common in any field or pasture.  Seen frequently on both islands, often in large flocks.    <>

Green Heron (butorides virescens) – Scattered birds in the southwest.  Also one seen on the wires near the floating bridge in Santo Domingo (DR).  <>

Yellow-Crowned Night Heron (nictanassa violacea) – One bird in the mangroves behind Parador Villa Parguera and another flying by the hotel dock (PR).  <>

West Indian Whistling-duck (dendrocygna arborea) – Three unbanded birds outside the flamingo enclosure at the Santo Domingo Zoo.  They acted wary enough that I agree with Miguel they were probably wild birds. (DR).  <>

Ruddy Duck (oxyura jamaicensis) – Twenty or more birds on Laguna Cartagena (PR).  <>

Turkey Vulture (cathartes aura) – A few birds in Los Haitises (DR).  Numerous kettles over the lowlands in southwest Puerto Rico (PR).  <>

Sharp-shinned Hawk (accipiter striatus) – One bird seen both days at the headquarters area of Maricao State Forest (PR).  <>

Ridgway's Hawk (buteo ridgwayi) – A juvenile bird seen and another heard nearby at Los Haitises NP (DR).  <>

Red-tailed Hawk (buteo jamaicensis) – At least two birds soaring above the Alcoa Rd. on each day and another bird seen at Los Haitises (DR).  A few seen soaring in Puerto Rico.  <>

American Kestrel (falco sparverius) – Fairly common bird along roadsides in the southwest Dominican Republic but only a few seen in Puerto Rico. Hispaniolan subspecies is much paler than birds here in the eastern US.  <>

Helmeted Guineafowl (numida meleagris) – One bird crossing the road above La Placa (DR)  <>

Common Moorhen (gallinula chloropus) – Several at Laguna Cartagena.  One at the pool at the end of Rte. 333 at Guanica NF (PR).  <>

Caribbean Coot (fulica caribaea) – Several at Laguna Cartagena (PR).  <>

Limpkin (aramus guarauna) – A surprising bird to hear in the mountains.  One bird heard on the Rabo de Gato trail and another heard above La Placa in Baoruco NP (DR).  <>

Semipalmated Plover (charadrius semipalmatus) – Two birds seen on the mudflats at the end of Rte. 333 at Guanica NF (PR).  <>

Killdeer (charadrius semipalmatus) – A few birds spooked off the road above Puerto Escondido (DR)  A few birds seen on the mudflats at the end of Rte. 333 at Guanica NF (PR).  <>

Black-necked Stilt (himantopus himantopus) – A few birds seen on mudflats along the old Duverge-Jimani Road (DR). Common on mudflats and shallow water in the southwest (PR)   <>

Lesser Yellowlegs (tringa flavipes) – One on the mudflats at the end of Rte. 333 at Guanica NF (PR).  <>

Ruddy Turnstone (arenaria interpres) – One on the mudflats at the end of Rte. 333 at Guanica NF (PR).  <>

Laughing Gull (larus atricilla) – A few birds seen only by Miguel on the beach along the coast road south of Baharona (DR).  <>

Least Tern (sterna antillarum) – Several birds on the salt flats along route 304 between Guanica and La Parguera (PR)  <>

Rock Dove (columba livia) – Common urban bird on both islands.  <>

Scaly-Naped Pigeon (patagioenas squamosa) – A few birds seen in the pine forests above Los Arroyos in Baoruco NP (DR).  Possibly one seen at Marico NF headquarters (PR).  <>

White-crowned Pigeon (patagioenas leucocephala) – Several flying birds along the lower section of the Alcoa Rd. seen on both days (DR).  <>

Plain Pigeon (patagioenas inornata) – Best sighting was a perched bird in a pasture along the old Duverge-Jimani Rd.  Also seen flying above a pasture above Puerto Escondido and above the Alcoa Rd. (DR)  One bird flying near the Maricao NF headquarters was a surprise sighting (PR)  <>

White-winged Dove (zenaida asiatica) – A few scattered birds in the southwest (DR).  Fairly common at all elevations, but especially lower elevations in all habitats (PR).   <>

Zenaida Dove (zenaida aurita) – Heard more often that seen in the southwest but we didn't really look for them (DR).  Heard at Maricao Forest headquarters.  Numerous on the grassy approach to El Morro in San Juan (PR).  <>

Mourning Dove (zenaida macroura) – Fairly common in all habitats including urban (DR).  A few scattered birds on the wires in open habitats (PR).  <>

Common Ground Dove (columbina passerina) – Common in both countries.  Often seen flying ahead of the car as they spooked off the road.    <>

Key West Quail-dove (geotrygon chrysia) – One bird seen and others heard in the low scrub at La Placa (DR).  One bird heard at Km 17.5 of Rte 120 in Maricao NF.  Two birds heard at noon at Sosua SF (PR).  <>

Grey-fronted Quail-dove (geotrygon caniceps) – One bird heard only at a spot along the Alcoa Rd.  We did not attempt to bushwhack after this bird due to lack of time.  A probable future split as some already consider this the Hispaniolan quail-dove (DR).  <>

Ruddy Quail-dove (geotrygon montana) – Two birds chasing each other across the road between Sabana de la Mar and San Pedro de Macoris.  Other birds heard near La Placa (DR)  One bird flying across the trail at Sosua SF (PR).  <>

Monk Parakeet (myiopsitta monachus) – One bird in a tree near La Princesa in San Juan (PR)  <>

Hispaniolan Parakeet (aratinga chloroptera) – A large flock of 30 or so coming into roost above Los Arroyos in Baoruco NP.  A few distant birds at La Charca and scattered birds in Santo Domingo (DR)  <>

Olive-throated Parakeet (aratinga nana) – Several birds seen on both days on the lower parts of the Alcoa Rd. (DR)  <>

Hispaniolan Parrot (amazona ventralis) – Two birds seen well in the scrub above Puerto Escondido, a flock of 6 above Los Arroyos in Baoruco NP and a couple birds flying along the Alcoa Rd.  <>

Yellow-billed Cuckoo (coccyzus americanus) – One bird in the scrub above Puerto Escondido and another in Los Haitises (DR).  <>

Mangrove Cuckoo (coccyzus minor) – Several birds seen in the thorn scrub in Guanica (PR).    <>

Hispaniolan Lizard-cuckoo (saurothera longirostris) – One bird seen well at Las Naranjas in Baoruco NP.  Many others heard but not seen (DR).  <>

Puerto Rican Lizard-cuckoo (saurothera vieilloti) – One bird seen well at km 16.1 of Rte 120 in Maricao NF.  Several others heard in Maricao and Hacienda Juanita (PR).  <>

Bay-breasted Cuckoo (hyetornis rufigularisi) – Miguel heard this bird call as we were driving up the road from La Placa and got him into spectacular view with the mini-disc player (DR).  <>

Smooth-billed Ani (crotophaga ani) – Common in brushy areas throughout the country (DR).  A few birds seen in the scrub and pastures around Laguna Cartagena (PR)  <>

Ashy-faced Owl (tyto glaucops) – Sometimes you just get lucky.  One bird with prey spooked off the road between Duverge and Puerto Escondido and another three days later perched on a fence post beside the papaya fields above Puerto Escondido (DR).    <>

Puerto Rican Screech-owl (megascops nudipes) – Heard near the garbage dump on the grounds on Hacienda Juanita and at the picnic area in Maricao NF.  Playing tapes or imitating its call will cause this species to go silent (PR).  <>

Burrowing Owl (athene cunicularia) – Common bird on the road between Duverge and Puerto Escondido and between Pedernales and Los Arroyos at night.  An adult and immature seen during the day along the old Duverge-Jimani Rd. (DR)  <>

Antillean Nighthawk (chordeiles gundlachii) – A couple birds seen above the road between Azua and Barahona and above La Placa (DR).  Several birds seen at dawn and dusk above Guanica NF (PR)  <>

Least Poorwill (siphonorhis brewsteri) – Numerous birds heard along a dirt road heading inland a few km south of Barahona and at La Placa.  One bird we spotlighted near Barahona got aggressive vocally to my imitation of his call but wouldn't come in closer  Another bird at La Placa flew at us in response to the mini-disc (DR).  <>

Greater Antillean Nightjar (caprimulgus cubanensis) – A few birds heard at La Placa on both mornings that wouldn't come in to the mini-disc.  A probable future split as some already consider this the Hispaniolan nightjar (DR)   <>

Northern Potoo (nyctibius jamaicensis) – Three distant birds (OK, two pairs of red eyes and one bird) spotlighted in the morning in the woods beyond the papaya fields above Puerto Escondido (DR)  <>

Black Swift (cypseloides niger) – One bird above La Placa and another above the Alcoa Rd.  Surprisingly the first swift seen on the trip (DR)  <>

White-collared Swift (streptoprocne zonaris) – One bird seen above the Alcoa Rd. (DR).  <>

Antillean Palm-swift (tachornis phoenicobia) – Common in any open area with palm trees, including parks in Santo Domingo (DR).  <>

Antillean Mango (anthracothorax dominicus) – One bird seen at La Placa, another along the lower part of the Alcoa Rd. and a third at Los Haitises (DR).  <>

Green Mango (anthracothorax viridus) – One bird seen twice near the kitchen at Hacienda Juanita (PR).  <>

Hispaniolan Emerald (chlorostibon swainsonii) – A surprisingly difficult bird.  One bird seen in bad light in the pines behind La Charca.  Others heard as they flew by on the lower part of the Alcoa Rd. (DR).  <>

Puerto Rican Emerald (chlorostibon maugaeus) – Two birds seen in Maricao NF – both females.  One on the trail below the office and another at the large tower at km 14.5 (PR).  <>

Vervain Hummingbird (mellisuga minima) – Once we saw one, we saw a few more.  Seen at the lower area on the Alcoa Rd., at La Placa, and several at Los Haitises (DR).  <>

Hispaniolan Trogon (priotelus roseigaster) – One bird perched on a bare branch at Las Naranjas made us really work for a sighting.  Also heard at Rabo de Gato, above Los Arroyos, and near La Charca (DR).  <>

Broad-billed Tody (Todus subulatus) – My first tody!  Common in low elevation wooded areas. (DR)  <>

Narrow billed Tody (Todus angustirostrus) – The higher elevation tody.  A few seen above Los Arroyos.  Very different looking from the broad-billed.  Much more pink on the flanks than shown in Raffaele (DR)   <>

Puerto Rican Tody (Todus mexicanus) – Common in wooded areas including the dry woods near Guanica (PR).  <>

Belted Kingfisher (ceryle alcyon) – One bird seen by Miguel only along the coast road near Oviedo (DR).  <>

Antillean Piculet (nesoctites mecromegas) – Several birds seen well.  One above La Placa, a pair at the lower stop on the Alcoa Rd., another at La Charca, and also at the Rabo de Gato trailhead.  Also heard many more times (DR).  <>

Puerto Rican Woodpecker (melanerpes portoricensis) – Not as common as I was led to believe.  Two birds seen around Laguna Cartagena, another two the second morning at Maricao NF headquarters, a third along Rte. 120 north of the Maricao Forest office, and another at Sosua State Forest (PR).  <>

Hispaniolan Woodpecker (melanerpes portoricensis) – Common, especially around coconut palms (DR).  <>

Caribbean Elaenia (elaenia martinica) – One seen and many heard in Guanica forest (PR)  <>

Greater Antillean Elaenia (elaenia fallax) – A bird in a fragment of wooded habitat above Los Arroyos in Baoruco NP was the only one of this species seen (DR).  <>

Hispaniolan Pewee (contopus hispaniolensis) – Common in Baoruco NP at and above La Placa. A couple seen along the Alcoa Rd. (DR).  <>

Puerto Rican Pewee (contopus puertoricensis) – Two birds at Sosua SF were the only ones heard or seen (PR).  <>

Stolid Flycatcher (myiarchus stolidus) – Common in all wooded habitats.  One of the more vocal members of the dawn chorus (DR)  <>

Puerto Rican Flycatcher (myiarchus antillarum) – One seen and a few others heard at Guanica SF and one other seen at Sosua SF.  Much less common than its Dominican cousin (PR).  <>

Gray Kingbird (tyrannus dominicensis) – Common in open areas on both islands.  My pre-dawn alarm clock at Hacienda Juanita.  <>

Loggerhead Kingbird (tyrannus caudifasciatus) – One bird seen at La Placa responded to the mini-disc (DR)  One bird at Maricao NF headquarters and another at Hacienda Juanita (PR).   <>

Caribbean Martin (progne dominicensis) – A few at La Zurza near Duverge and many at La Charca (DR)  Common in San Juan except at the airport.  Nests at El Morro fort (PR).  <>

Golden Swallow (tachycineta euchrysea) – One or two over the lower part of the Alcoa Rd. but several seen well at La Charca (DR).  <>

Cave Swallow (pterochelidon fulva) – A few birds seen along the cost road between Santo Domingo and Boca Chica (DR)  Numerous at the San Juan airport and along the coast at Guanica (PR).  <>

Hispaniolan Palm Crow (corvus palmarum) – A flock of six birds flying around the thorn scrub on the old Duverge-Jimani road.  According to Miguel, you won't find this bird in the scrub unless there's cactus (DR).  <>

White-necked Crow (Corvus leucognaphalus) - Several birds seen in the pasture behind La Zurza disco.  A few seen at Los Haitises (DR)  <>

Rufous-throated Solitaire (myadestes genibarbis) - Several birds heard and a couple seen in the forest above Los Arroyos in Baoruco NP (DR).   <>

LaSelle Thrush (turdus swalesi) – A pair seen in the forest above Los Arroyos in Baoruco NP.  Very responsive to the mini-disc (DR).  <>

Red-legged Thrush (turdus plumbeus) – Fairly common above La Placa.  Also seen in other wooded habitat in the southwest (DR).  A few singles seen along the road in Maricao NF (PR).  <>

Northern Mockingbird (mimus polyglottus) – Common bird in both countries in the more open areas and cities.  Caribbean subspecies appear much darker than eastern USA birds.  <>

Pearly-eyed Thrasher (margarops fuscatus)
– Common in all wooded areas (PR).  <>

Palmchat (dulus dominicus) – Common bird at lower elevations (DR).  <>

Puerto Rican Vireo (Vireo latimeri)
– A few birds at Maricao NF. Several birds at Guanica SF.  Much easier to see than the Hispaniolan vireo (PR).  <>

Flat-billed (Vireo nanus)
– Not at all common.  One bird seen above La Placa responded well to the mini-disc.  Another bird heard along the Alcoa road, but very uncommon (DR).    <>

Black-Whiskered Vireo (vireo altiloquus)
– Sings well into the afternoon. Very common in all habitats but urban (DR).  Less common but still present in all habitats but urban (PR).  <>

Yellow Warbler (dendroica petechia) – One female in the mangroves behind Parador Villa Parguera (PR).  <>

Adelaide's Warbler (dendroica adelaidae) – Common in Guanica SF but not seen in the mountains (PR).  <>

Pine Warbler (dendroica pinus) – A few birds heard around La Charca (DR).

Elfin Woods Warbler (dendroica angelae) – Two birds seen near the picnic area at Maricao NF (PR). 

<>Green-tailed Ground-warbler (microligea palustris) – Common at La Placa and the shorter forest above it.  Also seen in similar habitat above Los Arroyos (DR).  <>

White-winged Warbler (xenoligea montana) – One bird seen in the contiguous forest above Los Arroyos.  A couple of other birds replied to pishing but wouldn't come out to be seen (DR).  <>

Bananaquit (coereba flaveola) – Seen mostly in ornamental bushes in the cities (DR) Very common everywhere (PR)   <>

Antillean Euphonia (euphonia musica) – Heard often but only seen at a lower stop on the Alcoa Rd. (a male) and a few immature birds at the head of the Rabo de Gato trail (DR).  A couple birds on the trail at Hacienda Juanita (PR).  <>

Hispaniolan Spindalis (spindalis dominicensis) – A few birds seen at Las Naranjas and above Los Arroyos (DR).  <>

Puerto Rican Spindalis (spindalis portoricensis) – One bird at one of the radio towers along Rte. 120 in Maricao NF and another singing male on the trail at Hacienda Juanita (PR).  <>

Black-crowned Palm Tanager (phaenicphilus palmarum) – Relatively common in the southwest.  A little less so at Los Haitises (DR).  <>

Western Chat-tanager (calyptophilus frugivorus) – Very responsive vocally to the mini-disc but wouldn't come into the open.  We had to sit in the woods at the lower area on the Alcoa Rd. to get a pair to come close enough to see.  Also heard another pair above Los Arroyos (DR).  <>

Puerto Rican Tanager (nesospingus speculiferus) – Common in the mountains at Maricao and a few on the trail at Hacienda Juanita (PR).  <>

Yellow-faced Grassquit (tiaris olivacea) – The common grassquit in brushy areas (DR). A couple birds seen at Hacienda Juanita (PR).    <>

Black-faced Grassquit (tiaris bicolor) – Only seen in the pastures above Puerto Escondido (DR) The common grassquit in brushy areas and also seen in open areas at elevation (PR).  <>

Puerto Rican Bullfinch (loxigilla portoricensis) – Fairly common in most wooded areas (PR).   <>

Greater Antillean Bullfinch (loxigilla violacea) – Seen in the thorn woods above Puerto Escondido and on the lower section of the Alcoa Rd. (DR).   <>

Yellow-shouldered Blackbird (aegelaius xanthomus) – One bird at Parador Villa Parguera (PR).  <>

Greater Antillean Grackle (quiscalus niger) – A few birds at the beginning of the Rabo de Gato Trail (DR) Extremely common including at San Juan Airport (PR).  <>

Shiny Cowbird (molothrus bonariensis) – One bird seen opposite the pastures above Puerto Escondido (DR).  A pair seen at the headquarters of Maricao NF (PR).  <>

Greater Antillean Oriole (icterus dominicensis) – One bird seen opposite the pastures above Puerto Escondido.  Also seen along the Alcoa Rd. (DR). One seen at the headquarters of Maricao NF (PR).  <>

Venezuelan Troupial (icterus icterus) – Four birds seen at Guanica SF – two on the trail inland from the end of Rte 333 and two flying across Rte. 333 (PR)  <>

Hispaniolan Crossbill (loxia megaplaga) – Several birds – mostly males - around La Charca (DR).  <>

Antillean Siskin (carduelis dominicensis) – A flock of 10 or so birds at the pasture above Puerto Escondido.  Also common on the Alcoa Rd. especially at La Charca (DR).<>

House Sparrow (passer domesticus)
– Common urban bird in both countries.  <>

Village Weaver (ploceus cucullatus) – Colonies were common along roadsides in the DR.  <>

Nutmeg Manakin (lonchura punctulata) – A couple birds along the pastures above Puerto Escondido (DR).  <>

Java Sparrow (padda oryzivora) – A couple birds near El Morro Fort in San Juan (PR).

Jeff Hopkins
Whitehall, PA USA
hopkinja AT

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