Query & Reply
My wife and I will be going to Puerto Rico and wondered about birding and accommodations in the northeastern corner of the island. I'm especially interested in the Carribean National Forest (El Yunque) and the area around Fajardo. We may also take the ferry to Culebra and Vieques.
Has anyone stayed at the Fajardo Inn? Or La Familia? Would you recommend either of them? We're not looking for anything fancy, just clean and safe.
Thought we might go diving or snorkling also. Anyone made the trip to Culebra or Vieques?
How about getting around and hiking trails at El Yunque? I'm interested in the plant communities as well as the birdlife. What trails would you recommend, and what birds can I expect to encounter?
On a final note, has anyone stayed at the Gallery Inn in old San Juan? Would you recommend it?
We stayed at Posada La Familia four years ago. It is okay, ask for a room not facing the street, we had to change as the street side was noisy (we were at sidewalk level). Not the best place we stayed but a place to crash, and close to food -- there is a Bonanza (!!) steakhouse, as well as several other USA restaurants, and a large supermarket nearby.
It sounds as if you are not going to the bosque seco in the SW -- this dry tropical forest is pretty interesting botanically. Also, the area of Maricao, which is a wet tropcal forest undamaged by Hurricane Hugo (which badly damaged El Yunque) is great. If you got there, stay at Hacienda Juanita. In La Paguera, stay at Posado La Paguera or Villa La Paguera.
Back to El Yunque -- walk the Mt. Britton Trail, the old road past the point where it is closed (you will see what I mean when you get there), and the Big Tree trail as well. Expect to see, lower down, Red-Legged Thrush, Pearly Eyed Thrasher, PR Vireo, Tody, Striped-Headed Tanager (all endemics), Thick- billed Vireo, PR Emerald and maybe Green Mango (also endemics). Further up the Mt. Britton Trail, look for Scaly-naped Pigeon and the secretive Elfin Wood Warbler (in the elfin forest, forages deep in bushes). *Maybe* you will be lucky and hear or see a Parrot, critically endangered. We saw one. Other birds which are more common in Guanica (dry) Forest are PR LIzard-Cuckoo and PR Bulfinch. I only saw the PR Woodpecker and Flycatcher in the SW, the Peewee in Maricao. The Yellow-shouldered Blackbird (another endangered endemic) is seen at La Paguera.
In Farjardo, look for flowering vines and shrubs which could host Antillean Crested Hummingbird and the Carib Hummingbird, perhaps Black-Cowled Oriole.
Have fun in Puerto Rico-- it is a great place to bird!
Silver Spring, MD