Sunshine Coast Birds

Birding and other wildlife experiences from the Sunshine Coast and elsewhere in Australia - and from overseas - with scribblings about travel, environmental issues, kayaking, hiking and camping.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Birding Puerto Rico

Puerto Rican Tody
Following our 3-week tour of Panama, Bill and I were joined by Sandra and Glenn for a month-long Caribbean sojourn. We flew to San Juan via Bogota for a six-day stay on the Greater Antillean island of Puerto Rico, where we would see all 22 possible target species. For convenience due to late arrival, our first night was spent in the overpriced Airport Hotel. We drove for just over 2 hours on our first morning to our accommodation for the next 3 nights – the delightful Mary Lees by the Sea apartments near Guanica in the island’s south-west.

Black-faced Grassquit
In the afternoon we drove a short distance west to Parguera, where we tracked down without much difficulty the small store where the owner puts out bread for the endangered Yellow-shouldered Blackbird. Black-faced Grassquits were present in numbers and we soon located a flock of 8 Yellow-shouldered Blackbirds high in a tree in the adjacent vacant lot. The blackbirds did not come down to feed, however, and soon flew off over the mangroves.

Maricao State Forest
We left early the next morning for higher elevation forest in Maricao State Forest, where we would spend most of the day. A Puerto Rican Nightjar flew across the road at the 3.9km marker on Route 333 soon after we left the hotel. In Maricao, a feast of island endemics and specialties was in store. One of the first birds we saw was Elfin-Woods Warbler; we had a couple of pairs at the turnoff to the Forest Reserve headquarters (where we spent most of our time) and another pair 1km south of the turnoff on the main road.
Puerto Rican Tanager
We soon found a Puerto Rican Tody, seeing several that day. Puerto Rican Tanager proved to be common.

Puerto Rican Spindalis
We had good views of Puerto Rican Spindalis (8 in total), Puerto Rican Bullfinch (5), Puerto Rican Vireo (6) and Puerto Rican Woodpecker (4). Poorer views were had of Puerto Rican Emerald and Green Mango. A Key West Quail-Dove was an unexpected sighting on one of several tracks that we negotiated. Black-throated Blue Warbler was common.

Maricao State Forest
 Loggerhead Kingbird was on a roadside wire and back at Mary Lees, Pearly-eyed thrashers were all over the place.

Guanica State Forest
Our third morning saw us at the 3.5 marker on Route 333 where we called in a Puerto Rican Nightjar for better views.

Pearly-eyed Thrasher
We then hiked 3km north from the road along the Ballena trail in Guanica State Forest through the arid coastal thorn scrub that was in stark contrast to the lushly vegetated hill forests of  Maricao.

Caribbean Elaenia
We added Adelaide’s Warbler, Puerto Rican Flycatcher, Caribbean Elaenia and Puerto Rican Lizard-Cuckoo to our specialty list. Another Key West Quail-Dove was on the track.

Puerto Rican Tody
Puerto Rican Tody again showed well. We visited another trail very early on our third morning at Guanica to search unsuccessfully for Puerto Rican Screech-Owl. We saw a Puerto Rican Peewee at first light, a Mangrove Cuckoo then more of some species seen previously. The odd local race of American Kestrel was common.
American Kestrel
Several White-cheeked Pintails were on a pool as we returned to Mary Lees. We left our comfortable apartment and drove across the island to the eastern side, where we visited Humacao Reserve.  Here we saw Crested Antillean Hummingbird and Green-throated Carib feeding in the same trees along banks between the pools.

White-cheeked Pintails
There were plenty of very large iguanas about.

Iguana - Puerto Rico
We moved on to the Ceiba Country Inn for a one-night stay. That evening we had a brief flight view of Puerto Rican Screech-Owl but early the next morning we enjoyed excellent views of an owl after quite a bit of coaxing.
Mangrove Cuckoo
Other good birds about Ceiba included Red-legged Thrush, Scaly-naped Pigeon and Puerto Rican Oriole - the last of the possible specialties and endemics for the island that I needed (we did not try for the endemic parrot; we missed Antillean Euphonia but I had seen that in the Dominican Republic).
Red-legged Thrush

Our last night on the island was spent in San Juan at the Coral by the Sea Hotel.

1 comment:

  1. Have been following all your posts Greg .. an amazing holiday with even more amazing birds.