Wednesday, 13 January 2016

More Dominican Republic

So myself and Gina have now completed our recce of this wonderful Caribbean Island seeing just about everything possible including super rare and endangered species such as Bay-breasted Cuckoo, Ashy-faced Owl, Hispaniolan Palm Crow, Golden Swallow, 3 White-fronted Quail-Doves the list just goes on. We have discovered a brand new lodge in prime habitat for Bay-breasted Cuckoo and even saw one while watching from the balcony. A fantastic boat trip showed us plenty of waterbirds and the strange looking Rhinoceros Iguana, while another trip through the mangroves to some ancient caves with indigenous paintings was really interesting and also allowed fantastic close views of terns, herons, pelicans and frigatebirds.
Hispaniolan Lizard cuckoo sunning itself from the breakfast table at the fabulous Cano Hondo
This was another Ridgway's Hawk seen nearby the lodge at Cano Hondo, it's absolutely imperative that you use a local guide to see this species. By paying the local guides you are helping in the preservation of this critically endangered bird. Do not be a selfish birder, do the right thing and use the guide as this is vitally important for all. 
The strange and localised Rhinoceros Iguana - no-one else looks for these fabulous reptiles except us so check out our 2017 tour to the Dominican Republic
Hispaniolan Oriole around Kate's Camp
Flat-billed Vireo - excellent views of several birds
Greater Antillean Bullfinch in a fruiting tree
The hard to see endemic Ashy-faced Owl performed right on time at 7pm
We had fabulous looks at Flamingos from our boat trip, and we also saw White-crowned Pigeons, Peregrine and an assortment of shorebirds and herons
A group of Hispaniolan Palm Crows were found and showed well
We had super close views of several Green-tailed Warblers
Some nice looks at Antillean Piculet around our lodge
The local endemic race of Pine Warbler was easy to spot in the highlands
This Yellow Warbler was also of the resident endemic race
Stolid Flycatchers were easily detectable by their distinctive call
Possibly the second smallest bird in the world this Vervain Hummingbird came to feed on the flowers at Kate's Camp
So if your interested in an 8 day winter getaway to a Caribbean Island where around 30 endemic birds are possible as well as plenty of butterflies, and other forms of wildlife then we have developed what is without doubt the best available tour to this wonderful island.
check it out soon on

Friday, 8 January 2016

Dominican Republic 2

This morning we visited the Botanical Gardens in Santa Domingo. There were plenty of wintering North American warblers including a nice Yellow-throated, Cape May, Ovenbirds, Parula and Black-and-white. A walk along a stream found us several groups of West Indian Whistling-Ducks, Limpkin and Least Grebe, while Hispaniolan Woodpecker was common.
                                                             Yellow-throated Warbler
                                                              Hispaniolan Woodpecker
                                                         West Indian Whistling-Duck
Moving on from Santo Domingo we headed up into the mountains and Sierra de Bahoruco. We stayed at Kate Wallace's camp which allowed us close access to this superb area full of endemics. A quick walk on the trails near camp found us White-fronted Quail-Dove. But the main reason for staying here became evident when we left camp at 4.00am the next morning and drove 2hrs up a bumpy track until we reached the top of the forested mountain. Here we immediately found the rare La Selle's Thrush hoping along the track with a Bicknell's Thrush. Further along we enjoyed super views of Golden Swallows, Green-tailed Warblers and White-winged Warblers, both of the latter have changed their names? the rarer Narrow-billed Tody was easily seen up here and we soon found several Hispaniolan Trogons and a pair of Hispaniolan Amazons.
Narrow-billed Tody
Hispaniolan Trogon
Hispaniolan Amazon
We seemed to have skipped breakfast as there were too many good birds to see, A flock of 8 Hispaniolan Crossbills showed well as dids Antillean Siskin, Hispaniolan Pewee and Hispaniolan Spindalis. Hispaniolan Emeralds showed off right in front of us before we had to have a late picnic brunch and head back down the mountain to Kate's Camp.
Hispaniolan Emerald
More from the camp tomorrow!

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

New Year in the Dominican Republic

A nice way to start the new year is to fly to a Caribbean Island away from the rain and cold and be met by glorious sunshine!!
So me and Gina are here in the Dominican Republic where we took part in the Christmas bird count set in a wonderful area of montane forest where Bicknell's Thrushes spend the winter. The Zorzal Reserve is a wonderful place and our host Carlitos is in the process of building a lodge with cabins right in the heart of this beautiful area. This lodge is already a working cacao farm producing some of the best tasting chocolate in the world, and we can testify to this! it's delicious.
We did our bird count seeing several Bicknell's Thrushes in the forest by the lodge as well as other island endemics such as Broad-billed Tody, Hispaniolan Woodpeckers, Greater Antillean Bullfinch, the unique Palmchat which is the sole representative of its family, superb looking Hispaniolan Lizard Cuckoos, Antillean Palm Swifts, and several hummingbirds including Antillean Mango, Hispaniolan Emerald and Vervain Hummingbird. Black-whiskered Vireos were quite common and we saw a good selection North American warblers happily spending their winter in the sunshine.
The superb Broad-billed Tody
So after our bird count we set about visiting other areas of this island in order to see as many of the 30 or so endemic species in order to set up our tour which will run in early 2017. Today was a fantastic day as we went in search of one of the world's rarest raptors the Ridgeway's Hawk. This critically endangered bird has small and fragmented population only on the island of the Dominican Republic where its estimated that maybe only 250 individuals remain. Our day started well as within 10 minutes of searching an area for this species we were rewarded with fantastic views of a pair of these incredibly rare birds.
Male Ridgeway's Hawk
Another shot of the male
The female bird was sat nearby the male and both were close to a nest that they were building on top of an old Palmchats nest of sticks. What fabulous sightings we had.
Back in Santo Domingo we watched Hispaniolan Parakeets coming into roost in the town parks making a fitting end to the day.
One of 60 or more Hispaniolan Parakeets coming in to roost
And this is where the parakeets roost in holes in the old colonial buildings
Here's just a couple of other shots from today
Another Broad-billed Tody
Plenty of these Gray Kingbirds to see
And finally another Palmchat