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
Palmchat
 
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
 
 
 

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