Seacoast & Alcoa Road
Tuesday, March 12th: Today we started around 6am, heading west along the seashore, then up into the south side of Sierra de Barahuco. We made a sudden stop for a centipede along the road. It was probably a Caribbean Giant Centipede (Scolopendra alternans). Anyway, it was big and red. Miguel managed to get it onto a board that allowed a better look. Unlike the lizards, you don't want to catch this one in your bare hands. It's poisonous.
We made our first planned stop at Lago Ovieda in Jaragua National Park. This is a large saline lake near the seashore. In fact, it's the second largest lake in the DR, after Laguna Enriquillo. Yellow Warblers were singing when we arrived. The Yellow Warblers here are the Domincan race albicollis. Like those in the keys, it is part of the Golden Warbler group. A few White-crowned Pigeons flew by. A couple of Greater Yellowlegss were on the shore nearby. The American Flamingos couldn't be seen using binoculars, but a scope sufficed to reveal them. Finally, a couple of Semipalmated Plovers flew by.
We had breakfast by Lake Ovieda, then continued along Jaragua National Park toward Bahia de las Aguilas (Eagle Bay). Several stops at wet areas added Clapper Rail, Black-necked Stilt, Reddish Egret, Blue-winged Teal, Least Bittern, Ruddy Turnstone, Least Sandpiper, and Wilson's Plover. I noticed a Black-bellied Plover along the roadside as we approached Eagle Bay. We stopped by some cliffs that where White-tailed Tropicbird nests. It wasn't long before we had our first tropicbirds in sight. Several Caribbean Martins were also present, including one that flew directly overhead. A Brown Booby was also headed directly toward us, but sheared off before it rounded the cliff. While we were there, a Peregrine Falcon caused some brief excitement.
As we headed on to our next location, we found a Yellow-crowned Night-Heron.
We paid our entrance fee for the south side of Sierra de Barahuco. The road into to park is nicknamed Alcoa Road as it was built for bauxite mining. The mining operation has been abandoned, but the effects of it are still obvious. The lower part of the park is being cleared by Haitian immigrants. It is sad to see that this destruction of the park is tolerated.
Further up, in a former mining area, we found White-collared Swift and got great views of Golden Swallow. Still further up, where the entrance gate used to be, we stopped at a water feature in hopes of seeing more crossbills. No luck. However, on the way back down we heard a kingbird and immediately stopped. It was actually a pair of Hispaniolan (Loggerhead) Kingbirds. [I'm treating this as a separate species based on a 2009 paper by Garrido et al. that argues that the Loggerhead Kingbird consists of at least three species, Western Loggerhead Kingbird of Cuba, the Bahamas, and Jamaica; Hispaniolan Kingbird, and Puerto Rican Kingbird. Their calls are quite distinct.] The drive back to the lodge was otherwise uneventful.
After dinner we went in search of nightbirds. We heard a Wilson's Snipe snipe grunting, but were unable to bring in anything. A walk along along a trail yielded tarantulas (one a prisoner of a tarantula-wasp), fishing bats, other bats, and sleeping Stolid Flycatcher and Ovenbird. The sought-after nightbirds were not found.
I ended the day with 22 new trip birds (total 117) including 3 lifers (42 total)
Club Hotel el Quemaito, Barahona