Los Haitises National Park
Friday, March 15th: When I got out of the shower this morning, I could hear a Limpkin screaming. Apparently they were down in the rice fields (I saw them a bit later). We went to look for our first target bird before breakfast. This involved walking up beyond the overlook to the top of the ridge, and partway into the next valley. The Ridgway's Hawk was nesting in a palm tree. That was an easy lifer! The nest itself was built on top of some Palmchat apartments. We could only see the head at this time, but saw the entire bird on our way back.
We continued on into and across the valley in search of a heard Ruddy Quail-Dove. Although we saw a number of other species, we didn't find the dove. We then returned to the amazing lodge we are staying at to have breakfast. The lodge climbs up a hill, and has water running through it. One of the group said it reminded him of Fallingwater, which he had recently visited.
After breakfast, we drove a short distance to take a boat trip in the mangrove area. We saw a number of waders. A few Magnificent Frigatebird floated above. One youngster was perched on a karst islet. Another islet had nesting Great Egret and nesting Cave Swallow.
We stopped at another islet to walk some trails. Here we finally saw not one Ruddy Quail-Dove, but about a dozen (group total). On another islet, we visited one of the water-level caves. Two tour groups arrived on that islet while we were there. Finally, we returned to the lodge for lunch.
Farm Ponds & Marshes
After lunch, we headed on our way. Miguel planned for one last stop on our way to Santo Domingo, some farm ponds/marshy areas NW of Santo Domingo, just off the new road north to Samana. The ponds visible from the road had more Limpkin and added Purple Gallinule to our list.
Another nearby pond on private property had a young Northern Jacana as well as more of both gallinules. We stayed here for a while as Miguel had previously seen a very special bird here. We could only view the area from one side, and it took a while, but we eventually found the bird—Spotted Rail. As we were watching it, two Yellow-breasted Crakes got into a bit of a tiff and flew back into the reeds, a bonus! While all this was going on, our leader Gavin was being attacked by fire ants.
It was quite a finish to our trip. We then drove back to Santo Domingo for our farewell dinner at the hotel.
I added 8 trip birds today including 3 lifers. My final trip total of 133 species and 49 lifers compared well to the 110-115 species including 40-45 lifers that I had expected. Although I had augmented my possibility list with some species that had not been previously seen on this trip, we still managed to find two species that were not only not on my list. These were Cedar Waxwing (very rare in Hispaniola) and Spotted Rail. “Birds of the Dominican Republic and Haiti”, does not give a range map for the latter, and indicates there have only been about 5 prior sightings. Miguel told us that several birds had been present earlier at the current location.
Hotel Palacio, Santo Domingo