I just got done with a birding adventure that was so good, the group wrote a song about it, and not to the tune of "Despecito," we chose Ricky Martin, "La vida loca" I will get to this later in the blog....despacito, take it slowly, passionately.....
After a nearly two year hiatus from COVID, my island endemic project continued on what should be an American state...Puerto Rico, where 17 island endemics waited my viewing and an unknown total of butterflies including.....a really really rare one, so rare it makes my local Dakota skippers look common.
We teamed up with 5 other birders, really nice people, three from Michigan, one from Boulder, and another from Youngstown Ohio. This was a normal "Wildside Tour" with Gabriel Lugo as a guide. A man I once met in a parking lot at Estero in South Texas, in the small field of birding. I got his name from another birder I picked up from the side of the road near Nome on birding trips past. That birder from South Florida remains a Facebook friend.
The trip was a bit punishing for the non-driven birder (no beach, no pool, no nightclubs, the bed was one's guilty pleasure after night birding, but with good to great food, great sights, good lodging and a great group, heck, and being bored to death from COVID, and sitting in our RV after a second year of having a Bhutan trip postponed, it was a good time to go birding and a great time to get Puerto Rican birds. The trip had two spots left in November when I got the urge and Silja came too!
We had a safe trip. The mountains on the island are great. Things look back to normal post Irma, maybe more back to normal than we are from our lost house. The villages are more fun than San Juan.Puerto Rico seemed a friendly place, but one somewhere stuck between the US and whatever it is. They are metric, mile markers in Kilometers, gas in Liters, but drinks in ounces, and the speed limit signs are in MPH. They drive on the right, unlike St Thomas USVI drives on the left for some reason. They have the US Post office, US Dollar, and it all appears American and despite this being a long ways from Florida, oddly, Diesel is $0.75 a gallon (well it is $0.73 a liter) cheaper here than Florida, heck it is cheaper here than Oklahoma. It is the cheapest Diesel in America. Where do they get it? Gasoline is a little more than Florida prices and above diesel. I am still bewildered, with all the EPA mandates in America, it looks like they sell old fashioned high Sulphur diesel here, which is used to power mostly old trucks. There were a couple new Volvo trucks on the road.
|What kind of name for milk is "Tres Monjitas" three nuns.....think about that. Milk and nuns...??|
|Not a chain, just a local cafe we stopped by to eat a little lunch, what we ate I do not know. Some of it tasted like chicken, but iguana....also tastes like chicken...whatever it was or called, it tasted good.|
The place does not appear perfectly set to do it yourself. The Parrot especially is not inviting to just a random walk to get the bird as it hangs near the rehab center and it is not very inviting to birders.
|Silja at the parrot stake out which is basically outside the gate of the parrot rehab center. The wild birds come and talk to their captive cousins. We got lucky on this bird.|
|#2 Adelaide's warbler, a composite of two photos, one of each end showing the field marks of the bird|
|#3 Green Mango, a larger hummer|
|#4 Puerto Rican Emerald|
|#6 Puerto Rican Owl, which does truly have a head, but even getting this photo at night with only a flashlight was good|
|#7 Puerto Rican Spindalis, this showy male liked the parking lot of our hotel the second night.|
|Hey, DESPACITO! Take it slow with your gal, you're in Puerto Rico...|
|#12 Puerto Rican Tody, the little guy of the forest, everyone's favorite|
|#13 Puerto Rican Oriole|
|#14 Puerto Rican nightjar, The white dot is its eye, you can see the white tail band, this was taken in the dead of night, 30 yards away, using a flashlight and ISO at 30,000. It seems a good get to me?|
|#15 Puerto Rican Vireo, a bit elusive, skulky, and fast, we also did not see this bird much|
|Lifer, Plain Pigeon|
|Lifer, West Indian Whistling Duck|
|Lifer, Antillean Euphonia|
|Lifer, Antillean Mango, the only one we saw, over exposed into the sun, but the identifying white patch is visible, so it counts |
|Lifer, Lesser Antillean Pewee, photo sucks but well, we saw it twice, and this was the best I could do.|
|Caribbean Elaenia, first seen in St Martin FWI|
|Pearly-eyed thrasher, first seen in St Martin FWI|
|Scaly-naped pigeon, first seen in St Martin FWI|
|Greater Antillean Grackle, first seen on Jamaica|
|Loggerhead Kingbird, first seen on Jamaica|
|Green-throated carib, the dominant hummingbird of St. Martin|
|"Hey human, go stuff yourself. This field is owned by cats."|
|The oddly named Modest Sister|
|Cassius blue above and this one|
|great southern white|
|Nero skipper otherwise known as a Puerto Rican Panoquin|
|Pale cracker, a good mimic|
Wow, the goal bug of butterfly hunters everywhere, the Puerto Rican Harlequin. I saw two of them at two sites! This butterfly was down to a census of 70 individuals estimated, 25 years ago. Why it declined is unknown. It has plenty of food plants. This insect might not outlive me as a species, sadly. I wanted to see one, and, Gabriel found them.
|Local subspecies of the Florida leafwing, which I assume will be split into the Puerto Rican leafwing someday|
|Puerto Rican ringlet|
|Puerto Rican skipper|
|Puerto Rican yellow, I almost missed this endemic|
|Sickle winged skipper, a butterfly whose identity baffled me and Gabriel for days|
|Southern broken dash|
|tropical checkered skipper|
|Vitelline or "V-mark" skipper|
|white peacock, which looks like no peacock I have ever seen|
A trip with a theme song.....if I could only sing
Viva Puerto Rico but Despacito.....take it slowly