Trip Report – February 2020
Comments: Puerto Rico was a combination of the Caribbean and the US. Good roads and fairly easy to get around.
Day 1: Had a relaxing day after arriving from Dominican Republic yesterday and birded our hotel grounds. We had Pearly-eyed Thrasher by the gold course and great views of Scaly-naped Pigeon collecting nesting material. Night at the Wyndham Rio Mar.
Day 2: Met our guide at 8.30 am which seemed a little late for birding but it actually didn’t seem to make a difference. Our first stop delivered PR Lizard-Cuckoo, PR Flycatcher, PR Tody, PR Woodpecker, Orange-fronted Parakeet and PR Kingbird.
The second stop nearby provided PR Oriole and Puerto Rican Mango.
Then it was into El Yunque – a couple of stops on the way up gave us PR Spindalis, PR Bullfinch and Green Mango. We tried at the top for PR Tanager and Elfin-woods Warbler but no luck.
We then drove over to Ceiba to search for Antillean Crested Hummingbird but no luck there either.
One final stop saved the day with Green-throated Carib and Troupial. Night at the Wyndham Rio Mar.
Day 3: We left the hotel to drive across the island to Ponce. On the way we went to a spot that ebird indicated had PR Tanager a few days before and no sooner did we get out of the car than they flew in, which was great. Some investigation a bit further up the road gave us PR Emerald and some great views of migrant warblers.
In the evening we tried for the PR Nightjar behind the Holiday Inn in Ponce but no luck. Night at Hilton, Ponce.
Day 4: Our guide met us at 6.30 am and we drove up to Maricao which enabled us to quite easily see Elfin woods Warbler, PR Euphonia and PR Vireo.
Then it was down to La Parguera for Caribbean Elaenia, Adeladie’s Warbler and Yellow-shouldered Blackbird. The first 2 were quite easy but the Blackbird was tricky and was finally located in the back yard of our guide’s friend.
Final stop was for Masked Duck at Laguna Cartegena but no luck. Night at Hilton, Ponce.
Day 5: Drove across the island to Isabel where we enjoyed a few more relaxing days at the Royal Isabel.
Wyndham Rio Mar – nice hotel – rather large and family oriented but good facilities and nice staff.
Hilton Hotel, Ponce – this hotel is extremely tired and more like a holiday camp. Truly disappointing but not sure there are any alternatives in the area.
Royal Isabela, Isabela – yet another tired hotel with pretty poor service especially in the restaurant where we had to wait 45 minutes just for some hot water! But we had a nice casita overlooking the ocean with its own private deck area and plunge pool which was nice – still overrated and not worth the money!
Guides & Resources
Guides: Adventure Tours – This group know where to find the birds but they lack ‘hosting’ skills. On neither of our 2 days were we even given an opportunity to have lunch and no water or anything else was provided!
Field Guide: Birds of the West Indies – Norman Arlott
This was tough because it was windy. We had most birds at a spot our guide knew down in the valley before entering the park. Check out bamboo areas on the way up for PR Bullfinch and PR Tanager. We drove right up to the top where we looked for the tanager and Elfin-woods Warbler. We didn’t get them but apparently, they are normally there. Most of the waterfall walks that the books talk about are closed after recent earthquake activity – and anyway it is SOOOO busy with tourists you are unlikely to see anything.
PR Tody is plentiful and simply a matter of listening for it wherever you stop.
This is a huge forest and I would check latest ebird listings but the spot where we got all our targets was, coming in from the South, just passed KM 16.7. There is an obvious pull-out to the left in front of a gate. (Coming from the north this is just passed KM 16.9, round a bend on the right – the pull-out is obvious from this direction as well.) In this one spot we had:
- PR Bullfinch
- PR Tanager
- PR Vireo
- PR Emerald
- PR Pewee
- Elfin woods Warbler
- PR Euphonia