Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Puerto Rico Day 3: Rare Birds and Bacalao Ice Cream

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Note: This is my first attempt to post with Windows Live Writer so I hope it doesn’t look like garbage.

We woke at an ungodly hour and had the equivalent of a NJ diner breakfast (not a bad thing) before departing for the Cambalache State Forest. This is a small, and I mean SMALL, plot of tropical forest that holds a surprising number of Puerto Rican endemics. Upon exiting the minivan, we immediately were hearing and seeing birds.

The first was the sing-song-y Puerto Rican Vireo which gave us great looks. He was followed by the cardinal-like call of the Puerto Rican Bullfinch which also gave stellar looks. The birds were coming quick. We heard the short bzzt of the Puerto Rican Tody, but he remained out of sight. A loud call from around a bend was that of the Puerto Rican Woodpecker – a Melanerpes unlike any I had seen before. We had brief looks at one, but better looks were to come. A raucous rattle was that of the Puerto Rican Lizard-Cuckoo, one of the birds I most wanted to see on the trip. It spent time high in a tree giving us views of just pieces of the bird at time. A nearby fart-like sound led us to crippling, eye-level views of the Puerto Rican Tody. As one person said, it looks like a lollipop and the bill is the stick. So true! It looks like it would taste good if you licked it. My photos of this one stink, but there were more to come later on the trip.

Common Ground Dove

A Common Ground-Dove

We got crippling looks at the Puerto Rican Woodpecker in a hole in a telephone pole. This bird was too cool.

PR Woodpecker
Puerto Rican Woodpecker

PR Woodpecker2
Digiscoped shot

We then headed over to the Rio Abajo area in search of Puerto Rican Parrots. With less than 40 wild birds left, this came down to a matter of luck. Unfortunately, we didn’t see the birds, but did add Loggerhead Kingbird, Broad-winged Hawk (pretty rare in PR), and Scaly-naped Pigeon to our tally. We also saw the gorgeous flowers of the Poma Rosa or Rose Apple.

Rose Apple

On the road near Rio Abajo, we also spied Shiny Cowbird. An attractive blackbird, this bird has caused problems for the endemic Yellow-shouldered Blackbird.

Shiny Cowbird
Shiny Cowbird

We stopped at a famous ice cream shop in the town of Lares. They are known for having hundreds of different flavors of ice cream including many non-traditional flavors like rum, ginger, garlic, rice & beans, carrot, and the one I tried… SALT COD (AKA Bacalao). Even being a vegetarian, I couldn’t resist trying fish-flavored ice cream. You know how they say that things are an “acquired taste?” I don’t know how anyone could acquire a taste for it. Blech. I ended up getting one scoop of peanut and one scoop of sweet plantain. It was great.

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We were back on the road again heading to Maricao State Forest, home of the recently discovered (well, 1972) Elfin-woods Warbler. It was late in the day. We paced up and down the road listening for its chip note (it doesn’t sing). After some time, we heard that chip and the diminutive bird gave us terrific, although brief, views. What a feeling to know that we were seeing a bird that is relatively new to science and limited in range. We ended the day looking for a Lesser Antillean Pewee at a nearby fishery, but were skunked. We would try again in the morning! Look for my Day 4 report in the next few days. I guarantee photos of boobies.

Go to Day 4

3 comments:

John said...

The formatting looks fine to me.

I'd love to see a tody.

Patrick B. said...

It does look ok. Thanks. I actually really like the Live Writer. It makes it much easier to put in photos than blogger's horrid interface.

Anonymous said...

Congrats! Salt Cod ice cream and Elfin-woods Warber on the same day. Has this ever been done before in the history of birding? I think not. Time for an honorable mention in the Guiness Book of World Records.
Best,
John W.