We started around 6:00AM and headed back to Guanica State Forest to try once more for the Puerto Rican Nightjar. We drove to the forest, headed up the road at a closed gate, and stood waiting in the darkness. Actually, it was a bright moon, so it wasn’t really that dark. In any event, it wasn’t long before we heard a “Whirr!” of a nightjar. It was quite close, but deep enough in the dense woods that we couldn’t see it. We heard 1 or 2 others, but never did see one. It was cool knowing that we were hearing a bird that only exists in this small area of Puerto Rico and nowhere else on the planet. We also heard a Puerto Rican Screech Owl.
With one target species down, we grabbed breakfast and then hit the road. This was mostly a travel day to El Yunque, basically across the southern part of PR from west to east, but we did have a few more birding stops to pick up some other birds we hadn’t seen yet. Our first stop was back to the feeder area where we had less-than-desirable views of the Yellow-shouldered Blackbird the day before. This time there were several of them on trees near the feeding station. They were joined by some Shiny Cowbirds, a known nuisance to the blackbird’s population, and also a ton of Eurasian Collared-Doves.
We then went back to Guanica State Forest for some daytime birding. It was quite windy and the forest was very quiet. We were standing around and listening when I saw something move in my peripheral vision. It was a Mangrove Cuckoo!
We also had great looks at two Puerto Rican Todies. It’s hard to pick a favorite PR bird, but this one is certainly high on the list. Tody pictures below.
Our next stop was back to Laguna Cartajena NWR to look for West Indian Whistling-Ducks. While looking for them, we found a couple Least Grebes, a bird I hadn’t seen since 2005 in South Texas. I like their beady little eyes. We had terrific views of one West Indian Whistling-Duck flying by, but it landed out of view. The sky was filled with Cave Swallows and I was able to pick out an oddball in the group, which turned out to be a Caribbean Martin. We had a long ride ahead of us and one more birding spot.
After a bit of a drive, a nap, and a stop at Sizzler (they still have those?), we stopped at a school baseball field in a tiny town. Oddly, this is the best spot in PR to see Plain Pigeon* (what a name!), a rare Caribbean specialty. Sure enough, we quickly found one high in a tree on a hill side. It’s not as plain-looking as its name suggests.
After the pigeon site, we were on the road heading to El Yunque and the Casa Cubuy eco-lodge. We arrived at the lodge after dark. After dinner, we listened for screech owls. We heard one, but the wind and rain were not conducive to finding the bird. This was our last night in PR. Stay tuned for some cool hummingbirds and thoughts on Casa Cubuy in the next installment.
*I think the worst West Indian bird name goes to the Sad Flycatcher.