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Birding in the Caribbean

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1. arrive couple of days early in San Juan, take the rain forest tour, check out the parks in town and near the harbor mouth..

 

Last year I hired Gabriel Lugo as a guide during our cruise ship stop in San Juan. I was very pleased. He has a great ear and was excellent. You can read about him on trip advisor. You can also check his bird lists on ebird.pr

Happy birding!!

Cinda

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Last year I hired Gabriel Lugo as a guide during our cruise ship stop in San Juan. I was very pleased. He has a great ear and was excellent. You can read about him on trip advisor. You can also check his bird lists on ebird.pr

Happy birding!!

Cinda

 

I too found info on birding with Gabriel. He was already booked for the day I was to be in port, but he graciously gave me the name of a colleague so my husband and I will be birding San Juan parks with Julio instead.

 

I purchased 'Birds of the West Indies' by Herbert Raffaele, and have been studying the island endemics and tropical species I don't get to see at home in Canada.

My hope is to get 30 or more lifers and some much needed added experience with migrants and the local more common tropical species.

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San Juan, St. Martin, St. Thomas & Labadee, Haiti. We will dive @ one site and I get to bird (officially) @ one stop. Any recommendations or guides?

 

Order up a copy (used) of the Birds of the West Indies on Amazon. In San Juan, there are parks all over the Old Town (which is quite pretty) and you can take an excursion to the rain forest (private vendors about 60 dollars). St Martin - there will be an excursion to the top of the mountain and another one that goes around the island or hire your own taxi so you can stop at the salt ponds, too. Haiti - never been, but this is a private cruise ship beach kind of place. There might be an excursion to a park?

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jdbirch, please let us know how your Audubon led tour goes.We will be in St. Thomas in May. I'd love to go birding! Thanks. :D

 

Birding on the Celebrity Summit February 25 out of San Juan

 

 

San Juan: booked a tour to the rain forest. Saw the usual Zenaida Doves, Gray Kingbirds, Frigates, Brown Pelicans, and Carib Grackles all over – as on almost every trip and island. Got a Pearly-eyed Thrasher at the visitor center. Walk along Princesa below the city walls had Hispaniolan Parrots in the trees, Greater Antillean Grackles too.

 

 

St Croix: bird to left of pier – open park behind the fort, then along the creek full of trash for a couple of hundred yards until it runs into the hills/ open fields behind the town. Little blue heron, best Yellow-Crowned Night Heron I've ever seen, Spotted Sandpiper, Green throated Carib. Use breakfast rolls to bait in the Z Doves, a gray kingbird (who knew?), pigeons, and a friendly Cattle Egret. Tie points in the harbor had a pair of Brown Boobies, lots of Royal Terns, Lesser Black-backed Gull, a flock of Lesser Terns.

 

 

St Kitts: off to the right of the pier you can see an open field that is used for a dumping ground for trash – decent birding, cattle egrets and a pair of lifer Scaly-naped Pigeons, usual others. Then I went inland to Independence Park in front of the Catholic Cathedral and saw more Scaly-napeds, some Z doves and kingbirds, Eurasian-collared doves, and a lone Kestrel atop the broken palm tree.

 

 

Dominica: I took the tour to the Emerald Pool. Someone in another group saw parrots passing at the overlook point (it's supposed to be a flyway in the canyon). I baited in some Lesser Antillean Bullfinches at the Emerald Pool visitor center with bread crumbs. Birds heard in forest, but I don't know the local calls. Birded in the park a hundred yards to the right of the ship for an hour or so – the local yellow warbler (with a rufous crown!), house wrens, bananaquits, usual. Carib martins flying over, looking like swifts but not. Wander around a couple of streets, but nothing different. There's supposed to be a bird guide on Dominica, ask Jerry (Grenada) for the name.

 

 

Grenada: booked a tour from 8-3 with Anthony Jeremiah (Jerry) Anthony Jeremiah <tonydove200@yahoo.com> Jerry picks me up at the pier, and we're off to Mt. Hartman Park for Grassquits, the elusive Grenada Dove, Cocoa Thrush, Black(!) sp of Bananaquits; then up Mt Williams on a two track that requires 4wd and high clearance to see Antillean Crested Hummingbirds, Rufous Hummingbirds, Broad winged Hawk, Hook-billed Kite, Lesser Antillean Tanager, Merlin, Tropical Mockingbird. Driving around, here's a Green Throated Hummingbird sitting on a branch right beside the road. Off to some ponds near the airport for Yellow-bellied Seedeater, Smooth-billed Ani, Snipe, Blue-winged Teal, Spotted Sandpiper, Common Gallinule(Moorhen), Snowy Egret. Little Egret, Great Blue Heron, and a bunch of the regulars not worth mentioning. 12 lifers in the bunch for one day of birding, and a bonus with the Peregrine Falcon cruising out the window of the cafe in the harbor!

 

 

Day at Sea: Brown Boobies and Masked Boobies fly around the ship for 20 minutes or so, and I see a pod of about 20 dolphins/porpoises in mid-Caribbean.

 

 

St Thomas: booked a morning of birding with Mario Francis <mfrancis_253@yahoo.com> and we go around the island – the inlet behind the Marine Sciences building on the UVI campus, a couple of hotel ponds near the east end of the airport, and a Salt Pond back in the woods someplace. Mostly the usual and the only new lifer is the White-cheeked Pintail.

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Birding from Explorer of the Seas RCI out of Bayonne New Jersey Feb 27-March 9 2012:

 

Now I wish I had kept better notes... my memory begins to fail me..but I will relate what I remember...

 

Gulls were abundant around the pier at Bayonne and the extreme wind out on deck made birding difficult as we left port.

Great Black-backed Gull

Herring Gull

Lesser Black-backed Gull

Canada Goose on the grass at Tear of Grief Park

 

Labadee Haiti:

Gray Kingbirds common

White-winged Doves

Black-whiskered Vireos singing in many trees

2 Red-tailed Hawks soaring on thermals overhead

Northern Mockingbird

Banaquits

Palm Chat perched on the top of a dead tree near entrance to Barefoot Beach Club

Village Weaver colony in a tree beside the floating mat station for Barefoot Beach Club

approx 200 Cave Swallows hawking bugs over the beach at Columbus Cove

House Sparrows near the Dragon's Cafe

 

Puerto Rico:

Old San Juan - Greater Antillean Grackle, Rock Pigeon, Bananaquit,

 

Bayamon- Julio Enriques Monagues NP

Bananaquit

Black-faced Grassquit

Red-legged Thrush

Pearly-eyed Thrasher

Northern Mockingbird

White-winged Dove

Scaley-naped Pigeon

White-crowned Pigeon

Zenaida Dove

Puerto Rican Spindalis

Puerto Rican Woodpecker

Puerto Rican Flycatcher

Green Mango

Northern Parula

Greater Antillean Grackle

Shiny Cowbird

Black-whiskered Vireo

 

Heard but not seen:

Mangrove Cuckoo

Adelaide's Warbler

Puerto Rican Bullfinch

 

More later...

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Hey ya'll,

 

I have 3 cruises set for the Caribbean this year and plan to bird in several areas:

 

Dominica: 19 endemics! I've hired Bertrand Jno Baptiste. Very reasonable. Supplies transportation from Roseau

 

Puerto Rico: Hilda Morales! Staying one day post cruise for endemics in the North. Hilda requests birder to (rent a car) provide own transportation. (Gabriel Lugo is not available ;(()

 

Jamaica: 28 endemics! Hired Wendy Lee. Great conservationalist for the island. Supplies transportation from Falmouth Port to Cockpit Country.

 

St. Lucia: 2 endemic parrots! Still working on it!!

 

Happy Birding,

Cinda

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jdbirch had the right idea -- just the wrong spelling.

 

http://birdingpal.org is a great place to start, listing local birders willing to give information or take you out for the day. Lower down on each location's page they have links to local birding societies, publications, and even bird guides who charge for their services.

 

Good luck and happy birding!

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jdbirch had the right idea -- just the wrong spelling.

 

http://birdingpal.org is a great place to start, listing local birders willing to give information or take you out for the day. Lower down on each location's page they have links to local birding societies, publications, and even bird guides who charge for their services.

 

Good luck and happy birding!

 

 

Sorry about the bad spell job. A lot of links in birding pal are expired. I try to look up the local birding organizations and call their president or something. The Christmas Bird Count is online, and contains the email addresses of every group that enters data. Unfortunately, that's usually not where you're going!

I did have one memorable trip out of birding pal - it hooked me up with a gal that did the Breeding Bird Atlas for a couple parks on the outskirts of London, and we just went around doing the census. That cost me a beer at a country pub (where a Golden Pheasant walked across the lawn), for a grand total of about a quarter a lifer!

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Birding from the Coral Princess, through the Panama Canal in February 2013

 

 

Took a couple of days to go down to the Keys, just in case Colorado decided to have a blizzard on the day of our plane ride. Decent trip, nothing spectacular, but loaded with Ruddy Turnstones.

 

 

Boarded the Coral Princess in Fort Lauderdale, warmed up the bins, and saw a Magnificent Frigatebird without having to take the boat trip to the Dry Tortugas again. As usual, no birds crossing the Caribbean to Aruba...

 

 

On Aruba, caught a taxi to the Bobali Bird Preserve (if the taxi driver doesn't know where it is, it's across from the big windmill on the west coast), a 20 buck ride. Eared Dove, Sooty Tern, White-cheeked Pintail, Neotropic Cormorant, Smooth Ani, Bald eyed Pigeon, Moorhens and Green Herons all over, Tropical Mockingbirds, and a bunch of the usual. Last time, I had parakeets.... You can pick up a taxi at the resort next to the Preserve, or just wave one down in the road. Back aboard the ship, and got Masked and Brown Booby just off the shore.

 

 

Cartagena: since the last time I was there, they've added a visitor center at the end of the pier that has a pretty extensive park behind it. I was intending to investigate the wetlands across the road, but this was good enough. Prothonotary Warblers all over, Toucan, Common Ground Dove, Social Flycatchers common, Great Kiskadee, Violet green Swallow, Mangrove Swallow near the harbor. They have a cage of captive migrants, featuring a trio of Rose breasted Grosbeaks. I develop a method, roam through the park for about 20 minutes, then buy a beer for 2 bucks and sit in a chair on the patio in the shade facing the woods and rehydrating myself. On one of these occasions, a Spot-breasted Woodpecker lands on a tree right in front of me, distance 20 feet! Repeat the circuit about 3 times, then back to the boat. Spotted in the harbor: Gray backed Swift, Frigate, Bridled Tern, and I think a Fleshy Shearwater off the coast.

 

 

Panama Canal: Hanging over the rail watching the trees go by, and spotting Black Guan, Crimson-collared Tanager, Yellow Caracara, Capped Heron, Swallow-tailed Kite. Frigate birds surround the ship picking up tidbits from the water, and I learn a lot about how hard it is to id swallows on the fly. Got excited once, since I was really looking for a Amazon Kingfisher, but it proved to be a Ringed. Inspected about 10 thousand nice Kingfisher limbs overhanging the water... Did see a Zone-tailed Kite soaring and a Bare-throated Tiger Heron working the weeds, and that was good enough. Out of the Canal about 3 o'clock, and spot Brown and Blue-footed Booby at sea.

 

 

Puntarenas, Costa Rica: Really looking forward to this, since I've booked a trip up the river by boat, then a stop at the Macaw Sanctuary. The guide on the boat called Dowitchers “Sandpipers”, so it looks like I'm on my own for the boat trip. Lot of herons, egrets, whimbrel, but I only add Collared Plover and Slaty Flycatcher to the life list. Off to the Sanctuary: Rufous naped Wren right off the bat, Scarlet Macaw (the ones in Cartagena were captives), Boat-billed Flycatcher, Dusky capped Flycatcher, Ruddy Ground Dove, white-winged Doves. Clay-colored Robin (now thrush) all over – since it took me three trips to Texas to see ONE, I was impressed. I checked with the director of the Sanctuary, and he clued me on to the hummingbird spot, so I added Beryl-crown Hbird to my total. Only 60 more hbirds to get in Costa Rica.... Be nice if you could get a little more guiding, but the director is busy leading the group of non-birders around. He still gets a nice tip for buying bird food, anyway. Best spot: the little stream – hang out there and wait. Most fun: watching the Macaws stealing food. You get a nice snack of fresh great tasting fruit. I get a Protein bar, since I'm diabetic! There is an extensive bunch of vendors and beach bars along the coast, so I wander along looking at the trees and the doves on the ground and sampling the local brews. White-winged and Ruddy Ground doves, tropical flycatcher on every wire in town.

 

 

San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua: Pull into port and get to watch 3 King Vultures soaring over the hills. No tour here, since all they offer is a two hour bus ride over crappy roads to get badgered for two hours by street salesmen, then a two hour bus ride back. There was one tour to a ecology place, but it was sold out. So – take the tender ashore (warning: steep narrow stairs, so no handicapped allowed), through the vendors, and into the town. There's only 2-3 streets paralleling the beach, so go to the back one next to the hills, and wander along for a half mile or so. I never felt in danger, and I'm pretty savvy (worked in Detroit for 35 years...) except from the poor footing and the holes in the sidewalks, so keep an eye out. Spotted Crimson-fronted Parakeet flock, some other parakeet I didn't get a good enough look at, and a Great crested Flycatcher on a wire. There is a Boat-billed Flycatcher building a nest half way up the cellular tower that was fun to watch lugging grass, and the beach was full of terns and gulls to inspect. Back on the boat, being tempted by the embrodiered T-shirts for 10 bucks and stopping at the rum-tasting test for some 8 year old Flora de Cana. Chase that down with a couple of beers from the vendors to avoid dehydration, and back on the boat.

 

 

At sea: Brown and Masked Booby again, and some Western Gulls pulling into Cabo San Lucas. Remember: if you can see fishing boats, there's birds around. I had found a birding guide in Cabo, but she was doing the Whale watching excursion first. Since the excursion was done at 10:30 and the ship left at 2, that wasn't going to work out, although she was willing to try. Keep an eye out for the sea lions sitting on the fishing boats in the marina. If you've got more time in port, try

Tel: 52+(624)144-3539

Cel: (624)129-8701

Skype: maria.elena.muriel1

Web: birding-loscabos.com

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That being said - spent a week at the Canopy Tower in Panama in April. 117 lifers for under 20 bucks a bird. Fun time, so much that I might go again next year! Even if I only get 20-30 more (at a hundred bucks a bird!)....

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jdbirch, We spent 2 weeks at Canopy Tower several years ago and loved it so much we stayed at its sister accommodation, Canopy Lodge, the following year.

 

We're now thrilled to find out they're getting ready to open an ecolodge "camp" down in the Darien.

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Just found this post - searching for "birding" in the cruise critic forum. So glad I found this!

 

Doing the Panama Canal cruise over the holidays and we have arranged private tours (birding) for Cabo San Lucas, Puntarenas (Costa Rica), and Colon (Panama). I will report back when once we have come home!

 

Looking very forward to these private excursions, the Guides come highly recommend from a variety of sites.

 

Heather

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Just found this post - searching for "birding" in the cruise critic forum. So glad I found this!

 

Doing the Panama Canal cruise over the holidays and we have arranged private tours (birding) for Cabo San Lucas, Puntarenas (Costa Rica), and Colon (Panama). I will report back when once we have come home!

 

Looking very forward to these private excursions, the Guides come highly recommend from a variety of sites.

 

Heather

 

Heather, can I ask what sites you visited to find the birding guides? We just came back from Aruba and Curacao and I was not able to find sites for these locations that featured birding guides. I did have a field guide that included birding spots, but we were reluctant to have a cab take us there for fear of not being able to find a cab back in more remote areas.

 

Thanks in advance,

Dena

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Heather, can I ask what sites you visited to find the birding guides? We just came back from Aruba and Curacao and I was not able to find sites for these locations that featured birding guides. I did have a field guide that included birding spots, but we were reluctant to have a cab take us there for fear of not being able to find a cab back in more remote areas.

 

Thanks in advance,

Dena

 

Hi Dena - sorry for the late reply, I just noticed this message today.

 

I googled "extensively" for "Bird Trip Reports" for the destinations that I was visiting. Most of the guides that I hired, were referred to with excellent reviews in "Trip Reports" on multiple "blogging sites". I would then contact the person who blogged and asked if they had contact information for their Guides. This is how I found a Bird Guide for Panama and Costa Rica. The guides for Mexico, I found through a "Birding Mexico" web site. The person running the site, referred me to a Guide in Cabo and then she referred me to a person for Puerto Vallarta. I then googled these names and found multiple references in trip reports, with great reviews.

 

It was quite a bit of "googling" - but really, it was fellow birders who blogged their Trip Reports that I found Guides, willing to pick us from the Cruise ship. These guides normally do day trips, but 2 of them have now added "Cruise Options" to their web sites, after I have booked them ;)

 

I leave next week for our Cruise and for sure will do a Review on all 4 Ports that I have hired a "Private Naturalist Guide".

 

Heather

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This is the link that I found to hire a guide not only to take us out Birding, BUT he is taking time away from his family on Christmas Eve (Dec 24th) in order to do so. Super accommodating and I cannot wait for our Port of Call. I will report back after our cruise on how the tour went.

 

http://www.birdinginmexico.com

 

Heather

Ontario - Canada

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And finally, my last 2 ports were found "kind of here". I found their names on multiple blogs (trip reports from Happy Customers) and also found their names on Birding Pal.

 

Costa Rica - Roy Orozco was already booked for my port of call, but he graciously referred me to his friend, Berny Sanchez who was able to accommodate us for our Port of Call in Puntarenas.

 

Panama - we were able to hire Gonzalo Horna. We were so happy he was available and he has quite a schedule for us, ready to pick us up as soon as our ship docks at 6 am :)

 

Both Berny and Gonzalo were super accommodating with our "wish lists" and kept it realistic of what we could do for "a day" in the specific Port of Call.

 

http://www.birdingpal.org/guidesCentralAmerica.htm

 

Again - a full report will happen, after I return home. But those are 4 Key web sites, driven by googling, reading blogged trip reports, and asking for references from Bird Bloggers of their experiences with hiring private guides (these were not Cruisers, but that didn't matter to me).

 

Heather

Ontario - Canada

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This is coming in real handy, as I'm going through the Canal on the Azamara Quest in early January. Sent an email to these contacts - will see how it turns out.

 

Just got back from the Rhine Christmas Markets cruise, have to go through the records. But it gives a birder the opportunity to say "In spite of the cold weather, there were pairs of Great Tits all over the place". And Willow Tits and Marsh Tits, too - no Blue Tits.

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I am taking my second cruise in May ( Royal Caribbean)to the Western Caribbean. I love birds and would like to see some new ones on my trip. Any pointers would be greatly appreciated.

 

Tammy

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Tammy, where ever you go, there will probably be pelicans, frigatebirds, and tropicbirds near the ports. Also many islands may have bananaquits, collared doves, ground doves, white-winged doves, Zenaida doves, and pearly-eyed thrashers. What ever island you go to, you can pretty much look up on the web and find a list.

 

If you are going to Jamaica, the birds there are quite good. Two of the neater birds are the Jamaican tody and streamertail hummers (YS Falls usually has a set of feeders that attract large numbers of streamers and others). Wikipedia has a pretty good list.

 

Good luck,

 

Dave

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Tammy, you have some time before you sail so I would advise you purchase a field guide to the birds of the Caribbean ( if you don't have one already) and spend some time getting familiar with the birds you might encounter.

This will enhance your birding experience immensely!

I bought a Princeton Field Guide titled 'Birds of the West Indies' by Herbert Rafffaele, James Wiley, Orlando Garrido, Allan Keith and Janis Raffaele before my last cruise and found it very helpful. The illustrations in this book are very good and the range maps show which island the bird can be found on.

Bring it with you on your cruise.

 

Birding from the ship close to port can also be very productive. As has been mentioned in the last post, keep a look out for Frigatebirds, Boobies, Tropicbirds, interesting gulls and terns, even Shearwaters farther out at sea.

 

Have you considered hiring a guide to take you birding on any of the islands?

We did that in Puerto Rico and Hawaii and had wonderful experiences.

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