Christmas and New Year birding sortie to the Dominican Republic and – less so – Haiti… The trip was blessed with a successful and comprehensive bird harvest, although the terrain was unusually rough (4WD is an absolute must!), and the birding was very “dispersed”. Testimony to the latter statement is the fact that only two out of nine days in the field (28-29 Dec) were spent in endemic-rich montane broadleaf forests, so that some of the more desirable endemics were only seen on single or few occasions. A two-day excursion into Haiti added a lot of logistical and financial problems and was one of the saddest and most sobering experiences of my life.
Although politically divided into east and west, Hispaniola has geologically been divided into a northern and southern paleo-island, the southern one being much smaller and comprising the mountain range stretching from the Sierra de Bahoruco all the way to Haiti’s Massif de la Hotte. This earth-historic division is reflected in that several island endemics are separated into northern and southern allo-species or subspecies (see species accounts), and more of them may display deep genetic divergences once analyzed in the future.
On account of the difficulty of reaching some higher-elevation forest sites, and because there is limited public birding information on the Sierra de Neiba (where I wanted to chase the northern populations of a number of island endemics), we resorted to hiring Miguel Landestoy for a very successful two days. The days in Miguel’s company ended up being the only time we spent in the key habitat for many endemics. Miguel had sites for all the wished-for species and did certainly not disappoint. His services are to be fully recommended.
Daily log (and site abbreviations):
25 Dec 2010: Morning sight-seeing in Santo Domingo was followed by a seafood feast on the beach of Boca Chica, which constituted the centerpiece of the gastronomic part of our trip. The afternoon saw us driving to Sabana de la Mar and to our hotel Caño Hondo at the edge of Los Haitises National Park (LH). Shortly before reaching the hotel, my highlight of the day materialized in the form of a couple of Ashy-faced Owls in a palm grove that stuck around for Wei’s camera clicks and for walkaway views.
26 Dec 2010: A horrible night of vomiting – caused by seafood poisoning from the previous day – came to an end when the alarm-clock indicated the sun’s imminent rise. Our guide Mosés from Caño Hondo took us on a 10-min hike to a neighboring valley to find Ridgway’s Hawks. Luckily, the pair obliged after 90 minutes. I was ready to vomit again and wouldn’t have been prepared to hike to a more distant pair. After a late-morning nap and the start of a full course of antibiotics, I felt better for the long afternoon drive to Barahona, where we arrived at night-time. Miguel Landestoy hadn’t arrived here yet and asked us to meet him a day later than scheduled.
27 Dec 2010: A very early morning saw us embark on the 3-hour drive to Aceitillar Road – often called Alcoa Road (AR) – near Pedernales, where we birded the lower end of the pine zone, the area around the waterhole “La Charca” and the bauxite quarry above until the early afternoon. The excellent state of this road despite the rough scrub terrain (better than the public highway to Pedernales) goes to show that whenever there are economic interests involved, amazing feats of technology can be accomplished with relative ease (and vice versa). Activity along Alcoa Road was at an absolute low, but the Crossbill and Golden Swallow finally gave in. In the late afternoon, we met up with Miguel Landestoy in Barahona and followed him to his most recent secret nightbirding spot near Angostura (Ang). This place is hard to find on your own and I am not providing its name or directions and instead refer you to Miguel’s services. We arrived at dusk and just in time for the Potoo and two nightjar targets to perform. We then spent the night in basic camp-like accommodation in Puerto Escondido at Kate Wallace’s famous property.
28 Dec 2010: Following an early morning start, we jumped into Miguel’s jeep and drove up to the military border checkpoint of Aguacate (Zp) and beyond, arriving at a site called Zapotén (Zp) in the dark, ready to witness the dawn-time spectacle of a feeding La Selle Thrush, a bunch of Western Chat-Tanagers and other avian highlights. Mid-morning, we slowly made our way back down to Puerto Escondido, taking in Flat-billed Vireos and Piculets below Aguacate along the way. We had a chance to witness the semi-legal trade of potatoes and other goods across the Haitian border, and we were looking hard to spot the astonishing contrast between a barren Haiti and a verdant DR that has been commented on by so many travelers. We were never quite privileged to behold that sight, since the Dominican Republic looks pretty desolate itself. Not much vegetation is left in Zapotén that deserves the attribute “tree growth” as opposed to “scrub growth”. The usual blame for this is assigned to Haitian charcoal smugglers, but it is hard to see how some of this could have been done without the participation or main responsibility by vehicle-powered Dominicans.
Down at Kate Wallace’s property, a lunch-time birding session along the Rabo de Gato Trail (RG) did not yield the hoped-for specialties as the morning had come to an end, so we decided to head out on the road towards Duvergé and beyond for some afternoon birding in the surroundings of Lago Enriquillo (LgE), the salty remnant of an inland sea dividing the two paleo-islands. A long hike through cactus desert near the shore finally produced the target – a distant cloud of Palm Crows that we heard long before we spotted them at a 2km distance on the other side of a little depression. Some waterbirding ensued before we made it to our night-time destination in the village of La Descubierta (LD), at the foot of the Sierra de Neiba.
29 Dec 2010: Our second and final day with Miguel Landestoy was again characterized by an early-morning start in his jeep. The road up the Sierra de Neiba (SN) was in much poorer condition than the famous Zapotén Road that every traveler complains about, so we were happy Miguel could take us and we didn’t have to use our less powerful rental jeep. We made it to the crucial cloud forest elevation – high up on the pass near the Haitian border – just in time for a spectacular long look at a rare ground-feeding individual of the northern subspecies dodae of La Selle Thrush, as well as several groups of Eastern Chat-Tanager. On the descent back to La Descubierta, we passed single groups, then dozens, then hundreds of Haitian families transporting goods from DR back into Haiti. Most of them probably returned to Haiti after a stint of illegal farm work in the Dominican Republic, some of them barefoot, women carrying toddlers, mules carrying goods.
At La Descubierta, we paid a brief visit to an iguana reserve on the shores of Lago Enriquillo (LgE) and then ate our first proper rice-based meal in two days. The afternoon was devoted to a successful Bay-breasted Cuckoo quest in the dry gallery forest above La Descubierta (LD). We bade farewell to Miguel Landestoy and made our way back to a hotel in Barahona after briefly stopping over at the Angostura (Ang) nightbirding spot again, obtaining second views of the nightjars.
30 Dec 2010: The last full day for Wei, we decided to give it a lie-in and set out on the coastal road from Barahona to Pedernales in the late morning, having a pescado lunch along the beach and arriving at Laguna de Oviedo (LgO) in the afternoon for some distant flamingo views. We continued to Cabo Rojo (CR), where there were unexpected excellent waterbird spots for some relaxing scope birding. As the evening approached, we back-tracked our steps from 3 days ago up Alcoa Road (AR) for some uneventful owling that did not produce the hoped-for Asio stygius.
31 Dec 2010: Last day of the year, and the trip got into second gear… Wei took the early morning bus from Barahona to Santo Domingo Airport for her mid-day flight back home, as I set out to make it to Rabo de Gato trail (RG) at dawn and just in time to get excellent perched views of Hispaniolan Quail-Dove. Leaving the Puerto Escondido area towards noon, I ate and bought supplies in Duvergé in anticipation of my foray into Haiti. The internet café in Duvergé is run by a missionary-minded bunch of young evangelical types who showed me some of their home-produced Latino Evango rap as I waited for computers to free up.
The Malpaso / Malpasse border checkpoint to Haiti at Jimani is an unpleasant place right along the shores of salty Étang Saumâtre. There is a hustle and bustle of people, and you are immediately approached by self-proclaimed officials who will fix your documents for a price. The level of corruption is staggering and much higher than at any border crossing I have witnessed in the Americas or Asia. I soon realized that entering Haiti with a Dominican vehicle (with tinted windows) would be a problem and I needed to rely on these unlikely helpers to get me across. Although there is nothing illegal about Dominican vehicles in Haiti, it provides a welcome excuse for border personnel to fill up their own pockets. Bribes have to be paid on both sides of the border, and then again to the first police checkpoint in Haiti, so two hours and many hundreds of pesos later, I finally found myself on Haitian ground. But by that time, my jeep battery was exhausted from AC usage while not in motion, and the radiator leaked. There is no settlement on the Haitian side. Therefore, I needed to rely on precisely the person who “fixed” my documents on the Haitian side to go back across the border to Jimani to get me some “foca” (magic radiator powder) while some friendly Haitian truck drivers lent me their battery to start my engine. While waiting for the foca, I made the acquaintance of Makinson, a poorly-clad, stuttering but intelligent and helpful young man who spoke some Spanish from previous illegal work stints in the DR and who helped me fix up the engine. He initially asked me for a ride down past the Étang Saumâtre, but over the course of the following few kilometers he revealed himself as a most helpful fellow by talking some corrupt police checkpoint personnel into lowering their bribe demands from USD 100 to USD 15. Eventually, Makinson told me he had lost everyone in his family – his parents, siblings, wife and single child – in the earthquake, and is now destitute and would like to help me on my trip, given that not many people speak French and he can get me through checkpoints with Creole. I trusted him and asked him to stay with me for my time in Haiti. The fact of the matter was that my jeep had started to become unreliable, I had almost no cash left from all the bribing and the prospects ahead were scary, so I could use any help.
From the dry moonscape around salty Étang Saumâtre, it is unbelievable how fast you descend into the fertile landscape around Port-au-Prince in just one hour. As we got into the first big suburb, it was getting dark, but through our scrolled-down windows (to hide their tint) I could discern enough of the chaos of Port-au-Prince, a rubble and dirt-drenched city that appears in a state of emergency. The closer we got to the city centre, the more signs of the earthquake’s destruction became apparent. Military and tank-like vehicles of UN blue helmets patrol the areas close to the city center as you drive through tent cities accommodating hundreds of thousands of people that have lost their homes. The blue helmets we saw were mainly Pakistanis and Nigerians. The tent cities form alleys of “tent against tent”, with the occasional pedestrian pass to give access into the interior. It was not wet during our visit, but the sun-dried dirt and solid mud crust below the suburbs of tents gave an indication of the poor sanitary conditions during rain. The tents have their donor country’s label visibly exposed, and we drove through suburbs of Chinese tents, then US tents and especially Cuban ones. NGO vehicles on the streets hailed from many different countries, such as Switzerland, Germany, Brazil… I saw no French presence during my stay.
We skirted around the city centre across numerous unsigned intersections, Makinson confidently indicating the most direct path to avoid the chaotic parts of downtown and to lead us straight to Carrefour, on the south-western part of town. Our goal for the night was to get to the island’s south coast near Jacmel to position ourselves strategically for the next morning’s palm-tanager hunt. But Carrefour was the last remaining obstacle between us and that goal. Situated along the south coast of the Gulf of Gonâve, and dissected by a single busy traffic lane, Carrefour quickly filled up with people as time was nearing the New Year zenith at midnight. Eventually, the traffic flow slowed down to walking pace, and then it came to periodic stand-stills. That one busy main road in Carrefour – lined by piles of rubble, discarded and decomposing garbage and puddles of stinking mixtures of liquid – was thronging with people. Ambitious driving manoevres were sometimes called for to evade on-coming army vehicles and busses. It took us a full three hours to leave Carrefour behind us and find the entrance to the excellent mountain road – visibly unaffected by the earthquake – that crosses the peninsula to the south coast at Jacmel.
Having emerged out of the rubbles of Port-au-Prince and Carrefour, Jacmel was like another planet. We arrived around 10.30pm, luckily found a hotel owner that could be talked into accepting credit cards, settled in and headed out to the town square where all Jacmeliens were waiting in eager anticipation for 2011. Relatively speaking, Jacmel is a prosperous beach town that has evaded the worst of the earthquake, although damage could also be seen on some of the many historic French buildings. Some of the businesses in the busy small streets in the historic town center were still open at that hour, offering beach clothing and permitting a glance at a very different unexpected side of Haiti. All people were well-dressed, myself sticking out as the poorest example. Makinson and I ate some Caribbean style chicken and returned to the hotel before the advent of a new year.
1 Jan 2011: Makinson and I slept in until dawn and started out in our quest for the palm-tanager. Needless to say, as in most other parts of Haiti, the surroundings of Jacmel are completely altered. A few low-elevation stops in scrubby and tree habitat were fruitless, but a sharp object on the road did cause a puncture of the right front tyre. I would have struggled on my own, but Makinson was most helpful in changing the tyre for me in less than 30min. We drove back towards Port-au-Prince on the mountain road, stopping here and there and finally finding a scrub patch that granted brief views at a pair of palm-tanagers, then another spot with even better views. My Haitian birding quest had come to a successful end, but the challenge remained to make it back to the Dominican Republic with no cash, little gas and only a credit card.
As we drove back into Carrefour, the road was much less busy than the previous night, although the benefit of daylight afforded better views at the undescribable dirt and destruction. To find an ATM, Makinson now directed me straight into the heart of Port-au-Prince, a place we had avoided the day before. As we arrived on the main downtown avenue of Port-au-Prince, a view of untold grief and sadness unfolded. It resembled a scene from a science-fiction movie about a post-civilizational society, where the skeletons of high-rise buildings dotted the landscape. Some buildings have been reduced to complete rubble. On others, parts of the façade remains while the rest has collapsed. Yet others look promising at first, such as the main bank building Makinson directed me to, but as we got out of the vehicle and wanted to enter we realized that it was the mere outside casing that was left, while destruction had made its way into the interior of the building and left it deserted and abandoned. All the while, the streets were busy with hundreds of fruit vendors, food kiosks, book stalls, that each found their niche in the streetside rubble, unimpeded by the piles of decomposing detritus, and as if the dead, hollow and empty remnants of buildings behind them continued to house the fabric of a bustling city life. The occasional bulldozer – always announced from far by its loud honks – would scare off any vehicle or person from the middle of the boulevard and speed along this former main avenue, its giant shovel lifting half a tonne of rubble in the air and slowly – day by day – removing from this scene the collapsed remnants of the very material that used to make up Haiti’s metropolis. Young and old people – all donning their best clothes and putting me to shame in my dirty field pants – the women navigating the rubble in immaculate heels and skirts, while the men manage to maintain stainless trousers and white polo shirts in the puddles of brown murk. The level of dignity these people display in the face of such hardship and untold grief is nothing short of astounding!
It soon became clear that the city centre, where Makinson had planned to take me for our ATM needs, has lost all its buildings. I asked Makinson to take me to a big bank outside of the city center, but after checking a few areas near the tent cities, it turned out that here as well the earthquake had destroyed most buildings. After scary driving manoeuvres through suburbs and through streets that were blocked off with burning objects by protesting masses of people on strike, I insisted on driving to an expensive hotel to see if they can help with a credit card. The first one we tried looked good from the outside but was hollow inside. However, the former concierge, a well-educated old gentleman who spoke French, English and Spanish, promised to help and take us to other hotels that had avoided destruction. We tried two of them, but neither accepted credit cards, while the jeep’s gas meter approached dangerously low levels. Finally we received a tip-off that the only functioning ATMs left in Port-au-Prince are located in Pétionville, an affluent suburb in the hills that has not been affected by the earthquake as gravely as downtown. The moment of greatest relief on this trip arrived when one ATM in Pétionville allowed me to withdraw a sufficient amount of money. This money allowed me to refill the gas tank, have something in store for border bribes back across military checkpoints and reward my two helpers in times of need, the old gentleman and Makinson. The destruction and pain I had witnessed in the previous 48 hours had put my desires to see an endemic palm-tanager into an odd perspective. I wanted to make my financial gift to Makinson, who is probably amongst those who have suffered most from the earthquake, something meaningful, and I hope this is one good thing that has come out of my brief birding foray into Haiti. Makinson accompanied me all the way back to the Malpasse border crossing, where I wished him well. Wherever Makinson is right now, I hope he is doing well.
Back in the DomRep, the day was not over yet. At a military checkpoint in Jimani, the soldier asked me to give another army personnel a ride to Duvergé, as well as a mid-aged lady – Chantal – who turned out to be the secretary of the Haitian Consulate in Barahona. Dropping off the military man in Duvergé, I warned Chantal that I wanted to have a brief stop-over at the night-birding site in Angostura (Ang) before continuing to Barahona, which she did not mind. The dusk-birding was disappointing this time, with the poorest nightjar views yet, and was additionally marred by indecent public behavior by a local couple who were making a baby in a water body in the dark.
Arriving in Barahona, Chantal insisted on introducing her family to me, but her kids were hard to locate and turned out to attend a local evangelization event. Because of acoustic concerns, I wanted to avoid attending this at all costs, but Chantal insisted hard. My ear drums must have taken permanent damage from the Hallelujah and speaking in tongues blasting from speakers in millions of megawatts, let alone the psychological trauma of an angry nun telling us about hell. Half of Barahona was listening intently…
2 Jan 2011: A mid-morning start of sorts… A long drive from Barahona took me to the opposite side of the country to the oil palm and cattle-ranching area of Monte Plata, where a peculiar nocturnal species of thick-knee was my main target. I reached the hotel El Toro for a very late lunch, but the owner had no advice on who all his usual gringo guests contact for guidance to thick-knee sites. Querying dozens of people along the roadside on the whereabouts of the mysterious “búcaro”, I let myself be guided out of town, eastwards, and towards Los Haitises National Park, where vegetation was too thick for thick-knees. Scanning occasional fields and asking people, I ended up in Bayaguana (Bg) by night-fall, without a clue where to search next. However, in the darkening skies of dusk, I perceived cattle fields of large extent just north of town, and as night fell, my tape enticed the call of a flock of thick-knees from far inside the fenced pastures. I decided to continue my quest in daytime and sought out a shady local hotel in Bayaguana.
3 Jan 2011: Driving to last night’s pasture early in the morning, I soon bagged the thick-knee through sheer luck, as three of these camouflaged feathered lizards were sitting close to the road. As this was my last full day, I drove straight into the mountains of Valle Nuevo in the Cordillera Central. Arriving in good pine habitat by early afternoon, I spent a pleasant few hours re-sighting some of the endemics that I had not seen for a few days, even including an unexpected Crossbill, but missing the swift that I had come for, and then later in the dark missing the Stygian Owl yet again. The weather was cold up here at 2300m, so I gave up after 2 hours of owling in these completely silent pine woods. I drove back down to the lowlands for as far as I could keep my eyes open and crashed down in the unpleasant room of a dingy love motel in Bonao.
4 Jan 2011: The final morning saw me crawling through crazy traffic in Santo Domingo in search of (a) a car wash and (b) the Botanical Gardens (Bot G). Finding both, I managed to get the car cleaned and the Black-whiskered Vireo on my visual trip list. The car was returned and my return flight took off a bit after noon.
Species list (for site abbreviations, see daily log):
1. Least Grebe – RG 2-3
2. Brown Pelican – several on coast between Barahona & Pedernales
3. Magnificent Frigatebird – coast at Boca Chica
4. Great Blue Heron – 1 LgE near Duvergé
5. Great Egret – cm
6. Snowy Egret – cm
7. Little Blue Heron – 2 white ind’s CR; 1-2 blue ind’s en route near Port-au-Prince
8. Tricolored Heron – many CR
9. Reddish Egret – 2-3 white imm’s CR
10. Cattle Egret – cm
11. Green Heron – LgE, CR
12. Black-crowned Night-Heron – 1 ad. Bg
13. White Ibis – 5-10 CR
14. Greater Flamingo – 26 LgO
15. Blue-winged Teal – c. 10 CR
16. Northern Shoveler – 5-10 CR
17. American Wigeon – 1-2 CR
18. Turkey Vulture – cm in east
19. Osprey – 1 LgE near Duvergé
20. Sharp-shinned Hawk – Accipiter striatus striatus: 1 RG bush-crashing and then briefly perching in front of my eyes; very colorful taxon
21. Ridgway’s Hawk – LH 2 seen well and close-up perched and flying
22. Red-tailed Hawk – Zp, SN, VN
23. American Kestrel – cm
24. Common Moorhen – RG, CR
25. Caribbean Coot – 3-4 LgE near Duvergé; 1 CR; c. 50 at Étang Saumâtre at Jimani; a small percentage of birds at all sites appeared to be hybrids with Fulica americana, characterized by a less extensive white shield and a yellow (not red) apical spot, or perhaps these “hybrids” are only old immature Caribbean Coots??
26. Limpkin – 1 SN
27. Double-striped Thick-knee – 3 Bg seen close-by perched on field
28. Semipalmated Plover – c. 5 CR
29. Killdeer – cm, including birds at roadsides and pastures that were presumably local
30. Black-necked Stilt – CR c. 30
31. Greater Yellowlegs – LgE, Étang Saumâtre at Jimani
32. Lesser Yellowlegs – LgE, Étang Saumâtre at Jimani, in equally low numbers as Greater
33. Spotted Sandpiper – 1 LgE
34. Ruddy Turnstone – 7 LgO
35. Gull spec. – 3-5 Boca Chica (too far to ID)
36. Royal Tern – cm coastal
37. Scaly-naped Pigeon – What a difference in abundance to Puerto Rico! Quite rare overall and only bad flight views in SN; in RG, one flushed bird was heard vocalizing (confirming ID)
a. [White-crowned Pigeon – unconfirmed brief flight views in LH while I was sick with seafood poisoning]
38. Plain Pigeon – …finally this long-awaited and oft-missed species! 1-2 AR in good perched view; single fly-by in LgE
39. White-winged Dove – only 2 near Jacmel
40. Zenaida Dove – not many: LD and possibly 1-3 other sites
41. Mourning Dove – not many: near Jacmel and possibly 1-3 other sites
42. Common Ground-Dove – cm
43. Hispaniolan Quail-Dove – Geotrygon leucometopius: 1 RG came in to tape and sat exposed for walk-away views
44. brown Quail-Dove spec. – 1 RG flushed twice looked very reddish brown above and was probably Key West but confusion with male Ruddy cannot be ruled out
45. Hispaniolan Parakeet – only good perched views were 2-3 at AR
46. Olive-throated Parakeet – perched views at Zp & RG
47. Hispaniolan Amazon – 2-3 perched at AR; fly-by’s at Zp
48. Hispaniolan Lizard-Cuckoo – RG, SN; in Jacmel one bird showed less rufous throat and may be displaying a cline towards the plain-throated taxon on Gonâve Island
49. Bay-breasted Cuckoo – 1 LD seen perched and flying; 1 heard Zp
50. Smooth-billed Ani – cm
51. Barn Owl – 1 seen well SN
52. Ashy-faced Owl – 2 LH (also photographed by Wei)
53. Burrowing Owl – AR, RG, Ang
54. Least Poorwill – 2 ind’s seen and heard at Miguel Landestoy’s “Ang” site on three visits; sightings ranged across different levels of quality from spot-lit binocular flight views to brief perched views without binoculars (but confirmed by small size and sound); Miguel made a real difference, since his imitations brought birds in better than my tape did on subsequent visits without Miguel
55. Hispaniolan Nightjar – good spotlit flight views of vocalizing bird at Ang on three visits (probably always same bird)
56. Northern Potoo – perched walkaway views of 1 at Ang
57. White-collared Swift – 1 flock near Jacmel; 1 flock en route near Azua (at sea level!); 1 flock VN
58. Antillean Palm Swift – cm
59. Antillean Mango – 2-3 LH seen well; more ind’s seen en route Barahona – Pedernales from car, but not tracked down for better views
60. Hispaniolan Emerald – AR, Zp, SN, VN
61. Vervain Hummingbird – seen well LH; glimpses elsewhere
62. Hispaniolan Trogon – Zp, SN, VN
63. Broad-billed Tody – AR, RG, LD, Jacmel
64. Narrow-billed Tody – this species currently considered monotypic despite deep mtDNA divergence (>6%) between northern and southern populations (Overton & Rhoads 2004; MPE); I saw southern birds at AR and Zp and northern birds at SN and VN; brief and superficial comparisons of voice and looks did not reveal any differences, and Miguel Landestoy is also unaware of consistent differences, but a detailed morphological and bioacoustic analysis would be needed to detect more subtle marks
65. Belted Kingfisher – 1-2 CR, 1 near Port-au-Prince
66. Antillean Piculet – only 1 Zp (below Aguacate); this bird demonstrates the dispersed nature of Hispaniolan birding, where access to good broadleaf habitat is difficult (although I may also have widely overlooked it in areas that I did access)
67. Hispaniolan Woodpecker – cm
68. Cherrie’s Elaenia – Elaenia cherriei: not nearly as rare as her Jamaican sister; Zp, SN, VN
69. Hispaniolan Pewee – AR, Zp, RG, LD
70. “Hispaniolan Stolid Flycatcher” – Myiarchus dominicensis: AR, RG, LgE (near Duvergé), LD; Joseph et al. (2004; MPE) furnish conclusive evidence that Jamaican Stolid Flycatchers (M. stolidus) are more closely related to Cuban “La Sagra’s Flycatcher” (M. sagrae) than they are to “Hispaniolan Stolid Flycatchers” (M. dominicensis); Hispaniolan Stolids – on the other hand – may be sister to Bahaman La Sagra’s Flycatchers (M. lucaysiensis), or they may be the next relative to a clade composing two or three of the other Greater Antillean forms; in the field, the Hispaniolan Stolid appears to have more red in the wing than Jamaican Stolids, although this observation may be based on my shady memory.
71. Gray Kingbird – cm
72. Hispaniolan Loggerhead Kingbird – Tyrannus gabbii: not common; only 2 SN; impressively different from other Caribbean kingbirds, as demonstrated by Garrido et al. (2009; Wilson J Orn); it lacks the undertail band of the more westerly neighbors, while its black back and contrasting rufous wings separate it from the Puerto Rican form
73. Golden Swallow – c. 5 AR; c. 20 VN; not as impressive as depicted in books
74. Cave Swallow – c. 5 near Monte Plata en route
75. Hispaniolan Palm Crow – three small flocks: LgE (near Duvergé), SN and near Port-au-Prince
76. White-necked Crow – LH (wild ones flying over and perching distantly), LD and near Port-au-Prince; being sick of food poisoning I never got to see the feral individual at Caño Hondo
77. Rufous-throated Solitaire – much more difficult here than in Jamaica! Seen well only at SN; heard only AR, VN, Zp
78. La Selle Thrush – [swalesi] excellent views of 1 Zp; [dodae] excellent views of 1 SN
79. Eastern Red-legged Thrush –Turdus ardosiaceus: AR, Zp, SN, Bot G; see Ricklefs & Bermingham (2008; Auk) for modern DNA-based taxonomy on this complex
80. Northern Mockingbird – cm
81. Palmchat – cm
82. Flat-billed Vireo – only 1 Zp (far below Aguacate)
83. Black-whiskered Vireo – 1 Bot G; heard also at LH
84. Northern Parula – at least LH, SN, Bot G
85. Mangrove Warbler – 1 female LgO; 1 male CR
86. Cape May Warbler – 1 male LD
87. Black-throated Blue Warbler – cm
88. Pine Warbler – many at AR & VN
89. Prairie Warbler – seen at least Zp & Jacmel, probably also 1-2 other sites
90. Palm Warbler – AR
91. Black-and-white Warbler – AR, Zp, VN, perhaps 1-2 other sites
92. American Redstart – cm
93. Worm-eating Warbler – 1 RG
94. Ovenbird – AR, LD, RG
95. Louisiana Waterthrush – 1-2 RG
96. Common Yellowthroat – SN, Jacmel
97. Microligea (“Green-tailed Ground-Warbler”) – Zp, SN, VN
98. Xenoligea (“White-winged Warbler”) – Zp (one flock)
99. Bananaquit – not common at all: Zp, Jacmel and perhaps 2-4 more sites
100. Hispaniolan Euphonia – Euphonia musica s. str.: Zp, SN; surely a three-way split, considering how different the Hispaniolan males look from Puerto Rican and Lesser Antillean ones
101. Hispaniolan Spindalis: AR, Zp, SN, VN
102. Black-crowned Palm-Tanager – AR, Zp, SN, LgE (near LD), CR, VN; the two ind’s in CR (near Pedernales) were seen in xeric habitat and aroused initial excitement since they seemed to have a grayish suffusion to crown; however, all the other marks (eyebrow, breast) were typical of Black-crowned -> light conditions may have played a trick, or this may be remnant signal of introgression (displacement of Gray-crowned by Black-crowned)
103. Gray-crowned Palm-Tanager – 2+2 Jacmel; very distinct gray breast sets this species instantly apart from Black-crowned
104. Western Chat-Tanager – 2-3 Zp
105. Eastern Chat-Tanager – 3-4 good sightings of 1-3 ind’s each at SN
106. Yellow-faced Grassquit – RG, Bg
107. Black-faced Grassquit – only good views were in SN, though glimpsed elsewhere
108. Greater Antillean Bullfinch – only Zp & LgE (near LD)
109. Grasshopper Sparrow – 1 Bg
110. Rufous-collared Sparrow – SN, VN; for some weird reason, this isolated taxon is not widely chased by birdwatchers, although it is easy to see where it occurs; its local song didn’t ring a bell with me, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it turned out to be completely different from the well-known mainland vocalizations
111. Greater Antillean Grackle – 1 LH; c. 20 on the shores of Étang Saumâtre at Jimani; rare compared to other islands
112. Shiny Cowbird – 1 big aggregation on the shores of Étang Saumâtre at Jimani
113. Hispaniolan Oriole – only 2 at LH; seems to be rare; see Sturge et al. (2009; Condor) for DNA evidence of species status of Hispaniolan taxon
114. Hispaniolan Crossbill – 1 male seen & 1 heard AR; 1 female seen & 1 heard VN; definitely not closely related to Wing-barred Crossbill, but probably closer to Red Crssobill (based on voice)
115. Antillean Siskin – several males Zp
116. House Sparrow – Santo Domingo, Barahona