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Birding in the Caribbean


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Well? I am home! what an AMAZING adventure!!! the bird guides (all four ports of call) were fantastic. FUN FUN FUN!!!

 

All the names that I mentioned in previous posts were really great and would recommend any of them to anyone who loves birds!

 

We had a very short time in Cabo San Lucas and in our 4 hours spent with Maria Elena Muriel of Birding Los Cabos - we managed to see over 35 birds. Really a fantastic trip!

 

In Puerto Vallarta, our time for birding was short as well, as we arrived later (after lunch) and it is dark by ~ 6 -ish - but we managed to pull off ~ 40 or so bird species (some awesome ones at that!).

 

In Costa Rica - WOW WOW WOW - Berny Sanchez was second to none. A young guide who is VERY knowledgeable and helpful. He was amazing!!! We saw ~ 75 species that included treks to Carara National Park and then Playa Hermosa. Really great experience with Berny!

 

Panama was soooooooo beautiful. Our port was Colon and Gonzalo promptly picked us at as soon as we could get off the ship. BUSY traffic at Gatun Locks, so while we waited for ships to get through the locks, Gonzalo wasted no time in birding around them :) Over the course of the day, we saw ~ 80 (more/less) species.

 

All my exact counts are in my diary books - but it gives you a general feel of what transpired. The half-day treks (4-hours) in Mexico yielded half the species as the full day tours (Costa Rica/Panama), but were equally as exciting and fun.

 

All the guides were professionals and knew their respective areas.

 

Our "Panama Canal" cruise turned out to be an amazing adventure and I put it down to having awesome treks with these four guides. Definitely the birding tours were the highlight of our cruise. The other two ports of call (Guatemala and Columbia), we did city tours (Antigua/Cartagena) and WOW - did we ever miss the our nature treks. We were spoiled just being the two of us with a birding guide. Fantastic, memorable, amazing!

 

Heather

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Have you considered hiring a birding guide? We did that in Puerto Rico & Hawaii and had wonderful experiences.

 

We are cruising in Hawaii in June and I was wondering which Islands you birded and if you might recommend a guide.

Thanks,

Cinda

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Cinda, I booked 3 guides for birding while on my 2 week trip in Hawaii in 2010.

 

1. On the Big Island when the ship was in port at Hilo my husband and I reserved our day with Warren Costa of 'Native Guide Hawaii'. He picked us up at the port, provided a delicious lunch and showed us many interesting things including a lava tube and several endemic birds on a hike at a kipuka.

2. On Kauai we booked with Carl Berg, who also picked us up from the port, and I got to see many great birds. That day was very worthwhile.

3. I had a booking with Michael of Oahu Nature Tours when in Waikiki. His company does custom Birdwatching tours for small groups, and I was really looing forward to going birding with him. Unfortunately that day an earthquake offshore initiated a sunami warning and the trip was cancelled.

 

I recommend you book people early so as avoid disappointment.

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hvbaskey, a list maybe?

 

Will start off with Mexico (as I still have to enter Costa Rica and Panama into eBird.

 

Cabo San Lucas (with Guide, Maria Elena Muriel)

 

http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S16285938

 

Puerto Vallarta (with Guide, Alejandro Martinez)

 

http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S16286147

 

When I enter the other two ports, will share the lists

 

Heather

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Bird list from our Port of Call - Colon, Panama. We birded Gatun Locks, Gatun Spillway (Dam) and then the majority of the day in Achiote (San Lorenzo National Forest). eBird took all the entries, except 1 - it did not have the Western Slaty Antshrike in the database :(

 

Gonzalo Horna was found via "birding pal" and he was really great!

 

http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S16446843

 

Heather

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[quote name=hvbaskey;41366728

 

Puerto Vallarta (with Guide' date=' Alejandro Martinez)

 

http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S16286147

 

Heather[/quote]

 

One of my favourites from Puerto Vallarta:

 

http://ponyshots.smugmug.com/Travel/Panama-Canal-Cruise-2013/Puerto-Vallarta/i-82nJWGz/0/L/DSC_0971_2-L.jpg

 

Heather

Edited by hvbaskey
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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm back to Jamaica in 2 wks and have hired Wendy Lee again to bird Cockpit Country. She tells me there are two of us on the Independence booked with her that day. So, Bruce if you are out there lurking, I'll see you on the 12th.

 

Cinda

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  • 2 weeks later...

Birding through the Panama Canal – Azamara Quest, Jan 5-17, 2014. Miami to San Jose, CR

Stayed overnight at the Hampton Inn a couple miles from the airport, and up early for the vultures, kestrel ,starlings, Blue Jay, grackle, Mourning Dv, Ring Billed Gull in the field behind the hotel. Laughing/Ringbill/Herringl gulls off the ship, Royal Tern, Double crested and Neotropic Cormorants both, soaring Black Vultures.

Nothing across the water, until we got about 30 miles offshore from Cartagena, when the Brown and Masked Boobies started riding the air currents around the ship and diving on injured /stunned fish.

Cartagena: hook a ride on one of the shuttles to the visitor center behind the Duty Free at the end of the dock, or walk it – a good quarter mile on the hot concrete. There is a couple of acres of woods behind, a beer stand out front for when you get dehydrated birding, and internet access – 5 bucks for 2 hours. The woods had 3kinds of parrots, grackles, some kind of chicken sized Tinnamou?, brown throated parakeet flock, keel-billed toucans, Macaws, some kind of sparrow sized bird I never got a good look at, a flock of flamingos with a Double Stripe Thickknee hanging around. Last time I had a spotted Woodpecker pair to watch. There’s a cage of off limits birds – this time a Ring necked Pheasant, a few Black bellied Whistling Ducks, more thickknees, and a great orange bird that I forget…. Bring a couple of rolls from breakfast to use for bait – they put out some fruit for the toucans and parrots. Peer under the bushes. Develop a rhythm – go through the woods slowly, have a 2 dollar beer in a shady chair facing your bait, then repeat. A couple of hours of this, and you’ll be good. Down by the water, you’ll generally see mangrove swallows and some swifts.

Panama Canal: both vultures and Frigate Birds, Brown Pelicans, some parakeets, Great tail grackles, half a dozen swallows (Mangrove, Purple Martins, Gray, Rough winged). Snowy Egret, great blue heron, Black crowned night heron, little blue heron, 8 white pelicans soaring over Gatun Lake, some kind of medium hawk hovering, a yellow head Caracara, and a lot of pigeons with not one single dove in there. Saw all of these hanging over the rail (veranda room). In Panama City: another Yell Caracara, social flycatcher, boat bill flycatcher, tropical kingbird, reddish egret, both pelicans, frigates soaring, both vultures, grackles, Laughing Gulls. Had some King Vultures last time….

Golfrito: not bad birding. Up early and got flycatchers and swallows off the balcony, a couple of egrets, one lonely flyby of a big Ringed Kingfisher, and the usual grackles and doves. Walked down to the end of the pier, through the fence, and up the road a hundred yards to a two tracks going to the left down to a creek. The creek had Black Vultures and another Yell Caracara picking up scraps. I scared up a Bare necked Tiger Heron next to the road at a distance of 15 feet, had a variated Seedeater perched on the fence, and was passed several times by Cherie’s Tanagers flying around. Heard several birds in the bushes, but no luck pishing, etc.

Quepos: tour of Manuel Antonio Park with knowledgeable guides. Saw the camo frogs, a hummingbird nest with 2 young, a Buff-Throated Saltator, a Pygmy Kingfisher near the pond, then when we were having a little snack, I looked up and a Hoffman’s Woodpecker landed on a dead palm stump. Not bad…. All the official guides are college grads and pretty good – the official tours will bring a spotting scope.

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  • 6 months later...

My husband and I are going to St. Martin for a week in October and are wondering if anyone knows of a birding guide who would be willing to bird with us for a day?

 

Thanks to anyone who can give us suggestions.

 

Connie

Edited by Ann Lundby
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Ann,

 

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

 

Here's a start. Couldn't find more -- but there is one birdingpal (volunteer) contact who might be able to either take you out him/herself, or tell you about other resources available on the island.

 

Cheers!

April

 

Thanks April, we'll follow up on this right away.

 

Connie

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  • 5 months later...

Let's try to keep this thread alive . . . it's a real good resource for specific islands.

 

I just kind of walk around on the private and other islands while The Bride gets a lounger in the shade with a Corona and a book!

 

So far have been to the following with some of the highlights:

 

Princess Cay - Black-Faced Grassquit (M), Bahama Woodstar, Comomn-Ground Dove

 

Cococay - Bananaquit, Black-Faced Grassquit (F), Common-Ground Dove, hundreds of Laughing Gulls

 

Maya Cay (excursion from Roatan) - White-Crowned Pigeon

 

St. John's (excursion from St. Thomas USVI) - Zenadia Dove, Pearly-Eyed Thrasher

 

I am cruising to Cococay again in March 2015, Labadee in October 2015, and Hawaii in April 2016.

 

Thanks -

 

Jerry

Manassas VA

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Gidewey52, you made me pull my diary out for St. John (USVI) - back in 2006, I saw bananaquits, black-necked stilts, white-cheeked pintails, ground doves, brown boobies, frigatebirds, and several Antillean crested and green-throated Carib hummingbirds.

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Hi,

My day at the beach in Labadee Haiti in March 2012 produced 11 species, the following bird sightings:

 

Brown Pelican

Red-tailed Hawk

White-winged Dove

Gray Kingbird

Black-whiskered Vireo

Cave Swallow

Northern Mockingbird

Palmchat (Endemic to Hispaniola)

Bananaquit

House Sparrow and

Village Weaver

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  • 1 month later...

Returned from our RCCL cruise on Enchantment of the Seas. Went to Cococay (RCI's private Island) and to Blue Lagoon Island on our stop at Nassau.

 

Cococay

 

I took a two-hour walk on the Nature Trail. Weather was great - sunny and not too hot. I have pictures of everything except the Bananaquit, Hummingbird and Mockingbird. There were also a couple of other species that flew by and hid in the bushes. Too fast to get an ID.

 

Indian Peafowl

Prairie Warbler

Laughing Gull

Blackfaced Grassquit

Palm Warbler

Eurasian Collared-Dove

Bananaquit

Great Egret

Green Heron

Northern Harrier

UNK Hummingbird (flew by me pretty fast)

UNK Mockingbird (heard but couldn't locate in tree)

 

Blue Lagoon Island

 

I just wandered around for about an hour. They have a boardwalk that wraps around the lagoon/beach and goes to an un-improved part of the island (woods), but they had it closed off. I spoke with a worker and he said that they closed it off because of possible liability issues. It is a bit remote and they were afraid that someone could get hurt and nobody would know. Oh well. He said that they have counted 13 or 18 (can't remember exactly what he said) species on the island - some woodpeckers, hummingbirds, etc., that would be found in the wooded area that was closed off.

 

Ruddy Turnstone (all over the place - fun to watch)

Common Ground Dove

Laughing Gull

Ring-Billed Gull

 

Had a good time - the Indian Peafowl, and Ruddy Turnstone are lifers for me.

 

On to Labadee, Falmouth and Georgetown in October!

 

Jerry

Manassas VA

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Well, I did something I never thought I would do. I joined a 'Carefree Birding cruise' with Ken & Linda on the Equinox last March. James Currie was along with his cameraman Jeff filming episodes for his Nikon Birding Adventures which is on Destination America channel. He also was the Enrichment Speaker. We hit 6 ports and 6 birding sites. It is not your usual birding group. There were 18 of us and we birded: Cartegena on a private ranch, Colon on the old US Fort with Carlos Bethancourt from Canopy Towers, Puerto Limon rural area with local guide; Queen Elizabeth Botanical Park, Grand Cayman; Cozumel; and Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary, Belize.

 

It was a blast and I may do it again someday.

Cinda

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  • 2 months later...
Well, I did something I never thought I would do. I joined a 'Carefree Birding cruise' with Ken & Linda on the Equinox last March. James Currie was along with his cameraman Jeff filming episodes for his Nikon Birding Adventures which is on Destination America channel. He also was the Enrichment Speaker. We hit 6 ports and 6 birding sites. It is not your usual birding group. There were 18 of us and we birded: Cartegena on a private ranch, Colon on the old US Fort with Carlos Bethancourt from Canopy Towers, Puerto Limon rural area with local guide; Queen Elizabeth Botanical Park, Grand Cayman; Cozumel; and Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary, Belize.

 

It was a blast and I may do it again someday.

Cinda

 

Hi Cinda - what is a carefree birding cruise? were the tours pre-arranged, how did you get your group together? pre-cruise?

 

I did the Panama Canal (see earlier threads) and birded 4 ports, but we did it on our own, as we could not find any birders on the roll call :(

 

Heather

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Well, I did something I never thought I would do. I joined a 'Carefree Birding cruise' with Ken & Linda on the Equinox last March. James Currie was along with his cameraman Jeff filming episodes for his Nikon Birding Adventures which is on Destination America channel. He also was the Enrichment Speaker. We hit 6 ports and 6 birding sites. It is not your usual birding group. There were 18 of us and we birded: Cartegena on a private ranch, Colon on the old US Fort with Carlos Bethancourt from Canopy Towers, Puerto Limon rural area with local guide; Queen Elizabeth Botanical Park, Grand Cayman; Cozumel; and Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary, Belize.

 

It was a blast and I may do it again someday.

Cinda

 

This is a GREAT idea. Not everyone wants a hard-core birding experience, but what birder wouldn't want to look for birds in a new, exotic place? And have deck buddies looking for boobies (the feathered kind)? I will be checking this out for sure. If anyone else participates in one of these trips, I hope they will also share.

 

Thanks, Dena

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Hi Cinda - what is a carefree birding cruise?.... we could not find any birders on the roll call :(

Heather

 

Carefree Birding is a company (2 very personable individuals/ Ken & Linda) that arrange birding groups on different cruises. Google them. They have a website.

I have always made my own arrangements, so this was definitely different for me. James Currie from "Nikon Birding Adventures" was the lead in our group of 18. Each port had a local guide prearranged. Ken & Linda are a blast.

 

This is a GREAT idea.

Thanks, Dena

 

That's what gave Ken the idea. There is a whole write up about it on their website. I had heard about it from a couple that I birded with in Jamaica. Also Kevin Karlson was leading a birding group @ Galveston (TX) Featherfest and he mentioned that he lead some of these trips for Ken & Linda, so I checked it out.

 

Happy birding everyone,

Cinda

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Thanks Cinda for the information :)

 

So far, we have just arranged our own birding via birding pal.org (a very useful site) and/or Trip Advisor. We are off to the Eastern Med in 3 weeks time and post-cruise, we have arranged to Bird Tuscany, Italy (woot woot!).

 

We are tentatively booked for the Southern Caribbean (B2B) for the Holidays 2015 and will definitely be booking some birding trips (likely through birding pal), as our Panama Canal trip was absolutely amazing birding 4 ports (out of 6).

 

Heather

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