Trip report: Caribbean Classic – Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic March 2020 by Tropical Birding

Guided by Sam Woods and Pablo Cervantes Daza (Puerto Rico only).
This was a set departure tour.

Most of the participants who joined this tour had not visited either of these islands, or the Caribbean region before. Thus, this meant there were not only a healthy list of island endemic bird species on offer as lifebirds, but also more widespread Caribbean specialties available too. On top of that, were SIX Caribbean endemic bird families that everyone in the group managed good views of: Todies were represented by three species, one seen on Puerto Rico (Puerto Rican Tody) and two recorded on the Dominican Republic (Narrow-billed and Broad Billed Todies), endemic Spindalises were also recorded on both islands; Puerto Rican Tanager, a monotypic family featured on the first morning on that island, Palmchat (another monotypic, endemic bird family) was seen within the capital city of Santo Domingo, while the Chat-Tanager family was acquired by all on the same island of Hispaniola; lastly was the Hispaniolan Tanager family, with the widespread Black-crowned Palm-Tanager starring regularly on that island, but the other two representatives of the family, White-winged and Green-tailed Warblers, only showing up on a single, incredible day, in the highlands of the Dominican Republic.

Other highlights included a long look at Antillean Crested Hummingbird near the Puerto Rican capital, a good brace of endemic nightbirds that turned up during one single nightbirding session near Guanica, with first Puerto Rican Nightjar, followed by Puerto Rican Screech-Owl; a spritely pair of Elfin-woods Warblers in montane Puerto Rico at Maricao; and extreme close ups of the endangered Yellow-shouldered Blackbird in the coastal lowlands on the same island.

On the island of Hispaniola, the much-wanted Hispaniolan Crossbill was tracked down in the pines of the highlands on a magnificent day that also included excellent views of the rare La Selle Thrush, Hispaniolan Trogon, and the famously tough, Bay-breasted Cuckoo; the same day closed with wonderful views of White-fronted Quail-Dove near our base lower down. The tour ended with some superb final birding day avian peaks, with the critically endangered Ridgway’s Hawk circling during the morning, and an Ashy-faced Owl by spotlight after dinner.

Caribbean Classic: Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic FULL Report (PDF format, 8.8 MB file)