Last Day in Paradise

Hispaniolan Parakeet

Our last day had finally arrived, and as our flight wasn’t until 8:45 pm, I got up early and went out birding before breakfast. I started at the beach, then walked the eastern-most path along the edge of the resort. I wasn’t expecting anything out of the ordinary, and my only goal was to catch up with the cuckoo-like bird Doran and I had seen on our second day.

I didn’t see the cuckoo, but the Northern Parula was in the same tree where I’d seen it before. There was a second warbler in the same tree – brownish overall, with a necklace of dark streaks and a noticeable white wing patch. I thought it might be a Cape May Warbler, but wasn’t able to confirm it until I saw the photos showing the greenish rump and yellow patch behind the auriculars.

A little further along I saw a bird land on one of the lounge chairs and was thrilled when I recognized it as a Red-legged Thrush! It was sitting out in the open for a change, and I snapped a few quick shots before it disappeared. It flew down into the small line of shrubs that separates each room’s patio area, and then a second one flew in and joined it! I spent some time watching and following them as they scrabbled in the dirt before hopping along to the next yard. They acted just like robins, keeping low to the ground, running and stopping periodically with their tails stuck straight up. I lost them when a cloudburst passed over, dumping a couple of millimetres of rain on me. I took cover beneath some trees until it passed, then continued toward the swamp. I didn’t think I’d see anything as awesome as the two thrushes, but I was wrong.

Red-legged Thrush

The Tricolored Heron was in its usual open area next to the road, but a squabble with a Great Egret ended with the Tricolored Heron flying off across the road. A Snowy Egret was also sitting out in the open, its bright yellow feet visible. It preened for a bit, showing off its gauzy white plumes. Two more flew over while I was watching.

Snowy Egret

Snowy Egret

I heard a Common Gallinule call and saw two out in the open. The Osprey was also sitting out in the open again.

Common Gallinule

Osprey

A blackbird flew in and landed In a dead tree; the long tail caught my attention, and I realized it was a Smooth-billed Ani! I wasn’t expecting to see this bird here on the resort and spent some time trying to photograph it. Just as the sun started coming out into the open it flew across the road where it was backlit against the sun.

Smooth-billed Ani

I made my way back toward the resort, and as I passed by the Tricolored Heron spot I saw something gray and round in the water. I didn’t think it was a bird, but it turned its head and I saw the yellow eye and short beak of a Least Grebe. This wasn’t a new bird for me, as I had seen them in Costa Rica, but it was the closest I’d gotten to one. Unfortunately there was too much vegetation in the way to photograph it, and when it saw me looking at it the grebe calmly swam deeper into the swamp.

It was getting late for breakfast, so I started back towards our room again. Then a flock of noisy green birds flew into the top of a tall tree right next to the road, and I figured the Hispaniolan Parrots were back. I took a peek through the binoculars and the first thing I noticed were the long tails. Parakeets have long tails; parrots have short tails. Then I noticed the white eye-rings and red along the edge of the wings. I quickly checked my iPhone – I was right, these were Hispaniolan Parakeets, another life bird! I was happy to get this one, as I was hoping for both the Hispaniolan Parrot and the Parakeet on this trip as they are both endemic to the island.

Hispaniolan Parakeet

The Hispaniolan Parakeet is less common than the Hispaniolan Parrot; it is number 40 on my target list of species, having been recorded on 1.15% of all complete checklists. In contrast, the parrot is listed at number 10 on 17% of all complete checklists for the month of February. Interestingly, the Least Grebe isn’t on the list at all! I was amazed that even on the last day of our trip I was still finding new species on the resort, and really wished there was a path through the swamp to see what else was lurking back there!

I headed back to the room to get Doran for breakfast. While I waited for him to get ready, I sat out on the balcony where I soon spotted a Hispaniolan Woodpecker in a neighbouring palm tree. I never tire of looking at these colourful woodpeckers!

Hispaniolan Woodpecker

Not long after that, after I sat back down, a grackle flew in and landed on the balcony. It sang a few times before flying off; this wasn’t the first time one had come along while I was there!

Greater Antillean Grackle

We got breakfast, then returned to our room to pack. Although we didn’t need to leave for the airport until 6:00, we had to be out of the room by 2:00. Fortunately we were able to leave our luggage in a secure area and spend the rest of the afternoon on the resort. We got lunch, dropped off the luggage, then went for a massage that felt pretty terrific.

We killed the last few hours of our vacation by shopping for souvenirs and wandering around taking pictures. To my surprise, the Antillean Mango was feeding on the flowers near the souvenir shops, and a Bananaquit was sitting out in the open in the garden behind the hedge! The hummingbird landed on a bare branch for a moment, so I took the opportunity to photograph the Bananaquit first. The red gape on this bird means it is an adult male; it is not a juvenile as I had thought, which has a pale gape. The Bananaquit was formerly considered to be monotypic – the only member of its genus and the only member of its family; however, it is now thought to belong to Family Thraupidae, which comprises the many Neotropical tanagers. It is widespread throughout the Caribbean and South America with over 40 subspecies.

Bananaquit

Of course as soon as I turned my attention to the Antillean Mango it flew away. Fortunately I was able to follow it to its new perch well away from the buildings, and it stayed long enough for me to get some much better photos!

Antillean Mango

Like most of the hummingbirds I’ve seen, it was female – males are chiefly black on the underside instead of white, with an iridescent green throat and purple tail. The Antillean Mango is the largest hummingbird on Hispaniola, with a comparatively long, decurved bill. It is endemic to Hispaniola and Puerto Rico where it is a common and widespread resident – it is number five on my list of target species recorded on 26% of all complete checklists in February.

Antillean Mango

I was thrilled with the opportunity to get a much better look and much better photos of this species on our last afternoon in the Dominican; it’s not often you get a second chance in birding. Photographing this bird made for a fantastic ending to our trip, which was filled with so many memorable birds and experiences. I wasn’t sure I’d enjoy birding in the Dominican Republic, but the birds there were amazing and I am glad I got the chance to know them. Of course, I definitely plan on returning so I can get some photos of the Hispaniolan Lizard-Cuckoo!

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