When I saw Sociedad Ornitológica Puertorriqueña’s planned trip to Finca La Perla Coffee Plantation on 10/26/19, I got super excited. This was my 2nd trip with sopipr.org and also I have never been to coffee plantation before. So, birding in a coffee plantation built more excitement and I started imagining the trip details and what all kinds would greet me 🙂
As Finca La Perla Coffee Plantation in Mayagüez is more than 2.5 hours drive from our home and birding trip start time was 7:30 am, my parents decided to leave a day early and stay at the nearby place. We choose to stay at Hacienda Juanita another beautiful place. We left Friday afternoon. It was cloudy but a beautiful day. 30 kms before Hacienda Juanita route becomes scenic, and we started seeing few birds and one of them was orange and black – possibly a Puerto Rican Oriole. My dad backed up the car for me to have a quick look, but it flew away fast. There were patches where fog was still on the road in the afternoon, it was magical passing through that. We reached Hacienda Juanita at 4:00 PM. There is a coffee shop in there that has their own plantation best coffee (my parents told me) and their shop is full of antique camera, phones, bottles, keys, phones, typewriters, you name it and it would be there. Over there, I spoke Spanish for the first time outside school! I spoke in Spanish when my dad asked if the coffee was local. The person on the counter didn’t know English, so I translated it into Spanish and said it. We stayed there overnight and had some fun enjoying beautiful scenery, it was rainy and slippery so we could not venture more.
For our trip to Finca La Perla we did start in the very early morning. The drive was beautiful but windy at times. When reached to the provided meeting point, we saw the sign for Finca La Perla and we started taking the route as there was no coffee shop. We drove on the a rocky and bumpy road and when we though there was a gate ahead, we saw another car stopped there. My mom asked him and he said he was not sure if it was safe to go inside the door because of the warning sign there. So, for 15 minutes my parents and the other gentleman tried to figure out if this was the right place or not. Finally we decided to go in and found that indeed was the place, it was the real coffee plantation with the host’s living there. A very beautiful dense coffee and banana plantation it was.
We started birdwatching in sometime and I met Gabriel Lugo again. He was leading this walk and I was so happy to see him again. The first birds I saw were some hummingbirds and Bananaquits from the deck. I was interested to see some Antillean Euphonias and asked Gabriel about it. He explained that their population had declined, but where there are fruits on a branch that is thin, they could be found there. Then I inquired about the Puerto Rican Spindalis. He said that they could be anywhere around this coffee plantation. I started hoping to see them soon.
Our actual trip was going down in the coffee plantation and observe birds on the tall tree and coffee bushes as we can. Due to the rain the path was muddy and we had to be careful while walking else we could slip down. This was new terrain for me and birds were so high in the trees, so I requested my dad to handle camera while I focus on familiarizing myself with the surroundings. When we started walk in the plantation, we saw a White-winged Parakeet (Spanish, Periquito Aliblanco) fly by, a Puerto Rican Bullfinch, Puerto Rican Oriole, Puerto Rican Woodpecker, Black face Grassquit. As it was getting more muddy we decided to turn back. We heard the Spindalis twice but did not see it. We got to see and then saw an female Antillean Euphonia.
After that, there was a Spanish presentation on birds identification with some delicious snacks provided by Finca La Perla hosts. Really thankful for them to open up their coffee plantation for us to have this great experience.
Overall it was a great experience for me. Not so many great bird pictures as I still need to work on my forest bird photography. These little creatures moves so fast. Some blurry pictures to enjoy.
Hope you enjoyed this trip details. Thanks to my mom for helping me to add details to this project. Iw ill try to do more posts like this with lots of details.
Bye! See you next time!