PR Diaries: Birding at Playa de Borinquén with Sociedad Orintólogica Puertorriqueña, Aguadilla, PR 11/09/2019

Hi! Today I will be talking about our birding visit to El Playa de Borinquén, or in english, Borinquen Beach, and we went with the Sociedad Orintólogica Puertorriqueña.

El Playa de Borinquén is a beach in the northwestern corner of Puerto Rico. There are some main places such as: Wilderness Beach, Las Ruinas del Faro La Ponderosa, Crash Boat Beach, and the actual Borinquén Beach. Be careful while swimming though; the sea and currents are really strong. Once you park, look toward the sea and look right of that, you will see a giant cliff. I saw Pelicans going in and out of the cliff. It seen=med like there are some nests. And maybe there is, maybe there isn’t.

The drive from home to Aguadilla took approximately two hours. We were excited about the forest and what birds we would find there. I was mainly wanting to find the Puerto Rican Spindalis, Northern Parula, and American Redstart, but any warbler would make me happy.

When we reached there, the very first thing I saw was the pelicans foraging. While we were waiting for the rest of the birding members to come, I spotted a Whimbrel and clicked some pictures.

It was a nice surprise to find many bilingual local birders as I was expecting mostly Spanish speaking birders based on past trip experience.

Brown Pelican
Whimbrel

We were split into two groups for the actual birding trip. I was very happy to be Gabriel Lugo – expert birding guide and one of my birding mentor to whom I ask so many questions and he patiently responds to those.

In our group, along the road, we first witnessed a Prairie Warbler. It is yellow with black breast stripes. Right after that, on that same tree, we saw a Northern Parula. Parula’s have blue-gray backs and yellow breasts. They both are very energetic birds and move at almost every split-second. It was a delight to see these birds flitter around.

I was able to then see the Puerto Rican Spindalis for my first time! I was so happy. On the tree right next to it, we also saw an American Redstart! And it was a male! That was one warbler I was dreaming to see.

We hiked a little bit, and in between we heard a Ovenbird. When you first see it, it looks sort of like a thrush. But, it is a warbler. Once we reached the top, we saw a Cape May Warbler, Adelaide’s Warbler (Endemic to Puerto Rico), Northern Parula, Puerto Rican Oriole, Puerto Rican Bullfinch, Bananaquit, and Puerto Rican Woodpecker. Too bad I couldn’t get any good photos of the warblers as I’m still adjusting to the dense forest birding in Puerto Rico and not great at clicking pictures.

Signing off, TheKidBirder.

Trip around Camuy with Sadhu Govardhan and Kenny Enriquez, 12/28/19 (Part 3 of SOPIPR CBC)

To see the first part, go here.

To see the second part, go here.

After seeing the Upland Sandpiper, we stopped for a short break at the La Industrial Bakery in Barceloneta; the bakery had some great selection of sweets if you have a sweet tooth. After a quick lunch we all decided to visit Camuy to try finding the Red Knot, the American Golden-Plover and the Great-tailed Grackle. Camuy is a 45 min drive from Barceloneta. When we reached our first stop a small pond on Rt-485 (also known as Flamingo pond as a lone flamingo used to live there for 10 years), right away we saw a Little Blue Heron. And yes, the Little Blue Heron is smaller than the Great Blue Heron. We saw an uncommon Whimbrel, many Lesser Yellowlegs, Some Ruddy Turnstones, Glossy Ibises, and a few White-cheeked Pintails. 

©TheKidBirderPhotography
Glossy Ibis
©TheKidBirderPhotography
Whimbrel (uncommon)
©TheKidBirderPhotography
White-cheeked Pintails
©TheKidBirderPhotography
Little Blue Heron
©TheKidBirderPhotography
Ruddy Turnstones

We then went to another pond in the diameter of Finca Nolla. We saw mainly the same species but many in numbers. But I identified a new species – Muscovy Duck. They are domesticated in PR, and their face sort of looks like a turkey. That might be all I have to tell you because it is so unique.

Mainly all the birds here, how many can you identify?

We then went to the beach section of Finca Nolla. Sadly, due to high tides we did not see the sandpiper we were looking for: Red Knot. Nonetheless, we saw some nice flying pelicans, turnstones, and Black-bellied Plovers. This was at 3:30 pm in the evening.
We all were very tired after the full day birding and decided to end CBC for the day.

©TheKidBirderPhotography
Black-bellied Plover
©TheKidBirderPhotography
Ruddy Turnstone
©TheKidBirderPhotography
Brown Pelicans

I’m so thankful to Sadhu Govardhan and Kenny Enriquez for that one day trip. They are such expert birder and yet very humble human beings. I have learned a lot from these two mentors in birding, birding equipments, and more as how to be a great human being. 

That’s all for the trip! See you later!


PR Diaries: Trip around Barceloneta With Sadhu Govardhan & Kenny Enriquez, 12/28/19 (Part 2 of SOPIPR CBC)

Please read the first part before you start reading this. If you haven’t seen the first part, go here.

After the visit to Caño Tiburones, I wanted to see a dream bird: the Saffron Finch and requested Sadhu and Kenny if they know where to find it and can show us around. Sadhu and Kenny as an expert birder knew where to find and was gracious enough to take us to a water treatment plant “Planta Regional de Tratamiento Barceloneta”. This is the place where they saw the Saffron Finches a week ago.

It was quite a scenic drive around the see to reach “Planta Regional de Tratamiento Barceloneta. When we reached there, we first saw an American Kestrel sitting on the tall tree near entrance. As we parked and started walking in we noticed the grass where Sadhu and Kenny saw finches last time was moved and Saffron Finches were not there. As Saffron Finches feeds on the grass seeds and those were gone, we were getting disappointed that we may not be able to see them. Kenny and Sadhu suggested to keep an eye on the Grackle flock as sometimes Saffron Finches mix with them. We kept an open eye and started scouting.

As we were looking around the grackles on the ground my Mom noticed some small birds of a bit far tree and asked Kenny for the id. Kenny confirmed that they were Saffron Finches. And then the finches flew right in front of us in the closet trees and fences as if they were happy to see us, posing for us to capture their beauty. We captured multiple shots of both the male and female, but the male came out best. We went further and saw a few more female finches. They were amazing. Along with that, we also saw a Puerto Rican Flycatcher.

Saffron Finch (male)
Saffron Finch (female)
Puerto Rican Flycatcher

On our walk back to car, we saw the American Kestrel still sitting on the tall tree and decided to capture that beauty as well.

©TheKidBirderPhotography
American Kestrel

From there, we went to another place to find another rare: an Upland Sandpiper. I exactly don’t know the name of the spot, but it was in Barceloneta itself.

When we reached there, we met with another SOPI group. One of the SOPI leaders showed me where the Upland Sandpiper was, and I took a lot of photos. 

Upland Sandpiper (rare)

That was the end of the second part. I will see you in the third part. 

PR Diaries: Trip to Caño Tiburones Nature Preserve (Rt. 681) with Sadhu Govardhan & Kenny Enriquez, 12/28/19 (Part 1 of SOPIPR CBC)

Note: This is the first part of the CBC. The second and third parts will be posted soon.

At 6:00 in the morning, I was very excited for the trip that I was going to have. We were going to Arecibo, and I heard that there were a few rare species. When we reached there, we were taking a breath outside the car when I realized that there were White Ibises flying overhead! What a bird! They are mainly white except the face and the curved bill that is red.

©TheKidBirderPhotography
White Ibis

When our birding partners came, I met two very great human beings and birders: Sadhu Govardhan and Kenny Enriquez. Sadhu Govardhan owns the Govardhan Farms, and he knows all the top spots for certain birds. Kenny is # 11 in PR for species this year, and he also knows a lot about birds. I had a very good time with them. When we went inside the forest, we passed two bridges: A bridge with an unprotected side and a creeky, wooden bridge. Right after that, the first thing we saw was the Mangrove Cuckoo. He didn’t pose for pictures, but it was right in front of us. We were trying to get a good look at the Scarlet Ibis, but we didn’t manage to. We saw it, and the pics are ok. They are basically red all over. 

©TheKidBirderPhotography
Scarlet Ibis

We walked a little further and saw a Female Spindalis. They aren’t as appealing as the males, but they sing nicely. Then we saw a shocker- A Black-and-white Warbler! A brand new species for me. They are white with black stripes all over. We also saw a Northern Parula and a few Bananaquits. But while coming back, we saw a Male Spindalis! They are the ones that have really nice plumage. We saw many White Ibises fly-by. At the end, we saw a Mangrove Cuckoo, a Yellow-crowned Night-heron, and a Belted Kingfisher.

©TheKidBirderPhotography
Puerto Rican Spindalis
©TheKidBirderPhotography
Bananaquit
©TheKidBirderPhotography
Mangrove Cuckoo
©TheKidBirderPhotography
White Ibis

From there we went to an oceanside to find seabirds. We saw terns, pelicans, and an oystercatcher. That was the first part of the trip. I will see you in the second part. 

PR Diaries: 10/26/19 Trip to Finca La Perla Coffee Plantation, Mayagüez, PR with Sociedad Ornitológica Puertorriqueña

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.

©TheKidBirderPhotography
©TheKidBirderPhotography

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.

©TheKidBirderPhotography

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.

PR Bullfinch
©TheKidBirderPhotography
PR Woodpecker
©TheKidBirderPhotography
Black-faced Grassquit
©TheKidBirderPhotography
Red-tailed Hawk
©TheKidBirderPhotography
Black-faced Grassquit
©TheKidBirderPhotography

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!

Not so related…..But still interesting…..

Hi there! This post isn’t related to birding, but I really want to share it!

So, in my class, our teacher selected me and 5 other students for studying about Paul Salopek and his journey, and then sharing it with other students in my class. Our teacher has selected us to start our mission and do the “footsteps”. All the class is doing it, although we are going to do the main parts. If you know about the Out of Eden walk, Please share something about it with me.

If you want to tell any stories about your culture, email me at pranjal.nr.gupta@gmail.com. If you want to learn more about the walk, go here.

Thank you all and see you next time!

PR Diaries: Trip to Cabo Rojo on September 7, 2019 with Sociedad Orintológica Puertorriqueña Inc.

Hi there! I am sorry that posts are getting delayed. The new place, new school with lot of school work and many activities are keeping me busy. Also, we are exploring the new island for more birding activities. This post is about birding with Sociedad Orintológica Puertorriqueña Inc. (https://www.sopipr.org).

Since we moved, me and my mom keeps researching about the local Puerto Rico organizations we could go birding with. So, my mom found about SOPI on facebook and were happy to figure out a shorebird walk and workshop on 9/7/19 at Cabo Rojo. Cabo Rojo is 2.5 hours drive from our place in Guaynabo and the birding start time was 7:30 am. We started early at 5:00 am and my dad drove us right in time to participate in our first exploration with SOPI.

Our birding guide and workshop instructor was Gabriel Lugo. Gabriel is a well-experienced birdwatcher and birding guide and he knows almost all places for birdwatching in Puerto Rico. Gabriel works with SOPI and also runs Wildside nature tours for birding in Puerto Rico. As I’m in Puerto Rico and people speak Spanish here, the birding tour and workshop is expected to happen in Spanish. But language is not the barrier if you are really interested in birding. Gabriel and few others helped translate for us in English whenever it was needed.

So for the real trip, we were near the salt flat beds at Cabo Rojo where we could see many shorebirds. There were many shorebirds, but the ones that are new to me are the Semipalmated Sandpipers, Semipalmated Plovers, and a Snowy Plover. My photos aren’t so good because of the lighting, but seeing them was just a treat.

Semipalmated Sandpiper
Semipalmated Plover
Snowy Plover

Other than shorebirds, it was the home for Troupials. We saw few on the electric pole and flying around.

Troupial

From there on, we went in for a presentation. It was completely in Spanish, so i didn’t understand a thing. But luckily, there were captions in English and Gabriel helped answer questions in English.

After that we drove little further to visit a lighthouse and also saw a Caribbean Elaniea and a Yellow Warbler. They were so cool!

Caribbean Elaniea
Yellow Warbler

From there, it took us 9 minutes to go to a bird festival at the wildlife refuge. There I got a few English and Spanish field guides for the birds of Puerto Rico. They looked helpful for my start of birding in Puerto Rico.

One of my dream bird to see was Red Bishop and I asked Gabriel if he could guide us where to find it. Gabriel guided us to the spot where we can possibly look for Red Bishops. It was nearby so we decided to visit.

When we reached there, it looked exactly the habitat of a bishop: tall grass and wired fence. I was a rice field. We saw the Red Bishop, as well as the Smooth-billed Ani and Cave Swallow. There was one cartoonish moment: there were multiple swallows on a wire. You mainly see that on cartoons!

Smooth-billed Ani
Red Bishop
Cave Swallow
Swallows in a group

And that’s all for today! I will see you next time!