The Dominican Republic: May 05—13, 2007

A Caribbean Birding Adventure

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Price: $2,595
Departs: Santo Domingo
Tour Limit: 8
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Ridgway's Hawk

Ridgway's Hawk— Photo: David Ascanio

A Caribbean birding adventure with beautiful scenery, diverse geography, and lots of island and regional endemic bird species, including the critically endangered Ridgway's Hawk. We will focus on endemic bird species at the peak time of year for bird activity.

The Dominican Republic is beautiful, diverse, and rich in endemic bird species. It is the most geographically varied place in the Caribbean, containing a quadruple set of mountain ranges, with peaks rising to 10,000 feet, as well as a landlocked lake that lies an astonishing 130 feet below sea level! Biologically it is also without peer, as nearly half the plant species are found nowhere else, and its 30 endemic bird species are more than on any other Caribbean island.

Day-trips to different elevations in the mountains should yield most of the endemics, including La Selle Thrush, Hispaniolan Trogon, Hispaniolan Lizard-Cuckoo, Hispaniolan Emerald, Hispaniolan Spindalis, Hispaniolan Parrot, Western Chat-Tanager, and many others. Two species of tody are likely as well. Numerous other regional endemics are possible, including Loggerhead Kingbird, Stolid Flycatcher, Red-legged Thrush, Rufous-throated Solitaire, Caribbean Martin, and Greater Antillean Euphonia.

The Ridgway's Hawk is one of the world's rarest birds, with probably no more than a handful of pairs remaining. A full day in the hills north of Santo Domingo should give us good chances of finding this highly endangered bird of prey.

Aside from the marvelous birding, the island is also visually appealing. Our travels will take us from the rocky Caribbean coast all the way up to magnificent cloud forest, with tree ferns reaching 20 feet in height. Jaragua National Park features some of the most beautiful and undisturbed cactus and thorn-scrub forest anywhere. The vast Neiba Valley provides stunning panoramas of landlocked Lago Enriquillo, as well as incredible cactus and desert-scrub vegetation.

The country's rich history awaits exploration as well, and we will be sure to visit historic Santo Domingo, the oldest city in the Western Hemisphere and the foundation of Spanish colonialism in the New World.

Accommodations vary from basic (two nights) to very good (remaining nights); at least two lengthy drives, with one over a very bad road, and three pre-dawn starts; humid and warm weather normally with mild rain.