Dominican Republic: Day Six: Birds, Butterflies and Blooms At Altos De Cano Hondo Near Los Haitises National Park
I awoke early on Monday morning during my stay at the Altos de Cano Hondo resort. It is located at the edge of the Los Haitises National Park in a remote part of the Dominican Republic. I was the only guest staying at the resort that night but there was still hot coffee awaiting me in the dinning room. I enjoyed my coffee and edited some photographs while waiting for the dawn. I now knew the sun rose around 6:40 and had an idea in what direction so I was off on my walk around 6:30.
Once again I descended the steep stone road, crossed the scenic Cano Hondo River and followed the dirt and rutted access road to the entrance of the Los Haitises National Park. This part of the road is lined with large sub-tropical trees.
Unfortunately, by the time I reached the entrance road to the park, the sun had risen over the open fields to the east. I was too late: I missed it. I wouldn’t make that mistake again.
I walked along the road and observed the many different species of trees that grow there. I learned, by the end of my visit, it is a good place to observe birds early in the morning and late in the afternoon. It was quiet and peaceful, for now.
And I did see some birds that morning. One of the first was this palmchat on it’s nest. These social birds live in colonies and are often seen in large groups, chattering as the sit perched in the tops of palm trees. I would see many on my 4 mile hike that morning.
I next saw a Greater Antillean Grackle perched on a palm frond, and
then this bird I am so familiar with on my hikes in the woodlands of my beloved Northeastern Pennsylvania, female American redstart. They are common here in the Dominican Republic in Fall and Winter but breed in the United Stated and Canada. I could have seen, and heard this bird, in my backyard in Pennsylvania in May. It’s amazing they have already traveled this far.
Hopping on the ground along the road, I saw this Northern waterthrush, this was the first new bird or “lifer” I saw on my walk. (I had seen the grackles and palm chats on my previous hikes at the resort).
I continued my walk to the boat docks at the entrance to the park. There are some folks associated with the park living here and chickens, wild American turkeys and other domestic run freely here.
As I walked along the dock I spotted this little blue heron who quickly flew off as I approached. I have often seen these birds in the Everglades on my visits to South Florida.
On my walk back I was looking for this bird, I saw it briefly on my walk on Sunday. I knew where I saw it and, sure enough it was there again, a Hispaniolan Lizard-Cuckoo. It is a beautiful bird.
allowing me to get some nice photographs of this magnificent bird.
Unfortunately it flew off when, a truck carrying workers at Los Haitises National Park, drove up the dirt and rutted road. It would be the first of many trucks, motorcycles, motor scooters and horses that would now pass on their way to the park. Of course, this traffic scared many of the birds away.
On the way I photographed some of the flowers and fruits I saw on the trees and along the trail, and which attracted the birds, including these pretty African tulip tree flowers. It, and some of the other trees are not native to the Dominican Republic but they still were pretty and attracted birds and insects.
These, I believe are Pride of India flowers,
these pretty pink flowers, found everywhere on my hike are a from the sensitive plant, a species of mimosa.
There were some fruit on some of the coconut and date palm trees and I believe these are tropical almond fruit. Again, I am relying on my PictureThis iPhone App for these identifications so please let me know if I am wrong by comment and I will correct them.
In addition to the birds I also saw the many butterflies that are fluttering everywhere here including a tropical checkered skipper and
butterfly. I have seen many of the zebra heliconian butterflies on my visits to the Florida Everglades.
Finally , I saw one more critter scamper up a tree, I believe this is a green bark anole lizard.
The traffic along the road increased so I walked back to the resort and followed the trail along the rice paddies.
It was quiet and other then the bird and frog song, the only noise I heard was the snorting of the daddy horse as I approached his family. The mother horse was munching on some grass a short distance away.
There also a lot of birds active in this area on this morning, in addition to more of the palmchits, I saw a few northern mockingbird,
some turkey vultures soaring overhead and a few perched in a tree,
and a flock of these pretty village weavers. They are of African origin, I saw them in Zanzibar, and were introduced to the Dominican Republic and Caribbean region. Here is a link to a gallery on my website with photographs of the birds I saw on my hike. Dominican Republic. Altos de Cano morning hike birds. October 25 2021.
There were also a lot of dragonflies here, probably because of the water in the rice paddies.
I haven’t been able to identify either of the two species I was able to photograph.
I decided to venture into the sub-tropical forest again an took the steep, muddy rocky trail into the Los Haitises park.
Once again I entered the park through a gate and found a horse teetered to a tree along trail.
As I walked on the narrow trail, lined with native sub-tropical trees I again heard the squawking of the Hispaniolan woodpeckers high in the palm trees. The only other birds that I saw in the forest were a couple of American redstarts. The large cliffs could be seen on both sides of the trail.
On this hike I noticed what I later would learn were coffee beans growing along the trail.
The sun continued to climb in the sky and heated the forest up. It became hot and very humid so I decided to end my hike and return to the hotel for breakfast which was served until 10 a.m. , and meet with our guide Wilfred before he took another boat excursion also a 10 a.m.
On my way back, I encountered these folks.
They are husband and wife who forage in the forests of the National Park looking for the wild coconuts, fruits and plants that grow there. They are like the wild mushroom hunters back home here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. We couldn’t understand each other’s language but we communicated and it was a pleasant and friendly conversation.
I took a slow walk back to the resort and finished up my five mile hike. I made it back just in time to meet my guide and discuss a guided tour of the forest. I enjoyed a nice breakfast and spent the rest of the morning and afternoon editing photos, relaxing and enjoying the beauty of the resort. Here is a link to a gallery with some more photographs from my morning hike. Dominican Republic Day Six morning hike October 25 2021
Nowhere else is it possible to experience, in such a small area, so many different cultures and social conditions, such diverse vegetation, and such varied landscape as in the Caribbean.Leonard Adkins
Frank, as you hiked through all this lush vegetation, we’re you concerned about ticks?
Nope and I got Lymes disease twice now but I will never stop hiking and sharing the beauty I find.