South of the Birder

Punta Cana...ah...a world of palm trees, white sandy beaches and aquamarine waters. Saltwaters. The novelty of being near the ocean still has not worn off for me after a lifetime of growing up in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. And even after four months of living in St. John's, Newfoundland, I'm still in awe of the overpowering force which is the sea and its world beneath. I was in Punta Cana for 7 days (the Dominican Republic is highly recommended on my list of vacation getaways) for a leisurely stay consisting of pina coladas, a menagerie of buffet food and topped off with swims in both the ocean and the many pools. I brought small binoculars and had every intention of finding a few birds but I have to admit that the only action the binoculars saw was the unintentional bath given to them by the torrential rainstorm that soaked through my suitcase on the way back from the Dominican. I'm happy to say though, that I didn't need the bino's to glimpse some beautiful fowl.

Por exemplo, the photo of the BROWN PELICAN shown in my header bar was one I snapped before watching the Pelican fold up its wings midair and dive gracefully into the shallow water just beyond the beach. I watched this beautiful bird circle just overhead and dive several times, coming up with fish on a few of those occasions. In Fort Collins, Colorado, I had grown accustomed to the anxiety brought on by the return of the AMERICAN WHITE PELICANS every spring. I had all of their favorite ponds scouted out and watched them for hours scooting along the banks of these ponds in circles, promenading their mates and occasionally finding something to eat in the dark waters below. These oceanic looking birds love to stick their feet into the mountain run-off that makes up the bodies of water in Colorado and I'm not exactly sure why but this stop on their migration route was my signal that university was almost out for the summer and I would have more time to bird watch. In my experience, it's not often that a crowd of people will gather around just to watch one bird but this pelican on the beach in Punta Cana had quite a following. It's hard to see in the picture but the pelican was in full breeding plumage which meant that its bill showed an array of colors: orange, pink, white, grey, and black.

Another awesome bird I witnessed on a daily basis in Punta Cana was the COMMON MOORHEN. Noisy birds which like to splash around in their swampy pools. I saw them many times near a bridge on my way to get food.



A male and his ladies. Great birds!

And what kind of birder would I be if I left out the GREATER-ANTILLEAN GRACKLE, even if it does pester you for muffin crumbs no matter where on the resort you go.


Other birds that I saw and wish I had a picture of: GREEN-BACKED HERON, GREAT WHITE EGRET, and CATTLE EGRET. If you haven't seen these beauties, crack open that field guide or google image search them because they are worth a look. I'm still trying to identify a couple of passerine birds and one grouse-like bird I saw foraging for seeds in a lawn so wish me luck with that.

I'll leave you with a few more images of flora and fauna just in case you aren't really the bird type or perhaps you're just a nature freak all around like me.




These lizards are Green Bark Anoles.

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