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Saturday, December 28, 2013

Brown Booby, White-cheeked Pintail and Two Shorebirds

[Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico. November 2013]

Cabo Rojo NWR is another site that will reward the birder looking to explore additional vistas for new species. Observed here were:
  1. White-Cheeked Pintail
  2. Brown Booby
  3. Grey Kingbird
  4. Antillean Grackle
  5. Lesser Yellowlegs
  6. Stilt Sandpiper 
White-cheeked or Bahama Pintail is an attractive Caribbean duck.

White-cheeked Pintail

It is frequently found in brackish waters and while classified as "Least Concern", it is under hunting pressure. This is a vagrant to our shores (typically in Florida).

Cabo Rojo offers salt pans, arid scrub, as well as coastal habitats. Near the Lighthouse (El Faro) are some dramatic cliffs overlooking the sea. Walking to the edge means risking death as there are no barriers or fences and, given the erosion, even what appears to be solid ground could give way. Sadly, a rock near the edge bore the inscription of a youth who fell to their death a couple of years ago.

However, from the edge, it is possible to observe Brown Booby as they fly past or land to roost on the cliffs.

Brown Booby

This was my first sighting of this species (not counting the dead one that washed ashore at Little Estero Lagoon, FL).

Two shorebirds affording a quick size comparison -- Lesser Yellowlegs and Stilt Sandpiper

Near where the Bahama Pintail were observed, a feeding flock of shorebirds made their way parallel to the shore. Stilt Sandpiper were most numerous with smaller number of yellowlegs and Semipalmated sandpiper.

The mangroves held some icterids -- mostly Antillean Grackle. However, the endangered Yellow-shouldered Blackbird (my nemesis bird for Puerto Rico) continued to elude the photographer.

In closing, presenting the Grey Kingbird or Pitirre. This is the flycatcher seen ubiquitously across the Enchanted Island.

Cabo Rojo is another jewel in our National Wildlife Refuge system and offers the possibility of seeing a delightful mix of species including Brown Booby, Stilt Sandpiper and the Bahama Pintail.

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