Sunday, 26 July 2009

Lesser Antilles: 3. Dominica

Our flight to Dominica included just a 15-minute touchdown on Guadeloupe to pick up passengers. Oh how I would have loved a chance to go searching for the endemic woodpecker!

On arrival on Dominica, we headed for the Indian River where much of the recent ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ movie was filmed. Here we met with David of Cobra Tours who took us on a splendid rowboat trip along the river. Plumbeous Warblers, Lesser Antillean Flycatchers, Black Swifts and Rufous-throated Solitaires (amongst many others) vied for our attention as we quietly made our way along the river. And what about this Frangipani Moth caterpillar!

For most of our stay, Bertrand Jno Baptiste, better known as ‘Birdy’, was our expert guide as we searched for the island’s special birds. A trip to the Emerald Pool area proved very productive – Blue-headed Hummingbird was probably the star but other hummers also featured along with Red-throated Solitaire, Lesser Antillean Flycatcher, Broad-winged Hawk and Lesser Antillean Swift. We also saw the endemic tree lizard Anolis oculatus.

The Botanical Gardens produced our first views of an Imperial or Sisserou Parrot, a striking green-and-purple-plumaged member of the genus Amazona. Unfortunately it was in a cage! We went looking for a wild one in the Morne Diablotin National Park but without success although we did manage to hear one. The other endemic parrot, Red-necked or Jacquot, was much more obliging.

There were lots of great birds to see including Lesser-Antillean Peewee, Blue-headed and Antillean Crested Hummingbirds, Lesser Antillean Saltator and Red-legged Thrush but Antillean Euphonia proved elusive. Zenaida Doves and Grey Kingbirds were common everywhere.

All in all this was a great visit to the Lesser Antilles. Thanks go to the Tourist Boards of the various islands for hosting us and to Joanna and Kylie of the Saltmarsh Partnership for including me on the trip. I hope to return next year with an Avian Adventures group.

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