For Caribbean bird watchers the Dominican Republic is a fertile destination. You will find that most articles refer to the unpopulated southwest regions to go birding, where access is difficult and services are scarce. However, Caribbean bird enthusiasts are discovering a prime region in northern Dominican Republic where birding conveniently combines with other vacation activities. This report was prepared by a guest at Tubagua Plantation Eco Village, Vincent Rey. You can correspond with him directly at: stagnatile at hotmail.com
Staying at Tubagua Plantation Village is a great way to view some of the Hispaniolan (HE) and Carribean bird endemics (CE). The nature around the lodge is stunning and you will enjoy fantastic scenery.
A walk around the property will provide some good views of Antillean palm-swift (CE), black-whiskered vireo, mangrove cuckoo, lizard-cuckoo (HE), plain pigeon (CE) and Greater Antillean mango (CE).
Hiking the trails around the lodge in the morning will yield great views of other birds. The trails start right at the lodge and go uphill and downhill in both forested and more open areas. You can go on your own but it is better with a local guide who knows the trails well. You will observe white-winged doves, zenaida doves, plain pigeons, and also white-crowned pigeon. If you are lucky enough, you will spot a ruddy quail-dove. you are also likely to see the white neck crow (HE).
During your hike you can also see the Hispaniolan oriole (HE) and get good views of yellow-faced grassquits and of vervain hummingbirds (HE), the world’s second-smallest bird (after the Cuban bee hummingbird). Some other great birds include black-crowned palm-tanager (HE) and the much sought broad-billed tody (HE) which is always a pleasant sight.
Make sure to stop at the bridge in Camu, some 2 miles north of the lodge, to observe the colony of cave swallows that nest under the bridge.
Palmchats (HE) and Hispaniolan woodpecker (HE) are common around Tubagua, and you can also see easily red-legged thrush (CE), Greater Antillean grackle (CE), and other, more common birds such as smooth-billed anis, limpkin (carrau), shiny cowbirds, northern mockingbird, grey kingbird, cattle egret, common ground dove, bananaquit, turkey vulture, red-tailed hawk and green heron.
The northern mountain range also hosts its share of transient birds from North America, especially warblers (including American redstart, cape-may warbler, black-throated blue warbler, black-and-white warbler, …)
For the scaly-naped pigeon (CE), which lives at higher elevations, you will want to go to the park Loma Isabel de Torres, some 20 minutes drive from the lodge.
Tubagua is a great introduction to birding in Hispaniola, especially if you do not have time or the logistics to go birding in the Sierra de Bahoruco.