Sierra de Bahoruco's remote cloud forests high in the southwestern Dominican Republic might seem an unlikely setting for an intensive ornithological field training workshop. Accessible only by 4WD vehicles, far from any human settlements, and lacking power or infrastructure, Pueblo Viejo has served for 16 years as the focal site of VCE's avian research and monitoring on Hispaniola. Since Chris Rimmer's December 1994 exploratory visit to Pueblo Viejo, when he heard his first wintering Bicknell's Thrush call from the dense broadleaf forest understory at 1800 m elevation, VCE has managed at least one annual trek there. Pueblo Viejo's pristine broadleaf and pine forests offer some of the finest examples of intact montane habitats on the island.
As VCE's Hispaniola bird conservation program has expanded to include a stronger focus on capacity building of our local partners, we challenged ourselves earlier this month to offer a rigorous 10-day ornithological field training session at Pueblo Viejo. Thanks to a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation grant for capacity building on Hispaniola to our colleague Eduardo Inigo-Elias at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, VCE was able to invite 10 Dominican students to participate in our workshop. Our Dominican colleagues further invited one Cuban student to join the
With cooperative weather, a non-stop slate of activities, outstanding group camaraderie, and a steady stream of intriguing birds, the workshop was an unqualified success for all involved. The students received detailed instruction and hands-on experience that enriched their commitments to careers in biology and conservation. The instructors reinforced relationships that will further promote collaborations within the Hispaniolan and greater Caribbean conservation community. VCE reaffirmed our valuable role as a catalyst for bird conservation on Hispaniola and a mentor for aspiring young biologists. We also maintained our commitment to long-term monitoring and research of Hispaniola's vulnerable montane forest avifauna. More on our findings in a future blog.
Photos -- Top: VCE banding 'station' at Pueblo Viejo. Bottom: VCE biologist Pat Johnson attaches a solar geolocator to a Bicknell's Thrush. Both photos courtesy of Ivan Mota.