We had 75° F (24° C) average temperatures this past week, and believe it or not it hasn’t rained (for long) in over 3 weeks! The usually wet and muddy soils of Loma La Canela are parched and hard. We aren’t complaining. This site is a notoriously hard place to work, but recently it has been rather nice. We finished our point counts there this week, and got out just in time for an intense thunderstorm!
The remaining native forest of Loma La Canela again proved to be great habitat for wintering Bicknell’s Thrush. We detected BITH’s at 16 out of 30 points in the Loma La Canela area, which is 3 more points than we had detected them at before. Overall, we have detected BITH’s at 26 out of our 101 point count stations which span a variety of forest types and elevations.
This week at La Canela we had more close encounters with introduced mammals: the mongoose (Herpestes auropunctatus) and rats (Rattus sp.). Mongooses and rats are present in both Loma Quita Espuela and Loma Guaconejo. Rats are by our estimations very abundant here. We have had many not so fun encounters with rats over the course of our stay. Rats are also known predators of adult wintering Bicknell´s Thrush. We have seen a couple of mongooses, usually moving deftly around on the forest floor. Mongooses were introduced to the Dominican Republic in an attempt to control rat populations, but now they are established in the wild and are another possible predator to songbirds island wide.
We would also like to report on a few notable bird sightings we have had over the past few weeks. We saw a female Black-throated Blue Warbler (Dendroica caerulescens) in completely yellow plumage at Loma La Canela just this past week. Just a few weeks back, we saw a Yellow-throated Warbler (Dendroica dominica) in a cacao plantation at Loma Guaconejo, just 200m above sea level. That species is usually found in Pine forests (which are usually found at or above 700m), so a sighting in a cacao plantation is very unusual. We also saw a male Hooded Warbler (Wilsonia citrina) in Loma Guaconejo. This species is an uncommon but regular visitor to the island. There are only about a dozen records of its presence, so this sighting stands out among the rest.
Stay tuned for more, as we have another exciting week of work ahead! We will continue to explore the fascinating biological diversity in the Dominican Republic, and bring back more pictures and stories to share. If anyone has any questions for us or just wants to share something, we'd like to hear from you!
-Juan Klavins & Pat Johnson