Sunday, December 16, 2012

Cabo Rojo Combate Access 12/11: Brown Booby, Wilson's Plover, Red-necked Phalarope

Greater Yellowleg
Photos: Shari Zirlin

White-cheeked Pintails
At lunch I mentioned to Sergio that I'd been seeing road signs to Combate, and asked if that was the same place that eBird had listed as Cambate Access. He said, yes, probably it was misspelled on eBird. Not being really familiar with the area I wasn't sure if we'd ever been there, but Sergio said it was a good place to go, so that was our next stop.  It turned out we hadn't every visited this spot, another salt pond close to the bay. Shari & I were struck by how similar it was to East Pond of Jamaica Bay, in that you could get close to the birds without disturbing them.

Again, thanks to Sergio, we started to find rare birds for Puerto Rico as well as some year birds. In the bay, far out, roosting on a buoy were 6 or 7 Brown Boobies, the first ones we've seen since the one last year in Cape May.

There were many plovers and sandpipers picking at the water edge. Sergio found a small flock of Wilson's Plovers loafing on some driftwood in the middle of the pond. The heavier bill and the lighter breast band were distinctive. There were also more Lesser Scaup on the flats.

But the big news, for Sergio, was when he found first one then 3 Red-necked Phalaropes which Shari & I both got on right away, their white faces standing out from the many yellowlegs and Stilt Sandpipers around them. Then Sergio really got excited when in with the 3 red-necks he found a phalarope with a white face but no dark mask: Wilson's Phalarope. All 4 were acting like phalaropes, that is, like crazy birds.

There were some Cave Swallows overhead, as there had been at the lagoon. Sergio pointed to one and just as it flew over my head I saw the brown breast band and knew it was a Bank Swallow, yet another rare bird for the island.

The path took us through a small grove of trees. Suddenly a troupial zipped by our heads, a flash of yellow and black. It was as close as Shari got to seeing one on this trip. She did have better luck with the Antillean Mangoes we saw.
Antillean Mango (male)
We walked the edge of the pond for over 2 hours. Walking back to the car I spotted a plover that didn't look "right." I scoped it, call Sergio over, and was amazed to have found an American Golden Plover, yet another island rarity.  That was the last bird found on a very successful day. For the 2 spots we totaled 66 species.
West Indian Whistling-Duck     30
American Wigeon     3
Blue-winged Teal     175
Northern Shoveler     16
White-cheeked Pintail     35
Ring-necked Duck *    1
Lesser Scaup*     10
Masked Duck*     1
Ruddy Duck     20
Pied-billed Grebe     1
Magnificent Frigatebird     2
Brown Booby     6
Great Egret     15
Cattle Egret     40
Glossy Ibis     1
Turkey Vulture     21
Osprey     2
Red-tailed Hawk     1
Sora     2
Purple Gallinule     3
Common Gallinule     30
American Coot     1
Caribbean Coot     15
Black-bellied Plover     1
American Golden-Plover*     1
Wilson's Plover     6
Semipalmated Plover     25
Killdeer     12
Black-necked Stilt     3
Spotted Sandpiper     3
Greater Yellowlegs     25
Lesser Yellowlegs     300
Sanderling     3
Semipalmated Sandpiper     20
Western Sandpiper     1
Least Sandpiper     5
Stilt Sandpiper     50
Wilson's Phalarope*     1
Red-necked Phalarope *    3
Royal Tern     1
Rock Pigeon     4
Mourning Dove     1
Common Ground-Dove     12
Smooth-billed Ani     2
Antillean Mango     3
Belted Kingfisher     2
American Kestrel     2
Caribbean Elaenia     1
Gray Kingbird     15
Bank Swallow*     1
Barn Swallow     4
Cave Swallow     16
Northern Mockingbird     2
Northern Parula     2
Yellow Warbler     1
Adelaide's Warbler     1
Bananaquit     1
Yellow-faced Grassquit     2
Black-faced Grassquit     1
Greater Antillean Grackle     30
Venezuelan Troupial     1
House Sparrow     3
Orange-cheeked Waxbill     15
Bronze Mannikin     10

* Rare for Puerto Rico


  1. Phalaropes are crazy because? Are they the ones that spin in circles to dredge up food?