Windows and Dragon One More Time

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

I had a serious and scary flareup of RSI this weekend, so I decided to give Dragon NaturallySpeaking and Windows one more chance. If Dragon craps out on me again, I’ve discovered that I may actually be able to get in touch with Nuance technical support by posting nasty comments about them on their Amazon product pages. You’d think it would be more efficient to just answer customer e-mails in the first place, but apparently Nuance doesn’t agree.

One other thing I’m trying, is to run Dragon NaturallySpeaking in Parallels 5 on my Mac. Parallels 5 is a little faster than VMWare Fusion was, and is actually usable on my MacBook for basic web surfing and other simple operations. However, I’m skeptical of its ability to run CPU intensive applications like Dragon NaturallySpeaking and FPS games. I am considering upgrading my Mac to either one of the new MacBook Pros or perhaps a Mac Pro if Apple ever gets around to releasing new models.

#503 Puerto Rican Bullfinch

Friday, April 16th, 2010

Only one life bird today, the endemic Puerto Rican Bullfinch. I saw it only very briefly; but it’s very distinctive and easily identified: a jet black bird with big orange on its head and throat. I saw this on the Ballenas Trail in the Bosque del Seco. Unfortunately, I did not get a photo of this one, so how about a much better photo of a Puerto Rican Tody instead?


#498-502 Back at the Copa

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

Today we spent most of the day at the hotel (plus one abortive, rained out trip to the allegedly dry forest). Early in the morning (6:30-8:30) I spent some time in an undeveloped area just east of the hotel with a lot of mud flats and it was jumping. In fact, I’d say it was the best birding of the trip so far. Across the road from the hotel I finally located a small flock of buzzy little brown jobs I’d been hearing for a couple of days. They weren’t anything I recognized, but after consulting the field guide I decided they were grassquits, but which ones? The female and immature Yellow-faced Grassquits look almost exactly like the immature Black-faced Grassquits. Fortunately I eventually spotted one male Yellow-faced Grassquit (though no photo) which resolved that. Or at least it did until I found two adult male Black-faced Grassquits:

Apparently it was a mixed flock so that’s #498 and #499. At least one of the grassquits was banded, though I couldn’t read the band. I later learned there’s been an active bird banding project in Bosque del Seco for a couple of decades now.

#494-497 in Old San Juan

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

Today was a break from birding. Instead Beth and I went to visit Viejo San Juan. It reminded me more of the French Quarter than anywhere else I’ve ever seen. Of course I did bring my binoculars, and Beth brought her camera. You never know when something’s going to surprise you in the middle of the city, and Viejo San Juan didn’t disappoint. The first surprise was what I first thought were Tree Swallows, but they were a little off. For one thing, when’s the last time you saw Tree Swallows nesting in the middle of the city? After consulting the field guide I realized we were looking at Caribbean Martins!

After that it was a few Greater Antillean Grackles, a Monk Parakeet or three, and hundreds and hundreds of Rock Pigeons until we reached the western city wall where a Red-legged Thrush dropped down right in front of us:

I’ll try for a better photo Saturday when I’m back in San Juan with my real camera.

#490-493 at Laguna Cartagena

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

Today Beth and I drove up to Lajas and Laguna Cartagena, allegedly one of the best and least visited birding sites in Puerto Rico. As a large freshwater pond, it supports a lot of species that aren’t easily found elsewhere. It’s a bit hard to find and our directions weren’t great, but we got to the southeast entrance around 9:00 A.M. The area’s overgrown and the first birds we found were Gallus gallus (i.e. chickens) but we also sa a lot of Gray Kingbirds and some Cattle Egrets. Mostly though it was the same stuff we’d seen elsewhere until this last bird I first misidentified as a Smooth-billed Ani. However a closer look at the photos showed it was no such thing. The bill is completely wrong:

In fact I now think this is a Shiny Cowbird.

#488-489 at the Copa Marina

Monday, April 12th, 2010

After we got back from Bosque del Seco I took another spin around the hotel grounds. Toward the eastern end, I heard some unfamiliar buzzing noises, and eventually tracked it down to a Bananaquit: