#490-493 at Laguna Cartagena

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.

We did find multiple real Smooth-billed Anis at the next entrance on the west side (after an unplanned hour and a half detour to Mayaguez due to overly trusting in the GPS.)

In the Laguna itself we found dozens of Common Moorhens and dozens more of Caribbean Coots. These look a lot like American Coots, but the white shield extends further up the head. Seems I neglected to take any pictures of these though. :-(

Just a bit further down the path I scoped 20+ West Indian Whistling Ducks that eventually took off from the pond:

The road looked dicey so we sadly didn’t continue on to the tower, but finally on the road out, we stopped to check out some small birds flushed from the road. These proved to be the introduced species Bronze Mannikin:

I’m not sure if these are officially countable here or not. If they are, that’s #494 but I’ll be cautious for now and leave it out. No photos in either case. It was hard enough putting binoculars on these small birds in the heavy Caribbean spring foliage.

  • West Indian Whistling-Duck
  • Blue-winged Teal
  • White-cheeked Pintail
  • Ruddy Duck
  • Great Egret
  • Snowy Egret
  • Little Blue Heron
  • Cattle Egret
  • Green Heron
  • Glossy Ibis
  • Turkey Vulture
  • Common Moorhen
  • Caribbean Coot
  • Killdeer
  • Rock Pigeon
  • Common Ground-Dove
  • White-winged Dove
  • Smooth-billed Ani
  • Gray Kingbird
  • Greater Antillean Grackle
  • Shiny Cowbird
  • Bronze Mannikin
  • Northern Mockingbird

Finally we drove on to Cabo Roja to try for Brown Booby. No luck there but we did find quite a few shorebird species on the flats:

  • Magnificent Frigatebird
  • Black-bellied Plover
  • Black-necked Stilt
  • Willet
  • Lesser Yellowlegs
  • Semipalmated Sandpiper
  • Least Sandpiper
  • White-winged Dove
  • Greater Antillean Grackle

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