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Sally and I took a Silversea Caribbean cruise early in April, 2011 on the Silver Whisper arranged for us by Jessie Taylor of Virtuoso Travel Agency. For cruise aficionados Silversea Line is the best. The price is all inclusive, except for the onshore excursions. This includes tips which can be a considerable added expense. It also means drinks and wine are included. Our Silversea ship only had 382 passengers. This makes for an intimate group and eliminates the hastle of thousands of people disembarking at each port.
This web site is about the birds of the Caribbean. So what islands are we talking about? The cruise started in Puerto Rico. Then to Virgin Gorda, St. Martin, Antigua, St. Barts, St Lucia, Dominica, The Grenadines and finally Barbados. These and others are collectively known as the Lesser Antilles.
This being my first trip to the Caribbean, I was anticipating seeing zillions of exotic tropical birds. To the contrary I was surprised by the remarkable scarcity of birds. Our first excursion was to the El Yunque Rain Forest on the eastern end of Puerto Rico. When we got to the beautiful visitors center I was initially excited to hear a chorus of what I thought were tropical birds. However, as shown on the page "The Frog that Sings like a Bird," it was in fact a tree frog. You can listen to it on that page. Next time we will explore the western end of the island.
Especially surprising was the virtual absence of gulls, terns, and other sea birds around the boat and the docks. Fortunately, the bird life began to pick up as we worked our way through the above islands. The most obvious bird was the Carib Grackle, very similar to the North American Common Grackle and omnipresent wherever we went. A real pleasure was the very common and beautiful Bananaquit also present on every island. Magnificant Fragratebirds, Brown Boobys and Red-billed Tropicbirds soon began to appear when we pulled into ports.
The absolute highlight of the trip was when we were able to find Bertrand Jno Baptiste, an extremely knowledgeable bird guide in Dominica. He took us to the Northern Forest Reserve on the North end of the island. A Dominican native at the tourist information desk on the ship told us there was no way we could navigate the back roads without a guide. She was absolutely correct. Because of the research I had done before the trip I had Bertrand's phone number 767-245-4768 and email firstname.lastname@example.org. We called him and fortunately he was able to take us that morning. Neither he nor I recommend this approach. Make your reservations early.
In the high rain forest Bertrand was able to show us just the right places to see different humming birds. It was exciting enough to see the Purple- throated Hummingbird and the Antillian Crested Hummingbird, but the real prize would have been the beautiful Blue-headed Hummingbird, found only on Dominica and Martinque and on the threatened species list. With only a few more minutes before we had to get back to the ship, Bertrand suggested one more place to look. Soon he said, “Look, there it is!” Bertrand was shorter than I was and at first I did not see it. After squatting down, there it was? It was kind enough to stay seated on a branch until I had taken over 50 photos, most of which came out great.
REMEMBER: WHEN YOU ARE ON THE INDIVIDUAL PAGES, TO SEE THE PHOTOGRAPHS ENLARGED, DOUBLE CLICK THE FIRST PHOTO AND PROGRESS BY CLICKING "NEXT."