Two Critically Endangered Endemics
Two really bad photos this time. The Dove was hard to get because of the auto-focus on the digital. Both shots are good enough for id. The latest information I could find said population could be under 100 but there could be up to 200. Quite a span. Hook-billed kites are listed as 50 to 75 individuals. The Hook-billed I am talking about is the Grenadian race.
May 18, 2009
I went back to Mr. Hartman a third time and was lucky to see the Grenada Dove and a Hook-billed Kite. It’s a bit hard to get around without a car and getting to the site I want often presents a challenge. I finally figured out the bus thing and was able to ride all the way to the entrance of the sanctuary area. I went in the late afternoon thinking I would be well placed by evening.
I walked to the place my husband and I heard them two days before but heard only Zenaida Doves. The road went on from there and I followed it to a narrow trail that cut off to the left. I walked quietly and kept an ear out while I scanned the ground and occasionally looked up for a Hook-billed Kite which I had read could also be seen in area. I walked until I thought I might be getting into the area that required a guide. (My first visit to the area took in the visitors center and I was told I needed to be escorted on the trail.) I thought I should turn around and head back to the dirt road that went to Woburn Bay. I stopped in a small shady spot and looked up to see a raptor glide behind a distant hill. D**m! Missed it. I continued walking and searching the ground, but now and then I would scan the sky above the hill. On my third scan I saw an unusual bump in a tree near the crest of the hill and I focused on it. It was too distant for features but I knew it was a raptor. I tried to get closer but no road or trail led that way.
I decided to head back to the mangrove area. Maybe I could get lucky at the base of the hill where a local had told me the dove lived. The trail through the mangroves was blocked for me because the Wilson’s Plovers had little peeps now and I inadvertently caused them to split up while the parents called and tried to lure me away. I backed up and left the way I came. Hopefully they regrouped quickly. The chicks were so tiny and cute.
I started on the road out of the park knowing this would be the last trip to the sanctuary. The sun was very low now and I searched the ground for the doves. Evening was supposed to be good. There! Movement on the ground about twenty-five feet in from the road. I got my bins up and focused and then dropped them to wait for movement. A dove! I had the bins on it and the first thing I noticed was no spots. It was a large dove with its back to me. I knew what it was and couldn’t believe that I was getting to see it on the last stretch of my last visit. It turned and I got excellent views of a Grenada Dove; I had suffered a bit for this one. The one was actually two. I had my binoculars up and down while I watched the pair slowly wander to and fro. They never made a sound. I watched them for about fifteen minutes and thought I should head off before it got dark. I couldn’t be sure I’d get a bus right away. I started up the road and glanced up to see a soaring raptor. My first thought was another Broad-winged Hawk. Wait! No! A Kite! I tried to relax and have good views before he took off but the damn sweat-wasp things were landing on me and a large swarm began to gather. I took out my OFF and sprayed at them while I coated my arms and hands. By the time I could look again, the Kite was gone. No matter, I saw it well enough for a positive ID and a short thrill. Rather be lucky than good any day.
I got out onto the paved road and started walking. It wasn’t long before I heard a bus honk from behind. I turned and nodded at the driver and he pulled over. It was the same driver who took me up. His assistant asked, “Well, did you see the Dove?”
Hook-billed Kite, Genadian mirus race.