Sunday, January 29, 2012

It once was a rainforest

These are largest trees I’ve seen in Haiti.

If you know what these are please leave a comment. The banyan tree (strangler fig) comes to mind for the one with all the roots hanging down, but I don't know what it is. The other was called a pistach tree, pistach is Creole for peanut. I assume trees like this grow in the national forests on the south peninsula. It’s sad to think they used to cover the country and now 99% of Haiti looks like this:

The book Collapse has a chapter about how the colonial history of Haiti lead to deforestation. According to it and other sources, the French brought slaves and left with timber, leaving Haiti largely deforested before it became independent.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Birding in November

I saw 21 species of birds in November 2011. They are listed at this posting.

At least 8 of the species I saw in the Mompremiers front wooded yard. Even the giant plain pigeon (ramye) lives there. My 40-something year old host recalled this large dove in large flocks during his childhood. They were hunted to a threatened status, and previously I would see at most one each visit. But this trip I saw and heard them everywhere! My hosts commented that they are seeing more birds this year. Perhaps my message to protect the birds is working. Whatever the reason it is good to see so many birds here.

My guide took me on 2 birding hikes. I now can distinguish the calls of the ground dove and plain pigeon. We saw all three hummingbirds (which he can distinguish by sound). We saw 2 birds new for me: the Greater Antillean Bullfinch which is native to the island; and the Cape May Warbler which comes down from Canada – a perfect example to teach about migration.