Saturday, January 18, 2014

Ecotour – Day 1 Birding and Fort Oliver

 We started the day with a 6am pick up by our driver Sonny who took us to a property that is known to have the gray-crowned palm tanager (Phaenicophilus poliocephalus), Haiti’s only endemic bird which lives only on the southern peninsula.  Our guest came to Haiti specifically to see this bird, and another was along for the adventure.  The property lies in a small patch of scrub forest overlooking the ocean between St. Louis du Sud and Aquin.  During our 2 hours of searching for the bird in the gray misty rain I caught a glimpse of it but my visitors didn't.  Then the sun came out, warblers got busy looking for insects and defending territory, and finally we all clearly saw 2 tanagers.  We stayed a bit longer while the visiting birder taught us how to distinguish warblers.

Access – Easy.  Contact me for property owner information.  Park at the gate or drive up the inclined driveway.  It is an easy walk around the flat property or you can take steeper paths up into the shrub which is where we saw the bird.  Wear long pants and closed shoes as the scrub is thorny.

After seeing the birds we then went to Fort Oliver, a French fort at the tip of a peninsula on the west side of St. Louis du Sud.  You can read about the history of this fort in the Clammer/Bradt Haiti guide.  The drive on the short peninsula provided a picturesque view of life along the ocean.  After we parked people came out of the woodwork to greet and help us.  One man did most of the talking about the history of the fort, while another chimed in now and again.  We gave them $7 and $5 respectively, as well as a couple dollars to an old man who helped me navigate the stones across the shallow water surrounding the fort.  The fort is made of limestone and coral that I assume were gathered from the area, along with bricks brought from France.  The fort consists of several rooms and one room was once full slate and has a tunnel that goes to the hillside across the highway.  There is also a fort on the island in the bay which one of the guides offered to take us to.  We passed, wanting to be better prepared for swimming etc. on the island.

Navigating the steep steps at Fort Oliver.
Access – You must walk across shallow water, then up very deep and steep crumbling steps to reach the top of the fort, which has a great view of the bay.  Even if you can’t make the stones or steps, you can still walk around the base of the fort after wading through the shallow water.  

Limestone and brick wall.  The main guide in purple.

Limestone wall of Fort Oliver.
Coral embedded in the wall.

No comments:

Post a Comment