“$150? That’s not right”, I said indignantly. “It should be $105.”
“Yes, but with the taxes and insurance, it comes to $150”, said the clerk.
“But I don’t need insurance, it’s covered by my license and credit card…what insurance are you talking about?”, I asked, obviously confused.
“Ok, if that is the case, then you can choose to not add it for $105, or add it for $150 –there’s not much difference in price- the choice is up to you”.
“Apparently, the choice isn’t up to me if you already added it without giving me the option first. And you didn’t disclose the fact to me just now that you added on extra stuff. I spoke to your associate Carlos yesterday who confirmed the breakdown of what I would be paying upon arrival and it doesn’t match”.
”Oh..that’s because he wouldn’t have been able to see the contract – I can see that now the reservation is being processed.”
“Well, that makes no sense. Regardless, I didn’t ask you to add insurance, so take it off please.”
Such fuckery by car rental agencies always irritates me. However, once that was rectified, Alex and I piled in and we were on our way to Fajardo, waved off by Greater Antillean Grackles and Gray Kingbirds.
A quick 50 minutes later, buzzed by Caribbean race Cave Swallows (much darker rumped than the Texas birds) we pulled into our resort for the week – the El Conquistador at Fajardo, perched expansively on the steep cliffs of Puerto Rico’s north-east coast.
Alex was keen to hit the pool, and it seemed like the thing to do. Ingrid and Indra arrived later that evening and we all chilled out.
The week consisted mainly of chilling by the pool, hot tub and beach-bumming it on nearby Palominas Island. The kids had a blast.
Although not a birding trip, there was some endemics to be had in the nearby areas surrounding El Yunque rainforest. Dull weather and a general low density of birds made it difficult place to bird in the short periods of time I had.
Two visits, one pre-dawn (to try for Puerto Rican Screech) and an afternoon visit were brief, bur fortuitous in locating a good number of the expected species, but given that I only spent a total of 2 ½ hours actually birding (rather than driving up and down trying to find suitable areas or flocks) I was happy with the bounty. A drive around the Fajardo environs brought home the fact that there was no decent areas to bird, the main highlight was scoring good looks at Green-throated Carib on the grounds of the Fajardo Inn. My other possible “get” – Antillean Crested Hummingbird – proved difficult, although I really didn’t spend time looking for it.
Birding around the private Palominas Island consisted of feeding French fries to Pearly-eyed Thrashers, fly-by Zenaida Doves and small numbers of Brown Boobies offshore . The marshy, tidal area that flooded behind the miniature golf course hosted Black-bellied Plover, Greater Yellowlegs, a distant, brief Sora (difficult in PR) and a nice, surprise tick in the form of 7 White-cheeked Pintails.
Frustrating to find four calling screech owls at El Yunque at dawn on 22nd and not be able to see them in the huge clumps of bamboo close to the entrance to El Portal Visitor center. A late evening trip to Ceiba Country Inn was more successful. Within minutes of arriving, a calling bird was seen well, at close range and spotlighted..awesome bird!
eBird checklists can be found here:
22nd November –El Yunque
23rd November – El Yunque
PR Screech Owl
PR Vireo (heard, seen briefly in flight)
PR Lizard Cuckoo
Other New Birds: