Sunday, December 20, 2015

Monarch butterflies in Haiti

La Fouchet 20 Dec. 2015
Here are photos I took of 3 monarch butterflies in Haiti.  Two were at Wynne Farm in the mountains near Kenscoff.  One was at La Fouchet restaurant near the US embassy in Port au Prince.  If you would like exact locations, contact me.  Photos are in original resolution.  Also shown is Asclepias (milkweed) on which I saw monarchs.  It is growing by the lake Etang Lachaux near Les Cayes.

Monarch 1 at Wynne Farm, 19 Dec. 2015
Monarch 1 at Wynne Farm, 19 Dec. 2015
Monarch 2 at Wynne Farm, 19 Dec. 2015
Monarch 2 at Wynne Farm, 19 Dec. 2015
Milkweed by Etang Lachaux 9 Mar. 2015
Etang Lachaux 9 Mar. 2015

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Wynne Farm – an ecological retreat near Port au Prince

Thanks to tour group Voyages Lumière, I visited the Wynne Farm located in Kenscoff, a 1.5 hour drive from Port au Prince.  I am eager to share this find with everyone interested in ecology and environmental education in Haiti.  More pictures can be seen on the Audubon Center of Les Cayes website.  

The farm is a mix of sustainable agriculture and preserved forests, and an excellent place to bring a school group or agronomy students to learn about conservation.  Janey Wynne’s father started the farm in 1950s, and the contrast to the surrounding deforested hills is striking.  Wynne Farm shows what Haiti could look like if conservation was a priority.

Tour details: Contact Voyages Lumière to arrange transportation.  Or contact the farm directly at  Allow for three hours at the farm if you really want to explore and take pictures or go birding.  The early morning would be best for birding.  With a 8:45a pick up near the US Embassy, we arrived at the farm itself by 10:30a, driving most of the way to it, with the final stretch a walk down a very steep paved road (difficult if you have bad knees!).  An agronomy student doing his internship at the farm, Michard, gave me a tour of the farm, then left me to explore.  We left the farm around 1:30 and were back at the truck by 2p.

Clouds drifting through the cool forest.

Decomposition in action.
The forests of Wynne Farm in the background, deforested land in the foreground.
Eroded hillsides outside the farm boundary.

Agriculture on deforested hills surrounding the farm.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Birding at UCC elementary

In Haiti’s Central Plateau, Louiders and I have been taking the UCC 2nd – 6th grade students out birding, class by class.  The kids learn how to use the binoculars and the importance of protecting birds.  We’re guaranteed to see the palmchats that come to a nearby tree each morning to feed, and have seen and gray kingbirds and also Hispaniolan woodpeckers which have either red heads (male) or black heads (female).  The kids are much more focused on finding the birds than I had expected!  First grade and preschoolers get in-class lessons about how Haiti’s pretty birds help us.

4th graders looking up birds.

4th graders looking at palmchats.

The 6th grade class.

Preschoolers waiting for lunch!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Birding at UCCC university

Birding lessons have begun at Université de la Communauté Chrétienne de Caïman in Haiti’s Central Plateau.  Ecology 201 and 401 students have been rising early to learn how to use binoculars and the bird book, then we take a walk to see what birds are in the campus neighborhood.  Numbers of species vary each day, but together we have seen around 20 species over 4 days. 

Quick list so I don’t forget: Piprit  krabye gade bef,  wanga neges, some kind of yellow warbler, black & white warbler, black faced grasskit, ramye, ground dove, hisp crow, white-necked crow, kestrel, parakeets, redstart, palmchat, mockingbird, hisp. woodpecker, tody, tako, kat je tet nwa.

Black-crowned palm tanager in a papaya tree.

Cattle egret on a cow.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Birds at Etang Laborde March 2015

Little blue heron  Egretta caerulea
Here are photos of birds we saw at Etang Laborde in March 2015.  Thanks to Pastor Sean for identifying the Stilt Sandpipers (Calidris himantopus)!

Snowy egret Egretta thula
Snowy egret Egretta thula

Great egret Ardea alba
Great blue heron Ardea herodias
Green heron Butorides virescens

Common gallinule Gallinula galeata

Stilt Sandpipers (Calidris himantopus)
Stilt Sandpipers (Calidris himantopus)
Black-necked stilt Himantopus mexicanus
Pied-billed grebe Podilymbus podiceps
American kestrel Falco sparverius

This is from Etang Lachaux - fulvous whistling-duck Dendrocygna bicolor

Monday, March 30, 2015

Colorful fish of Port au Prince = invasive guppies!

The canals running along the streets of Port au Prince are trashy and look like disgusting cesspools, but we sampled one along Mais Gate to see what fish were there.  A spring flows into this canal after running down a side street.  The colorful little fish living there were quite surprising.  Further investigation revealed they are guppies!  Dr. Helen Rodd (see her lab website) confirmed this, saying their coloration indicates they "have some fancy, domesticated guppies in their ancestry."

Guppies are in the same family Poeciliidae as the endemic Gambusia and Limia, which means they could out compete these native species if they ended up in Haiti's streams and lakes.


We sampled in the cattails in the canal.

Releasing the fish back into the canal.

Yes, fish live here!
Clear spring water running down the street that comes out at Mais Gate.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Examination of Riviere Lislet Les Cayes Haiti

The short study of Riviere Glace was followed by a brief examination of Riviere Lislet that runs south along the eastern edge of Les Cayes before ending at the ocean.  We sampled where Rue Simon crosses the river, and arrived before the area was too busy with people washing themselves, laundry, and motos.  The water was warmer and siltier than Riviere Glace, but we found a lot of the native mosquito fish (Gambusia) and small tilapia (non-native fish).  The young men there were very eager to help us find fish and macroinvertebrates.

Sample date 24 March 2015 7:30am
Temperature = 26.27C                   pH = 8.04             turbidity = 0 NTU
Dissolved oxygen = 6.85 mg/l     oxygen reduction potential = 89 mV
Conductivity = 0.387 mS/cm    salinity = 0.02%                 total dissolved solids = 0.252 g/l

E. coli bacteria 3 colonies in 1 ml water (see the test kit here)

Water quality measurements were taken upstream of Rue Simon crossing.

Looking upstream.
Native mosquito fish Gambusia

Freshwater shrimp

Monday, March 23, 2015

Biodiversity of Riviere Glace

Riviere Glace is a beautiful river than runs near the village of Duchity, a town about an hour's drive north of Les Cayes Haiti.  Along the river the highway is being widened and paved, and right before Duchity there is a new bridge.  Stop at this bridge and hike upstream along and through the river about 100 m and at a bend in the river you will come to a series of clear cool pools perfect for swimming on a hot day.  Unfortunately the road construction along this stretch threatens this pristine river.  Here are some photos of what the area looked like on 22 March 2015.

Sample time 9:50am
Temperature = 20.41 C           pH = 6.58             turbidity = 0 NTU
Dissolved oxygen= 11.54 mg/l     oxygen reduction potential = 187 mV
Conductivity = 0.212 mS/cm       salinity = 0.01%                 total dissolved solids = 0.252 g/l

No E. coli or coliform bacteria (see the test kit here)

Epilobocera haytensis Rathbun, 1893

Deep pool at the bend (note the gabion) and riffles upstream (no gabion).

Gabion at the bridge.

Mayfly larvae on a rock in the river.

The deep pool at the bend in the river.

Two tadpoles and a damselfly larvae.

The view upstream from the pool.  Road-side bank is on the left and has no gabion.

View walking upstream from the bridge.  Note the calf (with mom) by the river!