Archive for the 'Bird Watching' Category

Bears, Bald Eagles, and Smoked Salmon at the Sadie Cove Wilderness Lodge

Friday, May 12th, 2017

The place is mostly built with hand-milled drift wood. The owners are religious about recycling. The only grid they operate on comes in the form of a cold stream that rushes down the forested mountain behind the lodge and provides them with all of their electricity. Oh yeah, and they drink that water too and claim that it will probably be the cleanest and tastiest water guests have ever had.

This is the Sadie Cove Wilderness Lodge and it’s no wonder that this model for a sustainable business (and living) consistently makes it onto the list of the top ten eco-lodges in North America.

Situated in a remote, quiet cove surrounded by hills covered in old growth coniferous forests, the lodge also has some pretty stunning surroundings! In fact, the area looked so nice that it was declared a state park not long after the property was bought by the owner of Sadie Lodge, Keith Iverson. A former architectural consultant, he traded life in the fast lane for a more rugged, basic, and fulfilling existence in Alaska. Adapting to using whatever resources were on hand probably influenced the sustainable nature of Sadie Cove Wilderness Lodge and sets a good example to follow for other hotels and homes.

In addition to relaxing on the porch of the lodge and watching Bald Eagles fish in the still waters of the cove, guests have the trails through fragrant evergreen forests all to themselves and can fish for halibut and salmon right from the lodge. Kayaks are also available as are spotting scopes that make it easier to see wildlife such as the bears that come to the far shore to fish for salmon.

Although the place might look rustic, it’s more like a comfortable, cozy vacation house than a hotel, especially since there is room for very few guests. Meals are also intimate with gourmet dishes serving wild caught seafood, salmon smoked right at the lodge, and produce from their organic garden.

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Rain forests, bizarre crows, and whales in the Dominican Republic

Monday, May 8th, 2017

When the Spanish first landed on the island they referred to as “Hispaniola”, rain forests covered much of its northern parts. Were those conquistadors to come back to life and make another landing on the northern shores of the Dominican Republic, they would certainly be surprised at the extent to which the jungle has been replaced by cattle pasture. Just about the only place where things would have looked the same as 500 years ago on the northern part of the island is at Los Haitises National Park.

Saved from being converted into more munching grounds for cows and acres of oil palms by merit of its challenging limestone karst terrain, the park protects a wide variety of rare plants and animals endemic to Hispaniola. Access is mostly by boat although trails can be hiked for several kilometers across humid, hilly ground to reach its borders. Both means of entering the park can be arranged at the lodging option that is closest to its borders, a place called Parasio Caño Hondo. This eco-friendly lodge has a stream running right through the middle of its grounds and is located near patches of rain forest that harbor a good selection of local flora and fauna.

Another curious aspect of this lodge are the endemic White-necked Crows that pop in to look for food scraps around the bar and outdoor dining areas. Unlike crow species in Europe and North America, these island birds do not get along well with deforestation. They have disappeared from Puerto Rico and have become uncommon in Hispaniola (the only other place where they still occur). Paraiso Caño Hondo and the nearby national park have become the easiest places to see this strange bird in action. Whereas the familiar crows of the north tend to be dull black and make “caw”-like sounds, these crows are a beautiful glossy blue-black color, have reddish eyes, and make bizarre gurgling and squawking noises like a parrot!

For visitors to the area who aren’t into rain forest hikes, there are petroglyph decorated caves in the area as well as excellent whale-watching opportunities in nearby waters from December to April when the entire North Atlantic population of Humpback Whales visit the area to breed.

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