- Trail difficulty: 1-2
- Reserve hours: none
- Entrance fee: none
The Río Cumayasa and other nearby birding sites may be accessed as day trips from either Santo Domingo or the vacation areas of the southeast. The Cumayasa area includes opportunities for seeing typical and even hard-to-find birds in a variety of coastal and low-elevation habitats, including freshwater rivers, beaches, salt marshes, mangroves, dry thorn scrub, transitional forests, and semi-humid broadleaf forests.
The canyon of the Río Cumayasa is a good place to begin a day of birdwatching in the early morning. Although there is no trailhead or marked trail, you can hike from the coastal highway north along the mostly dry river bed and see a number of bird species. This walk may turn up such species as Red-tailed Hawk, Antillean Piculet, Loggerhead Kingbird, Stolid Flycatcher, Red-legged Thrush, and Greater Antillean Bullfinch. South of the highway, the Cumayasa canyon can be explored further as far as the river’s mouth on the Caribbean Sea. Coastal waders and mangrove species are common.
Not far from the Río Cumayasa is the Río Soco. At the river’s mouth is the town of Boca de Soco where a look at the river and adjoining mangroves is worthwhile. You can also head north from the highway along the river on a dirt road to enter some pastured lands. Look here for grassland species.
Further west, the area around Ramon Santana and Cochoprimo contains some nice dry scrub forest and small patches of wetlands that should be investigated. Look in the scrub for Broad-billed Tody, Black-whiskered Vireo, Antillean Mango, Greater Antillean Grackle, and Stolid Flycatcher. In the small wetlands you may see Common Moorhens, Least Bittern and Limpkin, and both Black and Spotted rails may be possible but are rare.
Finally, in your driving during the day as you cross sugar cane fields, keep an ear tuned for the striking call of the Northern Bobwhite. Be sure to also make note of where the sugar cane is being cut; a good day of birding can be completed after dark with a search for night birds. You need to return to these recently cut fields at night and use headlights or spotlights, and playback tapes to see the birds that congregate to feed on the rats and other prey disturbed by the harvest. Especially from January through July you may see Limpkin, Barn Owl, the endemic Ashy-faced Owl, Short-eared Owl, and Double-striped Thick-knee.
All sites are accessed from the main coastal highway (Route 3) between San Pedro de Macorís in the west and La Romana in the east. From La Romana, take the coastal highway about 15 km (9.3 miles) west of the city to the bridge over the Río Cumayasa. Cross the bridge and continue 1 km (0.6 mile) further to the top of the hill where you will find a very narrow and non-descript dirt road. Turn right here. The road will immediately double-back along the margin of the highway and head downhill through a small collection of houses until reaching the river. Park at the end of the road.
From Santo Domingo to the Río Cumayasa, leave the city by following signs for the international airport. You will pass the Acuario Nacional (National Aquarium). This is worth a stop to look for nesting White-tailed Tropicbirds on the cliffs below. Continue on the coastal highway (3) past the airport and Boca Chica (31 km or 19.3 miles) towards San Pedro de Macoris (70 km or 43.5 miles). Just west of San Pedro take the new bypass road around the city following signs for La Romana. Soon you will see the prominent Cueva de las Maravillas, and 6.4 km (4 miles) further you will cross the Río Cumayasa on a high bridge. Because this is a divided highway, continue up the hill on the highway until you see the first driveway crossing the median. Here you double-back to head west, again crossing the Cumayasa bridge, until reaching the right-hand turn described above.
Helmeted Guineafowl, Northern Bobwhite, White- tailed Tropicbird, Least Bittern, Double- striped Thick- knee, Mangrove Cuckoo, Barn Owl, Ashy- faced Owl, Short- eared Owl, Vervain Hummingbird, Antillean Piculet, Loggerhead Kingbird, Northern Mockingbird, Nutmeg Mannikin, Tricolored Munia
At the Río Cumayasa, leave your car safely off the road and make your way to the normally dry riverbed. Initially there is a well-worn footpath headed upstream along the bank of the river, but you will soon find yourself walking in the rocky bed of the river itself. You can hike for at least 2-3 hr up the river, exploring riparian forest zones and adjoining dry forest. There are also extensive cliffs in some areas where Red-tailed Hawks have nested and swallows may be found. Return to your car by walking down the same river bed. After driving back to the main highway, you can explore south of the highway, in the area of Rancho Cumayasa. Look here for overlooks into the Cumayasa canyon, and closer to the mouth of the river look for Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron, and other waders, as well as Common Moorhen, Greater Antillean Grackle and other waterbirds.
To reach the Río Soco return to the main highway and continue to the west, past the Cueva de Maravillas, to the town of Boca de Soco. Turn south (left) into town and look for access to the river’s mouth and look for waterbirds including Laughing Gull and Royal Tern. Be sure to scan the nearby ocean too for seabirds such as Brown Booby, Magnificant Frigatebird, and Brown Pelican. If not disturbed by new construction, explore the mangrove areas for Mangrove Cuckoo and the “golden” race of the Yellow Warbler. You can also head north of the highway along the Río Soco on a dirt road that enters some pastured lands and dry scub. Look here for Cattle Egret, Gray Kingbird, White-winged Dove, Zenaida Dove, Mourning Dove, Smooth-billed Ani, Yellow-faced Grassquit, and Greater Antillean Bullfinch, and a suite of interesting introduced species including Helmeted Guineafowl, Village Weaver, Nutmeg Mannikin, and Tricolored Munia.
The area of Ramon Santana and the Cochoprimo wetlands is reached by continuing west on the coastal highway until turning north on the new bypass highway that begins just east of the city of San Pedro de Macorís. You will then turn right (east) on the old highway that crosses the new highway at a point near the old sugar mill and railway crossing. Continue on this road through the town of Ramon Santana as it becomes a dirt road. Soon you will see a large girder bridge; turn right here and follow along this upper reach of the Río Soco. You may bird the patchy woodlands and wetlands that continue for about 2 km (1.2 miles) along this road.
Return to the main highway the same way you entered. Be sure to keep an eye out for areas where the sugar cane is being cut. These fields you will want to return to after dark to see some of the harder to find night birds as mentioned above.