Friday, February 17, 2017

Around Canopy Camp and Nando trail

When it's only the second day, the week seems never ending.  The morning began with birding down Canopy Camp's entrance road and ended the same way.   

Above:  Juvenile Roadside Hawk (Rupornis magnirostris) and below Cinnamon Woodpecker (Celeus loricatus) at nest cavity.  No photos were possible for me but we also saw nesting Double-banded Graytails (Xenerpspestes minlosi) in a tree over the Canopy Camp entry road.

2:05 minute video of the same Cinnamon Woodpecker vocalizing and moving around the tree trunk.

Above:  The only place we saw Golden-headed Manakin (Ceratopipra erythrocephala) was on the Canopy Camp trails.  They stayed high up in the trees for the time I saw them and this is probably my best photo showing the white eye.  

Above and below:  These Golden-collared Manakins (Manacus vitellinus) were also seen on the Canopy Camp trails, an mostly heard but occasionally seen elsewhere throughout the week.  These may turn out to be my best little bird photos of the week.  I did need a second try for these.

Vocalizing Black-crowned Antshrike (Thamnophilus atrinucha - formerly Western Slaty) on the Canopy Camp trail.

We left the Canopy Camp area for afternoon birding.  I wasn't expecting to see Spot-breasted Woodpecker (Colaptes punctigula) but we saw two well in an area of scattered trees and woods around a cattle field.  All my photos show only parts of the bird - this is the photo that shows the biggest part.

I was also surprised to see Striped Cuckoo (Tapera naevia), but we saw two well through the spotting scope.  The bird was distant as is obvious by this crazy photo (so pixelated it looks like a watercolor), but it confirms my first sighting of this charming little bird.  We also heard Little Cuckoo (Coccycua minuta) a couple of times but never did see one.

Above and below:  we saw and heard Rusty-margined Flycatchers (Myiozetetes cayanensis) every day in a variety of habitats.  These are two of my best photos.

Above:  Four Orange-crowned Orioles (Icterus auricapillus) were spotted together high up in a tree along a road that, in places, we walked.  The main reason for being on this road was to find Black Oropendolas (Psarocolius guatimozinus) - which we eventually saw well, blue cheek patch and all.

The entrance road was also our location for our one evening of night time birding and mammal sightings.  The bird above is a sleeping Streaked Flycatcher (Myiodynastes maculates) that we woke up with our flashlights and chatter.  Not far beyond the Tropical Screech Owl (Megascops choliba) below responded by flying in to its vocalization and perching in the open.  I am so pleased with my photos because I almost got no photos.  My first attempts were blurred nothings.  Then I remembered to increase the ISO and got this and a few others that I was thrilled with.

We also heard both spectacular owls, the Black and White (Ciccaba nigrolineata) and Crested (Lophostrix cristata) on this night, but were never able to lure them into the open to be seen.  The best owling after this was heard owls from our tents - (I had a couple of sleepless nights) - although there was always discussion at breakfast the next morning on which owl exactly was heard. 

Monday, February 13, 2017

Darien Province, Panama

We went and are now returned.  Departure for me was a sad event.  It was too soon.  I could have stayed longer.  Of all of my international birding trips - I think eight before Darien - this was my favorite.  That's not an easy assessment for me to make because I can't think of one trip that I didn't enjoy.

Above:  Yellow-crowned Parrot (Amazona ochrocephala) perched on a billboard light in the hotel parking lot.  I haven't really figured out a strategy for presenting our trip on my blog.  It was so action packed, so full of activity, locations, sights, sounds, birds and more.  I may have to just take it day-by-day and I hope the narrative comes to me.

We saw and heard Keel-billed Toucans (Rampastos sulfuratus) daily, but this distant pair of Yellow-throated Toucans (Ramphastos ambiguus), formerly chestnut-mandibled toucan, very infrequently.

Unidentified orchid

Matt Hysell spotted the bird in this photo for our first big sighting.  Can you find the bird?

The rainforest of Nusagandi - where it did actually rain - quite hard.

Can't tell by the photo but this lizard was quite large.  Saw much smaller such lizards in Colombia but can't recall the name now.  I will work on identifying.

We saw many new hummingbirds; its only that this photo of the most common Rufous-tailed (Amazilia tzacatl) is my best from our first day.

To my delight, cracker butterflies (Hamadryas februa) were relatively abundant.  Here a gray cracker.

Above:  Thick-billed Euphonia (Euphonia laaniirostris).  Even though we also saw Yellow-crowned (E. luteicapilla) and Fulvous-vented (E. fulvicrissa), I think this is the only euphonia of which I have a photo.

White-headed Wrens (Campylorhynchus albobrunneus - now there's a name) sand bathing.

Not all, but most, of my photos will end up being cropped - sometimes significantly.  I struggled with my Lumix FZ300 for most of the trip. The focusing, lighting and distances were all a challenge for me and this will be evident in my photos.  I did not use the 4K burst option even once - although there were a couple of times when I should have tried. I will try to show only my best photos, but there are a couple of our best days when sharing pixelated photos cannot be avoided.  You'll see.    

The man who made it all happen.  Much more on Domi Alveo as I progress.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Off to Panama today

... with other sounds of Panama.

More soon. 

ABA book review: Limericks, Landscapes and Lorikeets ...

For those who do not receive the ABA blog, the most recent offers this birding book review.

Limericks, Landscapes and Lorikeets - Lear, Rick Wright reviews:  The Natural History of Edward Lear by Robert McCracken Peck.

For the less literary of us who may not know the work of Edward Lear, the following was lifted directly from Rick Wright's well-written review:

"... in this elegantly written and handsomely illustrated new book, Robert McCracken Peck introduces us to Lear and his manifold talents, from the famous nonsense verse to the much less famous landscape paintings, and shows how the Victorian polymath’s contributions continue to influence art, literature, and even politics down to our own day."

Check out some of Edward Lear's charming limericks.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Belle Isle's silent mockingbird

Last Sunday morning was beautiful and sunny so I returned to Belle Isle to see if I could get better photos of the Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos). Some of its celebrity must have diminished.  I had this charming bird all to myself.  In an earlier post I described this as one of birding's golden moments. 

Still plenty of Amur honeysuckle on the bushes to nourish our bird.

The bird seemed to truly enjoy basking in the sun.

I followed the bird around to a couple of different spots.  It drank from the open water in that unpleasant little creek.  I couldn't get unhindered photos of it drinking, but later it flew up into the bare branches above the river.

Looking at these photos reminds me how much I miss a singing mockingbird.  We can look forward to this in the spring time.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Mopane worm

My niece is in Botswana for the next 20 months with the Peace Corps (having begun her service back in October 2016).  She was with friends and took this photo and WhatsApp'd it to my mother.  I copied it to include in my blog.

This is a mopane worm – an edible caterpillar that is a highly popular snack in Botswana!  They come out in the rainy season and are fried and sold to eat.  I shamelessly lifted directly from Wikipedia: Gonimbrasia belina is a species of emperor moth which is native to the warmer parts of southern Africa. Its large edible caterpillar, known as the mopane worm or mopani worm, feeds primarily but not exclusively on mopane tree leaves. Mopane worms are an important source of protein for millions in the region.

Crazy Botswana kids.  I like their adopted puppies too!

Botswana sunset.

I imagine these photos were taken with my niece's smart phone.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Cedar Waxwings

While looking for the Townsend's Solitaire (Myadestes townsendi) there was no shortage of Cedar Waxwings (Bombycilla cedrorum) flying around.  I took these photos after the T. solitaire disappeared from view (above) for the final time during my visit.  

For a brief period in the late afternoon the sky lightened and a hint of sun brightened up the junipers just as a flock of waxwings flew in.

My favorite photo.  I can't resist the chance for a photo opportunity of a bird with a berry in it's beak.

The photo above and the one below are each cropped images from a full photo that included three Cedar Waxwings.

Another great beauty - our American Robin (Turdus migratorius).

An active flock of chickadees (Poecile atricapillus) would occasionally have a nicely perched bird - briefly and in great light.  I missed all my chances.

My one chance for a photo of a Purple Finch (Haemorhous purpureus) was missed secondary to my distraction by the presence of the solitaire.

Eastern Bluebirds (Sialia sialis) were also around but no chances for photos.  It was a great January afternoon to be out and even though I didn't know any of the other birders looking for the Townsend's Solitaire our collective efforts paid off.