Monday, March 31, 2014

Northern Shrike at Belle Isle

Sunday, March 30th was bright and sunny, but cold and windy and Belle Isle still had a wintery look.  The woodland trail still had a thick covering of snowy ice.  I thought I might be able to find some good birds at Belle Isle.  The woods turned out to be pretty quiet.  I hoped to see maybe a Pine Warbler, Brown Thrasher or Eastern Phoebe.  I saw plenty of the resident and expected birds, but none of those.  

So I went to the meadow area on the south side of the island.  This can be a very good birding area in April and May.  Large chunks of ice were stacked up against the island.  

I walked along the south shore and didn't see much until a bird fluttered in a tree.  I was surprised to see a Northern Shrike.  This is the first I've ever seen at Belle Isle.  The photos below are a few of many. 

In these flight photos, the bird was hovering like a kestrel.  I had trouble finding the bird in the viewfinder, but I was still pleased with these.

When it flew from the perch above, I literally did not see where it went over the large meadow and never did relocate the bird.  

Ring-billed Gull resting on one of the few pieces of floating ice that remain.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

A goldfinch in my kitchen

Shortly after our most recent, and we hope last, snowfall of the 2014 season, we had a very windy day and night.  I had finished doing my dinner dishes and was taking some recycling out to my garage when I scarred a little bird that had taken cover on my back porch.  I didn't see where it was resting, but thought it might have hidden in a snowy pile of shoes.  It found another spot between the bricks of my house and a little dog statue in the corner of my porch.

It was freezing outside.  I watched some TV and then thought about going to bed.  I decided to see if the little bird was still where I had left it.  It was.  Not really knowing what I would do, I picked it up and bought it inside.  It seemed okay - sort of.  It found a spot on my windowsill, tucked its head in and, out of the wind and cold, seemed to rest.

I watched some more TV and went back to check on the bird.  Still resting.  Now it really was time to go to bed.  What was I going to do with this bird?  I couldn't leave it to roost on the windowsill all night.  I found a showbox and put a shallow dish of water inside with a little pile of black niger seed.  With some expected protest, I collected the little goldfinch and put it inside the box, turned out the light and went to bed. 

The next morning I opened the shoebox lid and the bird was looking up at me.  I picked it up and carried it to the back door.  I opened my hand and the bird flew away low.

I hope it was only cold and worn out by the wind of the previous day and will be okay.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Tarcoles River birding

Even though this was our last day of birding in Costa Rica, even just standing on the dock and even before boarding the boat, it was easy to see that this was going to be a wonderful morning and super birding. Even though it was hot and sunny, the boat had a canope over the top to protect us from the sun directly overhead.  The breeze blew in off the river.  This was glorious.    

Mangrove Swallow (Tachycineta albilinea).

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron (Nyctanassa violacea).  This bird was perched across the river from where I was standing.

Terrible photo of an Osprey (Pandion haliaetus).

Common Black-Hawk (Buteogallus anthracinus).

Spectacular adult Bare-throated Tiger-Heron (Tigrisoma mexicanum). 

A shot of the Tarcoles River

We saw a few Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus). 

The Pacific Ocean meets the Tarcoles River.

Wood Stork (Mycteria americana).

River house.

Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus).  There were actually two in the tree, but the photo was better just focusing on one.

Wood Stork in the glare of water and sun

I thought this photo of a male Green Kingfisher (Chloroceryle americana) had turned out a little better.  Even so, it's the best Green Kingfisher photo I've ever had the chance to take.  We also saw Belted Kingfisher and Ringed Kingfisher on the river.

The best I could do for Mangrove Vireo (Vireo pallens).

Our riverboat captain.

Juvenile Bare-throated Tiger-Heron.

Vernon on the lookout.

Again, a little out of focus and unfortunately so.  But you can still see what a fantastic creature this Costa Rica mud crab is.

This is the female Costa Rican subspecies of Yellow Warbler, subspecies Mangrove Warbler (Setophaga petechia xanthotera).   Of course, it's the male bird that's unique.  Trying to first see and then photograph the male bird earned me an admonishment from Vernon. "Stay calm."  Oh, the story of my life.

Soaring Magnificent Frigatebird (Fregata magnificens) is beautiful.

Wood Storks in flight overhead.

Magnificent Frigatebirds were circling overhead in a large group - thirty birds, maybe more.  This one flew by low and close enough to get a photo.

Yellow-headed Caracara (Milvago chimachima).

Our riverboat.  At one point I stopped birding and just enjoyed the breeze on my face and arms.  

Black-necked Stilt (Himantopus mexicanus).

Northern Jacana (Jacana spinoza).

The photo above and the two below are of one of my trip highlights. Boat-billed Heron (Cochlearius cochlearius) on nest.  Boat-billed Heron is mostly a nocturnal bird.  We would have missed it had Vernon not known about this bird.  Such an unique bird! 

Double-striped Thick-knee (Burhinus bistriatus).

Boat trip over, we stopped at the edge of the road to bird a small woodlot chock full of birds. The female Rose-throated Becard (Pachyramchus aglaiae) was amongst them.  Down the road fifty feet a Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl was calling.

This guy led us to our hotel room door.

A larger version of above.  Completely mild and unintimidating.

Our accommodations at Punta Leona.  Our door is on the right.

Birding the Tarcoles River made me hungry!

Above and below, the Punta Leona buffet.  

Not quite finished.  To be continued ... the dry forest.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Carara National Park and Punta Leona: Final birds

For me, the approaching end of a good trip is always a sad time.  For us it would be back to work and snow and cold in another day.  But, it's still not over as far as my blog entries.  Still have one and a half days of birding left.

Carara National Park was founded to help save the Scarlet Macaw.     

In the afternoon we went back to Carara NP but entered through a different entrance.  We walked on a boardwalk trail for a little while before we saw our first bird - an Ovenbird (Seirurus aurocapilla).  

Don pointed out this fantastic insect circling a post.  Alas, all of my photos are out of focus. I don't know what it is - bee or wasp? - but it is spectacular.

Gray-headed Tanager (Eucometis penicillata)

The following three photos were taken while observing birds as they came to a small stream trickle to bath and drink.  We saw several good birds here of which I was able to get photos of the following three.  The forest was dark and we lost light as the afternoon grew later.

Bicolored Antbird (Gymnopithys leucaspis)

Red-capped Manakin (Ceratopipra mentalis) - edited to improve as much as possible.

I was completely stunned when a Great Tinamou (Tinamus major) cautiously walked toward the stream and almost into the open.  Almost is the key word.  This is the first tinamou that I can ever recall seeing. Shortly after this we lost our light and called it a day.

Our final birding morning and another 6:00 am walk - Ruddy Ground-Dove (Columbina talpacoti).

A better photo of the Gray-headed Tanager.

The swimming pool at Punta Leona.

Walking down the ramp to breakfast at the restaurant I saw a large gray and red bird fly in that I didn't immediately recognize.  We saw this bird about 4 days earlier - female Slaty Trogan perched just beyond the swimming pool.

We were loading up the van for our final morning of destination birding when I saw others photographing a bird just adjacent to the van.  Above Streaked Flycatcher (Myiodynastes maculates).

Departing for our Tarcoles River boat trip.