Saturday, April 30, 2016

So close

So close to that peak of migration.  There's birds around, birds everywhere, shots at vagrants and rarities ... but haven't quite connected yet.  There's been a few photo opportunities though.

We're still in that period where Yellow-rumps dominate the warbler scene.

This Swamp Sparrow was one of a few working the boardwalk while searching for Kentuckies.
 While photographing the Swampy, this Northern Waterthrush popped up, quite interested in the sound of the shutter.
 I once had a Scarlet Tanager fly in to a shutter click many years ago.

If it's late April then that means Smith's Longspur searches (which actually haven't been limited to late April)
 We're not the only ones who have been looking, this Harrier was working the same areas that have been scanned and scanned and scanned again.

I found my first White-eyed Vireo for my river bottom.
I heard the bird yesterday afternoon but it quieted quickly.  I went back down this morning and re-found it singing fairly actively.

Monday, April 25, 2016

One step forward

Well, last post focused mainly on flowers, this time we'll upgrade to some common insects!  Hey, there's many different flavors of awesomeness, only so much can be photographed.

There was a Short-eared Owl that went by Tiscornia this morning
 There were almost no waterbirds, but passerines were reverse migrating, highlighted by my first Indigo Bunting, Chimney Swift, and Palm Warbler of the year.

A walk around Floral did not turn up a Kentucky Warbler, though there may have been one or two or a hundred of these...

Insects are starting to appear, this Tiger Swallowtail was super fresh.

I assume this is a Common Baskettail, Green Darners have been out for at least a week, but this was my second ode of the year.

Buffalo Rd is still sadly lacking in the longspur department, but a little over 60 Golden-plovers are always fun.

Thursday, April 21, 2016


Mostly of a Swamp Sparrow

Seems like I should have some deep thoughts to go along with a title like that, but I'm not sure they're going to be forthcoming.  It feels like spring is accelerating very rapidly and will suddenly be past us.  Enjoying moments is important.  I spent a decent amount of time today questing after bitterns/pelicans/longspurs/meadowlark recordings.  It would have been rewarding had I found one of those birds.  The less goal-directed serendipity of an unexpected Waterthrush, or the first Swampie song of the year was maybe more what I should have focused on.

Some of the woodland flowers have been spectacular this year.

One of these years I'm going to start at Warren Woods (where the above Spring Beauties and Trout Lilies were taken) and just stake out a morning lit patch and wait for a bird to pose next to one. 

Or maybe I'll photoshop in a White-throat.

This Bellwort is from today

Long hours for the next 3 days, we'll see how the woods have changed next time I'm out.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Return to spring

The pipedream retirement plan for years away is to spend the winter in the tropics and return about now for spring migration.  The blog's following the plan at least (though maybe I did more than I'm currently admitting...).

Sapsuckers are one of the prototypical April migrants.

This one actually backed down the tree, a behavior I don't think I've seen before.

Brown Creeper is surely another of the annual signs of spring 

I don't really think of mid-April as shorebird time, but there were 3 Golden-plovers with a Dunlin on Buffalo Rd

Not sure on the (admittedly often subtle) difference in bill size and upperpart color between Golden and Black-bellied Plover?  Just wait for one to fly...
Black-bellied would have black armpits in any plumage.  This birds' are obviously white (also the next bird's...)

I guess if you can't have pure white plumage you don't mind taking a dirt bath the way this hen turkey is.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

the Monkey Hawk

I've been away for a while, more on that later, but for now the last (?) Panama post.

Our last evening of birding was on a side road off of or on the way from Achiote Rd.  I was hoping for one last bird (I think this was the first day that I've birded the whole day in the neotropics and not gotten a lifer), but even without new birds there was always opportunities to learn the ones we'd seen better.

 I don't think I ever noticed the little red band at the base of the yellow breast on the Keel-billed Toucans in life that shows up in this pic.

We saw a few last Howler Monkeys, this group had a baby.

A few White-chinned Capuchins made their appearance too.  They're smaller than the Howlers, but tend to be more active, shaking the vegetation (clearing out potentially dangerous dead limbs maybe?) and generally raising a commotion.

They had another observer, a young Double-toothed Kite
Note the fairly unique dark throat stripe; I can't think of any other birds that have this mark.
Double-toothed's apparently like to follow monkey bands in order to capture the insects they startle; this was the second time on the trip that at least some participants encountered the kite associating with the capuchins.

Another Black-breasted Puffbird appeared.

Finally a montage of an Aracari.

Frequently they move in groups, the first 2 got by me without pics, but the final bird made a decent montage.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Achiote Road

We spent our last day of birding along Achiote Rd, a location that can be good for some of the less common Caribbean slope birds though we didn't have a ton of luck with them.  Jose, our guide for the trip apparently had some conflict arise (I'm not totally sure it wasn't simply another group that he'd double-booked) and arranged for a colleague of his, a man named Ygua to guide us the last day.

A Yellow-headed Caracara perched right above our heads as we started the first trail of the day.

We had good numbers of trogons, and the first Bicolored Antbird and White-flanked Antwrens for most of the people on the trip.  Spot-crowned Antvireos were fairly common.

Song Wrens were beatboxing away in the underbrush.  This pair popped up and did some sort of mutual preening for a minute or so.

We spent at least an hour watching hawks from a sloped coffee field.  Swallow-tailed kites were quite common as they started their northward migration.

We saw a couple Black-hawks which our guide tried unsuccessfully to turn into a Crane Hawk.

A young King Vulture appeared and disappeared before I could get most of the group on it.

Gray-headed Kites are an interesting contrast to Swallow-tails.
 I don't think there's a greater contrast in wingshape between the angular Swallow-tailed and the paddle-shaped Gray-headed possible.

We saw our only poison dart frog of the trip here as well.

We chased a calling White-tailed Trogon around and found a small group of Gray-headed Tanagers that didn't turn into an antswarm and soon started walking along the road.  There were a few birds here and there, as well as decent numbers of Cracker Butterflies.
 Sometimes a person could hear the wingsnap from the butterflies which gives  them their names.

Black-cheeked woodpeckers were working together on a nest hole or granary, or maybe just communally exploring a bug-riddled snag.

One of our main targets though, Spot-crowned Barbet went unseen however, aside from one on a mural at our open-aired restaurant lunch.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Fish crows and more

I took advantage of an early rise to listen for Fish Crows behind St Joe High this morning.  They didn't disappoint.  I doubt I waited more than 5 minutes before I started hearing them.  There were a couple birds to the right and several more to the left.  I watched 3 of the birds call back and forth, about 4 others were silent.  Apologies for the lack of Image Stabilization or auto-focus, both make noise and decrease the ability to record the sounds.

There's a better recording (from an even worse video) embedded in the eBird checklist.

Some other random shots that haven't quite been enough to break into the Panama series of blogs, first a Western (rufous morph) Redtail on a foggy morning next to the landfill a couple weeks ago.

I had a little bit of luck with brown geese this spring seeing Cacklers a couple times and White-fronted once.  The pics haven't been great though.

Along the waterfowl theme, a bird I don't try to photograph often enough, Wood Duck.

Finally, the best pics I've taken in Berrien this spring, a Red Fox at Tiscornia this morning.
 It was trotting along (and flushed a mallard), and then startled when it heard my shutter starting to hammer.
 He looked back at me and bolted off.
I've seen a coyote at Tiscornia once, but this was my first Red Fox there.