Sunday, March 3, 2013

Siesta birding

With most of the group's legs pretty shot after the uneven uphill walk up the Los Robles trail, Mike and I were on our own during the heat of the day in the afternoon.  We made the most of it, walking out along a trail along the river.  It didn't take us long to find a little mixed flock, first seeing a black-and-white warbler and then moving down to find more activity.

Collared Redstarts were fairly tame and usually prominent members of the high elevation flocks, though could be by themselves as well.
We had glimpsed Ochraceous Wren earlier in the morning, but this time one appeared much lower and considerably more cooperatively.
There were a few Black-cheeked Warblers though they tended to skulk fairly deep in the brush and I wound up with only documetary level images.  The highlight was a Spangle-cheeked Tanager that flashed past.  We followed it down and watched it preen for a while and then fed in some gooseberry-like berries.

Unfortunately these were the only Spangle-cheeked's of the trip.  Common Bush-tanager appeared as well though they would show up in other places.  We came upon one other mixed flock which had a few Ruddy Treerunners in it and maybe a Tuftedcheek but they were terribly blacklit and we struggled to do much with them.

A Slaty Flowerpiercer demonstrated its feeding behaviour on the way back.

Once it started to cool off the group re-convened and we bussed up into the paramo habitat of scrubby stuff above the treeline.  That was probably my only disappointing period of the trip.  It was very windy, misting/foggy/horizontally sprinkling with the targets being Peg-billed Finch (seen poorly) and looking just like a flower piercer except with a normal bill, Zeledonia (a skulker that was heard only for the overwhelming majority of the group), Volcano Junco (eventually seen by all though it required repeated stops on and off the bus), and Timberline Wren (again glimpsed by most).  I'd have been happier poking around on foot on the trails around the lodge below the level of the clouds and precipitation looking for a lot more colorful targets.  But, that being really the only disappointing part of the trip it in no way discolored the whole.  And, if I'd skipped the afternoon I wouldn't have seen the Bare-shanked Screech-Owl that was calling spontaneously and taped in by Steven at a stop on the way back down.

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