Friday, June 29, 2018

Rio Silanche tower

After spending the morning working the road into Rio Silanche, we walked a short trail to a canopy tower for lunch and an afternoon sit.  Birding was fairly slow, as might be predicted at midday, but it was steady and ultimately very productive.  A Scarlet-rumped Cacique was nesting a couple feet from the tower.

And while we thought that we'd found a cure for warbler neck by putting the treetops within 15 degrees of eye-level, a bunch of Plumbeous (with a few Scissor-tailed) Kites reminded us that birders could be on the space shuttle and they'd still be looking up.

But other birds were more cooperative.  I've never had a Masked Tityra (this is a female) below eye level.

Barred Puffbird was a bird we saw backlit in rough light in Panama; this was a much cleaner view.  The pic doesn't give you a sense of scale, but in life it looked practically kingfisher sized.

Bronze-winged Parrot was a bird we saw several days as flyby's.  You just don't see many blue and pink birds.  (So why not name it for the brown wings?  I can't think of any birds with brown wings).

 I didn't realize that Jose was playing a tape for Orange-fronted Barbet so I was pretty excited to see this bird fly in.

We spent a decent amount of time studying a distant fruiting tree that had a lot of different tanagers and dacnises cycling through it.  One was a female Scarlet-browed that I couldn't recognize for the life of me.  I kept asking where it was in relation to the Lemon-rumped before finding out the Lemon-rumped was the Scarlet-browed.  So I was pretty happy when it (or another) appeared much closer.

Finally an Aracari whose identification is easier (but forgotten for the moment).

Monday, June 25, 2018

cousins and sisters in Ecuador

I'm going to try to return to blogging a little more regularly and return the blog to the Ecuador trip this spring.  That trip focused mainly on the upper mid elevations of the west slope of the Andes, centered at Tandayapa.  We'd left off with a morning walk at Rio Silanche, the lowest elevation we reached on this trip.  The lower elevations tend to have more generalist birds rather than the specialty endemics of the highlands, and this was true at a little pond we stopped at.

Blue-and-white Swallow looks pretty analogous to a Tree Swallow and are pretty widely distributed.

It's pretty easy to figure out who Gray-breasted Martin is related to, another bird I've seen on most neotropic trips.

White-thighed Swallow was new.  These birds were even darker than the Southern Rough-wings that were also present, and a size smaller too.

But these were lowlands in South America so that meant there had to be more new birds.  Water-tyrants are pretty much limited to South America (with the exception of Pied which just crosses into Panama's Darien).  These are Masked Water-tyrants

I'm not great with butterflies but I'm pretty confident these are some species of Sister.

We heard Brown-capped Tyrannulet here.  Its beeeee, bee-be-be-bi can be a prominent part of a lot of neotropic soundscapes.

I was surprised to see Plain-brown Woodcreeper, in Central America they've always been forest birds, this was much more edge type habitat.

Scarlet-backed Woodpecker is a somewhat odd and quite unique looking bird.

Finally our good friend Summer Tanager, they call more on their wintering grounds than they do in Warren Dunes (or else they're just a lot more concentrated in winter)

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Forget Father's Day?

Need a last second gift idea for the summer doldrums?

Can I suggest to you a latest offering from Princeton Press (who gave me a free copy to review)?

Why go out into the summer heat when you can bring photo subjects to you?  (Some assembly required). 

The first 3rd of the book is a review of butterfly biology basics, range maps for some of the common showy species with information on their food plant as both adults and caterpillars.  There's intro information about the different families of butterflies and short accounts for some of the most common and widespread species.  A lot of it is going to be duplicated if you already have Kaufman's (or a similar) butterfly field guide. 

For birders probably there's more new information about the plants, which is the subject for the middle third of the book.  Did you know some flowers produce only pollen and no nectar?  The spiderwort I plant every few years will attract bees ... but no butterflies since they require the nectar.

Of course the book is chock full of eye candy photos.

The final third focuses on specific regions (Northwest, California, Plains, Midwest, Northeast, and Florida) to give more targeted recommendations about different plants.

There's a lot of information in this book.  Honestly I would probably have included some specific layouts of things to plant for both small and medium sized plots and made it more obvious about the sun and shade requirements of the plants.  Practically I think I would be more likely to try this if the book tried to give me less overall information.  Personally I'd prefer more exact directions for example gardens that could be adapted to one's space rather than having all the information and then having to internalize it and come up with a plan.

In any case, the book is going on the shelf and I look forward to experimenting in the future.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Fork-tailed Flycatcher

Schedules finally opened up allowing a run up to Genessee for a Fork-tailed Flycatcher that's been present for a week in a grassy subdivision of the future.  While this is the 4th country I've had one in, it was an ABA bird for me.
 I'd never seen a non-breeding plumaged individual.  This one is very weathered and quite faded.  It's molting a couple inner primaries on each side.  The longish tail, overall gray color, and wing flash created by the primary gap made me think 'mockingbird' when it first flew across the meadow a hundred yards or so distant.

Fork-tailed Flycatcher is present year-round in Central America, but also breeds in southern Brazil in our winter.  I would assume this is one of the South American subspecies that overshot its wintering grounds by half a continent.  Sometimes the subspecies can be identified based on the number and pattern of emarginated primaries; this one is probably too worn for that.  I can't really make out any emargination left.

Now I just need to chase (or better yet, find) a Scissor-tailed for the state...

Saturday, June 2, 2018

starting summer with Summer

Up until today I've had no luck this year with Summer Tanager.  Most people got one of the pair that at least temporarily set up shop next to the picnic area in Warren Dunes.  I checked there several times and have struck out.  I've started working my way down the other blow-outs over the last week or so.  Last week I walked the northern-most one in Warren Dunes, best accessed from Weko Beach.  Today I walked both the two northern-most and in the 2nd started hearing a Summer singing from the very top.  I walked all the way up and eventually got a visual on the bird.
 It's a one-year-old bird as evidenced by the transitional plumage.

As usual, Prairies were singing in each blow-out.

This is not a Blue Grosbeak.

Orchard Oriole, like Summer Tanager, is a bird that can be missed in the spring but can be tracked down in June.  This one was singing in the south county yesterday not far from some blue flag irises at Dayton Prairie

Finally a look at one of the Worm-eating's on territory.