Sunday, September 30, 2018

Mashpi hummers - the rest

While Velvet-purple Coronet and Empress Brilliant were the rarest hummingbirds at Mashpi, they certainly weren't the only birds of interest.

Violet-tailed Sylph was a bird I worked most of the trip trying to get a shot that does the bird justice.  This one is good, but comes up short of really capturing the bird.

We only saw a couple White-whiskered Hermits, this was my best pic of this species

This is Purple-throated Woodstar, clearly appropriately named.

I'm not sure what this orange flower is, I photographed a Little Hermit at one in Costa Rica several years ago, but it's a nice contrast to the plainer Brown Inca.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Empress Brilliant

Another of the Choco endemics, Empress Brilliant was a fairly dramatic and unique species.

We didn't see a ton of males in decent light, but the glossy dark dark green upperparts, long heavy tail, and lime underparts made for an impressive bird.

Here's one with a Violet-purple Coronet.

It's easy to forget how long hummingbirds' tongues are...

Both the brilliants that I've encountered have a rufous wash to the malar in young males (Green-crowned Brilliant does as well).

This next bird is a female brilliant (note the whitish malar mark) and the speckled throat.  I'm pretty sure this bird's tail is long enough to be an Empress, though it might just be a Green-crowned perched at an odd angle.

Here's a for-sure Green-crowned female for comparison.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

my best avocet pic yet

Some time last week I didn't get to the count until the very end and Tim spotted an Avocet landing on Jean Klock.  I wasn't initially going to try for a closer view but did ultimately, I'm glad I did.

I was surprised it still had some rustiness to the head as I figured it'd be all gray at this point.

A couple days ago a relatively slow morning became a little more exciting when a young Parasitic Jaeger flew past low, gained elevation, then busted into the gull flock on Silver before continuing on south

Finally a young Piping Plover pic from a month ago that I never got around to posting

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Rare tanagers at Mashpi

We spent all morning at the feeders at Mashpi, and for good reason.  Jose knew that with patience more birds would keep coming in (and that the rain would keep coming down; we could stay under a shelter here), and he was right.

This is an Orange-breasted Fruiteater
Fruiteaters tend to stay in the canopy and usually don't move around a lot (and contrary to my title aren't tanagers).  Given that they're colored like leaves they're not easy to see.  A number of fruiteaters were possible, but this was the only species the group saw (I think Jose heard at least one other over the course of the trip).

Golden-collared Honeycreeper is a difficult bird to find anywhere so we were fortunate to see a pair here.

Indigo Flowerpiercer is a rare enough bird that even Jose was taking photographs.  We actually would see two of them.  The color doesn't come through great in the gloomy light, but the blue was deep and as intense as the red in the eye.

Finally another uncommon Choco endemic, Black Solitaire.
They can probably be found more easily farther into northwestern Ecuador, but I'm going to venture to say that the roads into that section of the world would not be considered easier.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Last day at sea

The final day of the cruise was mostly at sea again, as we exited the inner passage and headed down to Vancouver.

Black-footed Albatrosses were about in small numbers

Very high winds were predicted and the decks were closed for fear that people would blow away I guess, so I was lucky to be able to watch from the cabin.  I heard that the captain deviated the planned course considerably inland to avoid the worst of the wind which also likely limited the pelagic opportunities.

I didn't see many shearwaters at all.  This one is Sooty.  I probably saw a Pink-footed Shearwater, but only once and very distantly.

Rhinoceros Auklet is technically a puffin and after traveling about 800 km south of where we started it had replaced its more northerly cousins.

Finally another lifer, a Killer Whale
There was a small group of them and there was definitely a sense of awe around this apex predator.  Most of the (presumed Fin and Humpback) whales we saw moved very slowly and quietly through the water.  These animals cruised and turned rapidly, leaving large boils in the water.  While they behaved a lot like dolphins they were a lot more menacing given their size.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Mew Gulls in Alaska

Mew Gull is a bird that is on my lifelist, identified when I was a kid, but I have no memory of and really don't know if I had correct, so I was looking forward to seeing this bird again.  It didn't disappoint in Ketchikan.

 With the petite plain bill and dark eye they really reminded me of kittiwakes.

The giant white windows in the primaries were fairly unique however.

The extent of white in the wingtips varied from bird to bird, and not just with the stage of molt.

Even the darker wing-tipped bird above has a pretty decent string of pearls.

I was hoping to see some young birds, but this sub-adult was the only one I came up with.

Assuming these birds are representative of whatever subspecies would turn up in Berrien, I feel better that they'll hopefully stand out.