Sunday, January 31, 2021

White eared jacamar ... and Owl???

 Our last afternoon of Ecuador birding saw us upstream of the claylicks birding around a Sani village (can you say Roasted Palm Grubs for lunch?  Ok, plural is an exaggeration.  But I did eat one.  It tasted like a really rubbery shrimp).  Anyway, we walked a trail among widely dispersed houses and came upon a White-eared Jacamar.

I don't know of any other burgandy jacamars, it looks like an Asian bird!

Our real goal on this hike was a roost spot for Crested Owl, an owl that's fairly widely distributed in the tropics, but a species I'd only seen once before.

Finally a view of one of the white-throated toucan species which came a lot closer than any had previously just to continue the white-eared theme of the walk...

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Last of the clay-lickers

 Can you get tired of Scarlet Macaws?  The answer should be no, but as long as the macaws were about there wouldn't be any other birds.  And since after a while you either have the pic or you don't, I honestly didn't mind when they started filtering away.  Now the problem was that they had to go ALL the way away for the smaller species to appear and it felt like we stared at the muddy rocks for about an hour after they departed before activity recommenced.

Cobalt-winged Parakeets are on the opposite side of the size spectrum, probably smaller than the macaws' heads.

But what they lacked in size they attempted to make up in volume...

A few Orange-cheeked Parrots appeared as well
I tried hard to get the Red-winged Blackbird like wingflash of the Orange cheeks in flight without a ton of success

One last pic of a macaw returning to scatter its smaller cousins

Friday, January 22, 2021

scarlet macaws

 The parrot licks along the river were just the beginning of gorgeous birds eating dirt.  After the amazons departed for the forest we continued upriver a little farther to where a large blind had been built at another site that parrots used to lick clay, this one fairly deep in the forest.

It was dark, which added another layer of incredulity that we were going to see one of the gaudiest birds in the Western Hemisphere, Scarlet Macaws.  It took at least an hour for the birds to start filtering in, but filter in they did.

For the most part they would come and go in pairs; clearly the birds weren't on eggs right now.

I spent a lot of time trying to get a decent flight pic of the birds.  It was challenging, but this frame is one of the better ones that I think I've taken.

Finally a backed off view to give a better sense of the place.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Sani River morning

 Parrots weren't the only thing we saw from the river, the Amazon river basin has interesting water birds too!

Pied Plovers were new for about half the group, myself among them.

The sun hadn't risen yet so it was hard to get much detail around the eye

I'll always associate Cocoi Heron with the river we traveled in Panama several years ago for Harpy Eagle, so it was fun to see it again here.  The spoonbill's not ugly either!

Finally a little group of Southern Lapwings, a fairly widespread bird from southern Costa Rica and south.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Green on green

Or green on orange, either one.

Our second to last morning in Ecuador found us initially jockeying for position amidst a flotilla of tourist boats along the Sani River.  The target?  A bare stretch of clay along the river that would attract parrots from probably miles around as they attempted to detoxify some of the chemicals from the pits or seeds of jungle fruit.

They're mostly Mealy Parrots, a large Amazon that's spread pretty widely through the tropics.

The smaller birds are Blue-headed Parrots.

Close study produced another Amazon, this one a Yellow-crowned.

As the Sun started to rise (presumably at least.  it was overcast) the birds started to take off and stage in the forest.

Mealies again.

and the Blue-headeds

Before at last a screeching cloud of green birds flew off into the green forest.
I think there's somewhere between 75 and 100 parrots in this pic, but I haven't gotten up the courage to count them.


Saturday, January 9, 2021

Iceland arrives here

 It's been a few years since I've seen an Iceland Gull so I was pretty excited to see that the 1st winter whitewing on the south pier had a dark bill.  It played hide and seek for a while as it rested offshore, but eventually headed in to the beach.

Where he displayed some manners that, well, I'm not sure I want to go to Iceland...

Is everyone from Iceland that mean?

Pretty enough though as it cycled around off the beach.
The bird overall was pretty pale, in life it looked lighter than these pics, but there's a little bit of dark pigment on the dorsal secondaries.
I'm glad we don't have to separate them from Thayer's anymore since this one certainly isn't the lightest Kumlien's.  I don't know how much variation there is on the east coast or if this one would get thrown in the intermediate zone based on the darkness in the secondaries.

Monday, January 4, 2021

Blackwater paddle

 A lot of times on birding trips the evenings can be somewhat of a struggle.  A person is hot, tired, likely borderline dehydrated, and quite possibly a bit overwhelmed by all the sights and sounds of the day.  That being said, the Sani Lodge evenings were some of the most enjoyable evenings of any of the birding trips I've been on.  

Because all we did was paddle!  And by we, I mean our guides.  The rest of us just sat in dugout style canoes and watched exotic birds appear along the edges of the blackwater lagoons. 

Who wouldn't enjoy some (not so aptly named) Red-bellied Macaws screeching about their day?

Waterbirds were of course plentiful.  These are Capped Herons. 

The book says they're in the same family (though a different genus) from our Green Heron, but I don't really appreciate much structural resemblance.

There was a Rufescent Tiger-heron nesting right next to the boat dock, this is probably one of the adults from the dock pair

Amazon Kingfisher.  Who wouldn't want pics of a green bird with a green background (more of those coming soon!)

This is White-chinned Jacamar, now a green bird against a white background!

Finally a Red-capped Cardinal
And since there really isn't an actual difference between cardinals and tanagers we won't worry that its name might be a lot better off as Red-capped Tanager

Friday, January 1, 2021

Frosty the Redhead

 It's been a few years since I've had a chance to really bird January 1.  But I had the chance this year (at least until a sputtering ice storm sent me home midday).

Tiscornia was pretty quiet, though there were a lot of Red-throated Loons.  A kestrel at the nearby Paw Paw canoe launch was the first raptor of the year.

A flicker on an opposite snag was the first woodpecker of the year, and then a group of Common Redpolls beat Junco onto the year list!

Paw Paw Lake was as birdy as I've seen it with both black-backed gulls and good numbers of ducks.  Most of the swans were Mute, but eventually a group of Trumpeters appeared.  There were 2 young birds and 3 adults.  One of the adults had possibly a radio collar?

The other two adults were unbanded.  This is one of them.  I find it difficult to separate Trumpeter from Tundra based on the cheek feathering, and this bird even has a hint of the yellow pip that Tundra shows prominently.  Its bill is too long for Tundra though, and all the birds were the same size.
The forehead feathering works better for me (if you're relatively close to it); Trumpeter has a pointy forehead if it's looking at you (like the bird on the left).  To the naked eye I thought the juvies were mutes initially.  I'd forgotten (or never knew?) that they can have some pale mosaic color to the bill.

Finally the odd redhead that the title refers to.  Eider crossed my mind for half a second to the naked eye.  You can see how the trailing hen has the usual slight frostiness to the foreface.  The lead hen practically has a white head, I don't think I've ever seen this effect.