Monday, May 23, 2011

Crimson-fronted Parakeet in Granada

On a recent academic trip to Nicaragua, May 18-21, Guanacaste, Costa Rica-based birder, naturalist, tour guide and university student Juan Diego Vargas was impressed by the natural beauty and interesting birds of the Granada and Masaya areas. He reports seeing Neotropic Cormorant, Mangrove Swallow, White Ibis, Purple Gallinule, Northern Jacana and other "common" wetland birds around the Isletas de Granada, as well as Least Grebe at Laguna de Apoyo.

Highlights of the visit included Crimson-fronted Parakeet (Aratinga finschi), seen flying over Granada each afternoon, and dozens of cliff-nesting Pacific Parakeets (Aratinga strenua) seen and photographed inside the crater at Volcán Masaya. Juan Diego found Pacific Parakeet particularly interesting since this species does not occur in Costa Rica.

Crimson-fronted Parakeet

Unfortunately, Juan Diego's trip to Masaya also included an unpleasant discovery: "some of the birds that I would love to find in the protected areas were seen in the market of Masaya, killed and prepared by local merchants to sell as souvenirs! Among the birds on sale were several Pacific Screech Owl, American Kestrel, Striped Owl, Snail Kite and Pearl Kite! A sad memory, but a good chance to remember the need for environmental education to show how much more can be earned if they show live birds in the wild than if they sell them dead."

Stuffed Pearl Kite on sale at Masaya Market

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Olive Warbler at Mozonte (Reserva Serranía Dipilto–Jalapa)

Francisco "Chico" Muñoz and Rob Batchelder spent the morning of May 7, 2011, exploring the extensive pine-oak habitat north of Mozonte (Nueva Segovia), part of the Dipilto–Jalapa Mountain Reserve (Reserva Serranía Dipilto–Jalapa). A lone female Olive Warbler (Peucedramus taeniatus) foraging in the middle story of montane pines was one of several highlights of the day. Rob and Chico were also pleasantly surprised to stumble upon a group of Buffy-crowned Wood-Partridges (Dendrortyx leucophrys), which, although trying hard to remain hidden on a brushy hillside along the road, responded loudly to a recording of the species' distinctive call, and offered fleeting glimpses of 3-4 individuals (though mainly of their non-descript, brown backs!).

Other highlights of the trip included Band-tailed Pigeon (Patagioenas fasciataa), Lesser Roadrunner (Geococcyx velox), Steller's Jay (Cyanocitta stelleri), five wren species including a very vocal Rufous-browed Wren (Troglodytes rufociliatus), Crescent-chested Warbler (Oreothlypis superciliosa), Painted (Myioborus pictus) and Slate-throated Redstarts (Myioborus miniatus), Hepatic (Piranga flava) and Flame-colored Tanagers (Piranga bidentata), Black-vented Oriole (Icterus wagleri), Red Crossbill (Loxia curvirostra), and Black-headed Siskin (Spinus notatus).

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Gray Hawk at Montibelli

Visiting Montibelli reserve near Ticuantepe on May 4, 2011, Stephen Paez of Miami observed a number of species typical of the Pacific dry forest of the Sierra de Managua, including Steely-vented Hummingbird (Amazilia saucerrottei), Dusky Antbird (Cercomacra tyrannina), Common Tody-Flycatcher (Todirostrum cinereum), Rufous-browed Peppershrike (Cyclarhis gujanensis), Orange-billed Nightingale-Thrush (Catharus aurantiirostris), and Gray-headed Tanager (Eucometis penicillata). A Gray Hawk (Buteo nitidus) made a particularly nice addition to Stephen's trip list.

Canada Warbler in Managua

During a recent visit to Nicaragua, Miami-based birder Stephen Paez observed a number of interesting migrants at a relative's house near Km 14 along the Carretera Sur, just a few miles southwest of the capital city. A female Canada Warbler (Wilsonia canadensis), seen on April 30, was perhaps the most interesting of the nearly 60 species Stephen observed at this location. Other noteworthy birds seen include Yellow-bellied Flycatcher (Empidonax flaviventris), Least Flycatcher (Empidonax minimus), Eastern Wood-Pewee (Contopus virens), Western Kingbird (Tyrannus verticalis), and Blue Grosbeak (Passerina caerulea).

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Eastern Kingbird at Finca Ecologica San Carlos

While taking a morning walk at Finca Ecologica San Carlos near León on May 7, 2011, Salvadora Morales, Lili Nigaglioni, Rob Batchelder, and finca owner Tito Espinoza observed dozens of Eastern Kingbirds (Tyrannus tyrannus) migrating north in large flocks. The migrant kingbird was one of eight tyrant flycatchers and more than 40 total species recorded during the walk around the finca's grounds, which have been partially reforested over the past twenty years through Tito's planting of thousands of trees.

Other noteworthy species seen include Crested Bobwhite (Colinus cristatus), Green Heron (Butorides virescens), Canivet's Emerald (Chlorostilbon canivetii), "Traill's" Flycatcher (Empidonax sp.), a breeding pair of Rose-throated Becards (Pachyramphus aglaiae), Bank Swallow (Riparia riparia), Stripe-headed Sparrow (Peucaea ruficauda), and Altamira Oriole (Icterus gularis).