Sunday, January 29, 2012

Slate-throated Redstart at Volcán Casita

View of neighboring Volcán San Cristobal's smoking crater, from Volcán Casita 

An excursion to Volcán Casita (Chinandega) on January 28, 2012, produced more than 50 species for Lili Nigaglioni, Georges Duriaux, Palak Shah, Liliana Chavarria, Rob Batchelder, and Manfred Bienert. Among the more interesting finds were species typically encountered further north and east in pine-oak habitat in Nicaragua's northern mountains, such as the "White-breasted" race of Sharp-shinned Hawk (Accipiter striatus chionogaster), Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis), Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus), Steller's Jay (Cyanocitta stelleri), and Black-throated Green Warbler (Setophaga virens).

A volcanic "island" that rises 1,395 m above the surrounding Pacific lowlands, Casita is also one of the few known locations in Nicaragua for Rock Wren (Salpinctes obsoletus), which Manfred and Rob heard calling in response to playback, from a grassy slope strewn with boulders and volcanic rock at around 1,200 meters elevation on Casita's south-east slope.

The day's most unexpected find, however, was a Slate-throated Redstart (Myioborus miniatus), seen well by Liliana and Georges, and fleetingly by Manfred and Rob, at around 8:00 a.m. a few hundred meters uphill from the Hacienda Bellavista coffee farm at 800 meters above sea level. The bird was traveling in a mixed flock that included Dusky-capped Flycatcher (Myiarchus tuberculifer), Yellow-throated Vireo (Vireo flavifrons), Black-and-white Warbler (Mniotilta varia), Tennessee Warbler (Oreothlypis peregrina), and Western Tanager (Piranga ludoviciana), the latter being one of the most abundant species encountered during the trip.  Although Slate-throated Redstart has a broad distribution from the U.S.-Mexico border south to northern Argentina, the handful of Nicaragua records are concentrated near Dipilto, along the Honduran border, and the species is not know to occur further south in areas such as San Rafael del Norte in Jinotega.

Google Earth map showing path of trip and sightings locations.

Forster's Tern at Guayabo Wetlands

On a January 15, 2012, visit to the El Guayabo Wetlands north of Granada, Manfred Bienert recorded 77 bird species, a single-day record for Manfred at that site. In a flooded field between the community of El Guayabo and the Lake Nicaragua lakeshore, Manfred found an unusually large number and variety of birds including six species of ducks, among them American Wigeon (Anas americana). Terns were also particularly well-represented with 12 Gull-billed (Gelochelidon nilotica), 200+ Caspian (Hydroprogne caspia), a similar number of Sandwich (Thalasseus sandvicensis), 30 Common (Sterna hirundo), and around 60 Royal Terns (Thalasseus maximus). The highlight of the day, however, was a group of 15 Forster's Terns (Sterna forsteri), a species recorded very rarely in Nicaragua.

A flock of nearly 300 Black Skimmers (Rynchops niger) was also noteworthy, and provided Manfred an opportunity for some fantastic photos:

Shorebirds were also well-represented on the day's checklist with 15 species including a Southern Lapwing (Vanellus chilensis), and five Wilson's Snipes (Gallinago delicata).

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Reddish Egret at Salinas Grandes

Paying his habitual monthly visit to the salt evaporation ponds at Salinas Grandes (León) on the afternoon of Tuesday, January 10, 2012, Manfred Bienert found a total of 42 species, including Reddish Egret (Egretta rufescens), a species which Manfred has observed at Salinas Grandes on at least two other visits this winter.

Reddish Egret (l) with Greater Yellowlegs (r)

Other highlights were a lone Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura), which Manfred had not previously seen at Salinas Grandes, and four Wilson's Phalaropes (Phalaropus tricolor), a passage migrant that now appears to be overwintering in small numbers at Salinas Grandes.

Mourning Dove

Palm Warbler at Corn Island

While spending a family vacation on Corn Island (RAAS) from December 23, 2011 to January 8, 2012, Manfred Bienert observed 32 bird species, including eight species of herons and egrets, a similar number of shorebirds, and such characteristic residents as White-crowned Pigeon (Patagioenas leucocephala) and Smooth-billed Ani (Crotophaga ani). Palm Warbler (Setophaga palmarum) and Northern Waterthrush (Parkesia noveboracensis) were among the more noteworthy winter visitors that Manfred encountered during his stay on the island.

White-crowned Pigeon
Smooth-billed Ani

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Sepia-capped Flycatcher at El Jaguar

While conducting a monthly migrant overwintering survey at El Jaguar on January 2, 2012, Georges Duriaux and Liliana Chavarria captured a Sepia-capped Flycatcher (Leptopogon amaurocephalus), a rare and seldom recorded resident of Nicaragua's northern mountains.

Sepia-capped Flycatcher

Other birds captured in mist nests during the survey included two Emerald Toucanets (Aulacorhynchus prasinus), Scaly-throated Foliage-gleaner (Anabacerthia variegaticeps), Tawny-winged Woodcreeper (Dendrocincla anabatina), Yellow-bellied Flycatcher (Empidonax flaviventris), and Tawny-crowned Greenlet (Hylophilus ochraceiceps).

Emerald Toucanet