Sunday, March 25, 2012

Reddish Egret at Las Peñitas

In celebration of World Wetlands Day, Liliana Chavarría, Georges Duriaux, John Gerwin and Manfred Bienert visited the Juan Venado Island Natural Reserve on Saturday, February 25, 2012.  Their five-hour excursion from the town of Las Peñitas (León) at the north end of the reserve produced a total of 66 bird species, including 11 species of shorebirds such as Sanderling (Calidris alba), Ruddy Turnstone (Arenaria interpres) and Willet (Tringa semipalmata).

Herons and egrets were well-represented, including all three nocturnal species: Yellow-crowned Night-Heron (Nyctanassa violacea), Black-crowned Night-Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax), and Boat-billed Heron (Cochlearius cochlearius).

Boat-billed Heron

Among a group of 80 Snowy Egrets, the birders were suprised to see another all-white egret with black legs, but larger and behaving differently than the surrounding birds. This turned out to be the day's most interesting discovery: a white-morph Reddish Egret (Egretta rufescens).

Reddish Egret (white morph)

In the mangroves south of Las Peñitas, the group observed a number of other interesting birds, including the "Mangrove" race of Common Black-Hawk (Buteogallus anthracinus subtilis), Lesser Nighthawk (Chordeiles acutipennis), American Pygmy Kingfisher (Chloroceryle aenea), Ivory-billed Woodcreeper (Xiphorhynchus flavigaster), and Prothonotary Warbler (Protonotaria citrea).

American White Pelican at Laguna de Tisma

Liliana Chavarría, Georges Duriaux, and Manfred Bienert visited Laguna de Tisma (Masaya) together on February 11, 20, and 21, 2012, while Manfred made a solo visit to Tisma on February 18. During these four visits, they recorded a total of 79 species, including large migratory flocks of Black-bellied Whistling-Duck (Dendrocygna autumnalis), Blue-winged Teal (Anas discors), Semipalmated Plover (Charadrius semipalmatus), Least Sandpiper (Calidris minutilla), and Short-billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus griseus).  Lili and Georges also report seeing a group of at least 100 Nicaraguan Grackles (Quiscalus nicaraguensis) congregating at a communal roost on the afternoon of the 20th.

On that same date, Georges and Lili observed three large groups of American White Pelicans (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) comprising 78 individuals.

American White Pelicans

Beginning on the 11th, Georges and Lili located a group of eight Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus). This species was again observed on subsequent visits, with Manfred recording a total of 26 individuals on the 18th.

Glossy Ibis

Other interesting sightings from Tisma included Harris's Hawk (Parabuteo unicinctus), Southern Lapwing (Vanellus chilensis), and Pectoral Sandpiper (Calidris melanotos).

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Black-collared Hawk at Los Guatuzos

From February 10 to 13, 2012, Manfred Bienert paid a work-related visit to the Los Guatuzos wildlife refuge, located on the south shore of Lake Nicaragua (Lago Cocibolca) in the department of Río San Juan. Although his birding time was rather limited, Manfred recorded 67 bird species during his visit. Among the eight raptor species Manfred observed were a pair of Laughing Falcons (Herpetotheres cachinnans) engaging in apparent courtship behavior, and a lone Black-collared Hawk (Busarellus nigricollis) that overflew the area.

Laughing Falcon

Black-collared Hawk
Kingfishers were plentiful, according to Manfred, with American Pygmy Kingfisher (Chloroceryle aenea) being the most common member of this family.  Another Caribbean slope aquatic bird that Manfred encountered was Sungrebe (Heliornis fulica), likely breeding in the area as the bird he photographed was apparently a female in breeding plumage.


Other noteworthy birds Manfred observed at Los Guatuzos were Gartered Trogon (Trogon caligatus), White-ringed Flycatcher (Conopias albovittatus), and Red-legged Honeycreeper (Cyanerpes cyaneus).

White-ringed Flycatcher

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Scarlet-thighed Dacnis at Refugio Bartola

New York-based birders Andrew Vallely, Paul Sweet, and Liz Herzog visited Refugio Bartola (Rio San Juan) from January 31 to February 5, 2012.  Andrew provided the following report of their most noteworthy sightings: 

Lesser Scaup (Aythya affnis): A flock of about 20 were on the Rio San Juan between San Carlos and El Castillo on 31 Jan and again on 5 Feb 2012.

Semiplumbeous Hawk (Leucopternis semiplumbeus): At least two individuals seen from the trails at Refugio Bartola on 2 and 4 Feb 2012.

Southern Lapwing (Vanellus chilensis): A group of at least ten birds flying along the river near El Castillo on 5 Feb 2012.

Snowcap (Microchera albocoronata): Two females found perched in forest understory along the trails at Refugio Bartola on 2 and 4 Feb 2012.

Central American Pygmy-Owl (Glaucidium griseiceps): One individual responding to our recording along the Rio Bartola on 5 Feb (other owls found at Bartola included Black-and-White, Crested, Vermiculated, and Mottled).

Great Jacamar (Jacamerops aureus): Heard singing (but not seen) on at least two mornings (2 and 4 Feb) along the trails at Refugio Bartola.

Snowy Cotinga (Carpodectes nitidus): Two males, both seen along the Rio San Juan on 2 Feb and 3 Feb. One bird was on the Costa Rica side of the river.

Ocellated Antbird (Phaenostictus mcleannani): At least two individuals were at an antswarm at Refugio Bartola on 4 Feb 2012.

Streak-chested Antpitta (Hylopezus perspicillatus): One individual (detected by voice) was along the Rio Sarnoso on 2 Feb 2012.

Speckled Mourner (Laniocera rufescens): One individual was closely studied as it responded aggressively to our recording at Rio Sarnoso on 2 Feb 2012.

Scarlet-thighed Dacnis (Dacnis venusta):  Several individuals including one female and at least three males were seen in the garden at RB and with greenlet/honeycreeper flocks in nearby forest on 1, 2, and 3 Feb 2012. Although this record is not surprising given that this sp is sometimes reported from adjacent lowlands of Costa Rica, we know of no previously published record for Nicaragua.

Nicaraguan Grackle (Quiscalus nicaraguensis): We saw at least two individuals of this species in near-direct comparison with Great tailed Grackles at El Castillo on 5 Feb 2012.

Note: Sally Gladstone and family also report having seen a female Scarlet-thighed Dacnis in the garden at Refugio Bartola during a four-day visit over New Year's.