Saturday, August 17, 2013

Pearl Kite in Matagalpa

Visiting birder Chris Cutler, a self-described "rambling naturalist," reports seeing a Pearl Kite (Gampsonyx swainsonii) perched on a wire close to the new "playing field" 2-3 km above Matagalpa on the highway to Jinotega, at around 2:00 p.m. on Friday, August 16, 2013. Chris writes, "As I was on a slow-moving bus and didn't have a camera in-hand, no photo taken, but I saw the bird from approx. 25m away, and it was unmistakable."  This is only the second known record of Pearl Kite in the department of Matagalpa, and considerably further northeast than Georges Duriaux's November 2011 sighting at Chaguitillo, just north of Sebaco.  Rare throughout its range, Pearl Kite had previously been found exclusively in Nicaragua's Pacific lowlands.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

First Record for Nicaragua: Large-billed Tern

On August 3, while visiting the El Guayabo wetlands between Granada and Malacatoya, Manfred Bienert stumbled upon a familiar bird from his years in the Amazonian lowlands of eastern Bolivia: Among a large, mixed species group that included Common Tern (Sterna hirundo), Forster's Tern (S. forsteri), Elegant Tern (Thalasseus elegans), Black Tern (Chlidonias niger), Herring Gull (Larus argentatus), Laughing Gull (Leucophaeus atricilla), Franklin's Gull (L. pipixcan) and Black Skimmer (Rynchops niger) was a tern with a long, thick, yellow bill and greenish-yellow legs. Based on the observed characteristics there was no doubt in Manfred's mind that this was a Large-billed Tern (Phaetusa simplex), apparently blown to the shores of Lago Cocibolca (Lake Nicaragua) far to the north of its normal range in South America. There are very few vagrant records of this species from Central America, and this appears to be the first record of Large-billed Tern for Nicaragua. The bird was also seen the following day, August 4, by Lili Chavarria and Georges Duriaux.

Update: In an interesting footnote to this story, Manfred, Georges and Lili again encountered this species on August 11 at the south end of Lake Nicaragua, at the conclusion of a birding trip to Los Guatuzos on the Rio Papaturro.  This Large-billed Tern was also in non-breeding plumage but the observers were unable to determine whether it was the same individual seen the previous week at the El Guayabo wetlands.