Sunday, March 9, 2014

Black-collared Hawk at San Miguelito Wetlands

On March 8, 2014, Georges Duriaux, Liliana Chavarría and Manfred Bienert visted the San Miguelito wetlands (Humedales de San Miguelito) RAMSAR site in Rio San Juan department.  After traveling 4½ km by boat up the SE shoreline of Lake Nicaragua, the birders entered the Piedras and Camastro rivers which together form the marshy wetlands.  During the course of the morning, they observed a total of 84 bird species, including five species of kingfisher and a similar number of duck species.  Noteworthy were two large groups of Muscovy Duck (Cairina moschata), each comprising 30-35 individuals (in Nicaragua this species is generally found in much smaller groups).  The birders also found 10 different species of herons.  A group of 15 Yellow-crowned Night-Herons (Nyctanassa violacea) appeared to be a migratory flock since this species generally is not otherwise found in groups and typically prefers salt or brackish water habitats. 

Bare-throated Tiger-Heron
Other migrants included two large kettles--of around 500 birds each--of Turkey Vultures (Cathartes aura) making their way slowly northward.  Among them were a dozen Swainson's Hawks (Buteo swainsoni) and six Broad-winged Hawks (Buteo platypterus).  In addition to these, the birders observed eight other raptor species including Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture (Cathartes burrovianius) and nearly 25 Ospreys (Pandion haliaetus).  But the day's real highlight were six Black-collared Hawks (Busarellus nigricollis), a noteworthy concentration of individuals given that this species is considered rare in Nicaragua.

Black-collared Hawk

Throughout the wetlands, abandoned woodpecker holes were being used by Mangrove Swallow (Tachycineta albilinea) and Gray-breasted Martin (Progne chalybea).  Other species of interest included Southern Lapwing (Vanellus chilensis), Franklin´s Gull (Leucophaeus pipixcan), Mangrove Cuckoo (Coccyzus minor), Prothonotary Warbler (Protonotaria citrea) and Nicaraguan Seedfinch (Oryzoborus nuttingi).

Mangrove Cuckoo
Prothonotary Warbler

Snail Kite

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