Sunday, October 2, 2016

Brown Noddy at Corn Island!

September 14th to September 17th, Mangua-based birders Cal and Jessie Stuebner took a trip to Corn Island to do some snorkling and see some of the birds that are unique to that location, particularly Smooth-billed Anis and White-crowned Pigeons. They also saw a number of herons and shorebirds, including Black- and Yellow-crowned Night-Herons, Spotted Sandpipers, Semipalmated Plovers, large numbers of Ruddy Turnstones, and more.

 Swallows were also present everywhere - mostly Barn Swallows; but Purple Martins and Cliff Swallows (both new for the highly under-birded hotspot) were also regular sights. Rarities included Short-billed Dowitchers, seen in a little wetland along with Blue-winged Teals, a Greater Yellowlegs, and a number of small sandpipers. The highlight of the trip, however, was a Brown Noddy, only the second report of this species for Nicaragua, and the first in over seven years! (There was one old report previously from very close to the Costa Rican border back in 2009.)

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Harpy Eagle at Bartola!

Harpy Eagle (immature)
Canadian birder G. Elliott Whitby submits the following description of his February 16, 2016, encounter with a young Harpy Eagle (Harpia harpyja)--the first known sighting of this species in Nicaragua in more than 15 years, and the first documented eBird record for the country:

"On February 16 Elliott Whitby, Ardith Ekdahl, Gordon Greer and Denise Orr were taken on a birding tour by boat up the Bartola River from Refugio Bartola. The guide was Juan Jose. At approximately 9:30 the guide told us a Harpy Eagle was passing over the boat. It landed in an adjacent tree and we all got wonderful views with our binoculars and three of us took pictures for about ten minutes. According to (eBird country reviewer Liliana Chavarria) it is the first sighting of a Harpy Eagle in 15 years in Nicaragua."

A Productive Visit to Sabalos Lodge

Janelle and Howard Freshman of Long Beach, California provide the following account of their recent visit to Sabalos Lodge, on the Rio San Juan:

My husband Howard and I birded at Sabalos Lodge February 10-16, 2016. We probably saw more species than on any previous trip to the area. We had a brief look at a pair of Royal Flycatchers (Onychorhynchus coronatus) along the path in the lodge. We saw three Olivaceous Piculets (Picumnus olivaceus) in a mixed flock that included a Cinnamon Becard (Pachyramphus cinnamomeus), Plain Xenops (Xenops minutus), and two Dot-winged Antwrens (Microrhopias quixensis). We got a good look at a male Bare-crowned Antbird (Gymnocichla nudiceps). We saw plenty of wintering migrants including a beautiful male Golden-winged Warbler (Vermivora chrysoptera), Tennessee Warbler (Oreothlypis peregrina), American Redstart (Setophaga ruticilla), Black-and-white Warbler (Mniotilta varia), several Northern Waterthrushes (Parkesia noveboracensis), and plenty of Chestnut-sided Warblers (Setophaga pensylvanica) as usual. Resident birds that we saw included included a Bright-rumped Atilla (Attila spadiceus), Black-throated Wren (Pheugopedius atrogularis), Spot-breasted Wren (Pheugopedius maculipectus), Black-headed Trogon (Trogon melanocephalus), Yellow-billed Cacique (Amblycercus holosericeus), Great Antshrike (Taraba major) and two Slaty Spinetails (Synallaxis brachyura). We also got great looks at two (Neotropical River) otters in front of the lodge!

Plain Xenops

Bare-crowned Antbird

Neotropical River Otter

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Lost Canyon Reveals Hidden Treasures

Daniel Néron of Montréal (Quebec), Canada, submits the following report from his December 15-20, 2015, visit to Nicaragua:  

I spent one week at Lost Canyon, a private nature reserve 20 km North of Lago Xolotlán (Lake Managua). This 40 ha reserve is within the tropical dry forest.  It extends from a river system to a ridge, one kilometer away and 200 m higher. Near the creek, the trees stay green all year round and are a refuge for the wildlife that lives in this valley. A trail brings you to the summit and does a loop where several lookouts allow breezy halts. In October and April, the valley is a corridor for the migration of thousands of raptors.

Typical dry forest habitat at Lost Canyon Nature Reserve
I saw a total of 57 species of birds at Lost Canyon during that week. One memorable hike was done with the reserve guide early in the morning until noon. At dawn, a large group of Black-headed Trogons (Trogon melanocephalus) was vocalizing and found near the river. Before entering forest, we spent an hour in open fields and we had the chance to see one Lesser Ground-Cuckoo (Morococcyx erythropygius) and a few Crested Bobwhites (Colinus cristatus) crossing the trail. Besides many flycatchers coming and going, a Streaked-backed Oriole (Icterus pectoralis), Orange-fronted Parakeets (Aratinga canicularis), a Banded Wren (Thryophilus pleurostictus) and a Rose-throated Becard (Pachyramphus aglaiae) were seen in the bushes nearby. Upon entering the forest, a family of White-lored Gnatcatchers (Polioptila albiloris) welcomed us. 

The slope of the hill is composed of many small flats sheltering recent plantations. Groups of passerines were feeding there. They were often composed of the Summer or Western Tanager (Piranga rubra or P. ludoviciana), Yellow-throated Vireo (Vireo flavifrons), Rufous-capped Warbler (Basileuterus rufifrons), Brown or Great Crested Flycatcher (Myiarchus tyrannulus or M. crinitus), Greenish Elaenia (Myiopagis viridicata), without forgetting our Wood Thrush (Hylocichla mustelina). One of the groups was joined by the Turquoise-browed Motmot (Eumomota superciliosa), Nicaragua's national bird. The flower beds were patrolled by the Cinnamon Hummingbird (Amazilia rutile) or the Plain-capped Starthroat (Heliomaster constantii).

Yellow-bellied Flycatcher (Empidonax flaviventris)
One of the treasures of the park is “the bench”. Installed in front of a pool along the river, it is a calm and shady place to wait for birds at bath time, which is late morning. This is where I met the Elegant Trogon (Trogon elegans) in the large tree in front of me. The Squirrel Cuckoo (Piaya cayana) and Hoffmann's Woodpecker (Melanerpes hoffmannii) also came by. The last day, I was rewarded by the visit of a group of finches that included Painted Buntings (Passerina ciris). An abundance of doves can be observed in the Reserve. They have to drink a lot each day and they are easily seen in the river bed. Over five species of this family, including the Red-billed Pigeon (Patagioenas flavirostris) and the White-tipped Dove (Leptotila verreauxi) were seen.

Richard Leonardi and his family, owners of the Reserve, were the best of hosts. They were always proactive in organizing things to suit our needs. Richard is an enthusiastic naturalist always eager to hear about one's observations at Lost Canyon and happy to share his own.