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.

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