Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A Varied Weekend

My vacations have ended, but anyway I managed to have another free weekend. In order to spent it well, I joined Osvaldo Quintero and Rafael Luck in a birding trip to Cocle province last saturday, visiting new sites for Rafael's GPS. We headed to El Chirú, a place that holds some typical lowland species. At the first stop on the road we heard (and eventually saw) a Rufous-browed Peppershrike, the first of many Yellow-green Vireos, a cute Southern Beardless-Tyrannulet and many others. We decided to walk a side road with a plantation of Eucalyptus and other scattered trees in one side, and a open grassland at the other. Soon we heard a loud Bob, Bob-white!!! so we started to search in the surroundings for the hidden singer. After a few minutes we realized that a Crested Bobwhite was calling above us high on a tree (yes, on a tree!). A flock of Brown-throated Parakeets flew around the Eucalyptus, allowing us eventually to spot some couples. The place got hot quickly, so we started to walk back, not before exploring another side road that was seeming promising for raptors, but finding instead a mixed group of birds that included Lesser and Yellow-bellied Elaenias, Plain-breasted and Ruddy Ground-Doves, Panama, Social and Boat-billed Flycatchers, and a Pale-breasted Spinetail. Then, we drove to Juan Hombron, a little to the west and still in the lowlands close to the coast. The agricultural field proved to be very good for raptors. We found White-tailed Kite, Savanna Hawk, Crested and Yellow-headed Caracara and an American Kestrel of the isabellinus race. A bit dehydrated, we drove toward El Valle de Anton to have lunch and to drink some water. Renergized by the drinks and the fresh climate, we decided to bird the entrance to the Gaital Natural Monument... finding much of the same as in our last visit, plus a White-tailed Emerald and a group of Common Bush-Tanagers. We tried to visit Los Llanitos, but the rain ruined our last plan for the day, so we headed back to the city.

But this continues... Next day, very early in the mourning, I met the participants of the PAS fieldtrip to Cerro Azul. The plan of the day was to bird the Río Mono trail, making some stops along the way. In the first stop, we found a pair of Black Phoebes, an uncommon sight in this part of the country. Then, at a viewpoint, we saw a pair of Blue Dacnis from above. Before reaching the entrance of the trail, we found a nice mixed flock with Blue-gray, Palm, Crimson-backed, Bay-headed and Plain-colored Tanagers, Green and Red-legged Honeycreepers, a very cooperative Yellow Tyrannulet, a group of Scaled Pigeons and many more. The trail was steppy, slippery and quiet, through a beautiful forest where we found three different manakins (Red-capped, Blue-crowned and White-ruffed), Short-billed Pigeons, Speckled Tanagers, Wood-Wrens and Stripe-throated (aka Little) Hermits. The rain was threatening to fall above us, so we decide to visit Birder's View, where the Kaufmanns had some snacks and sodas already prepared. The rain forced us to go indoors because the temperature quickly dropped (contrasting with my previous day). It was time to relax, talk with friends and to view the photos captured during the day. When the rain stopped, we decided to make it a day, not before enjoying a Bay-headed Tanager and a White-ruffed Manakin feeding in a little bush right at the entrance of the house. So, it was a varied weekend, with so many habitats, weather, birds and friends.

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