Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Birds bonanza in Metro Park

Yesterday, I went to the Metropolitan Natural Park following the directions of Osvaldo Quintero who told me that the trees at the lookout were full with fruits and birds since the last week. I just wanted to see what it was all about up there so my plan was to walk without resting all the way to the lookout, which is at 135 meters above sea level in Cedro hill. I took the Mono Tití trail because is wider and fresher than La Cieneguita trail, which starts behind the rangers' station. Of course, my plan of walk directly to the lookout without stopping on route was quickly interrupted due to bird activity. Close to the first lookout (in the way up), a dead trunk attracted three different couples of birds: one of Crimson-crested Woodpeckers, other of Lineated Woodpeckers and a pair of Orange-chinned Parakeets excavating a nest in a termite nest... all in the same trunk. Both pairs of woodpeckers were working in different branches, ripping apart and throwing huge pieces of bark from the trunk while looking for worms and other insects, without agressions or shouts, everything in harmony. The parakeets stopped what they were doing to have a look at me, they are so curious! The understory that surrounded some fallen branches and roots of the dead trunk was also alive in birds. A pair of Fasciated Antshrikes were inspecting every corner while a Dusky Antbird sang from a cover. It is fascinating how a dead trunk have so many niches to occupy. Back on route, I started to hear the flocks of birds while approaching the lookout. And then I realized why... many of the trees bordering the lookout were full in fruits, just like Osvaldo told me. Many species were taking advantage of this, not only the frugivores, but also many insectivores as well. I also noticed lots of butterflies and other insects in the area, and many mammals too (more about them in my next post). I simply sat down and waited. The birds appeared in waves. First a flock (yes, a flock) of Tropical Kingbirds, more or less 20 birds eating fruits and flycatching, accompanied by one, possible two Dusky-capped Flycatchers. Also, many Yellow-green Vireos were feeding at the trees, probably preparing themselves for their journey to South America. The frugivores were represented by Blue-gray, Palm, White-shouldered and Plain-colored Tanagers and also Blue Dacnises. Even a Squirrel Cuckoo showed up, also eating fruits! Then, I found a single Double-toothed Kite nicely perched just below the canopy. At first, it was far away, but got closer while following a troop of Geoffrey's Tamarins. That was not the first time that I see those kites following monkeys. If you have any doubt about why they are called double-toothed, check the close-up that I made of its head. A mixed flock of swifts and swallows patrolled the air over the lookout, with Short-tailed and Vaux's Swifts, and Gray-breasted Martins. Sometimes, they were so close that I thought they were going to hit me! I spent more or less three hours at the lookout! In the way out, I checked the spot of the Common Potoo reported elsewhere, finding only the downy fledging acting already as an adult potoo... it is not the cuttest thing?

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