Saturday, March 24, 2012

Last day in El Palmar

After an exciting previous day with Harpy Eagles, we decided to bird again the forests beyond the Rio Grande, which separates the states of Bolivar and Delta Amacuro in eastern Venezuela. We were joined by Carlos, a colombian merchant who kindly took us up to the place in his car.
The four of us walked the main road for a while, stopping wherever we detected activity... and we found some before it started to rain! A single mixed flock contained Spotted, Flame-crested, White-shouldered and Bay-headed Tanagers, Slaty-capped Shrike-Vireo, Black-spotted Barbet and at least three or four Golden-headed Manakins (sorry for the bad photo... it was raining).
However, we were puzzled by the presence of rotten fruit deliberately hung in the trees along the road... soon we met the guys who did it: three entomologists (two japaneses and one from Barbados) who were collecting tiny butterflies, and that was their way to attract them! We chat for a while, hearing interesting facts about the mega diversity of the place. By that moment, the group of people in that corner of Venezuela was particularly diverse as well, with two japaneses, a barbadian, a mexican, a panamanian, a colombian and -only- one venezuelan!
But the best of the day was about to come. In a flowering tree, Blas showed us a tiny hummingbird perched high, in some exposed branches: we were astonished after verifying with our binoculars that the bird had rackets in its tail: a male Racket-tailed Coquette!!! What a life bird!!
After the coquette, the activity declined and the rain was imminent. It was well beyond noon and we decided to take a road close to El Palmar (the way to La Palma). The short walk resulted in many new species to our growing list, including Purple Gallinule, Plain-breasted Ground-Dove, Blue-tailed Emerald and good looks at White-headed Marsh-Tyrants, both male and females, as well as their nests. The male is so distinctive that it can be identified easily in my distant photo!
With the last lights of the day, Blas showed us a colony of Burrowing Owls, and soon, a pair of these terrestrial owls perched atop the posts of a fence. Great way to call it a day!
Back at Blas' house, in company with some of our new venezuelan friends, we enjoyed some cool drinks and celebrate for the birds and the friends. It was our last night at El Palmar and we already felt it like home! Can't wait to return my friends!

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