Monday, April 9, 2012

Around Playa Guio

After our arrival to Playa Guio, in the department of Guaviare (Colombia), we started to bird around the cabins and then took a trail leading to the shores of the wide Guaviare river.  This trail passes first through quite disturbed habitat, then enters a nice gallery forest along a creek where we used fallen trunks to pass, and finally reach the river shore from where you follow it along the river for a while before returning to the cabins essentially crossing the same types of habitats, except that using a different trail.
Rafael crossing over a falling trunk
This variety of habitats is ideal if you want to see many birds... as we did.  The activity was pretty amazing at the disturbed habitats (around the houses, plantations, etc...).  Many species where taking advantage of the fruiting trees, like Violaceous Jays, Lettered Aracaris and Russet-backed Oropendolas.  Notice that the subspecies present in the lowlands have black bills and plain faces, quite different from those at the Andes (see the photo at the bottom of this post for example).
Another pretty common, and colorful bird of that type of habitat was the Scarlet-crowned Barbet.  It is quite large for a barbet, and quite active too... always in the move.
Once in the forest, the activity decreased, but we saw good birds anyway.  An unexpected species for me was the calling male Collared Trogon.  I know now that this species is quite common in the lowlands forests of South America... but I was used to see them as highlands species in Panama.
Another common bird inside the forest was the Black-fronted Nunbird.  Several times we flushed individuals that were in the ground... probably excavating nests?  Once you detected them, they simply left us to approach quite close... remembering me our encounter in Venezuela with its relative, the Black Nunbird.
Eventually, we reached the huge Guaviare river... I felt like in the Amazonas itself! (despite this river joins eventually the Orinoco -not the Amazonas- river).  Large-billed and Yellow-billed Terns patrolled the shores, while a group of South American Black Skimmers were resting in the sand banks (trust me, they are in the second photo below).  Even a Boto (Amazon River Dolphin) showed up!!!
Can you find the Black Skimmers in this photo?
The birding close to the river was simply excellent... not only the terns and the skimmers, we also saw Red-capped Cardinals (which are tanagers), migrant Scarlet Tanagers (which are cardinals), Gray Seedeater and a pair of Drab Water-Tyrant.  Both the drab and water parts of its name are very adequate!
Another bird strongly associated with the river was the White-banded Swallow.  Flocks of this attractive species flew fast and low over the water, perching always close to the river.
The White-winged Swallow was also found always close to water.  It is very similar to our Mangrove Swallows in Panama, and is known for Panama only from the extreme east... and only by one report.
We returned to the cabins just in time to have lunch and to prepare for the next outing, a "boat" trip birding the caño Negro (the creek in front of the dinning hall below).

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