Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Birding the Caño Negro and Laguna Negra

After our morning walk around Playa Guio and the Guaviare river (Colombia), Rafael Cortes, Mauricio Rueda and your blogger host were ready to do some canoeing-&-birding.  Aboard a "piragua", and guided by Derly, our route started at the dinning hall through the winding Caño Negro... as its name suggest, a black water creek that drains into the Laguna Negra (black lagoon).
It was a delightful travel, watching many birds at the banks and at the floating vegetation while comfortable seated in the boat.  The water was so calm that it was easy to take photograph... however I still don't know why my only pics of these attractive Red-capped Cardinals turned out so unfocused!
I'm pretty sure that will not see again so many Hoatzins in the same place... they were abundant!  They not only looked like relics of the past... they sound like that too.
Each stretch of the creek had a pair of White-eared Jacamars watching the surroundings waiting for an unfortunate insect to pass.  They have heavy-looking bills so different to the others jacamars of the region.  In the other hand, the Brown Jacamars were always in groups of three to four individuals, and they do have more typical bills (for a jacamar that is).
The real masters of the water were the kingfishers... we saw four species in total.  We only saw once the Pygmy Kingfisher and a Green-and-Rufous Kingfisher (excavating a nest), but both the Ringed and Amazon Kingfishers were very common.  This male Amazon Kingfisher stayed enough for photos.
Once in the lagoon, the more open waters and the floating vegetation supported a different set of birds.  By far the most impressive was the Horned Screamer.  A pair of these prehistoric-looking birds were vocalizing atop some trees at the edge of the lagoon.  They look quite heavy and have a strong flight.  I don't know if the latin name Anhima have something to do with their vocalizations (in spanish, an ánima is a kind of wandering, crying spirit)... its common name, aruco, certainly does!  
Some other birds around the lagoon were the Black-capped Donacobius, making the car alarm-like duet, a pair of Bare-necked Fruitcrow, an Osprey and a Neotropical Cormorant.  The boat then entered a zone with reeds, flushing first a Least Bittern.  Then, we spotted a heron hiding in the reeds.  It looked like a juvenile tiger-heron at first, but then we noticed the finely barred hindneck, the streaked back and wings (instead of barred) and the heavy bill pointing upward toward the sky... a Pinnated Bittern!  That is a bird that curiously skips Panama in its distribution, so I was glad of watching it. 
We were very happy with our first day around Playa Guio, lots of birds and spectacular scenes...  but the birding didn't ended with the sunset... the night came accompanied with all sort of songs and calls by several night birds that, curiously, we saw in the day... but that is another post!
Laguna Negra

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