Friday, March 30, 2012

Good-bye Venezuela!

After an excellent first day at La Escalera in southeastern Venezuela, Henry planned a visit to some lowland forest close to Las Claritas, and then, to move higher up along La Escalera, so we decided to follow him without questions. Rafael Cortes and you blogger host were already impressed by the endemics and the landscapes of the day before, and we can't wait for our final full birding day in Venezuela.
We visited a lowland forest following Henry, opposite to the famous Guyana trail, near the town of San Miguel de Betania. We followed the border of this forest, along some power lines, watching the intense activity around. We saw Guianan Streaked-Antwren in the bushes, and a mixed flock with Palm, Blue-gray, Silver-beaked and Flame-crested Tanagers, Blue Dacnis and two Paradise Jacamars... they have a very distinctive profile.
We started to see larger birds, like both White-throated and Channel-billed Toucans, plus a flock of Black-necked Aracari. Some Cayenne Jays were also present, plus a Lineated and a Yellow-tufted Woodpecker with his clown-like face.
However, the were more lucky with the parrots. Both Orange-winged and Mealy Amazons were quite common, and we even found a pair of Dusky Parrots perched and a flock of Golden-winged Parakeets flying above us... but it was the Red-fan Parrot that offered the most sensational show, flying with his hawk-like style above us, and perching exposed above tall trees... simply great.
Reluctantly, we left the place in order to reach the foothills along La Escalera, stopping first at the lookout that we visited the day before. This time, we were able to locate a Blackish Nightjar on its day roost, and it allowed close approach... can you find it in the first photo of this post?
We saw also a mixed flock of swift flying over us while watching the nightjar... the first to be identified were the White-tipped Swifts; however, it soon was clear that actually most of the members of the flock were endemics Tepui Swifts! My poor photo barely shows the chestnut collar and throat that these birds exhibit.
We reached the foothills forest quite late, and the activity was considerably lower than the day before. At the km 124 the only birds seen where Black-billed Thrush (also a Pantepui endemic subspecies) and the familiar Rufous-collared Sparrow. We did saw a new endemic for our list: a flock of noisy Golden-tufted Mountain-Grackles offered great views.
Well, we spend a beautiful time in Venezuela, finding tons of new birds for us but, most importantly, making tons of new friends... we hope to return soon!

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