viernes, 11 de agosto de 2017

South Caribbean Birding!
¡Pajareando en el Caribe Sur!

Tica Birding Adventure birding on the field. Tica Birding Adventure pajareando en el campo. 

During my "Big Year" I couldn't skip one of my favorite places in Costa Rica:  the south Caribbean coast! First, it's a great place to bird and sencond, it's home of two bird's species that are on my wish list. For the first time, I didn't go for a swim, just birding! I started this trip by going to Puerto Viejo (south of Limón), where heavy rain was predominant, but found a few sunshine hours to bird on a local birders recommended road: the Recope Road. It's closer to Manzanillo than Puerto Viejo, so I rented a bike and adventure to the spot!

Durante mi "Big Year" no podía dejar por fuera uno de mis lugares favoritos en Costa Rica: ¡Caribe Sur! Es muy buen lugar para pajarear y es el hogar de dos especies de aves que figuran en mi lista de las aves mas ansiadas por ver. Por primera vez visité este lugar sin disfrutar de sus hermosas playas, solamente para observación de aves. Empecé éste viaje en Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, donde la lluvia intensa fue predominante, pero encontré unas pocas horas de sol para pajarear en una calle recomendada por locales (Carretera RECOPE), la cual estaba mas cerca de Manzanillo, por lo cual renté una bicicleta y me aventuré hacia el lugar!

Birding there was very nice, a flat road with almost no vehicle transit and a lot of birds! The most predominant species in the area were Mealy Parrot, Yellow-throated Toucan and Keel-billed Toucan, but we also had excellent views from a White-whiskered Puffbird female, and a family of Slaty-tailed Trogons, who were feedind the fledgling with small katydids.

Es un buen lugar para pajarear ya que la calle es plana, casi no hay transito de vehículos y se pueden encontrar muchas aves. Entre las especies mas comunes en la zona están: Loro Verde, Tucán Pico Castaño y Tucán Pico Iris, también obtuvimos vistas muy agradables de una hembra de Buco Barbón y de una familia de Trogones Coliplomizo, quienes alimentaban a su cría con un grillo.

Slaty-tailed Trogon, Trogón Coliplomizo, Trogon massena.
Manzanillo, Limón
White-whiskered Puffbird female, Buco Barbón hembra, Malacoptila panamensis.
Manzanillo, Limón
Mealy Parrot, Loro Verde, Amazona farinosa.
Manzanillo, Limón

On the second visit to this road, I got my first lifer of the trip: Purple-throated Fruitcrow. About four individuals foraging on the tree tops in between a morning rain that didn't allow me to photograph them. Nevertheless, I had excellent views through my binoculars of a male's courtship to a very interested female, opening like a fan the red-purpulish gorget feathers, which make great contrats with its totally black body (female is all black with silvery color bill, same as male's bill).

En mi segunda visita a esta calle, tuve el primer lifer de la gira: Quérula Gorgimorada. Al rededor de cuatro individuos forrajeando en la copa de los árboles en medio de una llovizna matutina que no me permitió fotografiarlos. No obstante, tuve excelentes vistas a través de mis binoculares del cortejo de un macho a una hembra bastante interesada. abriendo como un abanico las plumas roji-moradas de la garganta, las cuales hacían contraste con el resto de su plumaje, totalmente negro.

I stayed at Cocles, were since 4am we could heard a Gray-cowled Wood-Rail family, when I tried to enter the species on the e-bird list, it appeared as rare, so I looked for more information at Cornell Lab Ornothology webpage. This species is one of the three recent splits from Gray-necked Wood-Rail, two of those splits are present in Costa Rica. This one has a dull or non-existent rufous patch on the nape and it reaches its northerm limit in southwest Costa Rica (south Caribbean and south Pacific). The other one you can find in our country is Russet-naped Wood-Rail, which has a very obvious rufous patch on nape, it ranges from northeastern Costa Rica to eastern Mexico. For more information you can visit:
https://neotropical.birds.cornell.edu/Species-Account/nb/species/gycwor1/overview

Me hospedé en Cocles. dónde desde las 4am se escuchaba una familia de Rascones Capuchi-gris, cuando intenté subir el reporte a e-bird, la especie salía como rara, por lo que busqué mas información al respecto en la página de la Universidad de Cornell, Laboratorio de Ornitoogía. Ésta especie pertenece a una de las tres divisiones del Rascón Cuelli-gris, dos de éstas divisiones están presentes en Costa Rica. Ésta tiene una mancha rojiza casi imperceptible en la nuca o bien totalmente ausente y su distribución alcanza su límite norte en el suroeste del país, tanto pacífico como caribe. La otra especie se trata del Rascón Nuqui-rojizo, el cual tiene un parche rojizo bastante obvio en la nuca y se distribuye desde el noreste de Costa Rica al este de México. Para más información puede vsitar: 
https://neotropical.birds.cornell.edu/Species-Account/nb/species/gycwor1/overview

Comparisson between Russet-naped Wood-Rail (Aramides albiventris) and Gray-cowled Wood-Rail (Aramides cajaneus):

Comparación ente Rascón Nuqui-rojizo (Aramides albiventris) and Rascón Capuchi-rojizo (Aramides cajaneus):

Russet-naped Wood-Rail, Rascón Nuqui-rojizo, Aramides albiventris. 
Photo: Cope Arte, La Unión, Guápiles

Gray-cowled Wood-Rail, Rascón Capuchi-gris, Aramides cajaneus.
Cocles, Limón

Gray-cowled Wood-Rail, Rascón Capuchi-gris, Aramides cajaneus. 
Cocles, Limón

After two days in south Caribbean, I traveled back to Limón to visit a place I really wanted to get to know. When I was studying Ecological Tourism at Universidad de Costa Rica, Limón, very near from that place, I heard about how ecologically diverse and beautiful it is. Veragua Rainforest protects 77 he of tropical rainforest at the foothills of the Talamanca Mountain range, which represents a great habitat for more than 370 species of birds. Amongst so many bird species, my two target birds: Sulphur-rumped Tanager and Spot-crowned Ant-vireo (both species distributions restricted to the area).

Después de dos días en el Caribe sur, viajé de vuelta a Limón para visitar un lugar que siempre había querido conocer. Cuando estaba estudiando Turismo Ecológico en la UCR de Limón, el cual se encuentra a unos pocos minutos, por lo que había escuchado sobre cuán diverso biologicamente y hermoso este lugar es. Veragua Rainforest protege 77 hectáreas de bosque tropical húmedo en las faldas de la cordillera de Talamanca y representa un hábitat excelente para mas de 370 especies de aves. Entre estas especies mis dos objetivos: Tangara Lomiazufrada y Batarito Coronipunteado, ambas con distribución restringida a ésta área.

First day I walk 5km from the last bus stop to Veragua, at the best hour for birdwatching into the Talamanca foothills. On my way up, I saw the second lifer of the trip, in between a mixed flock of tanagers. I saw an emerald bird which looked different, and happily discovered through my binoculars its reddish head and patch on wing, a beautiful Rufous-winged Tanager on a far tree top, my last species of costarican Tangaras. After two hours and a half of walking up the hill I finally arrived and went to rest to the Hummingbird garden where I had excellent views of the Caribbean resticted Blue-chested Hummingbird, who seems to rule and own all hummer flowers at Veragua!

El primer día caminé 5 km desde la última parada del bus hasta Veragua, a la mejor hora para pajarear adentrándome en las faldas de la coordillera de Talamanca. En mi camino, vi el segundo lifer de la gira, entre una bandada mixta de tangaras. Observé un ave esmeralda que lucía deferente, felizmente descubrí a través de mis binoculares que tenía un parche en el ala y cabeza roja, una hermosa Tangara Alirufa perchada en la cima de un árbol lejano, mi última ave en el género Tangara en Costa Rica. Luego de dos horas finalmente llegué y fui a descansar al Jardín de Colibrís, dónde tuve una muy buenas vistas del colibrí Amazilia Pechiazul, el cual está restringido al Caribe, en el siguiente día descubrí que ésta especie es dueña de todas las flores en Veragua.

Blue-chested Hummingbird, Amazilia Pechiazul, Amazilia amabilis. 
Veragua Rainforest Limón

During the afternoon I took a ride with the workers to the nearest town, on the way I ask them about Snowy Cotinga, which I have seen in December last year, but didn't have it for the Big Year. Energically the driver told me that almost every day they have been seeing it at that same hour at 2 km aproximately from Veragua's principal road. We stopped to check and totally successful! An incredibly clear white bird contrasting with the blue sky at the top of a near tree, even allowed me to photographed it. This bird ranges from northern Honduras to western Panama.

Durante la tarde fui con los trabajadores al pueblito más cercano, en el camino pregunté por la Cotinga Blanca, la cual ya había visto antes pero no en éste año. Enérgicamente el conductor me contó que casi todos los días las ven a esa misma hora a 2km de la entrada de Veragua. Paramos a inspeccionar el lugar y fue un total éxito. Una ave increíblemente blanca contrastando el cielo azul en lo alto de un árbol cercano, lo suficientemente para tomar una buena foto. Ésta especie se distribuye desde el norte de Honduras hasta el oeste de Panamá.

Snowy Cotinga, Cotinga Blanca, Carpodectes nitidus
Veragua Rainforest Limón
Next day I woke up early and were fortunate to see 14 Swallow-tailed Kites perched on a deth tree next to the cabins area, it was a great view. This species is migratory, and has two distinct populatios: one breeds in southern United States and the other one in Central America, but they all migrate to South America during the nonbreeding season.

El siguiente día me levanté temprano y fui afortunada de ver 14 Gavilanes Tijereta (Elanio Tijereta), perchados en un árbol muerto cerca de las cabinas, fue una vista increíble. Ésta especie es migratoria y tiene dos poblaciones diferentes: una pasa su temporada reproductiva en sur de Estados Unidos y la otra en América Central, pero todos migran a Sur América para la época no reproductiva.

Swallow-tailed Kite, Gavilán Tijereta, Elanoides forficatus
Veragua Rainforest Limón

Swallow-tailed Kite, Gavilán Tijereta, Elanoides forficatus
Veragua Rainforest Limón

I walk about thirty minutes along the entrance road and saw on a very tall Cecropia tree at the distance a silhouette that didn't fit the 'jizz' (overall impression) of any bird I have seen before, and I was right! I had found one more lifer: White-fronted Nunbird, a type of Puffbird very elegant by the way! Fortunately I saw it again during the afternoon and had better chances for a better picture.

Caminé por media hora sobre la calle hacia la entrada principal, y en un alto árbol de Guarumo vi una silueta que no coincidía con ninguna especie antes vista, y estaba en lo correcto. Me había encontrado otro lifer: Monja Frentiblanca, un tipo de Buco bastante elegante. Afortunadamente lo volví a observar durante la tarde y pude fotografiarlo.

White-fronted Nunbird, Monja Frentiblanca, Monasa morphoeus
Veragua Rainforest, Limón
During the afternoon I did a non-official and tough trail which decends abruptly to the lower Aerial Tram station. I was looking for Spot-crowned Antvireo, but wans't successfull, on the contrary, I got sick after walking on the pouring rain through the woods. I went to bird the late afternoon to the entrance road again, with the feeling that I was going to be lucky. Fortunately, this time I was! I met a nice bluish mixed flock: Blue Dacnis, Shiny Honneycreeper, Green Honeycreeper, Plain-colored Tanager and my highlight and last lifer of the trip: Sulphur-rumped Tanager. The white tufts at sides of the breast on this grayish bird was diagsotic for me at first sight, when it flew I finnally saw the bright yellow rump, which contrast a lot whith the blackish lower wing borders. It's a rare resident, restricted to southern Caribbean foothills and a Costa Rican and Panama endemic, a good species to observe! Unfortunately, after seeing it well enough and tried to take the picture, it didn't show the bight yellow rump very well.

Durante la tarde caminé por un sendero no oficial que desciende abruptamente hacia la segunda estación del teleférico. Andaba en busca del Batarito Cabecipunteado, sin embargo mi búsqueda no fue exitosa, por lo contrario, me enfermé luego de caminar bajo la lluvia en el bosque. Fui a pajarear en la tarde a la calle hacia la entrada principal con el presentimiento de que iba a ser afortunada ésta vez y lo fui! Me topé con una bandada mixta azuleja: Mieleros Azulejo, Mieleros Luciente, Mieleros Verde (Verde Mar), Tangaras Cenicienta y el pájaro que destaca en toda mi gira: Tangara Lomiazufrada. Los mechones blancos al lado del pecho en ésta ave mayormente gris, fue determinante para identificarla a primer vista, cuando voló finalmente pude apreciar la parte inferior de su lomo amarillo luminoso, el cual resaltaba contrastante con las orillas negras de las plumas primarias en sus alas. Ésta especie es considerada de rara a poco cumún, restringida a las faldas montañosas del Caribe sur, es edémico de Costa Rica y Panamá y definitivamente una muy buena especie para observar. A pesar de haber obtenido vistas bastante buenas, no pude fotografiar su lomo amarillo, solo su cara frontal.

Sulphur-rumped Tanager, Tangara Lomiazufrada, Heterospingus rubrifrons. 
Veragua Rainforest, Limón
Shining Honeycreeper male, Mielero Luciente, Cyanerpes lucidus.
Veragua Rainforest, Limón

Shining Honeycreeper female, Mielero Luciente, Cyanerpes lucidus.
Veragua Rainforest, Limón

Next day, I woke up not feeling well, I was very sick with a cold, probably from getting soaked the previous day so I couldn't bird anywhere far from the cabins. It rained most of the day, so I did one trail with no more new birds, and came back home.

Al siguiente día me desperté sintiéndome mal, estaba muy enferma con un resfriado por haberme mojado el día anterior, por lo que no pude pajarear fuera del área de las cabinas. Llovió la mayor parte del día, por lo que solamente hice un sendero pero sin aves nuevas para el año y en la tarde volví a casa.

With this trip I finally reach and past the 600 species in the year, I'm at 603 species observed, 73.45% of birds in Costa Rica. It's getting harder everytime to achieve new species, now I'm finding new obstacules on the way, but always positive, all I can find will be improvement: learning and growing, there's nothing to lose!

Con ésta gira finalmente llegué y pasé las 600 especies de aves vistas en el año, estoy en 603 especies, lo que representa el 73.45% de la avifauna costarricense. Cada vez es más difícil encontrar nuevas especies y nuevos obstáculos han surgido en mi búsqueda, pero me mantengo positiva, todo lo que aparece en mi camino es para mi mejoría como guía pajarera: aprendizaje y crecimiento ¡No hay nada que perder!

Area Visited, Área visitada

jueves, 13 de julio de 2017

Bird Count in Osa Peninsula 
Conteo de Aves en la Península de Osa 

Bird count group members.
 Photo: Fundación de Rapaces 
Now that most of migratory birds are not present in Costa Rica, resident bird counts are being done by the Asociacion Ornitologica de Costa Rica (AOCR, Costa Rican Ornithology Association in English). The main purpose is to monitor resident bird populations involving citizen participation in order to use the data to promote conservation and education on scientific and academic contexts (for more information visit: https://conteodeavescr.wordpress.com/ ).

Ahora que la mayoría de aves migratorias no están presentes en Costa Rica, la Asociación Ornitológica de Costa Rica (AOCR) ha estado realizando conteos de aves residentes. El propósito es monitoriar estas especies involucrando la participación ciudadana, y utilizar los datos obtenidos para la educación en contextos científicos y académicos (para más información: https://conteodeavescr.wordpress.com/).

This important initiative gave me the opportunity to travel for third time in this 'Big year' to the exuberant Osa Peninsula. Although a totally new area: the inner south east of the country. For six years now, the Neotropical Foundation has helped to make the bird counts possible, and at the same time involving locals in the process. This year with the participation of students from Osa's high schools and from the Osa Rural Tours (farm owners, guides and families interested in conservation).

Esta importante iniciativa me dio la oportunidad de viajar por tercera vez en este 'Big year' a la exuberante Península de Osa. Sin embargo me dirigía a una área nueva para mi: la parte interna de la península al sureste del país. Por sexto año la Fundación Neotrópica ha ayudado a hacer posible el conteo en la región, involucrando locales en el proceso. Este año con la participación de estudiantes de diversos colegios de la zona y de miembros de Osa Rural Tours (dueños de las fincas, guías de turismo y familias interesados en la conservación de sus recursos).

Because of the itinerary sent by the Foundation, I knew that not much birding would be possible, but a lot of learning for sure and my first bird count! The trip consisted in a course were the participants received very valuable birdwatching introduction and preparation for the counting, as it is made for all public with the purpose of getting more people involve in birding.

Al observar el itinerario enviado por la Fundación, supe que no habría mucho tiempo para observación de aves, pero de seguro mucho aprendizaje y ¡Mi primer conteo de aves!. La actividad consistía en un curso donde se aprendería información valiosa a manera de introducción para prepararnos para el conteo, tomando en cuenta que la actividad fue diseñada para todo público con el propósito de involucrar mas personas en la observación de aves.

On June 23rd, we were leaving San Jose at 6am. A very nice group of nine nature lovers, which made us broke the ice quickly and got along nicely the rest of the trip. After six hours of traveling, we finally arrived to the Neotropical Foundation's facilities near Golfo Dulce Forestal Reserve, Osa Penisula. During the activity's introduction we met our partners of the counting team, seven enthusiastic high school students who are getting involve in birding (and natural history) activities, and about six gentlemen owners of the land on which we were going to go to do the counting.

El día 23 de junio partimos de San José a las seis de la mañana. Un grupo muy agradable de nueve amantes de la naturaleza, lo que hizo que rompiéramos el hielo fácilmente y que nos lleváramos muy bien durante el resto de la gira. Luego de seis horas finalmente llegamos a las facilidades de la Fundación Neotrópica cerca de la Reserva Forestal Golfo Dulce, Osa. Durante la introducción al curso, conocimos a los locales, integrantes del grupo de conteo, siete estudiantes de colegios iniciándose en el mundo del pajareo, y alrededor de seis señores dueños y trabajadores de las tierras donde haríamos el conteo.

After an afternoon full of learning by our instructor Pablo Camacho (Biologist, Forestry engineer and director of Raptors Foundation), we made some quick birding as practice.  As soon as we got out in to the field, one of the students spotted our first bird, a specialty of the area: a female Baird's Trogon. A Costa Rican and western Panama endemic species and the only trogon in CR that combines pale blue orbital skin and red breast.

Luego de una tarde de aprendizaje por parte de nuestro instructor Pablo Camacho (Biólogo, Ing. Forestal y director de la Fundación de Rapaces), realizamos una practica de observacion. A los pocos minutos de haber salido del salón, uno de los estudiantes encontró nuesta primer especie y una especialidad de la zona: Trogón de Bairdi, hembra. Una especie endémica que comparte Costa Rica y Panamá oeste, y la única especie de trogón en el país que combina anillo ocular azul y vientre rojizo.

Baird's Trogon/Trogon de Baidi, Trogon bairdii. 
Photo: Daniel Cruz Carvajal
On the second day, early in the morning, we birded around the facilities. Aware of the new birds I could find there, I started checking every ground-dove, when finally, a Blue-Ground Dove crossed our way. Fortunately, when I point it out it flew and perched perfectly to take a photo. Males are pale blue and not likely confused, females can suggest a Ruddy Ground-Dove (common bird in the area) but with its distinctive chestnut wing markings. Although they are ground-doves, this species is more likely to fly and perch on trees than on the ground.

El segundo día pajareamos desde tempranas horas alrededor del campus. Consciente de las nuevas especies que podía observar, empecé a estudiar cada tortolita que se nos cruzaba hasta que finalmente una Tortolita Azulada cruzó nuestro camino. Afortunadamente, al señalarla voló y se perchó perfectamente para fotografiarla. Los machos de esta especie son azul pálido y difíciles de confundir, las hembras pueden confundirse con Tortolita Rojiza (ave común en el área), pero sus marcas castañas en las alas es una característica diagnóstica para la Azulada. A pesar de ser tortolitas que forrajean en el suelo, a esta especie le gusta percharse en arboles.
Female and two males Blue Ground-Dove/ Hembra y dos machos de Tortolita Azulada, Claravis pretiosa
Photo: Ulises Zuñiga

About fifteen minutes later, I had my second and last lifer of the trip. Our instructor heard and spotted one of the birds I always wanted to see, and my first one on the Formicariidae family (Antthrushes) a species which suggest a miniature chicken (7 in). With its typically short tail cocked up, a Black-faced Antthrush showed to us nicely but camouflaging very well with the death leaves on the ground, what made even more difficult to photograph.

Alrededor de quince minutos después, mi segundo 'lifer' del tour llegó. Nuestro instructor escuchó y señaló uno de las especies que siempre había querido ver y mi primera para la familia de los Gallitos Hormigueros (Formicariidae), los cuales son especies que parecen gallinas miniatura (18 cm). Con su usual cola corta levantada, el Gallito Hormiguero Carinegro se mostró bastante bien, aunque bien camuflado con las hojas secas del fondo, lo que hizo aun mas difícil fotografiarlo.

 Black-faced Antthrush/ Gallito Hormiguero Carinegro, Formicarius analis
Photo: Ulises Zuñiga
During the afternoon we went birding to the Rincon de Osa's bridge (where I had observed my first Turquoise and Yellow-billed Cotinga on January 25th). We had a lot of fun birding and spotting a Bare-throated Tiger Heron nest with chicks on it, some Roseate Spoonbills sitting along with White Ibis and close views of Mangrove Swallows and Gay-breasted Martins.

Durante la tarde fuimos a pajarear al puente sobre Río Rincón. Nos divertimos observando aves por un par de horas donde vimos un nido de Garza-Tigre Cuellinuda con dos polluelos bastante grandes. Espátulas Rosadas sentadas con Ibis Blanco y vistas muy cercanas de Golondrina de Manglar.

Mangrove Swallow/ Golondrina de Manglar, Tachycineta albilinea. 
Photo: Daniel Cruz Carvajal


Group at Rincon de Osa's bridge/ Foto grupal en Rincòn de Osa
Photo: Fundación de Rapaces
The last day we made the bird count, split in to several smaller groups at different locations in order to cover as many routes as possible. My group and I went to 'Descubra la Naturaleza' and there, I lost my final opportunity to observe my target bird for this trip: Black-checked Ant-Tanager. My team and I heard it, but it never came out, so I couldn't count it as a new bird. I was I little bit sad about it but never mind, hopefully I'll be back on September and will try again for this, my last Costa Rican mainland endemic bird (Coopery-headed Emerald was observed on March 6th at Canopy San Luis, Alajuela province, and Mangrove Hummingbird was my life-bird number 600th last June 20th at Hotel Rio Mar, Puntarenas province. Also, there are three more endemic species but located on Coco's Island, quite far from mainland).

El último día realizamos el conteo de aves, nos dividimos en grupos pequeños para cubrir la mayoría de rutas posibles. Mi grupo y yo fuimos a 'Descubra la Naturaleza' y ahí, perdí mi ultima oportunidad de ver mi objetivo del tour: Tangara Hormiguera Carinegra. Mi equipo y yo lo escuchamos pero nunca se dejó ver, definitivamente no lo podía tomar como nueva especie hasta observarlo bien. Estuve un poco triste por este motivo, pero planeo volver a intentarlo nuevamente en setiembre. Ésta sería mi última especie endémica de Costa Rica en tierra firme (el colibrí Esmeralda de Coronilla Cobriza lo observé en marzo en Canopy San Luis, Alajuela y el colibrí Amazilia Manglera fue mi especie número 600 en junio en el Hotel Río Mar, Puntarenas. También hay tres endémicos más en la Isla del Coco, sin embargo se encuentra bastante largo de tierra firme).

Tica Birding Adventure with her team at Descubre La Naturaleza, Osa Peninsula
Tica Birding Adventure con su equipo en Descubre La Naturaleza, Penìnsula de Osa
In the end the bird count was successful and the group members came back to San Jose happy enough to want to keep signing on Raptors Foundation, Neotropical Foundation and/or AOCR future tours, thanks to you guys for an awesome weekend!

Al final el conteo de aves fue un éxito, los miembros del grupo regresaron a San José lo suficientemente felices como para  querer seguir inscribiéndose en futuras giras  de la Fundación de Rapaces, Funadación Neotrópica y/o AOCR, ¡Gracias a todos los compañeros por un fin de semana genial!

I want to give special thanks to the entities and people that made possible this kind of initiatives. More than giving opportunities to the general public to participate on bird counts, it teaches and creates consciousness regarding habitat loss and protection of bird species. This type of activities, plants the conservation seed in minds that are turning in to a more ecological kind of living, as it does for those high school students who actually live in the area and that discovered a more sustainably work activity. Getting involve in this activity opens space for the protection and preservation of nature in such a delicate and biodiverse place as Osa Peninsula (the world’s most biological intense place regarding with National Geographic Magazine).

Importante agracederle a las entidades que hicieron posible la actividad y por tener este tipo de iniciativas. Más que darle la oportunidad al público en genereal para participar en conteos de aves, se educa y se crea conciencia con respecto a la perdida de hábitat y protección de especies. Este tipo de actividades  plantan la semilla de la conservación en mentes que empiezan orientarse hacia una manera de vivir mas ecológica, como lo fue para los estudiantes que nos acompañaron, quienes viven en la zona y descubrieron (o conocieron mas acerca) una actividad laboral sustentable ecologicamente. Involucrarse en estas actividades, abre espacio para la protección y preservación de los recursos naturales en un lugar tan delicado y biologicamente diverso como lo es la Península de Osa (El lugar mas intensamente biológico del planeta, según la Revista National Geographic).

Visited area/ Àrea Visitada

jueves, 18 de mayo de 2017

Meeting the Sea Birds: Pacific Ocean Pelagic from Sierpe


Isla Violincitos (Part of Isla Violín), Sierpe's Mangrove
"If you are doing big year you must take a pelagic tour", was the words from my coworker at Rancho, Harry Barnard. The only thing that came in to my mind was a dizzy feeling when imagine me in the middle of the ocean far from the coast in a little boat, so I respond: No way, that is crazy!

And the little "pelagic" seed started to grow in my mind. Finally, three months later I was convinced that would be amazing to explore such an amazing and different bird habitat: the ocean. Maybe with some anti-dizzy pills I can survive to be all day out in open sea, I thougth. By that time, I found in the AOCR (Costa Rican Ornithological Association) Bird Alarm Facebook page, a post from a guy who was looking for people to join a pelagic tour, that was my oportunity. I asked my birders friends but none of them were interested, so I decide to go by my own and signed up.

The boat tour depart from Sierpe at 5am. Sierpe is located five hours from San Jose, the capital city so I managed to travel the day before to make it. I took the 8.30 am bus from San Jose (the only one!) and arrived at 1.30 pm So I went to bird around the town  before dark, I have no idea what could I find there, and was very interesting to discovered them by my self. The spectacle of more than 10 pairs of Scarlet Macaw crossing the sky was amazing and easy to spot because of the raucous sound they make. Red-lored Parrot, Palm Tanager, White Ibis and Gray-breasted Martin were the most common species of the afternoon, but I got surprised with two Pale-billed Woodpecker and a Yellow-headed Caracara in the distance.

When it was getting dark around six I decide to go a restaurant with view to the estuaries, to have dinner but still be able to see the last birds. While waiting for my meal, it was very nice to see four Lesser Nighthawks flying over Sierpe river.

Next day I was at the port at 4.45am and after some inconveniences we departed at 6am. It was a bright morning and Sierpe's mangrove looked amazing. On the way out to the ocean we went very fast, even though I had the chance to see a couple of Ospreys and lots of White Ibis.

View from the port in Sierpe river
Our first stop was in Isla Violincitos, and there I realized how difficult it could be to bird from a boat on the ocean, and I was definitely happy for having taken those dramamine pills. Isla Violinctos is part of Isla Violín, which is bigger and very near one from the other. Because of being more exposed to the open ocean, this little island has became an ideal place for hundrends of Magnificent Frigatebirds and dozens of Brown Boobies to nest.

Magnificent Frigatebird Fregata Magnificens, Isla Violicitos, Sierpe

After seeing both of the species very well, the guy who organized the tour said that on the other side of the island there were also nesting some Red-footed Boobies. With its distinctive red feet, slaty colored body and blue bill with pinkish at the base, for me this species is one of the most beautiful Boobies in Costa Rica. So, I was very exited when I finally saw them at the top of the highest trees in leaf, some of them already with chicks!
Red-footed Booby Sula sula
It was funny to see down below a pair of Tropical Kingbirds also hanging out on the Island, and next to them I got nice views of the Brewster's Brown Booby, which is a Pacific sub-species of the Brown Booby. Brewster's has pale-gray head, and can be confused with a Red-footed Booby juvenile.
Brown Booby (Brewster's) Sula leucogaster
We kept going south and past Isla del Caño, there we saw our first pods of dolphins, Spotted and Bottle-nosed Dolphins swimming around the boat. They were too fast to even try to take a picture, so I desisted after several failed attempts and decided to watch them with my binoculars instead.

Continuing the expedition further past Isla del Caño, we started to see the birds over the open ocean. First a Nazca Booby flew in front of the boat, not a good view but enough to identify it. Fortunaletly, soon we get good views from one that was perched on a floating piece of wood.  


Nazca Booby Sula granti
One of the most common bird there, was Black Tern, which is a migrant on both Caribbean and Pacific coasts. Even though we spotted several of them, just two had complete breeding plumaje (all black with a white patch on the wing and white undertail coverts).
 

Black Tern Chlidonias niger (complete breeding plumage)
Another bird we saw several times around was the Red-necked Phalarope in non-breading plumage. This bird is a type of wader, but is typically found offshore (also on salt ponds), and feeds and rests afloat picking plankton from surface.

Red-necked Phalarope Phalaropus lobatus
Getting to the farthest point of the trip (60 km past Isla del Cano), we found, floating on the wáter, an extensive flock of Storm-Petrels: at least a thousand Black Storm-Petrels, about two-thousand Least Storm-Petrels and just got the chance to see one Band-rumped Storm-Petrel amongst them. I was glad to see them because I had studied that bird family for the trip, but was surprised to realize that they are smaller than I thought, Least is the size of a Summer Tanager (15cm, 6in) and Black is about a Great Kisadee size (23cm, 9in)!

Band-rumped Storm-Petrel Oceanodroma castro, Least Storm-Petrel Oceanodroma microsoma, Black Storm-Petrel Oceanodroma Melania





Once we were at 60 km from land, the captain ask for some time for fishing, taking advantage we were on a very good fishing area. To be honest I'm not a fan of fishing and already was feeling a little bit dizzy, so I didn't want to stay there, but the majority won and we stayed there for an hour. My bad humor started to change because meanwhile standing in the heavy sun, a Galápagos and a Wedge-tailed Shearwater past by several times, giving me the chance to observe them well!

Wedge-tailed Shearwater Puffinus pacificus
Another lifer for this trip, was Bridled Tern, wich we also saw very far from land. This bird breads on Costa Rican Pacific coastal waters from March to September, so we got the opportunity to see it in breeding plumaje (Black cap).


Bridled Tern Onychoprion anaethetus

On the way back we had very nice, close views of a pair of Pomarine Jaegers,one of them dark morph. As Stiles and Skutch affirm in their ''Birds of Costa Rica", this species is quite oportunistic, sometimes can even steal from other seabirds as Shearwaters and could follow fishing boats. So, as soon as the captain throw little pieces of fresh fish, they stuck behing the boat. This allowed us to photograph both of the individuals. With 66cm inlength, this is Costa Rica's largest Jaeger (same size as South Polar Skua), and needs a lot to get full. They stayed feeding aroung until both of them were too full and flew away.


Pomarine Jaeger Stercorarius pomarinus 
Pomarine Jaeger Stercorarius pomarinus
Pomarine Jaeger Stercorarius pomarinus
Back to Cano Island, we had great looks of a pod of Common Dolphins and more Brown and Nazca Boobies, but no more new birds. We made a quick stop on Isla Violincitos again to try for Red-billed Tropicbird (it was the one I really wanted to see) but no luck, so we headed back to Sierpe. 


Nazca Booby Sula granti
At the end of tis trip I had 571 species recorded for the year and 11 life birds, but also the experience of getting to know such an incredible place as Sierpe, the mangrove and the open ocean, all conected.

Sierpe river is the entrance to the biggest mangrove system in all Mesoamerica, it protects a wide variety of wild life, as it works like a nursery and feeding station for birds and marine fauna, also helps reducing the climate change by producing oxigen and capturing CO2.  
Every new place I travel to and every adventure I have, make fell in love even deeper with my country but especially with nature in general. Having such a close look at such a variety of ecosystems and the interaction of all organisms together, create a peaceful feeling in the field. Being aware about the importance of preserving this sanctuary is the duty of all human beings because it is very important for natural balance and we are all part of it as an organism. That's why the Costa Rican people are defending Terraba-Sierpe Natural Wetland (the biggest in Mesoamerica) against a massive  pinapple monoculture project, hopefully all of our efforts will prove sufficient to preserve such a fragile and precious ecosystem.

miércoles, 26 de abril de 2017

Getting to know the birds of Northeast Costa Rica: Alajuela Birding Hotspots

Tica Birding Adventure on the Medio Queso boat tour
Running down the hill and saying goodbye to my clients at Rancho Naturalista on March 5th, this fourth journey started. I needed to sleep in San Jose that night in order to depart at 4.30 am next day to the north.  This time our main stops included La Fortuna, Medio Queso and  Caño Negro, once again all new hotspots to enjoy!
View from Canopy San Luis hanging bridge
First morning, we arrived at Canopy San Luis at 8am. At the very entrance we were delighted by colorful birds on the feeders: Chestnut-capped Brush Finch, Wood Thrush, Emerald and Silver-throated Tanangers feeding on the bananas and hummingbirds as the endemic Coppery-headed Emerald and Green-crowned Brilliant feeding on the sugar water feeders. 


Silver-throated (Tangara icterocephala)Emerald (Tangara florida) and Bay-headed (Tangara gyrola) Tanagers, Canopy San Luis
On the trails I got five lifers, first one was a Black-headed Nightingale Thrush who was walking some feet ahead of us in almost all the way by the trails, was fascinating to see it so easy! 


Black headed Nightingale Thrush (Catharus mexicanus), Canopy San Luis
A little bit further we spotted my first Quail-Dove, it was next to us, three feet far, walking slowly and feeding from the ground, a Purplish-backed Quail Dove (you can see this species at Rancho Naturalista, but I have never been lucky enough to get it), with it's remarkable black mallard stripe and bright purple patch on the back, like painted by an artist, simple but beautiful bird. 

We kept going and later, in one of the hanging bridges, perched very near one from the other, we saw a very nice pair of Orange-bellied Trogons (endemic to Costa Rica and western Panama), which looks very similar to Collared Trogon (the equivalent species you can find in Rancho Naturalista) but definitely you can tell it's a different species because of the beautiful bright yellow-orange belly and also because both species do not overlap in the same territory. 


Orange-bellied Trogon (Trogon aurantiiventris), Canopy San Luis

After a very nice Hepatic Tanager as what we thought, the last lifer species from the trail, we sat to eat our sandwich as breakfast (sandwich could not go missing on our trips!), to get ready for our next stop, when suddenly one of the zipline guides (who we met on the trail and knew about our interest in birds) came running to tell us to go with him because a very special bird was around. It was starting to rain and I was totally out of base when he call us, so when I heard "umbrella" I thought he was telling us to bring an umbrella, so we just followed the guide. When I got to the place, I was pleasantly surprised that it was actually a
 Bare-necked Umbrellabird! A beautiful female that wasn´t on our target birds list, but was a plus and one of the best birds of the tour, as it is quite rare.



 Keel-billed Motmot 
(Electron carinatumArenal

When we finally arrived to Arenal, we birded in the afternoon along a road that runs along lake Arenal and we had one target bird on mind. As is known my fascination with motmots, so it was a must to get the last one on my Costa Rican motmot list, the Keel-billed Motmot. We looked for it for some time but it never showed itself, just a couple of Broad-billed Motmots that came right away when they heard the playback. Both of these species have the same voice, as a matter of fact they are known to hybridize (when two different species interbreed).

But we didn't give up, next morning we went again to the Peninsula Road along Lake Arenal and we very quickly got the Keel-billed Motmot, I was so happy! Now I have seen all Costa Rican motmots, all of them gorgeous and full of a special mystic behind the dark mask over their eyes. That morning was very productive, I got very good views of Great Antshike male and female and as we where looking for Bare-crowned Antbird (which we didn't see) an unexpected Yellow-breasted Chat appeared for a few seconds, but long enough for all of us to see it, It was so exciting to see such a good and rare bird without being even looking for it.  Another pleasant sighting we got there, was a pair of Great Currassow walking together for a long time, long enough to follow and photograph them.





Male and female Great Currassow (Crax rubra), Arenal
At 10 am we were at Arenal Sky Trek, amongst a lot of people ready for extreme experiences on the park's attractions, but from our part we were exited just to walk the tails, knowing that probably we would get the same extreme experience with the birds we knew we could find there. My first lifer here was a Streak-crowned Antvireo that was moving in flock with Slaty Antwrens and Tawny-crowned Greenlet. Some meters ahead we where very lucky to run into an army ant swarm, being followed by Northern-barred Woodcreepers, Zeledon's Antbirds, Bicolored Antbird and Ocellated Antbird, the later two species being lifers for me. Many people thinks this group of birds are named antbirds because they eat ants, but that's not the reason why. It is because they feed from the insects that run away trying to safe their lifers from the terribly agressive army ants, that kill everything that moves on their way.


Army Ant Swarm, Sky Trek Arenal
Not far from the mirador (view point) I got the chance to see another lifer: White-throated Shrike Tanager, male and female in a mixed flock. Very grateful to see it because it was also on my target list during my "Journey to the South" (first article) so I had study it before and was wanting to see it. 


View at the Mirador at Sky Trek, La Fortuna

 On the trail back we were delighted by the beautiful song of a Nightingale Wren, whose voice compensates this species' dull, brown plumage. We were almost finishing the trail, b
ut this place had one more surprise for us.  As we were aproaching the parking lot a Slate-colored Grosbeak appeared, very tame, making quite a rustling noise trying to pull off a wild cucumber. It was 3 feet from us and we stay there long enough to watch it having a good time eating it with all his strength (it looked like wasn't easy to eat), another lifer to sum up! 

Slate-colored Grosbeak (Saltator grossus), Sky Trek Arenal
That day, we were supposed to spend the night at Los Chiles, so we left La Fortuna after lunch. Fortunately for us we got there with enough time to visit Medio Queso during sunset. Medio Queso is located in the border with Nicaragua and consists of a large flat area that floods to form a wetland that protects delicate ecosystems, a perfect environment for a lot of water birds. On the way I got two lifers in the same tree, sitting side by side and singing were both White-collared Seedeater and a Ruddy breasted Seedeater, cute little birds! After that in the other side of the road and much to our surprise were a couple Jabiru feeding on fresh-water eels. It was a very good view, only the second time I see this gigantic species. The first time I had long views in the telescope in flying, but now I had the chance to appreciate it well. As we were enjoying the last lifer of the day, a Pinnated Bittern, we make friends (so to speak) with some police officers that were patrolling the border. For them it was unusual to find people just watching the birds, and after a little explanation and after they inspect our vehicle, they keep going.


Jabiru Couple (Jabiru mycteria), Medio Queso wetland
On the third day we went on a boat tour on the Medio Queso river at 6am, so at that time we were there waiting as extensive flocks of Black-bellied Whistiling Ducks, Cattle Egrets and Wood Storks over head. 


View from the port of Medio Queso wetland
We were there mainly to look for crakes but unfortunately we didn't see any new for me (I have only seen White-throated Crake).  Nevertheless, I had 7 lifers there, from the ones I must highlight: Nicaraguan Grackle, Nicaraguan Seed-Finch, two cute Least Bittern and a beautiful and solitary Sungrebe male swimming slowly at the border of the channel. Those were part of our target bird list for the second boat tour in Caño Negro, so it was great because we desist to do this second boat ride to save the money.


Nicaraguan Seed-Finch (Oryzoborus nuttingi), Medio Queso wetland



Least Bittern (Ixobrychus exilis), Medio Queso wetland
Sungrebe (Heliornis fulica), Medio Queso wetland
After breakfast we went to Caño Negro to hang around for the rest of the day. This is a little town full of paintings of biodiversity, but mainly birds, on the walls of its structures, showing its concern for environmental peace. Also a wet land very important for ecology, as a fact it is one the RAMSAR sites (wetlands of international importance for water birds habitat). During a short walk by the wetland we got the chance to see side by side a Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs. Very nice view through the scope that allowed me to study the differences between the species: bright yellow legs, gray at the base of the bill which is longer than the head on Greater Yellowlegs.


Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes) at left and Greater Yellowlegs at right (Tringa melanoleuca),  Caño Negro
But our two target birds here were land birds, so after a look on the river(or channels) we started to go around the yards of houses in town, hoping that the locals don't look at us weird. We spent a long time looking for Spot-breasted Wren and Gray-headed Dove, but none of the species responded, so we decide to leave. When we were almost closing the car door, we heard the wren singing in the garden of a house at the back of us, and yes it was there! Such a beautiful wren, who lives in a very restricted area in Costa Rica. The sighting of the wren gave us inspiration to keep looking for the dove and after two more turns around the town, we spotted it, it was only a block away from where we got the wren. Totally successful! 


Gray-headed Dove (Leptotila plumbeiceps),  Caño Negro
With that excellent feeling of acomplishment we left to spend the last night of the tour at La Fortuna. After eating pizza for dinner we took a walk because we were very full. Even though we didn't had our binoculars with us, we were always birding and that's how we spotted a nice Barn Owl on the church's steeple, I have seen it before but a long time ago, and it was new year bird.  

The fourth day we went to look for Turquoise Cotinga. We went to Arenal Observatory Lodge because it has been showing recently, but didn't get it. However, we did see beautiful Swallow-tail Kite flying among the canopy of the incredible view. 


View from Arenal Observatory Lodge
Though the rest of the day was mainly spent travelling back home, we made several stops along the way but only achieved one more lifer, three very noisy  Black-faced Grosbeak flying around in the entrance of La Selva Biological Station. Before that we made a quick stop at the Mirador in Cinchona to check for the barbets and a possible lifer: Emerald Toucanet, but didn't appear.  However, the view of the barbets was very nice.

Back to my mountain in Turrialba at night, my Grandma was waiting for us with chicken soup and that's how this fourth adventure ended. Meanwhile enjoying the hot soup and relaxing, I realize that from now, to achieve lifers wouldn't be as easy as before, because now I had seen almost 60% of the Costa Rican birds. I achieve 28 lifers in this tour and 38 year birds, I have seen 523 species at this point. From now on, my trips are going to be mainly to check for target birds in very specific places. What can I say, Challenge accepted! It will be a great opportunity to keep learning about birds and nature and improve as a birdwatching guide, I can't wait!

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