Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A few more from Buenos Aires

Home from my trip to South America, I'm still replaying the vivid mental images of birds I was able to find during my last day in Buenos Aires as I waited for my night flight home. At the nature preserve between the city and the Rio Plata there were not only many "new" birds for me to find, but by chance I met some other visiting birders. We were able to team up to help each other make the most of this sunny early spring day.

Gray-breasted Martin

Green-winged Saltator catching some warm rays of sun.

Plush-crested Jay

Rufous Hornero

Nest of Rufous Hornero made of mud with the opening on the side. I watched the robin-sized bird enter this opening on the side of the mud ball, and saw a Shiny Cowbird acting very interested in entering also. She probably wanted to lay an egg there, much like our parasitic Brown-headed Cowbirds do here in North America.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Some birds in Buenos Aires

Spectacled Tyrant

Ending my current tour of South America in Argentina, I've had a few hours for birding in a nature reserve along the edge of the Rio Plata right here in Buenos Aires. One might say in birding terms "it doesn't get any better than this," referring to the fact that most of the species I saw I had never seen before. It was all the more impressive because it was within walking distance of my hotel in the downtown area of one of the world's most vibrant and beautiful cities.

Chalk-browed Mockingbird

Hooded Siskin

Green-barred Woodpecker

Crested Caracara, which was not a new species for me, but the first time I've seen immature birds.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Birding by radar

I'm in Quito, Ecuador, today, but fortunately NEXRAD radar allows me to keep an eye on the Barn Swallow flock back home in Yamhill County, Oregon. The green "bubble" in the center of the map (north of Corvallis near the intersection of Yamhill, Polk and Marion Counties) indicates that a large number of swallows roosted there last night, and took off at about 6:50 this morning.

Here in Quito I have to grab the birding opportunities wherever my work duties take me. Yesterday my group went to visit the Equator monument after our morning school visits were completed, and I found this Sparkling Violetear Hummingbird guarding his feeding tree against all invaders. He occasionally perched long enough for me to get focused and shoot a few frames.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A visit to Copan

Today I traveled from Honduras to Ecuador, but yesterday was a day for sightseeing. I went to the famous Mayan ruins at Copan (which were very impressive), but as usual I was distracted by the sounds of birds and other creatures in the area. Of course, like every other tourist here, I could not help but be impressed by the Scarlet Macaws, even though they were actually tame birds that are fed here, and kept in protective cages at night. I cannot yet claim to have seen them "in the wild." However, I was pleased to catch sight of this Altamira Oriole in the forest canopy, but did not see his top side.

Everywhere I go on this trip I'm finding the Great Kiskadee, a large, noisy and bold flycatcher that seems to rule any neighborhood he chooses to occupy. They were present at Copan, too, although this photo was actually taken on the lawn of the hotel in Costa Rica when one landed nearby. The way he or she looked at me left no doubt as to who was the outsider here.

While all this color was attracting attention overhead, an unusual mammal, an Aguti, was quietly roaming around on the ground below finding things to eat among the fallen leaves and fruit.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Hoffman's Woodpecker in Costa Rica

I'm in Honduras now, but still looking back at photos I took in Costa Rica and El Salvador during the past few days. One bird that was new for me was a Hoffman's Woodpecker which was moving around in some trees on the hotel grounds in San Jose, Costa Rica.
Then I moved on to El Salvador for about a day, but the only bird photo worth mentioning from there is the Boat-tailed Grackle that was patrolling the edge of the roof overlooking the hotel garden.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Blue-crowned Motmot

I'm "on the road again" in connection with my work, and today I'm in Costa Rica. I had a chance this afternoon to walk around the hotel grounds, and among other colorful birds, I was excited to find two Blue-crowned Motmots. I enjoyed much better views this time than I did 36 years ago when I saw my first one in Mexico. Also on my walk, I was able to approach this White-ringed Flycatcher to within about 20 ft. as it watched for insect prey in the hotel garden.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Barn Swallows on radar in Oregon

This morning (Sept. 4) I captured this image from the doppler radar when the spreading cloud of Barn Swallows (the green bubble in the center) was about to disperse throughout this part of the Willamette Valley. By now we know that they, or others like them, will reassemble in the same place and do this again tomorrow morning, and probably every morning into early October.

Bruce Cousens, a biologist watching this action from Vancouver Island in B.C., is hoping we might find migrating Purple Martins joining the roosting Barn Swallows. He also points out that there are several smaller "bubbles" of green visible briefly in the area near Forest Grove in Washington County about 30 miles north of the major flock in Yamhill County. I hope some birders in that area might begin watching "their" cornfields just before sunset. It would be interesting to know that there are other locations where this spectacle can be observed, and that these birds are not totally dependent on one location.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Barn Swallow flock staging in Oregon

Once again the huge flock of Barn Swallows (which forms every year at this time here in Yamhill County, Oregon) is staging a repeat performance. Current thinking is that this gathering likely represents a significant percentage of the Barn Swallow population of northwestern North America. It's impossible to count so many birds spread over several square miles, but when they come together in a "hurricane" swirl over a large cornfield, and then take an hour to plunge down into it to find a nighttime roost, it becomes obvious that there are several hundred thousand birds involved, and perhaps more than that. The photo shows only a small section of the entire flock, but gives some idea of the spectacle that is repeated here nightly for about a month every fall. (Click on the photo for an enlarged view.) video

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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Anna's Hummingbird at feeder

This Anna's Hummingbird entertained me while I was in Bend (Oregon) over the Labor Day weekend. After studying illustrations in several field guides, I am assuming this is an adult female because of the small bit of color on the throat, and a white spot behind the eye. In any case, it's a "chunky" bird, and really seemed to enjoy the sugar water in the feeder. (Remember to click on the photo for an enlarged view.)