Monday, December 8, 2008

Eurasian Collared-Dove and other Guanacaste news

Just got back from a trip to Guanacaste and wanted to pass on a few things of note.

While Brian Sullivan was here on his honeymoon, a supposed non-birding trip, not only did he manage to get a country first in the Black-vented Shearwater, he also saw a Eurasian Collared-Dove on Nov.14 while sitting in his car at the parking lot of the Jumbo supermarket mall in Liberia (this is on the SE corner of the main highway intersection in Liberia of the interamerican highway and the road to Santa Cruz). He was unable to get photos, but still not bad for having one hand tied behind your back. I was there last week and looked around on several occasions but was unable to find the bird. So, familiarize yourselves with this species, so you can separate it from the similar and ubiquitous White-winged Doves, and be on the lookout next time you're in Liberia.

Visited Pelon de La Bajura on Nov. 28, with Carlos Jimenez and Fito Downs. Things were well on their way to drying out but in the La Cutacha sector we found a huge group of Blue-winged Teal (2300) and were able to sort out 5 Fulvous Whistling-Ducks, 4 Northern Pintails, 2 Northern Shovelers, a male Lesser Scaup, and 6 American Coots. Shorebirds were much more limited, being mostly Greater (24) and Lesser (13) Yellowlegs, Least (450) and Spotted (17) Sandpipers and Black-necked Stilts (30). In there were also Stilt (3), Solitary (2), Western (1), and Baird's (1) Sandpipers, Long-billed Dowitchers (6) and Killdeer (4), and one Laughing Gull. On Nov. 23 I had made a very brief scouting visit to the area and at that time had 10 Black-bellied and 45 Semipalmated Plovers, but these were nowhere to be seen on our later visit. Five Jabirus were crammed in with hundreds of Great and Snowy Egrets and Little Blue Herons in the corners of fields that had all but dried up. Over at the Tilapia farm (part of Pelon's diverse offering of habitats) we spotted a big meandering flock of Franklin's Gulls (170) kiting in the wind and making occasional dips into the ponds. Raptors were great, as usual. Not counting vultures we had fourteen species (Osprey, White-tailed and Snail Kite, Crane, Roadside, Gray, Short-tailed, Swainson's, White-tailed and Zone-tailed Hawks, Crested Caracara, Am. Kestrel, Laughing and Peregrine Falcon). Total list for the visit was 119 species, which is not bad for lowland Guanacaste. Carlos and Fito were also jazzed about the Western Kingbirds they had seen in the morning along the road to Lomas Barbudal before we headed over to Pelon.

On Dec.2 dropped by the Lagunas Catfish Farm ponds. Numbers of birds were fairly low (only 140 Blue-winged Teal so far) but there were some nice species: 3 female Lesser Scaup, 1 female American Wigeon, 3 Common Moorhen, 13 Am.Coot, 9 Least and 2 Pied-billed Grebe, 2 S.Lapwing, 55 Long-billed Dowitcher and a flock of 30 Tricolored Munias, only 4 adults, the rest juveniles. Visitors should note that there are some people now living in a shack in the very center of the pond complex and they have three mean dogs, so beware if you try to cross the complex going W-E along the center dike. I was able to fend them off with my tripod but it was a bit dicey. Probably better in the future to skirt the perimeter.

that's all for now, JZ

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