Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Sapphire-throated Hummingbird and Veraguan Mango at La Gamba

This is news that Kevin Easley asked me to pass on:

Dec.23 - Kevin saw both a male Sapphire-throated Hummingbird, and several females and one male Veraguan Mango visiting Poro flowers of a living fence along the road into Esquinas Lodge. This is along the road past Gamboa taking the first right towards Esquinas instead of continuing along the road to Golfito. Go over the old log bridge (recently fixed - it had been pretty bad) and continue on to the pasture or rice field on the right and look for the Poros in flower along the fence row.

Kevin was more than a little excited with his find and left his clients to look after the birds while he rushed to find a phone to get the word out so that those who may be heading that way in the near future will be on the lookout. He said he was going back to get photos. (Kevin said he got some OK photos of the ST Hummer but not the V Mango. Steven Easley and Magda Sánchez visited the site a few days later, and Steven took some nice photos of both species, two of which are posted here. The mango photo isn't the best, aesthetically speaking, but it clearly shows that there is no black on the center of the blue throat or breast, key to the identification. To see more of Steven's great bird images visit the photo gallery at www.costaricagateway.com).

He also mentioned another good bird seen during this same trip on Dec.21 in the savannas above Buenos Aires along the road up to Dúrika - a Grasshopper Sparrow.

thanks Kevin (and Steven)!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

First Ever Gray-bellied Hawk (Accipiter poliogaster) for Costa Rica

This amazing photo, taken by Cristian Gamboa, documents the first ever Gray-bellied Hawk (Accipiter poliogaster) recorded in Costa Rica. It is also a first for Central America. On June 26, 2008 Octavio Ruiz spotted the bird in a tree next to the suspension bridge over the Puerto Viejo River at the Orgnaization for Tropical Studies La Selva Biological Station in Puerto Viejo de Sarapiquí. He was accompanied by Yahaira Rojas, Kenneth Alfaro and Cristian Gamboa. All four of these lucky birders work as guides at La Selva.

Gray-bellied Hawk is a forest raptor native to South America. The closest previously known records were from northern Colombia (although see the comments in the e-mail correspondence quoted below). It is a poorly known species and is apparently rare throughout its range. The La Selva bird is a juvenile, and looks almost exactly like a mini-Ornate Hawk-Eagle. The adult is very similar to Bicolored Hawk, the biggest difference being that it has gray thighs rather than rufous thighs. In some older references authors have speculated that birds from the southern end of the species' range (Paraguay, and southern Brazil, Bolivia, and Argentina) maybe migratory. As this bird turned up in Costa Rica during the austral winter, it may have been a migrant that overshot its normal wintering grounds. However, there has been some recent discussion on this point and many experts from areas in the southern cone where Gray-bellied Hawk is found consider the species to be a year round resident there. So, migrant?, vargrant?, overlooked resident? we can only ponder the true nature of this exceptional bird.

From: sergio seipke <seipke@yahoo.com.ar> (note: Sergio is writing a guide to S.Am. raptors)
To: Bill Clark <raptours@earthlink.net> (note: Bill is a raptor expert who has authored several guides to N.Am. birds of prey)

Hi Bill! Yes, I agree, undboubtedly a Gray-bellied Hawk. Look how the dark mallar stripe touches the black cap behind the eye - you don't seed this in Ornate Hawk-eagle, where the rufous clearly separates the cap and the mallar stripe.Look for comparison at:http://farm1.static.flickr.com/34/72062929_f61e76f379.jpg?v=0Also the 'barring' on the median portion of the belly is more 'spotty' (unlike in OHE).Great news! Thanks for sharing them!!!I saw one older imature (thighs still barred, but rest like adult) in Darien, Panama in 2005, but since I took no photos and the bird was 'out of range' I usually don't mention it.
Thank you again.


Ps: Please make sure you encourage the observers/photographers to publish this record. You can tell them they can quote my diagnosis if the'd like to -- no problem.---

El lun 15-dic-08, Bill Clark <raptours@earthlink.net>
De: Bill Clark <raptours@earthlink.net>
Asunto: [Fwd: Fwd: fotos ave en la selva]
Para: "sergio seipke" <seipke@yahoo.com.ar>
Fecha: lunes, 15 de diciembre de 2008, 3:26 pm

Hi Sergio,I think this is a juvenile A. poliogastor.
If so, it is way out of range in Costa Rica.

Cheers, Bill

From: Jim Zook <ebirdcr@gmail.com>
To: Bill Clark <raptours@earthlink.net>
Hey Bill,
this funky little raptor was photographed here at La Selva not too long ago and its identification has stumped everyone, myself included. I'm leaning towards some transition juvenile-to-adult plumaged accipiter, but....? I've never seen anything like it before. I didn't see the bird, but those who did said it was not very big, they estimated about Double-toothed Kite sized. I've seen the branches where the bird was photographed (it was right next to the big suspension bridge on the way over to the lab clearing) and it surely must have been a fairly small bird. Anyway, hope all is well with you, and I´ll look forward to hearing your impressions.
bye for now, Jim

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