Sunday, April 15, 2018

Bulletin 303 - China #3 - Sandpipers and Avocet

I had an 8 day birding to trip in eastern China with a wonderful guide Lin Zhang based in Shanghai. He is perfectly fluent in English. We visited 5 different locales. His website is here. FYI making contact within China by email is a problem as the government blocks some email accounts coming in including gmail.  So I had to contact him using MS Outlook. His email is zhanglinas@hotmail.com.

As I was on the Asian side of the Pacific Ocean, I got to see birds that only show up in USA as vagrants. I was a few weeks early for spring migration, but did see a number of wintering birds, so I got a number of life birds.

The first is the 12" Spotted Redshank (Tringa erythropus). This is the only one in the Sibley guide. It has bright red legs and some spotting along flanks. In breeding plumage it is distinctive with solid black underparts.


Spotted Redshank - winter
And here he is in flight.


Spotted Redshank - winter

The 11" Common Redshank (Tringa totanus) was in breeding plumage. It has orange-red legs and a shorter bill.


Common Redshank - breeding
Next was the 12" Common Greenshank (Tringa nebularia) has gray green legs and a slightly upturned bill. These are winter plumage as they only have only slight streaking on breast

Common Greenshank
The 9" Green Sandpiper (Tringa ochropus) is very similar to our Solitary Sandpiper with dark wings. I had seen this bird in Hong Kong, but got improved photos this trip.

Green Sandpiper
And in flight.

Green Sandpiper
The 8" Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos) is almost identical to our Spotted Sandpiper, but does not have spots in breeding plumage. It has the similar white shoulder patch. I had photographed this bird in Hong Kong before, but I got a much better photo this trip.

Common Sandpiper
The last sandpiper is the 22"  Eurasion Curlew (Numenius arquata). It is pale gray brownish, with the typical long down curved curlew bill. He has a crab in his bill.

Eurasian Curlew
I also got a better photo of the 17" Pied Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta). This is the only avocet in the area. It is black and white with an upturned bill.

Pied Avocet
I have put the different bird families in single folders for easy viewing

I have photos of 44 of the 93 species of sandpipers.


I have photos of 4 of the 10 species of avocets and stilts


Happy birding and photography,

David McDonald

dkmmdpa@gmail.com

photos copyright 2006 - 2018 David McDonald

To have these trip reports sent to your email, please email me at the above address and ask to subscribe.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Bulletin 302 - China #2 - Bulbuls, Dipper and Lark

I had an 8 day birding to trip in eastern China with a wonderful guide Lin Zhang based in Shanghai. He is perfectly fluent in English. We visited 5 different locales. His website is here. FYI making contact within China by email is a problem as the government blocks some email accounts, including gmail.  So I had to contact him using MS Outlook. His email is zhanglinas@hotmail.com.

The bulbuls are an old word family of medium sized songbirds. There are 154 species in the family. Some are popular as cage birds and 1 species can be found in the USA as an escaped bird. I saw several new ones on this trip. The sexes are similar. The most colorful was the 8.5" Collared Finchbill (Spizixos semitorques). This bird is IDed by the black head, white neck collar and the rest of the bird is olive. 


Collared Finchbill
The 8" Chestnut Bulbul (Hemixos castanonotos) has a black cap, chestnut face, and back, white underparts and gray wings and tail.


Chestnut Bulbul
The 8.5" Brown-breasted Bulbul (Pycnonotus xanthorrhus) has a black head, brown back wings and tail, white underparts except brown chest band and bright yellow undertail. There were several of these birds flycatching over a small pond and the bright yellow was what caught my eye.


Brown-breasted Bulbul

The last was the 9" Mountain Bulbul (Ixos mcclellandii) is rather dull with olive wings and tail, grayish back, rufous on neck and breast and white streaking on gray throat and crown.



Mountain Bulbul
The dippers are a tiny family of aquatic songbirds consisting of just 5 species. They are plump birds with short tails that feed along mountain streams, often submerging to find insect larvae. The 8" Brown Dipper (Cinclus pallasii) is the species occurring from the central Asia eastward. The adult is all dark brown with a black bill. We saw several along a mountain stream on the 3rd day. I love watching dippers and so it was a treat to see this life bird.


Brown Dipper
Larks are a family of 98 species with all except the common Horned Lark being in the old world. The 5.5" Oriental Skylark (Alauda gulgula) is rich brown. I was lucky as this bird landed very close while we were watching for other birds. Usually skylarks are just seen flying.


Oriental Skylark
I have put the different bird families in single folders for easy viewing

I have photos of 7 of the 153 species of bulbul.


I have photos of 3 of the 5 species of dippers.

I have photos of 3 of the 98 species of larks.

Happy birding and photography,

David McDonald

dkmmdpa@gmail.com

photos copyright 2006 - 2018 David McDonald

To have these trip reports sent to your email, please email me at the above address and ask to subscribe.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Bulletin 301 - China #1 - Waterfowl

I had an 8 day birding to trip in eastern China with a wonderful guide Lin Zhang based in Shanghai. He is perfectly fluent in English. We visited 5 different locales. FYI making contact within China by email is a problem as the government blocks some email accounts coming, including gmail.  So I had to contact him using MS Outlook. His email is zhanglinas@hotmail.com.

Wintering waterfowl were still present and I saw several new species and lifers. The Swan Goose (Anser cygnoides) is a familiar bird as it is often found as a feral introduced domesticated goose. It is IDed by the bicolored neck and black bill. You will notice that the wild populations do not have the big hump on the bill.


Swan Goose
The Tundra Bean Goose (Anser serrirostris) is the smaller of the bean goose species. It is IDed by size and grayish brown color and bicolored bill.



Tundra Bean Goose
The last goose was a Greylag Goose (Anser anser). It is a gray goose with pink bill. We saw only a couple of these birds.


Greylag Goose
There were also several duck species. The Eastern Spot-billed Duck (Anas zonorhyncha) is a large brown duck with a black bill with a yellow tip.


Eastern Spot-billed Duck
The male Eurasian Teal (Anas crecca) is similar to our Green-winged Teal, but it lacks the vertical white stripe ion the flank.


Eurasian Teal - male
The male Eurasian Widgeon (Anas penelope) has a brown head and beige stripe across crown.

Eurasian Widgeon - male
Two species of diving ducks were also found. the female Common Pochard (Aythya ferina) has a reddish brown head. The male would have a solid red head similar to our Redhead.


Common Pochard - female
The rare Baer's Pochard (Ayhtya baeri) is listed as vulnerable and restricted to east Asia. The male has a greenish head and brown breast and light colored eye.. The female is lighter.


Baer's Pochard - pair with male in front
Also we found 2 merganser species. The male Smew (Mergellus arbellus) is a white duck with a black face. and wings.


Smew - male
And the last was another vulnerable rare east Asian endemic. The male Scaly-sided Merganser (Mergus squamatus) is similar to our Red-breasted Merganser, but has pronounced scaly appearance to the flanks and a long crest.


Scaly-sided Merganser - male
The female has a reddish head.


Scaly-sided Merganser - female
We watched several pairs of birds in a fast rushing mountain river. They would drift down river and then fly back upstream. It was a treat to see such a rare bird.


Scaly-sided Mergansers

We also saw Mandarin Duck, Tufted Duck, and Ferruginous Duck as well as species that also occur in North America (Mallard, Gadwall, Northern Shoveler and Northern Pintail). All of the birds pictured here were lifers for me except the Eurasian Widgeon.


I have put the different bird families in single folders for easy viewing

I have photos of 60 of the 165 species of waterfowl


Happy birding and photography,

David McDonald

dkmmdpa@gmail.com

photos copyright 2006 - 2018 David McDonald

To have these trip reports sent to your email, please email me at the above address and ask to subscribe.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Bulletin 300 - Guatemala 2017 #6 - Hummingbirds

I went for a second visit to Guatemala at the end of May. Once again, I used the wonderful local guide Knut Eisermann of Cayaya Birding. On this visit, we concentrated on the western highlands and Pacific lowlands along the Mexican border, as several Mexican species just make it into Guatemala here. 

I got photos of 7 species on hummers on the trip, so I will describe them in alphabetical order. The 4.5" Amethyst-throated Mountain-gem (Lampornis amethystinus). This bird has a vertical white behind the eye.The range is Mexico to Honduras. The male has a bright pink throat, but I did not see one. This juvenile male was feeding at some flowers.



Amethyst-throated Hummingbird - juvenile male
The female has a buffy throat.


Amethyst-throated Hummingbird -female
I was surprised to see the 4" Broad-tailed Hummingbird (Selasphorus platycercus) here. This is the hummer seen in Colorado They do breed this far south, but at very high elevations. We were about 10,000 feet. It was very cold even in early June and the stunted flowers were just an inch tall, so the bird was on the ground essentially.


Broad-tailed Hummingbird - male

Next is the 3.5" Canivet's Emerald (Chlorostilbon canivetii). The male is all green with a forked tail. The female ahs a striped head, but is all white below. This juvenile male is molting to adult plumage, but he still has the head of a female and mostly white below. The forked tail can be seen. The range is southeastern Mexico to Honduras.


Canivet's Emerald - juvenile male
Next was another lifer the amazing 4.5" Garnet-throated Hummingird (Lamprolaima rhami). The male is green with deep red throat with blue chest, but he also has reddish wings making him an easy ID.


Garnet-throated Hummingbird - male
The next was another life bird, the 4" Green-fronted Hummingbird (Amazilia viridifrons). This is a rather plain hummingbird green above and grayish below. He does have the red bill usually seen in this genus.


Green-fronted Hummingbird
Next is the 5" Plain-capped Starthroat (Heliomaster constantii). This bird is a rare vagrant to Southeast Arizona where I had first seen it, but didn't get a photo. This was my second sighting of this species. Sexes are similar and it id iDed by large size, striped head and white lower back.


Plain-capped Starthroat
Lastly is another rarity in southeast Arizona, the 3.5" White-eared Hummingbird (Hylocharis leucotis). It has a dark head with a white stripe behind the eye and a red bill.


White-eared Hummingbird

I have put the different bird families in single folders for easy viewing

I have photos of 123 of the 348 hummingbirds

Happy birding and photography,

David McDonald

dkmmdpa@gmail.com

photos copyright 2006 - 2017 David McDonald

To have these trip reports sent to your email, please email me at the above address and ask to subscribe.



Sunday, October 8, 2017

Bulletin 299 - Guatemala 2017 #5 - Guan, Motmots, Quetzal and others

I went for a second visit to Guatemala at the end of May. Once again, I used the wonderful local guide Knut Eisermann of Cayaya Birding. On this visit, we concentrated on the western highlands and Pacific lowlands along the Mexican border, as several Mexican species just make it into Guatemala here. 

One of my target birds for this trip was the 33" Horned Guan (Oreophasis derbianus). It is resident in mountains in Chiapas Mexico and adjacent Guatemala at elevations 5,000 to 7,500 feet. In Guatemala it is listed as rare and local. But wherever you look for it, usually involves hiking up mountain trails a considerable distance. However, there is one place where you can drive up the mountain and only have a 150 elevation hike to get to see the bird. It is black with a white chest and a red horn on his head. What the use of the horn is I have no idea except a decorative feature. The sexes are similar and it was a lifer. We saw 3 or 4 different birds over 2 days.


Horned Guan
And a frontal view. He also has a whitish eye and yellow beak.


Horned Guan



We saw 2 motmots on the trip. The 10.5" Blue-throated Motmot (Aspatha gularis) is green with a blue throat and black spot behind eye and on chest. It does not have a racquet tail. This was my second time to see this bird. It is a resident of southern Mexico to Honduras.


Blue-throated Motmot

The other was a lifer, the 13" Russet-crowned Motmot (Momotus mexicanus) He is mostly bluish-green with a brown crown and a black spot on the chest. He does have a raquet tail. It is a resident of western Mexico to western Guatemala.  There are 14 species of motmot and he was the tenth that I have photographed.

Russet-crowned Motmot
The beautiful Resplendat Quetzal (Pharomachrus mocinno) is a mythical bird of central America that even non birders want to see. It was sacred to the Mayan people and the Guatemala currency is called the quetzal. The male has very long tail feathers, but the female lacks them. We visited a quetzal reserve where they tracked a couple of nests. One pair had left already and at the second nest, the male had left a day before with the first baby to fledge, while the female stayed with the second baby. We watched her bringing food to the nest hole and feed the baby.


Resplendant Quetzal - female
Here she is by the nest hole.


Resplendant Quetzal - female
And here is the baby.


Resplendant Quetzal - baby
The only toucan we saw was the 14" Emerald Toucanet (Aulacorynchus prasinus). The Emerald Toucanet complex was a confusing group of birds as they were split into 7 species and then several were lumped back together after DNA analysis, so there are 4 species now from the original Emerald Toucanet of 20 years ago. This is the bird retaining the name and is a resident from eastern Mexico to Nicaragua. I had seen this bird in Belize on my first trip to the tropics.


Emerald Toucanet
The last bird was a cuckoo. We are all familiar with the cartoons of the coyote and the Greater Roadrunner. Many of us have seen the Greater Roadrunner in the southwestern USA. Well if there is a Greater Roadrunner, there has to be a Lesser Roadrunner (Geococcyx velus). He is very similar, but only 18" in length compared to 23" for his cousin. He is resident from Mexico to Nicaragua. He was another life bird for me.



Lesser Roadrunner
I have put the different bird families in single folders for easy viewing.

I have photos of 15 of the 55 chacalacas and guans


And I have photos of 10 of the 14 motmots.


And I have photos of 14 of the 43 trogons and quetzals.

And I have photos of 15 of the 47 toucans.

And I have photos of 13 of the 147 cuckoos.

Happy birding and photography,

David McDonald

dkmmdpa@gmail.com

photos copyright 2006 - 2017 David McDonald

To have these trip reports sent to your email, please email me at the above address and ask to subscribe.


Sunday, August 6, 2017

Bulletin 298 - Guatemala 2017 #4 - Cardinals and other songbirds

I went for a second visit to Guatemala at the end of May. Once again, I used the wonderful local guide Knut Eisermann of Cayaya Birding. On this visit, we concentrated on the western highlands and Pacific lowlands along the Mexican border, as several Mexican species just make it into Guatemala here. 

A highlight for this trip was the 10" Blue-and-white Mockingbird (Melanotis hypoleucus). This bird is a resident from southern Mexico to El Salvador. It is one of 2 species in the genus and different from the mimus genus, gray mockingbirds we are all familiar with. It is a snazzy looking bird, blue above and white below with a black mask. We saw one in a tree and he pretty much stayed hidden, but while we were at lunch one flew and landed on the lawn outside where we were eating and fortunately I saw it and got some nice photos.


Blue-and-white Mockingbird
A short time later he flew to a fence post. What a cool looking bird! He was a lifer.


Blue-and-white Mockingbird

Another blue lifer was the 10" Black-throated Jay (Cyanolyca pumilo). He is blue with a black throat. His range is southern Mexico to Honduras.


Black-throated Jay
The 10" Mexican Cacique (Cassiculus melanicterus) is black with yellow shoulders and yellow  tail. It is also known as Yellow-winged Cacique. It is resident in western Mexico to El Salvador and was a lifer. I think this is a male with the crest. The female is duller.


Mexican Cacique
A surprise was to find the 4" Golden-crowned Kinglet (Regulus satrapa) so far south. They are breed in the mountains in Guatemala above 7,500 ft elevation.


Golden-crowned Kinglet
We saw several members of the cardinal family. The 9" male Yellow Grosbeak (Pheucticus chrysopeplus) is bright yellow with black wings and white bars. It is a resident of Mexico and Guatemala. This was another life bird for me.


Yellow Grosbeak - male
The female is duller.


Yellow Grosbeak - female
A beautiful bird was the 6" male Red-breasted Chat (Granatella venustus). He is gray backed, red below, and a black and white patterned head. He also has a long tail. He was a lifer as well. It is listed as a Mexican endemic, but it just barely crosses the border into Guatemala. So it was a treat to find it.


Red-breasted Chat - male
The third cardinal was the 5.5" Varied Bunting (Passerina versicolor). This bird is bluish with purple-red on head. It is a resident from western USA to Guatemala. This was only the second time I have seen this species.


Varied Bunting - male
I have put the different bird families in single folders for easy viewing.

I have photos of 14 of the 34 mockingbirds and thrashers.

And I have photos of 28 of the 130 crows and jays


And I have photos of 44 of the 130 blackbirds and orioles.


And I have photos of 2 of the 6 kinglets.

And I have photos of 34 of the 65 cardinals and grosbeaks.

Happy birding and photography,

David McDonald

dkmmdpa@gmail.com

photos copyright 2006 - 2017 David McDonald

To have these trip reports sent to your email, please email me at the above address and ask to subscribe.