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.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Bulletin 297 - Guatemala 2017 #3 - Marsh birds and Owls

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. 

On the Pacific side of Guatemala adjacent to Chiapas Mexico are some wonderful wetlands. These were originally used for shrimp farming, but many ponds are now overgrown with marsh reeds and mangroves and provide excellent habitat for a number of species. The Mangrove Vireo in the previous bulletin was found here.

Bitterns are the most secretive members of the heron family. There are 14 species in the world, but only 4 in the Americas. Two are in USA (American and Least) and I saw a third one in these ponds. The 28" Pinnated Bittern (Botaurus pinnatus) is very similar to our American Bittern but 6 inches taller. Also, the black barring on the back of the neck is a good field mark to differentiate them. We saw 7 birds in the ponds, but without the sharp eyes of the guides, I would not have seen them as they stay pretty motionless in the reeds.


Pinnated Bittern
Another bird there was the 30" Bare-throated Tiger-Heron (Tigrisoma mexicanum). The adult flew into a tree and posed for a photo. It is easy to ID as the only tiger-heron in Guatemala


Bare-throated Tiger-Heron - adult

Also we found a juvenile. He has a striped back.


Bare-throated Tiger-Heron - juvenile

The 9" Northern Jacana (Jacana spinosa) were fairly common here and I got my best photo ever of this bird.


Northern Jacana

Also a 16" Rufous-naped Wood-Rail  (Aramides albiventris) was seen. If this name is unfamiliar to you, it was formerly the Gray-necked Wood-Rail. The species was split a few years ago and the northern birds given this name by the IOU. The AOU has a different name for this bird, Russet-naped Wood-Rail.


Rufous-naped Wood-Rail
I also saw a life mammal in these wetlands. A Jaguarundi ran across the road about 30 feet in front of the car, stopped and looked at us and ran off before I could get a photo. What a treat to see this 24" black cat with a long tail.

Before we drove to the wetlands, we got up before dawn to see the 9.5" Pacific Screech-Owl (Megascops cooperi). This was a lifer.


Pacific Screech-Owl

The 6.5" Guatemalan Pygmy-Owl (Glaucidium cobanese) is resident in the mountains of from southern Mexico to Costa Rica. As a diurnal owl, it is fairly easy to see by playing the tape and if one is in the vicinity, it will promptly fly in. This owl was also a lifer.




Guatemalan Pygmy-Owl
The third owl of the trip was the 7" Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl (Glaucidium brasilianum). This small diurnal reddish owl has a huge range from extreme southern USA to Argentina. I had seen this owl before, but we saw several on this trip.


Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl

Pygmy-Owls catch and eat small birds. They have an interesting adaptation, as on the back of their head are feathers that resemble another pair of eyes. I would presume this is to confuse their prey as to whether they are being watched or not. Here is the back of the head of this bird.


Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl

Needless to say, these owls are unwelcome in the neighborhood and other small birds will mob and attack to owl to try and drive it away. This is why guides will play the tape of a local pygmy-owl to bring in smaller birds. Here is the owl being attacked by a much smaller 4" gnatcatcher.


Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl mobbed by a gnatcatcher

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

I have photos of 25 of the 66 herons

And I have photos of 12 of the 138 rails and coots.


And I have photos of 3 of the 8 jacanas.

And I have photos of 24 of the 216 typical owls

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, July 9, 2017

Bulletin 296 - Guatemala 2017 #2 - Warblers and Vireos

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 had a list of 10 species in particular I wanted to see and we got 9 of the 10 and saw the other, but I was not able to get a photo of the bird.

There were 3 target warbler species for the trip. The first was the absolutely stunning 5" Golden-browed Warbler (Basileuterus belli). It is hands down the most beautiful warbler I have seen so far.


Golden-browed Warbler
The second was the 5.5" Goldman's Warbler (Setophaga goldmani). If you are not familiar with this bird yet, it is part of the split of Yellow-rumped Warbler, but the AOU hasn't accepted it yet, although the IOU has. It is shown in current guide books. It has a black head, back and breast with a yellow throat.


Goldman's Warbler - male
The female is streaked below rather than solid black.


Goldman's Warbler - female
The third was the Fan-tailed Warbler. But despite chasing it for an entire day and seeing it flying around, it never alighted long enough to get a photo.

We also saw several other warblers. The 4.5" Crescent-chested Warbler (Oreothylpis superciliosa) is olive with a white eye stripe, yellow breast and rufous spot in yellow.


Crescent-chested Warbler
We again saw the fabulous 5" Pink-headed Warbler (Cardellina versicolor). It has a pink head and bright red body.
Pink-headed Warbler

The last was the 5" Grace's Warbler (Setophaga graciae). This bird is a target bird for southeast  Arizona, but its range extends south to Nicaragua



Grace's Warbler
We also found 3 vireo species, 2 of which I had seen and but had poor photos. The 5" Mangrove Vireo (Vireo pallens) is similar to our White-eyed Vireo with yellow spectacles and wing bars, As his name suggests, he inhabits mangroves on both coasts in Middle America from Mexico to Costa Rica.


Mangrove Vireo


And another photo of the same bird.


Mangrove Vireo

The 5" Brown-capped Vireo (Vireo leucophyrs) has a light brown back and dark brown cap. His range is Mexico to Bolivia.


Brown-capped Vireo
We also saw a 7" Chestnut-sided Shrike-Vireo (Vireolanius melitophrys). .This bird is very distinctive with a yellow green back, gray cap, black line through the eye and yellow stripe above the eye. He also has a chestnut collar and streaking on his flanks. He stays in the canopy of the trees. His range is in mountains from central Mexico to Guatemala. He was a lifer for me. The first shows his head pattern.


Chestnut-sided Shrike-Vireo
And this shows his back.

Chestnut-sided Shrike-Vireo
I have put the different bird families in single folders for easy perusal.

I have photos of 73 of the 120 New World warblers.

And I have photos of 23 of the 63 worldwide vireos.

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, June 25, 2017

Bulletin 295 - Guatemala 2017 #1 - Wrens and Thrushes

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 had a list of 10 species in particular I wanted to see and we got 9 of the 10 and saw the other, but I was not able to get a photo of the bird.

Wrens are small active brown birds. Many of the tropical rain forest species are very wary and difficult to see and photograph. However with perseverance, you can see and photograph them. On last years trip to Colombia, I got 6 new species and added 3 more on this trip. There are 86 species worldwide, all but 1 in the Americas, and I now have 31 photos.

The 5.5" Banded Wren (Thyrophilus pleurostictus) has a brown back, gray breast and extensive horizontal black barring across the belly. He perched nicely on a fence post for me.
Banded Wren
The 4" Rufous-browed Wren (Troglodytes rufociliatus) has a rufous head and throat.


Rufous-browed Wren

The last new wren for the trip is the inappropriately named 8.5" Giant Wren (Campylorhynchus chiapensis). It is no larger then our Cactus Wren (same genus) in sw USA. One sort of expects a bird with name like that to be the size of a Blue Jay or so. Anyway, from the name you can see it is a resident in Chiapas, Mexico and just crosses a couple miles into Guatemala, although many guides list it as a Mexican resident only. It responded nicely to the tape and a pair flew in. It is brown above and plain white below.



Giant Wren

The 5.5" Rock Wren (Salpinctes obsoletus) is a resident from sw Canada to Costa Rica, but this was only me third time to see this bird. It is an easy wren to see as it is usually perched in the open on a rock. This bird had a nest near by and was carrying a worm to her babies.


Rock Wren
A surprising bird for me to find was our 6.5" Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis). It ranges as far south as Nicaragua. The male of course has a sky blue back and rufous throat.


Eastern Bluebird - male
It was my first time to photograph the juvenile bird which has a spotted breast typical of many thrushes.


Eastern Bluebird - juvenile
The 10" Rufous-collared Thrush (Turdus rufitorques) I had seen on the previous trip as well. The male is brown with a bright rufous collar around his neck.


Rufous-collared Thrush - male
The female is similar but duller.


Rufous-collared Thrush - female
The 7.5" Spotted Nightingale-Thrush (Catharus dryas) was a life bird. It has a black head, orange bill, yellowish underparts with olive spotting. This is a very difficult bird to see, but we walked into a woods and one was sitting in open on a post singing. Another lucky birding day for me, as we had spent an hour on the other trip and the bird never came into the open even to see it.


Spotted Nightingale-Thrush
We also saw a Black Thrush which was another lifer, but I missed the photo.

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

Here are the 31 wrens.

And I have 36 of the 180 worldwide thrushes.

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, June 11, 2017

Bulletin 294 - Hong Kong - other birds

In just a single day of birding I had about 40 new species of bird photos to add to my collection. Last time, we saw the birds around water, and here are the best of the rest.

There was a single hawk, the 25" Black Kite (Milvus migrans). It is an all black hawk.


Black Kite
And in flight.

Black Kite
The cuckoo family has over 140 species and only about 40 are in the New World. I saw 2 species and photographed one, the 17" male Asian Koel (Eudynamus scolopaceus) is all black with a red eye. The female is brown. This may be a juvie male with the spots on the wings,


Asian Koel
The rest of these birds are passerines or songbirds. There were 2 members of the Corvidae family. These are the crows, jays and magpies. The 21" Collared Crow (Corvus torquatus) is black with a white collar around the neck.


Collared Crow
The other was the 15" Azure-winged Magpie (Cyanopica cyanus). This long-tailed bird has a black head and blue wings and tail.


Azure-winged Magpie

The New World has just 2 of the 33 species of shrikes. Here is the 9" Long-tailed Shrike (Lanius schach). It is very similar to our shrikes with the hooked bill and black mask across eyes,


Long-tailed Shrike
The starling and myna family is an Old World family. The birds seen in the Americas are introduced or escaped cage birds. Here is the 10" Black-collared Starling (Gracupica nigricollis) has a yellow face, black collar, black back, wings and tail and gray below.


Black-collared Starling
The other was the 10" Crested Myna (Acridotheres cristatellus). It is all black with a red eye and small bushy crest above the bill.


Crested Myna

Bulbuls are another Old World family of birds with many being used as caged bird pets and hence, some escapes are seen in North America. Here is the 8" Red-whiskered Bulbul (Pycnonotus jocosus). I had photographed an escaped bird in Miami, so it was nice to see this distinctive bird in the natural habitat. It is brown with a black head and crest and red cheek spot. 


Red-whiskered Bulbul - adult
Another was the 8" Sooty-headed Bulbul (Pycnonotus aurigaster). This bird is brown above, light below and a black head.


Sooty-headed Bulbul
The third was the 7.5" Light-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus sinensis). It is also known as the Chinese Bulbul. It has olive back and wings, light underparts and black and white head.



Light-vented Bulbul
Chinese Bulbul
The cuckooshrikes are a 92 species Old World family. The one I saw looked very similar to our Baltimore Oriole. Here is the 8" male Scarlet Minivet (Pericrocotus speciosus).


Scarlet Minivet - male
The female is yellow and has gray wings.


Scarlet Minivet - female
The last bird is a member of the Old World Flycatcher family. It is the distinctive 8"  Oriental Magpie-Robin (Copsychus saularis). The male shown here is pied black and white and the female is gray and white. 

Oriental Magpie-Robin - male

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.