Sunday 9 December 2012

Ringing in the rainforest

Back to the UK after a fascinating 4 weeks ringing in Costa Rica so here is the first episode of the adventure so far.  Richard is there for another month so more to follow in the New Year.
We started the trip in Tortuguero, a remote community situated on a landmass which overlooks both the Caribbean ocean and the fresh water river, Rio Suerte. The region has an average temperature of 71 degrees Fahrenheit year round, with a high amount of precipitation and humidity. Costa Rica Bird Observatories have been conducting research there since 1994.
We were based at the Sea Turtle Conservancy 
 but five sites are operated in the area. With no roads this means either going by boat along the canals
 or loading the back pack and walking a couple of kilometres.
The first morning we caught an exciting bird - a White-eyed Vireo. The textbooks describe only 2 previous records for Costa Rica!
Unfortunately the rain started in full flow that week and curtailed our ringing sessions. And people say Wales is wet. Just listen to this clip of rain!
 Some birds we caught between the downpours were this Red-capped Manakin
with bright yellow thighs
 a Northern Barred Woodcreeper
American Pygmy Kingfisher
 Western Slaty Antshrike
as well as several American Migrants including Chestnut sided and Kentucky warblers, Swainson's, Gray-cheeked and Wood thrushes and Grey Catbirds.
Some other wildlife we encountered that week -
Golden Orb spiders who can spin an incredibly tough web across a net lane overnight to catch unsuspecting ringers as we put up nets pre-dawn.
Large,colourful Iguanas wandered around the STC garden
 and of course the hatchling turtles for which the area is famous, scurrying out to sea for the first time
with Black Vultures watching and hoping for an easy snack.
As well as ringing we also carried out area searches recording all birds seen and heard. Migration counts every 2 hours involved a 10 minute count of flyover migrants every 2 hours from the beach.
Although the main migration period was over, we were still counting reasonable numbers of Barn Swallows, Ring-necked Ducks and Turkey Vultures.
Next installment tells of our move to Cano Palma, flooding and rainforest birds including a stunning Royal Flycatcher.

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