Monday 26 October 2015

Black, Blue..and going soft !

Going soft...out at 0445 for Dusky Nighjars and I thought it was cold. A short time later the first temperature reading of the day 10.6c....Oh !
Black-billed Cuckoo, a great find and a much wanted bird on some Costa Rican birders lists too.
The juvenile cuckoo was the star bird of my first morning banding with Yuly, my latest banding partner.
More about Yuly later. We were banding at INBio in San Jose, an oasis in the capital which is a Standard Banding site- CES style.

We were scheduled to be going to Tortuguero, but for scheduling problems we went back  to the Highlands for four nights. A day's banding at each of the three standard sites thus ensued. Quiet with low numbers captured but......
Yesterday Yuly returned from a net round with this little brown job...well 13.3g to be exact.
This a juvenile female Blue Seedeater.
The id seemed straightforward and the range and habitat helpful, but time required to really come to grips with it. Described in some literature as rare, completely off the radar and again on several Costa Rican birders wants list. Eats bamboo buds and keeps company with Black-cheeked Warblers and Yellow-thighed Finches - bread and butter birds to us !
Absorbed and struggling to believe...not for the first time this visit !

More straightforward and a recapture of a bird Wendy and I caught a month ago, a retrap then.
This an adult Louisiana Waterthrush.
We catch both waterthrushes and at Tortuguero we have several site faithful returning wintering Northern Waterthrushes. This the first site faithful returning Louisiana, first banded 29th August 2014 at the same site.

 White-throated Mountain-Gem - dare I say, our version of the Blue Tit.

Always around and usually captured daily, though perhaps not as numerous this year. As I mentioned in a previous post, juveniles of several species are in low numbers this year. The bird above is a moulting juvenile male, exactly the age we want to catch to help understand the breeding and moulting cycles.
Likewise this Violet Sabrewing...
A large hummingbird, c10g and this a moulting juvenile male.

Yuly and I move on tomorrow, the first bus at 5 or 6am. Then via Cartago, San Jose, Cariari, and the boat from Pavona....eventually Tortuguero tomorrow in the dark.

Yuly is from the Colombian Andes, and surprising to me feels the cold !!
Here in front of my beautiful fire, still wearing gloves...
Yuly's first degree is in Zoology specializing in Ornithology. She is now doing an MSc in Conservation and Conservation Management here in Costa Rica, and will be working with me until I leave in December.

(photos Yuly...or mine)

Friday 23 October 2015

Back to Wales and news of a wandering Great Spot

Back in the UK after a very rewarding 5 weeks ringing for Costa Rica Bird Observatories.
As soon as the weather allows I will be swapping ringing tables for our less Spanish version on the Teifi!

Keen eyed readers will notice the familiar rings. Porzana UK make the rings for CRBO but important to keep remembering as we use them that our AAs are A's there, A's are B's etc...

In the last blog, my stay in the mountains was just about to end but I didn't leave before ringing a Dusky Nightjar, a species not often caught in Costa Rica
so not a lot of information about ageing and sexing them. Adult males have white tips on the outer tail feathers and a more pronounced collar.
The sound recording on this link about Dusky Nightjars is a nice reminder of the call that we heard every morning as we opened our nets and at dusk too.

Now home, I have looked up some of the retraps on copies of our banding sheets from our previous visits over the last 3 years...

Nice to find that a retrap Yellow-thighed Finch was ringed on our first visit in 2012.
 Quite a dull looking bird until you look at it's thighs...
Knowing the age of some retraps is helpful to our understanding of the moult of some of the tricky species,  this one a Yellowish Flycatcher
To finish my Costa Rica blogs (but Richard will be blogging from there for another 5 weeks), a perky young Collared Redstart, always a pleasure to see and straightforward to age!
Hopefully a return to Costa Rica Bird Observatory at Madre Selva before too long.

Back to local news, as Paddy mentioned on the Pembs ringing blog, along with a Yellow-browed Warbler he controlled a juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker at his CES wood in Llandilo, Pembs on the 1st October. It was ringed in Richard's garden in Boncath on the 29th June. Only 16km but still an interesting movement over the Preseli Hills

Another recovery report received from the BTO this week was a Sedge Warbler ringed on the Teifi Marsh in May 2014 controlled by Kelvin Jones at Llyn Ystumllyn in Gwynedd on the 7th August this year. (100km). The same Sedge Warbler was also at Llyn Ystumllyn 5 weeks before on the 29th June.

Monday 19 October 2015

Hmmm....those legs

Rough-legged Tyrannulet

A small bright Tyrannulet flycatcher ?? ...I first thought a bright Paltry, but just too bright and a glaring red eye. After consulting the books, the bird fitted the description for Rough-legged Tyrannulet and don't those legs just confirm it !

We band at three sites at our Highlands station, two of these have homes which add to the experience. At our HOME site Blue and White Swallows roost, and presumably nest in the roof cavity. With a little effort four swallows were caught this visit.

 Two adults and two juveniles, the adults in moult, and great that one was a retrap from a previous visit. Not last year as I failed to ring any...!! Both the photos are of juveniles, the wing below being amazingly worn.

At our CRBO site, this is where we stay, we do decorate the surronding wood-piles with sliced Plantains, the only food that attracts birds.

 We do manage to catch a few birds in a  two shelf net here,  usually one or two Flame-colored Tanagers, above an adult female. Today we managed our first House Wren in this "garden net" and our umpteenth Wilson's Warbler.....!!

 As you can imagine in this climate, we get a good number of insects in the nets. This a rather shiny 3cm beetle....
We leave our Madre Selva Highland sites tomorrow morning, and Wendy leaves Costa Rica on Wednesday for home....I am sure she will have more stories of fun and excitement to tell.......

I band at INBio with my new banding buddy...Julia from Colombia. Then off to the Caribbean coast again- better brush up on my Spanish !!!

Sunday 18 October 2015

Scaled Antpitta....out of the blue

Juvenile Scaled Antpitta

The net ride amongst the Chinese whispering grass (aka.Cyperus Papyrus we think..) always looks special - and it produced that special bird yesterday
 A large Antpitta, weighed 96.2g ....and an amazing almost non-existant tail !

Scaled Antpitta is unkown in our area, though S & Sutch when describing the distribution say that it may have a local population in the Talamanca mountains, so great to find the Antpitta, and a juvenile too...

 The Antpitta certainly provided excitement to a very slow morning under a rain threatening sky. After one month in Costa Rica it appears that at our sites breeding has been delayed, presumably by the rains in June.
There are almost no juvenile Hummingbirds - we usually find many. But we have lots of very juvenile Ruddy-capped Nightingale Thrushes which usually are older by now.

Great looking adult hummers though....this a Green Violetear.

An adult male magnificent Hummingbird

 This juvenile female Slaty Flowerpiercer was going to be bird of the day, - until the Antpitta !

Flowerpiercers are often seen flying away from the flowers usually being chased off by the more aggressive hummingbirds.The peculiar bill is designed to pierce the base of the nectar tube thus a direct competitor with the Hummers !

Tomorrow is our last day's banding in the Highlands. A short post tomorrow with the final birds etc, and the highlight from today...another Highland rarity....

  - Rough-legged Tyrannulet...

Thursday 15 October 2015

An Interesting Chiffchaff

This Chiffy was ringed today on the Teifi Marshes Reserve.  It is very different to/from the usual ones we get here.

* On the face, back and upper wings the overall colour is markedly paler and greyer than the usual olive-brown.

* On the belly, flanks, and under-wing there is no sign of the usual yellow or green tones, the only suggestion being a few yellowish-buff feathers in the inner axilliaries.

* The complete white eye-ring stands out particularly prominently.

This is a bird fledged this year - it has four unmoulted juvenile greater coverts on each wing. Biometrically it is indistinguishable from a 'normal' Chiffchaff, and it didn't call.  Did it come over with the Yellow-brows?  We'll probably never know.

Wednesday 14 October 2015

A capital Sparrow ...before the mountains

White-eared Ground-Sparrow
An unusual Ground-Sparrow, and a great surprise. 

The morning's banding at INBio in San Jose came up with the goods !
More on Swainson's Thrushes wing lengths later. The sparrow was closely followed by this Baltimore Oriole, another 1st for us in Costa Rica.

Our San Jose site is our only site for White-tipped Dove too...

 In 2013 we banded over 500 Swainson's Thrushes in Tortugureo, this year 90 so far. Whilst at INBio we were surprised to band 12. We immediately picked up on the wing length. These migrants passing through Central Valley, Costa Rica seemed to have longer wing lengths. A quick look at our data confirrmed this.
In summary the average on the Caribbean coast 96.8mm  and through the Central Valley 99.2mm.
Races ?? food for thought...

Not all banding, we did pick up two male Golden-winged Warblers in our very local park !
We share this San Jose park with the front of the Justice Ministry of Costa Rica, and it's armed guards !!

We are now back in the mountains....
Yesterday our second Ovenbird in the Highlands - in four Fall visits.

 The new Garrigues still descibes it's migrant range as below 1500m - we are at 2500m.

Back to the resident species, we catch about eight times the number of resident to migrant species here in the Highlands, many endemic to the Highlands and adjacent Panama. With the nest of this next bird descibed as unkown in S & Sutch, I was delighted to hear Wendy shout !
I guess, 3/4 days old - this a very young Spotted Wood-Quail,...So we know they nest in Sept/Oct ..

On to today..
The large and hefty, c 80g of Streak-breasted Treehunter, nests in a two foot long tunnel excavated into a foest bank.
Gray-breasted Wood-Wren, our local forest wren.

Olive-striped Flycatcher, one of Costa Rica's 72  species of flycatcher. A  species like the White-collared Manakin that has very extreme emarginations in the outer primaries.

Like the Isle of Lewis today !!
....We have Wilson's Warblers too.
I guess the most common wintering warbler in the Costa Rica Highlands..