Monday 23 October 2017

Serenaded by Fruitcrows

A quite un-believable start to our standard banding session at our Parque Nacional site here in Tortuguero this morning. Very quiet for migrants with only one Swainson's Thrush....but....!!

The first bird we extracted was this male Royal Flycatcher, only the second that we have ever seen on our six visits to Costa Rica.

This fine start was followed by two adult female Black-crowned Antshrikes...both of which were recaptures. One female was banded before 2012 and the other likely banded in 2014, nice ageing data !

All the Hummingbirds that we caught this morning were Long-billed Hermits except this Band-tailed Barbthroat.

Wendy working on the forest floor towards the end of the session in 30°c of humid forest heat and with many interesting biting insects.

Today was a very good session with no rain interruptions and by the end of the morning we had also captured three migrant species, an American Pygmy Kingfisher and a White-collared Manakin.

In total today's effort resulted in five new birds, three recaptures and five Hummingbirds.
Our banding in Costa Rica is usually filled with exciting species, but not numbers. I am emphasising this in response to questions received. The diversity is immense but the numbers captured are quite likely well below what you would think.
Whilst banding we were serenaded by Purple-throated Fruitcrows directly above one of the nets. Two Chestnut-backed Antbirds sang all session. Great Green Macaws flew overhead and higher still Black and Turkey Vultures, with Magnificent Frigatebirds gliding around.

Yesterday we were affected by rain, but we did catch some migrants with five species of Flycatcher - including five Great Crested Flycatchers !

We also captured a couple of  Red-eyed Vireos.

Bi-coloured and Chestnut-backed Antirds were the highlights at our Cano Palma site on Friday....

Surprisingly both these Antbirds were new rather than recaptures.

At Cano we also captured three species of migrant Thrush, including our first Wood Thrush of the Fall.
Two species of Hummingbird, including an unusual one for us, a female Crowned Woodnymph and this fine adult male Red-capped Manakin.

We don't very often catch raptors, so our second ever Semiplumbeous Hawk was a welcome chance to study raptor ageing, this apparently an immature.

In summary 16 captures of  9 amazing species at Cano Palma.

Tomorrow morning we catch our boat to the standard banding site Aero. This site is maturing secondary forest and understorey. Slowly some forest species are moving in eg, Black-crowned Antshrike, but tomorrow there should be some interesting numbers of migrant Flycatchers....
The picture shows Wendy banding at the Aero site in September 2013, a year when early morning falls of Catharus Thrushes were regular.

Richard and Wendy

Tuesday 17 October 2017

In isolation, ringing above the storms....

We have returned today from the Highlands in Costa Rica, a 4wd journey via back roads to bypass the sometimes now non existent Pan-Am Highway. We managed 8 days of standard ringing since the storms, though isolated until today.
We are still finding new features in the avifauna of our Madre Selva site after many visits over the last 6 years. This fine adult male Spotted Wood-Quail, not a species we readily catch though common in the dense low cover of the Highland forest floor.

Spangle-cheeked Tanager, again a high elevation speciality infrequently caught but a core species of the roaming mixed species flocks. Often a couple of Golden-browed Chlorophonias are with the Spangle-cheeks, the Chlorophonias a species we have never been able to study.....yet

Sooty-capped Chlorospingus - often the leaders of the mixed flocks and a good vocalist to guide us.

Flame-throated Warblers are our second commonest resident warbler in the Highlands.

Antagonist of the smaller Hummingbirds, the Slaty Flowerpiercer.
This adult male - slightly leucistic and more importantly a bird we first ringed in 2014 and we have recaptured once a year on our Fall visit in each of the last 4 years.

The Highlands are full of Hummingbirds, maybe the commonest family of birds represented here ?
Here the delicate processsing of a stunning Fiery-throated Hummingbird.

The equally brilliant and iridescent Green Violetear, recently re-classified and another endemic to the Highlands of Costa Rica and Panama.

Chestnut-capped Brush-Finch, the most common species of Brush-Finch we capture. We caught a female with a brood-patch score 4, and a female Large-footed Finch too with bp4. Both species should have finished breeding months ago.

A couple of our most common migrants to finish this visit.
Swainson's Thrush, extremely common in the Lowlands and we find lesser numbers at the high altitude. We were delighted whilst birding early this morning before leaving to see 16 feeding in small groups and moving through. A migrant Olive-sided Flycatcher was a new species for us in the Highlands this morning too.

Behind Wilson's Warbler, Black-throated Warbler is the most abundant migrant warbler, this looking like a 1st winter male but what of the next bird.....

Clearly more Black-throated Green Warbler than Townsend's Warbler, but is it showing hybrid features, the black in the crown looks....??  We see and photo adult male Townsend's Warblers at our Highland sites each year.

A nice glossy capped male Wilson's Warbler...

At our Home banding station (as 6 years ago) a very powerful external security light came into use after the storms and the moths attracted added to the Highland experience !

This rather tatty Silkworm moth perhaps the largest of several large species attracted.

Finally a picture to help explain our isolation above the storm.....
A total of 78 landslides in the two directions - on the Pan American Highway not all quite as bad as this one.

Tomorrow we are off to a dry Tortuguero in the Caribbean......

Richard and Wendy

Monday 2 October 2017

San Vito, a few more highlights.....

Following on from the last blog from San Vito, just a few more interesting species that we ringed before heading back to the Highlands....

This is a fine adult male Slaty Antwren, we captured a juvenile too. This is a species not often caught but hopefully numbers will increase as the secondary growth matures developing the understorey which the species favours.

Sulphur-rumped Flycatcher:- What bristles .....!!
The previous blog posted below discussed the identification of Black-tailed Flycatcher and Sulpur-rumped Flycatcher. Again biometrics were important in the identification, and the photo just about shows the small dark area directly below the eye.

Kentucky Warblers feature in our posts from Costa Rica over the years, this bird particularly exciting as a recapture returning to spend the winter here. my spadebill.....!!

 A close up of a tiny Flycatcher - the White-throated Spadebill

This is the Spadebill found in the San Vito area, one of three species of Spadebill in Costa Rica and one of the 70+ species of Flycatcher found in Costa Rica.

We must finish with a thanks to the San Vito Bird Club, particularly Alison and Greg for hosting and helping our visit become a banding success, and to our assistants Alamo and Wilburth.

We captured 223 birds in 6 visits to the 3 standard sites. Each site has been studied since 2004, and shows population change as the habitat regenerates from redundant coffee plantation. Many thanks to the owners of the sites, Alison, Gail, Lydia and their staff too.

Rich D and Wendy J