Monday, 23 December 2013

Mental Mega Trip (Part 2) Iguazu

Bird species- 63

After being overwhelmed by the mass of birdlife at Costanera Sur we flew up to Iguazu (north Argentina near the border with Brazil). This place made Buenos Aires seem cold! With afternoon temp of about 35 degrees c.

Our plan was to check out the big waterfall and surrounding rainforest… after all it would be rude not to after travelling halfway across the world.

The airport is little more than a strip cut out of the forest and makes for quite an impressive landing. While travelling to our b&b we started to wonder if going for the cheap option was a good idea as the taxi proceeded to take massive rutted dirt tracks past wild dogs and the like. Thankfully the B&B was lovely and the owner even spoke some English… a god send!

We spent the next few days exploring the Argentinean side of the national park. The main trails of the park were busy with tourists but the Macuco trail was nice and quiet… arriving as soon as the park opened was best for birding.

Red-rumped cacque

Toco toucan

Violaceous euphonia

 We also visited the Hummingbird garden in the town of Puerto Iguazu where hummingbird feeders have been put up regularly for about 20 years. For about £2 it is easy to see at least 5 species of hummingbird (that we could ID). When we eventually located the garden we found that it was shut for the morning (we had a flight in the afternoon… bugger!). Luckily we met an Argentinean couple who persuaded the kind lady to let us enter and have an exclusive visit.

Swallow-tailed hummingbird

Black-throated mango
While waiting to depart from Iguazu airport on our final evening an almighty tropical thunderstorm broke out and our flight was cancelled until the following morning. This meant a comfy night on the stone floor of the airport. Every cloud has a silver lining though as this meant we had time to check out the tropical moths attracted to the lights of the airport. If anyone can help ID these bad boys it would be great.
Iguazu airport accom

BIG moth
Bird highlights at Iguazu included; Toco toucan, Linneated and Robust Woodpeckers, Plumbeous and Snail Kites, Lesser woodcreeper, Swallow tanager, Sayaca tanager, Black-goggled tanager, Violaceous euphonia, Ringed kingfisher, Great-dusky swift, Yellow-headed caracara, Blue dacnis, Greater ani, … the list goes on. 
Tropical kingbird

Great-dusky swift
Other highlights included; Armadillo, Capuchin monkeys, Tegu lizard, Agouti, Coati and shed loads of amazing butterflies, moths and insects.

Tegu Lizard
Capuchin monkey

Friday, 20 December 2013

Mental Mega Trip (Part 1) Buenos Aires & Costanera Sur

Been away for a month with Lizy in Argentina and on a big boat to Falklands, South Georgia and the Antarctic Peninsula. Photos and words won’t give you a sense of this epic trip but here is a short round up and a few highlights. I’ll try to keep it short and sweet and I’ll try not to plaster the blog with too many penguin photos and long lists of birds.

Buenos Aires & Costanera Sur. 14th-16th Dec

Bird species- 64 (give or take a few)

I would like to say Buenos Aires was a beautiful city with friendly people and a relaxed, chilled atmosphere, rich in culture and splendour but it was actually a bit of a dump! (the bits we visited anyway). 

On the edge of the city however is a cracking spot, Costanera Sur; Ecological Reserve. This is an area of lowland on the Rio de la Plata riverbank and includes habitat such as; grassland, marsh, bog, lagoons and shore. It was a great place to escape the busy city and go birding. We spent several days here exploring the trails and skipped on most of the city sights.
Costanera Sur tracks
Bird highlights were Chequered and Green-barred woodpeckers, Spectacled Tyrant, Grey-necked wood rail, Fork-tailed flycatcher, Epaulet oriole, Black-and-rufous warbling finch, Masked yellowthroat, White-winged coot, Red-fronted coot, Red-gartered coot White-tufted grebe, Red-crested cardinal, Guira Cuckoo, Masked Gnatcatcher… and the list goes on. An additional highlight was finding wild Guinea pigs.

Green-barred woodpecker
Golden billed saltator

Fork-tailed flycatcher

Rufous-collared sparrow

Great kiskadee... destroying a frog

Bloody boiling! (Chalk-browed mockingbird on me finger)

Double-collared seedeater

We also took the tube (an experience in itself) and visited the botanical gardens where large numbers of random cats can be found. The abandoned cats are allowed to live in the gardens and are fed and looked after by volunteers while being put up for adoption.

Public toilets got a rating of 1/10

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Abb's October

Oct highlights have so far included; Sardinian Warbler, Pallas’s Warbler, Radde’s Warbler, RB Flycatcher, several YB Warbler, several Ring Ouzel, Firecrest and Black Redstart.  All in all October has been fantastic. Expect a full update shortly but for now a few photo’s.

Whoop Whoop!

Back in Black


Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Super Smart Sardinian

So a Sardinian Warbler was ringed and released on the 30th of June at 5am. It then promptly disappeared giving no further views. This was annoying to say the least as I was asleep less than 1 mile from the bird when it was released (no mobile reception at the ringing site).  

3 months later on 25th of Sept and who should re-appear in almost the same place but a Sardinian Warbler sporting a shiny ring. The 25th just happened to be my day off so a quick dash back to St Abb’s from Edinburgh and I’m glad to say that I made it.

Over the last week the bird has been showing on and off and calling frequently. It is most definitely heard before seen. Its favourite area seems to be a small patch of Blackthorn scrub about 50m north of the boardwalk on the N side of the Mire Loch. Mornings are the best time while the bird is most vocal. It seems that during strong wind it retreats deep into scrub (sometimes for hours at a time).

I’ve now seen the bird several times over the last week and have watched it feed on blackberries and sing… bear in mind I have also spent a long time watching a Blackthorn bush blowing in the breeze. A crowd of up to about 15 folks have been visiting with most going away happy, and who wouldn’t, having seen such a smart looking bird in perfect condition.

 So a couple of questions remain: Where has it been for the last 3 months? It’s hard to believe that it could have been skulking around the loch all this time. The area is frequently visited by many birders and is also a ringing site. Although, if the bird was quiet, that gorse is pretty dense. Perhaps it has been just up the coast and is on its way back south. The final question is… Is it the same bird that was ringed back in June? Most likely! although without re-reading that ring who knows. St Abb’s has a good record for Sylvias. Ahem Marmora's.

Other birds of note today include, single YB warbler (we peaked at 13 on the 26th), Pied Fly, Spotted Fly, Brambling 2, Redwing 37, Song Thrush 8, Blackcap 1, Chiff 3, Mistle Thrush 6, Redstart, Goldfinch c 90 and Goldcrest 15.