Saturday, 28 November 2015

Laguna Blanca Paraguay Oct / Nov 2015

In a blink of an eye my months stay was at an end. I had a fantastic time and learnt loads about other amimals and processes on the reserve. I made some great friends and wish you all the best in everything you achieve! 

This trip was not all about the birds as well as studying for my Ornithology Level 2 I am doing a Vertebrate Zoology course. At Laguna Blanca I was a part of the frog and mammal collecting "squad" and spent time helping out in the museum.

But on the bird front I saw 13 species for my Laguna Blanca list (with photo recoveries pending) including a first record for the reserve a Limpkin putting my reserve total at 207 (319 reserve list). 

Two life birds Buff-bellied Puffbird and Collared Plover. Thanks Paul for the bird info the summary below has been updated.
My 500th birthday was fantastic and will not be forgotten along with many other great times. I look forward to seeing you all again soon!

Bird hi-lights during some very "El Nino!" tropical weather:-

24th October 2015
Swallow-tailed Kite 4 (four) – Seen mid morning in flight over the Lagoon and along Atlantic Forest.
Common Moorhen (Gallnule) 2 – Seen 0900hrs on Seasonal Pond.

25th October 2015
Swallow-tailed Kite 11 (eleven) – Seen late morning in flight NE along Atlantic Forest. They appeared to be hawking insects above the tree line.

26th October 2015
Kite sp 15+ (fifteen +) – Flying NE over lagoon and Atlantic Forest thermalling.
Pearl Kite – Seen 1400hrs in flght NW over dry river bed along Arroyito trail holding small prey item.

29th October 2015
Plumbeous Kite 3 (three) – 1500hrs perched on trees on edge of Atlantic Forest.

1st November 2015
Wader sp 5+ (five +) – Seen twice in flight low over the lagoon (pratincole sized) 1500hrs and 1600hrs flight near beach by Stefan and Becca. Group not re-located.

5th November 2015 – Overcast morning with low cloud.

Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularus) – Seen at 0630hrs at the stream and along the beach. This bird moved further down the beach near the reeds during the morning and was last seen at approx 1430pm.

Rufescent tiger Heron (Tgrisoma lineatum) – Seen 0730hrs on Seasonal pond. This bird was feeding on the pond and flew into the tree (photo) t was observed for approx 5 -10 minutes before it flew off towards the lagoon.

Snail Kite(Rostrhamus socabls) – Seen 0725hrs perched at the top of the tall dead tree overlooking the seasonal pond as  moved down to the waterside I saw the tiger Heron. I moved to check the pitfall traps the kite flew SW across the pond towards the Atlantic Forest.                       

Great White Egret 6 (six), Snowy Egret and Cattle Egret 4 (four)seen on beach arrived together as mixed flock.

8th November 2015 (Bird race day)
Pics to be recovered from SD card of seedeaters and small finch n cerrado.

11th November 2015
Collared Plover – Seen on stream near small bridge at 1330hrs.
Small peep sp - 3 (three) flushed from beach walking back from seasonal pond 1500hrs.

12th November 2015
Collared Plover – Still present on stream am.

Amazon Kingfisher – This bird was reported by residents by the small bridge earlier in the day (SH) and was seen fishing along the stream mid afternoon.

13th November 2015
Planalto Hermit – Seen at back of horse paddock along Arroyito trail.

14th November 2015
LIMPKIN – Seen 1100hrs (1st record for reserve) was stood on the seasonal pond and flew towards the lagoon out of sight.

Mississippi Kite 5 (five) inc juv birds at 1000hrs thermalling NW over lagoon and base.
16th November 2015
Toco Toucan – Seen in flight 1130hrs from airfield E over Transitional Forest.

18th November 2015

Yellow-billed Tern  – Seen in flight 1130hrs from airfield E over Transitional Forest.

Not to forget a small matter of a Serin at Beddington Farm as a welcome home present. Beddington Farm list 182 Surrey VC list 228.  

Next up a week in Lanzarote then masses of assignments to write up once I have replaced this moody laptop - A victim of the heat whilst in Paraguay... !! 

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Birthday Presents!!

My time at Laguna Blanca has been flying by but this was expected. I have continued gathering data for my online Zoology course as well as keeping my eyes on the reserve for new birds.

The reserve has been subjected to heavy rain storms which is unusual for this time of year. A storm usually brings the possibility of a rarity and experience has taught me to be very wary on these days.

The day of my birthday (5th) was to be full of some unexpected presents. The first was delivered as I was walking along the beach to the seasonal pond I spied a small wader with a distinct wing-bar fly from the stream towards the beach. The bird settled and was very obliging and was my first Spotted Sandpiper in Paraguay.

I continued my walk with Al to the seasonal pond to check the pit fall traps for frogs when present number two a Rufescent tiger Heron flew across the small pond and obligingly sat up in a tree. I had missed this species at Laguna Blanca a couple of years earlier as I was having a Spanish lesson when a bird appeared in the reeds along the beach.

Just when I thought things couldn’t get any better I noticed a Snail Kite perched near the top of a tree. The bird took flight over the pond making my tally of new birds for my Laguna Blanca list three in less than an hour!

A Maguari Stork was was the next species to fly over the lagoon. The birds were definitely turning out for my big day. 

My 500th birthday celebrations continued into the night with my good friends from Para La Tierra and my new friends staying in the PLT house...Thanks guys I had a great time. Here’s to the next 500 years!

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Laguna Blanca Paraguay - Skimming around the Lagoon

The last couple of days have been spent catching up on some of the regular species around the reserve and checking the pitfall traps for frogs on the seasonal pond. There has been a suggestion that a storm is heading its way towards the reserve but today was perfect in all ways.

I decided on a lagoon watch which was to prove to be a good choice. A group of Swallow tailed Kite were the first species to focus my attention. The group of seven birds were gracefully swooping to drink from the lagoon and turning as they gained altitude showing the contrast in the plumage detail.

I had settled down in my chair scanning the lagoon at regular intervals when a group of small wader like birds were observed flying quickly just above the water level. The birds were in a tight formation and only twisted in flight to change direction. The small flock would then drop out of sight into the reeds. This was repeated before the birds dropped out of sight again. Becca and Stephan reported the flock moving at the beach end of the lagoon.

I continued scanning the lagoon and noted a Black Skimmer resting on an area of the beach where there were no tourists. I had only seen this species at Laguna Blanca once before and quickly called Stephan over to view this amazing bird.

My next task was to photograph the bird and after a bit of scurrying around I had made it to the beach and took some shots of the bird. Stephan, Victoria (Can) and I made a plan to go out on the boat and search for the waders. The Skimmer had re-located itself further along the lagoon and another photo opportunity was taken.

The Skimmer seemed un-phased by the three people in a boat allowing close views and even a fly past the boat. This bird was in no hurry to depart the lagoon. Sadly the waders were not found after a search of all the margins of the lagoon and the three explorers returned to base at dusk!!