Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Laguna Blanca Tern like sunny days!

I completed my third round of surveys today with a walk in the sunshine around the Transitional Forest. The temperature was a pleasant 18c as well which was also met with approval from the birds!

The best bird of the day was found by my good friend Jorge who had me running for the second time in two days as two Black Skimmers had arrived along the beach area of the reserve. Both birds were flying in tandem and are always a welcome sight with their unique feeding style. They fly low over the water opening their lower mandible just below the surface of the water to scoop up small fish molluscs and insects.

Earlier during the survey I added another couple of species to the yearlist. The first was a delightful pair of Purple-throated Euphonia who were flitting about in the trees at the top of the Mboijaguar trail.

Shortly afterwards a Masked Tityra put in an appearance sitting chest out as it watched my movements below. During the survey with my trustee companion “Lobo” PLT’s dog a Pauraque (Nightjar) was spied along the path. Unfortunately it did not stick around for a photo shoot but was a pleasant addition to the day list.

Three more birds were heard along the path the call of which is a bit of a mystery having recorded the call. The bird does not react to playback preferring to remain in dense cover making seeing the bird so far impossible! This species will have to remain as Voice4 until I get the heavy recording artillery out in an attempt to lure it into the open!

Laguna Blanca Tern ed out well!

It feels as though it has been raining forever at Laguna Blanca. What is assured of is when it stops there will be birds to be found on the reserve.

The first rarity did not wait for the rain to stop and turned up during the mizzle on Monday 30th. I saw a gull like bird over the stream which had me running into the house to grab bins and camera. I missed the last gull on the reserve having been engaged in trail cutting in the Atlantic Forest!

I soon realised that the bird was a tern by the way it was fishing near to the bridge over the almost river like stream. The Large-billed Tern was happily fishing away and did not pay too much attention to the nutcase that was legging it in its direction!

These birds do not stay for long and it was the same for this bird as it worked its way along the beach.

Sunday, 29 May 2016

Laguna Blanca tick Green-barred Woodpecker!

Sunday 29th I was up and out at stupid o’clock this morning with the intention of adding some Atlantic Forest night birds to the survey list. As I wandered across the sand through the mist and mizzle I was beginning to wonder if this was a good decision.

I made it to the track and searched the area with my head-torch. Nothing and you could hear a mouse fart it was so quiet. I searched until daylight will little change to the above. A Collared-forest Falcon was the only sound of life in the forest. This species is very secretive remaining within the forest canopy and a lifer for me! One day I will crash into one when I least expect it!

The temperature was still 14c but I guess the birds were still sensibly tucked up in their roosting places! A drumming Lineated Woodpecker was the next bird of interest followed by a Rufous-capped Spinetail which was new for my year-list.

As the morning progressed the birds came to life which was a relief. I made tracks to the edge of the Atlantic Forest where it meets the cornfield. The E field has recently been harvested of soy and the pigeons and doves were having a feast. It was difficult to estimate numbers but there were at least c650 Picazuro Pigeon and c800 Eared Dove. The latter were resting in the trees at the edge of the forest and would exchange places with doves that were feeding on the ground at regular intervals. A Peccary joined the fray at one point sending some of the pigeons skyward! What an impressive sight to see! Before leaving I made a note to return with the telescope to sift through the pigeons as there may be a rarity amongst the masses!

A Grassland Sparrow made an appearance from the corner of the cornfield. Was this another evacuee from the flooded Cerrado or a bird cashing in on the feast that had presented itself!

Back in the heart of the forest the group of Maroon-bellied Parakeets were still present and the Pale-crested Woodpecker added itself to the year-list. The Green-barred Woodpecker made another appearance in the tourist area on the way back. This was a new bird for my reserve list first seen on 25th outside the house! This time I nailed some good pictures of this species! Woo Hoo!

Friday, 27 May 2016

Laguna Blanca Blackish Rail!

Thursday 26th was the seasonal ponds turn to be surveyed. To reach this area I have to traverse the now swamp like SE area of the lagoon. Some parts of which are almost “welly” deep in a mix of sand and mud.

Having searched yesterday for two species that have recently frequented the lagoon I guess it would be inevitable that I would bump into both today having not featured in yesterday’s count. The adult and juvenile Pied-billed Grebe were first to show. The more secretive Blackish Rail made a nervous but lengthy appearance a few hours later before scurrying off through the swamp.

The rain clouds had been gathering all morning and finally dropped a torrent of rain during the afternoon. I went out for a short time but only the masses of Picazuro Pigeons were prepared to brave the elements!

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Laguna Blanca tick - Lesser Yellowlegs!

Monday afternoon I decided to take a roost count of Picazuro Pigeon whilst walking the Mboijaguar trail. I chose a suitable vantage point so that I had enough time to count groups of pigeons as they approached. What I thought was going to be a short venture turned into an hour and half count with squadrons of pigeons flying overhead. It was an amazing sight with a final tally of c2182 pigeons making the journey to roost. I also heard the elusive Small-billed Tinamou and Undulated Tinamou during my walk back to the base.

My survey today (25th) focused on the Lagoon. The weather was around 20c with plenty of cloud to keep any migrants low in the sky. A small group of Brown-chested Martin were observed flying NE hugging the surface of the lagoon. These were the first Hirundines I had seen for a while at Laguna Blanca.

Charlie and I remained on the E side of the lagoon stood out of the wind that was building up around us. I then spied three waders flying E and quickly put the camera to work on two of the birds. Having examined the pictures I concluded the birds were Lesser Yellowlegs a new Laguna Blanca tick for me!

Charlie then said what about these over here and flying low over the Lagoon heading W were four White-backed Stilt who seemed to be struggling against the swirling wind. This had been quite a productive twenty minutes so we remained in the same position until the cloud lifted and the sun had broken through.

I walked the NW side of the Lagoon noting the group of Great White Egret had split up and were partly hidden within the reeds regularly moving position to gain advantage of prime fishing areas.

I have been spending an hour or so each afternoon watching the lagoon noting some irregular visitors to the areas of reeds that line most of the lagoon. A Long-winged Harrier has been the most interesting of these visitors. A female Vermilion Flycatcher remains usually seen at the SE end of the lagoon.

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Another week rolls on at Laguna Blanca!

One of the most noticeable events in the last week is the movement of flocks of Picazuro Pigeon. Numbers have reached c647 today 20th. This may coincide with one of the soy fields having been harvested. A large group were observed feeding in the Cornfield a few days ago.

There have been some interesting sightings on the reserve of late including a pair of very obliging Chestnut-eared Aracari who were feeding on fruits at the back of the house.

Great White Egret has been another frequent sight flying over the Cerrado and Lagoon. A group of Snowy Egret were spied on the 16th. The Pied-billed Grebe has remained preferring the lagoon which is increasing in size at the end of every storm.

I recently added White-rumped Monjita, Lineated Woodpecker and Blue Dacnis to my year total which stands at a healthy 124 species during my two months on the reserve.

The weekends forecast indicates more rain but temperatures are remaining around the 20c mark a combination of which keeps the birds active for most of the day. 

Friday, 13 May 2016

Laguna Blanca 1st on Friday 13th!!!

Fri 13th

I started early in the Atlantic Forest and started my survey down near the Cornfield which is at the south end of the forest. The Undulated and Tataupa Tinamou were the first to be heard after sunrise.  The former is still a life bird for me but a first has to be seen. I hope there will be plenty of time to view this species.

Unbeknown to me the forest would turn up a new gem today a life bird and first for Laguna Blanca in the form of a Saffron-billed Sparrow which I could initially hear but could not locate the bird. The bird was sat in the middle of the bush in the centre of the dense foliage. The bird seemed quite content for me to get closer as it preened in total safety of the bush.

A Double-collared seedeater was an interesting find on the edge of the south forest but it had probably been on a feeding skirmish into the adjacent soy field.

During my walk I spied a Buff-bellied Puffbird which was on sentry duty high on an exposed branch on the edge of the track. The bird kept a close eye on my movements as I made my way along the dirt track. A pair of this species nested by the house last Oct / Nov and hopefully they will return this year to take up residents in the same place.

The Laguna Blanca reserve total now stands at 322 species of which I have recorded 217 species

Woo hoo!!

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Rainy Days!

Mon 9th

When it rains in paradise it certainly makes a thorough job of it. The Seasonal pond, lagoon and the stream that runs from it are growing by the hour. The forecast states we have at least another day of monsoon like conditions before the weather changes!!

I started my survey early this morning and donned my rain poncho, wellies and brolly these items are proving to be essential purchases!! I was certainly prepared for what the day had to throw at me and began a survey of the Lagoon. Not surprisingly the majority of birds were not keen to give away their presence but the Kingfishers seemed in good spirits flying between each perch in search of a meal.

Vermilion Flycatchers have also been present for the last few days with a sub adult male in its almost full red blaze and two females scooping up and insects that dared go out to face the elements.

Whilst walking the swamp between the Lagoon and the beginning of the Seasonal pond I spied a family party of Brazilian Teal who scuttled off away from me. What a wonderful site on such a dreary day!

A juvenile Pied-billed Grebe made an unlikely appearance a few days ago but could not be found during the briefest of visits to the seasonal pond. It has since been re-located on the lagoon and has company!

A flock of Great White Egrets make a late daily passage low over the lagoon (usually when I am playing volleyball) but today they seized an early moment during a moments respite from the rain!

The rain has finally stopped making the Seasonal Pond survey more enjoyable today (Tues) with temperature remaining around 20c..!

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Laguna Blanca Favourite!!

Wednesday 4th May
I started my second round of surveys this morning. The daily temperature has been rising at Laguna Blanca which has resulted in fog / heavy mist over the reserve early morning. This soon clears once the sun rises to promote a hive of bird activity.

The Cerrado (Savannah) has been turned on its head since my last visit in Oct/Nov 2015 due to the high level amount of rain that has fallen over the country. The Campo limpio (grassland) is now flooded with hundreds of small fish taking advantage of the deep pools that have been formed within.

It is always worth checking the area closest to the airfield early on as Egrets and herons have been seen feeding on the fish on previous visits. As I started negotiating the tall grass I heard a loud frog like call...This could only be one bird but would it show itself enough to finally get some pictures of it.

The bird a Toco Toucan was quickly located but was in the Cerradon (tall tree and shrubs) on the other side of the Campo limpio. I fired off a couple of shots and attempted to wade across the almost swamp like grass to get a better angle for the camera. Thank goodness for my new wellies!!

The bird moved from view without any further action from the camera but at least I had some kind of record of this magnificent bird. This species is present on the reserve but is rarely seen preferring to sit high in the canopy as it moves between roosting and feeding grounds.

The remainder of the survey ticked on with the usual Cerrado specials Shrike-like Tanager, White-rumped Tanager, Black-throated Saltator and Curl-crested Jay giving them up for the list. A few more House Wren was seen today along with Grassland Sparrow. Surprisingly enough no Red-crested Finch made it into the survey book.

As I made my way along the track that leads to the Sand dunes I came across a couple of Whistling Heron and a Striated Heron feeding in a flooded and recently scorched area. But these two species were not to top the list of surprises as I heard Ash-throated Crake calling in another area of flooded grassland. I wonder what will be next for the Cerrado!!