Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Laguna Blanca - Raptors Delight!

The last couple of nights have been cold with the temperature around 6C. Despite the drop in overnight temperatures there have been signs of spring with daytime temperatures on the increase. The birds have also been more vocal with the rising sun. My task of finding nests and monitoring them has begun with a few early candidates, Least Grebe, Thrush like Wren and Southern Lapwing.

This morning at 0600hrs I sloshed my way through the swampy lagoon edge towards the Seasonal Pond which was to be the subject of my survey. I was halted in my track (if the mud had not already done that!) by a broad winged raptor that flew overhead and perched itself on a small tree within the swamp! To add to my initial “What was that?” panic the bird had positioned itself directly in front of the sun making a good view almost impossible let alone decent pictures!

The raptor was a Black collared Hawk which incidentally is a new bird for the reserve (but I have a feeling this bird has been seen but not identified in the last few months?!) and a LB tick for me. The bird took flight passing overhead to sit in a more favourable but semi obscured position for photographs.

I finally arrived at the Seasonal Pond which was alive with singing birds. I completed two McKinnon lists in fifteen minutes which is a record in itself! Having caught up with the paperwork I set about photographing some of the candidates.

Striated Heron have recently re-emerged after a short absence in breeding plumage. This species is smaller, greyer with rufous striping on the breast than the larger and plainer coloured Black-crowned Night Heron. The Night herons were absent from the pond today.

Just before 0800hrs the star of the mornings show dropped in literally and attempted to snatch a Least Grebe from the pond surface but the Grebe had been alert and dived out of the grasp of the Hawks outstretched talons. I caught this moment on camera but the result was fuzzy (wrong settings for the surprise visit!!) and did not make the editors final draft!

The Hawk then perched on a branch on one of the many sunken trees and let out screaming calls and regular intervals before flying to a higher perch to sun itself! The Hawk eventually moved on over the Atlantic Forest as did I as my survey method had been completed in record time!

I made my way back through the swamp to be greeted almost head on by a Long-winged Harrier that appeared from above the tree reed line. With an earlier Roadside Hawk the raptors had been the stars of today’s show!

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