Friday, 28 October 2016

Laguna Blanca - Another Double !!


The last couple of nights have been chilly with temperatures plummeting down to 9C. The lagoon was mist bound at stupid o clock this morning but the sun was up and that was not going to last for long.

I made my way round to the Seasonal Pond where the morning vigil would take place. The birds did not really come to life until the sun was high in the sky. But then it was the raptors and vultures time to enter stage left. Mississippi Kites were seen thermaling E over the forest some were juvenile birds.
A Roadside Hawk was next on the list followed shortly afterwards by Black Vulture. Then a Rufous thighed Kite wheeled above my head before a brief encounter with the Hawk before it sailed off E. Another life bird had made its way onto my Laguna Blanca list making my total for the reserve 241 (328 reserve total). Woo hoo!

I also manage to get some pictures of the Greater Ani which are growing in numbers around the Seasonal Pond today.

Add an Osprey to the day list it has just flown over the lagoon!


Jorge, Jeremy and I were sat outside the Museum cleaning boxes when Jorge suddenly said “Cardinal”. We both stopped and he repeated his short statement which had me looking nervously around “Donde?” I exclaimed as Red crested Cardinal was a reserve tick for me. Jorge then explained that the bird was in the dead tree. A quick look and I was sprinting over to the house to get my camera and binos (when will I learn!!). I returned to the beach and secured the record and marvelled at this stunning bird.

Outside the reserve this species is regularly seen in the populated areas but I have always wondered why more are not seen on the reserve. I guess the area is not populated enough for them?! Another species has joined my LB list which seems to be growing by the day.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Laguna Blanca - Life Birds form a Queue!!

I have been back on the survey trail this week and it has turned out to be eventful with two life birds seen on the reserve. The first on 24th was during a survey of the lagoon when I picked up in the binos some dancing gallinules above the reeds along the E side of the lagoon.  I set the telescope up on the area and hoped that the birds would perform again. After about ten minutes I saw an Azure Gallinule pop up into the air and drop down again into the reeds. These birds are usually present during the summer months but I had not connected with this species before. Woo hoo number one!

Today the 25th I was walking the Mboijaguar trail when the jays started kicking up a commotion and a broad winged long tailed raptor with a Goshawk like appearance appear from the Transitional Forest. I managed to fire off a couple of shots as the Crane Hawk dropped over the tree-line and sailed away from the commotion. Lifer number 2, Woo hoo!!

There are still new species being added to the year list. A small group of Streamer Tailed Tyrant were seen along the lagoon edge during the Lagoon survey.

Sunday 23rd saw twelve Mississippi Kite thermalling NW over the beach. Brown Chested Martin also made an appearance over my head as I took advantage of the sun which incidentally has taken temperatures into the forties over the last week!

Two more surveys to go what will be next??!

Friday, 21 October 2016

Laguna Blanca Double - Macaw Madness in the Cerrado!!

I have spent the last week walking a tightrope whilst working on pitfall traps in the Cerrado. By this I mean I have not taken my camera or binos with me just a load of buckets, tarp and sticks. I have returned soaked and covered in muck some days therefore the above were not suitable for carriage.
It was inevitable that a good bird would come by at some stage but I was not expecting what turned up this morning at around 0800hrs. There had been the tail end of a front moving across the Cerrado with clear skies behind it. Catherine and I were up to our arms in setting the tarp on a pitfall bucket and then I heard a loud waaarrhh!! I instantly went into birding meltdown. My brain had registered what the species was but my mouth needed to catch up! Whats that? ... Catherine looked up from what she was doing... The mouth had by now caught up Macaw Macaw but where was it!
(photo by Catherine Lee-Zuck Canada)
The Red and Green Macaw flew towards us at low level but OMG no camera ****. Catherine had a digital camera and produced it in rapid time taking a single shot as the bird past us! Whew she certainly saved the day there (but there was more to come!). I phoned Becca who was in the Atlantic Forest on the off chance that the Macaw would stop off behind the front! The last confirmed record was in 2012 but there was a Macaw heard by Griselda and Jorge but unfortunately not seen approx a month ago therefore remains a Macaw sp!

It was time to go crazeeee a life bird and a species that was on my wish list of birds! Catherine was more reserved but excited all the same!
(photo by Catherine Lee-Zuck Canada)

Shortly afterwards two Kites appeared stopping on the top of the trees as if to wait for the front to move on further before they continued their journey. They were White tailed Kite which was another new bird for my reserve list... These were definitely crazy times! Catherine to the rescue again!

At this point I could not concentrate and flipped about waving my arms in the air (The Beddington Farm boys have experience of this behaviour). Amazing stuff all caught on camera. I can only liken the buzz factor to scoring an important goal in a soccer match!! I am still buzzing Woo hoo!!


During the afternoon an excited Jorge entered the museum saying “Come quickly!” I got outside and looked around by the large black birds he had seen had gone. I decided to hang around and watch the skies which proved to be a great decision as the two black birds re appeared over the lagoon.

The pair of Bare-faced Ibis was obviously looking to rest but declined to stop after a second look at the lagoon. Jorge confirmed the birds were the same he had seen.

The only other flyover of interest was a mixed group of Egrets. The low cloud and el magico had worked his magic once again!

Friday, 14 October 2016

Laguna Blanca - Confused species new to my Laguna Blanca list!!

The pitfall trap production line was taking itself into the Cerrado today where the study would take place. There was just enough time to check the lagoon and seasonal pond for any migrants that had been downed by the previous night storm.

I noticed a small shorebird that was keen to land on the beach. The Lapwings had other ideas and flew into action chasing the tired bird over the reeds. I took a few shots and then made my way to the pond. The rest of the day was spent with the housemates in the Cerrado digging pitfall lines.

The storm raged through the night and the power went out making for a good opportunity to catch up on some sleep. Jeremy informed me that there was a very obliging shorebird along the beach which looked like a White-rumped Sandpiper. I showed him my pictures from the previous day and it was confirmed as the same bird.

This was good news as at around this time last year I flushed three birds which fitted this species description but I did not get a good enough look at them before they flew off. I hot footed it along the beach and photographed the bird which was a couple of metres from me. It must have been hungry to ignore my slow advances! 

After some consultation with the Helm Guide to Bird Identification Comparing Confusion Species White-rumped Sandpiper gets the vote over Baird's. I hope more bird ID guides will make it onto Kindle!!

Both would have been a new bird for my Laguna Blanca list putting me one closer to the reserve total. There is still a lot of birds to see and some species that will be one off visitors!!

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Laguna Blanca - Solitary moment!!


Today I was helping Catherine (CAN) gather pitfall buckets so that she can set up pitfall lines in the Cerrado. There were two lines of buckets in the vicinity of the seasonal pond which would be ideal for this use.

The morning would involve shuttles to and from the Seasonal Pond laden with 35L buckets. There was little time to bird but I kept my eyes peeled for anything unusual along the Lagoon edge and on the pond. We took a short cut to avoid the swamp by the lagoon and walked into a wasps nest with some very angry occupants!! A short run and a few stings later we were both in the clear and after a brush down of the hangers on we continued on to the Pond.

A Swallow-tailed Kite was seen over the pond and Atlantic Forest and as we were piling up the buckets at the head of the path I spotted a shorebird bobbing its tail on the edge of the pond. I did not have binos but the jizz of the bird suggested a Solitary Sandpiper! The walk back to the base with the buckets was as swift as possible and the return with camera and binos was even quicker.

The bird was still present and the species was confirmed as a Solitary Sandpiper. After a few pictures we both made a quiet retreat from the area leaving the bird to rest before continuing its journey.

The wind became very strong in the afternoon with a cloud front approaching! Will the storm bring anything else down onto the reserve!

The storm did not arrive but the Sandpiper was seen along the beach this morning.

Monday, 10 October 2016

Laguna Blanca - High as a Kite!

07 - 10/10
The weather has settled into a rhythm of clear skies with warm sunny afternoons which is always good for movements of raptors . I only caught a glimpse of a large raptor passing over the lagoon the previous day which has sharpened my appetite for not missing the next bird that pays a fleeting visit.
A Swallow-tailed Kite passed through the lagoon on the 7th taking a brief drink from the lagoon as it headed N. This appears to be a regular flyway for this species at this time of year.

A Snail Kite was caught on camera as it made its way SW over the lagoon on 8th at 11am. This species does stop off for on the reserve very often but I have seen them in trees on the edge of the Lagoon and Seasonal Pond.

A Pearl Kite gave some of the housemates an aerobatics display during this morning (10th). The Brown-chested Martin is a bigger version of the Sand Martin and I always live in hope of the latter passing through the reserve! As I was looking closely at these and Grey-breasted Martin I caught eye of four Mississippi Kite in the corner of my binos. These flew into the wind with wings folded in formation flew N at 1355hrs. They seemed in a great hurry to get places! Little did I know that this would be the start of a mini movement of this species.

The second group was much larger a total of 18 birds which arrived over the Atlantic Forest wheeling in all directions before grouping up to head NW at 1520hrs. The last group was much smaller three birds that flew N at 1530hrs! Will there be more tomorrow!!

Friday, 7 October 2016

Laguna Blanca - Seasonal Pond strikes again 1st record for reserve!!

The Seasonal Pond is shrinking fast which is a great shame as this small area of the reserve has been a magnet for rarities since my arrival at the end of March. It helps that this pond is currently littered with young frogs which are a good snack for any passing heron.

The pond did not disappoint but the new species for the reserve was not in that group as I crept up on a couple of Limpkin (4th reserve record). I spied a black and white bird hawking insects at low level. A Black-backed Water Tyrant worked it’s way closer as I hid behind a large clump of reeds. I have managed to photograph nearly all new species to the reserve and I didn’t want this one getting away!

The Limpkin seemed oblivious to what was going on around them as they tucked into the frogs in between moments of irritated Wattled Jacana fly-bys. A Green and Rufous Kingfisher (2nd record or returning bird) joined a Green and Ringed Kingfisher on the hunt for small fish. Three Ringed Kingfisher had been observed fighting over the lagoon earlier on in the day the highest count of the year.

A juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron joined the feast before perching up on a small tree. The Masked duck (inc a Male), Brazilian Teal, Common Gallinule were resting in the green pond weed. Two pairs of Least Grebe were shepherding their young on what looked like the first days on the water for the chicks.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Laguna Blanca - Feast over the Forest!

The reserve has been going through another period of unsettled weather which has not produced too much in the way of rarities. A sunny day on the 4th saw an increase in raptor movements over the Atlantic Forest. Catherine (Can) and I took in a small raptor spectacle during a walk down the main dirt track which dissects the forest.

A Swallow-tailed Kite took advantage of a good source of flying insects over the forest. This species is always a personnel favourite of mine and this time the bird was a lot closer as it wheeled over the forest.

A couple of Roadside Hawk joined a Plumbeous Kite with Black and Turkey Vulture joining the group of birds enjoying the thermals. A couple of Magpie Tanager was seen in the forest along with several regular species. A Fuscous Flycatcher was heard for the first time in a few weeks. The cornfield hosted Yellowish Pipit and Southern Caracara and a couple of Blue-black Grassquit.