Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A Successful Honduras Birding Tour

Rob writes: I returned from Honduras last weekend and am already missing the warm temperatures as I sit here in Indiana looking at a bit of snow out my window.

After arriving a day early and spending the night in San Pedro Sula, I picked up my participants up and headed for our first stop in the beautiful Lake Yojoa area. The birding was fantastic around our hotel, Finca Las Glorias, as well as in Santa Barbara National Park and at Panacam Lodge! After only 3 days of birding, we left this part of Honduras with just over 150 species!

Turquoise-browed Motmots are very common around Lake Yajoa.

Our first Violet Sabrewing of the trip was found eating from the feeders at Panacam Lodge.

Rufous-naped Wrens were commonly heard singing near our rooms at Finca Las Glorias.

Although it's not a great photo, it was fun to watch these White-fronted Parrots feeding.
The rest of our trip was spent at The Lodge at Pico Bonito which is one of the most beautiful and comfortable hotels that I have ever visited in the tropics. Oh and the birding in the area isn't bad either! In addition to birding on the grounds of the lodge, we visited 4 other incredible birding spots along the North Shore of Honduras.

This Boat-billed Heron was pretty cooperative at Cuero y Salado Wildlife Refuge.

We were all very excited to find a Hook-billed Kite near the Honduran Emerald Reserve in the Aguan Valley.

Finding a Lesser Roadrunner was one of the highlights of the whole trip!

I'm always happy to find kingfishers such as this Ringed Kingfisher at Cuero y Salado.
We ended the trip with 241 species in 9 full days of birding including one day that was almost completely rained out. I saw 13 life birds and my participants all got 35 or more lifers! If you'd like to visit Honduras with me, be sure to keep an eye out for our announcement about our next tour to this beautiful county which will be coming soon or contact me for additional details.

Here are a few more photos from our recent trip.

Our whole group on our way to The Lodge at Pico Bonito.
Everyone enjoyed spending time with Leonel and his family near Santa Barbara National Park. Leonel is working to protect the park from deforestation and to promote tourism in the area.
We made a quick stop for some snacks at this local fruit stand. The bananas and pineapple were incredible!

Most places that we visited in Honduras were all decorated
for Christmas including the Lodge at Pico Bonito.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Whitefish Point: A Sabine's Gull Story

Eric writes:

It's been a month since the fall waterbird count at Whitefish Point ended.  After, finally, going through the photos, I realized there were many memorable experiences that I hadn't posted about.  So, here is one with a Sabine's Gull as the star!

The Sabine's Gull as it was approaching the point.

It had been a good day out at the point, almost 3000 waterbirds had passed, when suddenly a Sabine's Gull appeared, flying lazily down the shore.  This was only the second "Sab" of the season so I was excited to watch and photograph it at close range (at least for a Sabine's Gull).  As it approached the point, the action started, a Peregrine Falcon had taken notice of this small gull.  The chase was on!  Sabs are agile flyers but Peregrines are one of the most skilled flyers in the world.  However, the Sab knew what it was doing and stayed higher than the Peregrine throughout much of the chase; it's much harder to hunt from below your prey.  After 5-6 unsuccessful stoops the Peregrine gave it up and the Sabine's continued on it's migration.

Here are a few photos from when the attack was on:

The juvenile Sabine's Gull while it was avoiding the Peregrine.

The sab when it was directly above the shack.

The hungry Peregrine on the chase.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Off to Bird in Honduras for the Next 10 Days

Rob wrotes - Today, I arrived in San Pedro Sula and I'll be spending the next 10 days leading a group to two of the wonderful birding areas in this beautiful country. Tomorrow, me and our local guide and friend, Elmer, will meet our group at the airport and head for the Lake Yojoa region. After a few days in that part of the country, we'll head to one of my favorite birding locations in Central America, The Lodge at Pico Bonito! I'll be sure to post some photos both on the Nutty Birder Facebook page as well as here on the blog as time and internet access allows. For now, here are a few of my favorite images from my Honduras trip in 2013!

I can't wait to spend some time watching birds from the deck at Pico Bonito!

Rufous-tailed Hummingbird is one of the most common hummingbirds in the area.

Hopefully another Keel-billed Motmot will be this cooperative!

Northern Jacanas are always cool but their plumage when they are young is really something!

I'm always excited to see motmots, and even more so when I get to see Tody Motmots.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to all of our loyal followers! We are very thankful that so many of you are interested in all of our birding adventures and look forward to continuing to share our stories with you.

Thanks to our friend Brian Zwiebel for this awesome photo of a Wild Turkey that he photographed on Mount Lemmon in SE Arizona. There are several subspecies of Wild Turkey and this one is the Merriam's subspecies that occurs throughout parts of the Western US. In parts of SE Arizona, two subspecies are possible, Merriam's and Gould's. If this were a Gould's it would show a pure white tip to the tail in addition to other identification points. You can learn more about Wild Turkey's here!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Eagle Creek Park-Eared Grebe

The Eared Grebe from Eagle Creek Park.  Thanks to Aidan Rominger for the photo!
The last few days of birding around Eagle Creek Reservoir has produced at least one unusual bird, each day.  The first was a White-winged Scoter, an uncommon bird away from Lake Michigan (in Indiana).  On Saturday, an Eared Grebe arrived and provided great looks.  The Eared Grebe also continued through today.  Then, today, a single Red-necked Grebe was present on the south side of the reservoir.  The question now, when will the Western Grebe arrive?


Monday, November 17, 2014

Enjoying the South Texas Specialties in the Rio Grande Valley

Rob writes: A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to lead field trips during the Rio Grande Valley (RGV) Birding Festival. I always love any opportunity to bird in the RGV and this trip was fantastic as always!

My trip started out with leading four days of field trips for the festival. I got to visit some of my favorite birding locations in the RGV as well as a place I had never visited, a very cool private ranch north of Harlingen called El Canelo. Although it rained for the first two days of the festival, there were plenty of birds around and we all made the most of the bad weather and found lots of birds anyway!

After the festival, Stephanie and I spent a couple of extra days relaxing and birding out on South Padre Island. It was great to have a couple of slower paced days to recover after birding like crazy during the festival! It also allowed us to spend more time taking photos of all of the awesome birds that we had been watching all week.

Although it was very cloudy, we did manage to capture a couple nice sunrise shots one morning on South Padre Island.
The Convention Center on South Padre Island is a great place to work
on photographing terns in flight, like this Forster's Tern.
This Osprey flew a bit to close for the 400mm lens I was using.
While on the way to Laguna Atascosa NWR, we spotted a pair of Harris's Hawks. They remained perched until a pick up truck went flying by and I was able to capture a few images as they took off!
Stephanie photographed this Green Jay while we were birding at Laguna Atascosa.
Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks are common throughout the RGV but I find that Estero Llano Grande State Park is a great place to find some that are close enough for photography.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Spruce Grouse in the UP

A male Spruce Grouse
I guess the best way to describe it is laziness.  There are a few reliable locations for Spruce Grouse within twenty minutes of Whitefish Point but, it took me about two and a half months to go watch them.  The grouse didn't disappoint; within a few minutes at the first location, I had found a group of 12 along the road. The highlight was watching an aggressively displaying male.

I wasn't really looking for Spruce Grouse at my second stop (even though it is a historically good location for them) but, a male popped up on the side of the road and gave some great views.  The light was also much better which made for a marginally better photo.

It was a little dark for photography at my first stop, but you can get the idea
of the experience (even if you can't see the birds well).