Monday, December 29, 2014

Whitefish Point: Long-tailed Duck Migration

Eric writes:

One of the main reasons I wanted to count waterbirds at Whitefish Point was the large numbers of Long-tailed Ducks that migrate through the area.  This fall did not disappoint; a total of over 27,000 migrated by the point, most of which were recorded in October.  More than 8,300 flew by on a single day in October.  This flight consisted of a handful of flocks numbering between 400-500 birds; seeing flocks of this size is extremely impressive.

Take a look at the photo below.  How many Long-tailed Ducks, without individually counting, do you think are in this flock alone? (all birds in the photo are LTDUs)

A portion of one of the "big" Long-tailed Duck flocks.

Long-tailed Duck flocks continually shift from water-level to well above the water while they are flying.

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.