Monday, November 13, 2017

Great Plains Birding

Recently, (well actually more like 6 weeks ago) I made a trip back to Nebraska to visit family.  Being from southwestern Nebraska, the most convenient airport to use, is Denver International and then renting a car.  So I took advantage of the time spent driving in northeastern Colorado and checking out a few birding hotspots on my way to Nebraska.  This was the first time that I got to actually enter reports on eBird for the state of Colorado. Of course I hit the area during part of the annual fall migration.  

It is always nice to find a Black-bellied Plover, even if it is not in breeding plumage.  Discovered one at a reservoir along with some other nice shore birds, including Semipalmated Plover, Willet, and Baird's Sandpipers.

 Black-bellied Plover

 Baird's Sandpiper

 Semipalmated Plover

  Semipalmated Plover

Willet

Shorebirds were not the only birds that made their presence known.  I was able to finally capture a decent photo of a Blue Jay.  I have found that they can be a bit skulky and not pose for photos even though they are very noisy.  

Blue Jay

 Red-breasted Nuthatch

Red-breasted Nuthatch

Ring-necked Pheasant

Crossing the state line into Nebraska, gave me some different birds, of which a Sanderling was probably the most unexpected for me. 

 Sanderling

Sanderling

 American Goldfinch

 Ring-billed Gull

  Ring-billed Gull

White-breasted Nuthatch

The worse part of the trip was the fact that we had 3 full days of straight strong southerly winds while in Nebraska.  Wind and birding do not always go hand in hand.  It can make it tough looking for birds, however, a few made it all worthwhile, including a couple of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds at the Sunken Gardens in Lincoln, Nebraska.  All the years I have lived in Nebraska and I had never seen a hummingbird of any kind in that state, until now.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

 American Robin

'Yellow-shafted' Northern Flicker

 'Red-shafted' Northern Flicker

Pied-billed Grebe

Black-capped Chickadee

House Wren

Along with all the birds, a few butterflies, insects, and mammals were nice to see and observe.  

 Cabbage White

 Common Checkered-Skipper

Two-striped Grasshopper

 Dainty Sulphur

 Pearl Crescent

 Painted Lady-upper left, Sachem-lower right

Sachem - This was a lifer butterfly for me.

 Clouded Sulphur

Monarch

 Eastern Comma

 Oblique-lined Tiger Beetle

 Oblique-lined Tiger Beetle

Black-tailed Prairie Dog

Black-tailed Prairie Dog

It is always great to explore new locations to see what a person can find in nature.  This world is full of so many wonderful things and they are so fascinating to observe and learn about their lives.






Saturday, August 19, 2017

Costa Rica: Parque Nacional Carara, the Finale.

Nearing the end of our stay and with only one more full day left to go birding near San Jose, I had decided the Carara National Park would be the best place to go for the more unusual birds that I had not yet seen.  This park is located on the Pacific Coast about 2 hours out of San Jose and was going to be hot, humid, and most likely mosquito infested.  Chris and Michael had decided to spend the day exploring the city of San Jose, so I was on my own.  Thankfully, Serge Arias, was able to assist me in finding a guide that would take me to this location.  He arranged for a great young man and an awesome birder by the name of Abelardo to take me there and help me do some birding.

This park has a wonderful array of birds and the conditions were pretty much what I expected - humid and wet with plenty of mosquitoes that we had to share space with.  We were well prepared as we carried repellent with us and for the most part it worked, but had to re-apply it from time to time.  It is a tropical rain forest with all kind of vegetation which created a lot of low light conditions.  The conditions, plus my camera a bit off on its ISO settings, created a lot of photography challenges.  I just rolled with the flow and tried to make the best of it.  Even resorted to trying to use a flash in a couple instances. 

I added a total of 18 new life birds in that awesome place that pushed me over the 800 mark easily.  My list of lifers at this incredible spot include:  Gray-cowled Wood-Rail, Long-billed Hermit, Slaty-tailed Trogon, Black-throated Trogon, Lesson's Motmot, White-whiskered Puffbird, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Scarlet Macaw, Black-hooded Antshrike, Bare-crowned Antbird, Chestnut-backed Antbird, Cocoa Woodcreeper, Ochre-bellied Flycatcher, Royal Flycatcher, Bright-rumped Attila, Orange-collared Manakin, Red-capped Manakin, and Rufous-breasted Wren. Below are some of those that I was able to photograph and many of the photos leave lot to be desired.  But just seeing these birds was a thrill and so glad I explored this park with a great guide.  Thanks to Abelardo for helping me find these birds and thanks to Serge for making arrangements for Abelardo to be my guide.  I highly recommend both as future guides for anyone that plans a trip to Costa Rica.

Black-hooded Antshrike

Black-throated Trogon

Chestnut-backed Antbird

Royal Flycatcher

Rufous-tailed Jacamar

Slaty-tailed Trogon

White-whiskered Puffbird - Female

White-whiskered Puffbird - Male

Orange-collared Manakin (About all one can see is the orange collar!)

Within the park, I was also able to photograph an Agouti and an Owl Butterfly.

 Agouti

Owl Butterfly

Just outside the park and down the road from our entrance to the park, Abelardo, took time out to stop at the river so I could view the resident American Crocodiles.  One of them was quite large!

 American Crocodile



So glad I made the decision to visit this spot and add so many new birds, with the assistance of a really great guide!  A bit THANK YOU to Abelardo and also to Serge Arias for working out the details for me.  Even with all the mosquitoes, it was definitely a day to remember.

The next day we headed back to Liberia since we were flying out from there.  We did have a bit of free time in Liberia and of course we did some birding, when it wasn't raining.  While I did miss out on the Yellow-naped Parrot that Chris and Michael saw in San Jose, I got lucky and was able to add that species to my life list in Liberia. Got some photos of a very cooperative Stripe-headed Sparrow as well.

 Yellow-naped Parrot


 Stripe-headed Sparrow



I started this trip with 689 life birds and finished with 814.  An increase of 125 species was an incredible number of new life birds.  Yes, there is a lot more to explore in Costa Rica, and would love to go back.  Also have several other destinations in mind as well.  These trips are not always inexpensive, so budgeting must be thought out well in advance.