Sunday, 20 December 2009

Hato Pinero - Buenos Vista

I'm getting a little out of kilter with the dates, being 5 hours behind if I post before 19-00 local time the UK date is wrong, simply I want to post the day I am in and not UK time which is still on my lap-top! Sorted?

Thomas, a huge, jolly bloke, arrived at 05-58 and within, given it is Sunday, 15 minutes we were clear of Caracas and starting our 370 Km drive to Hato Pinero. For the most part we were on well maintained duel carriageway, but when we arrived at Terecay we left the main highway for what was more pot-hole than road. This only lasted about an hour until we met the sign saying Hato Pinero 22Km, and turned onto a dirt road that was easy to drive on.

Whistling Heron

The problem arrived when we had to leave the sanctuary of the A/C and venture into a 90F furnace, and after meeting the Warden, Leo and Housekeeper, Margaret I decided to brave the elements while my cabin was made ready. That lasted no time at all as the searing heat drove me back. However, I had already made images of Whistling Heron and Scarlet Macaw, both seen in the past, and scored my first 'lifer' with Buff-necked Ibis. There were good numbers of White-tailed deer within the ranch house garden, with Yellow-headed Caracara (a raptor) being the most common bird around, things had started well.

White-tailed Deer

Scarlet Macaw first seen in Guatamala in 2002.

Scarlet Macaws in flight, it is hoped better shots will follow.

By now I had met most of the other guests, a couple each from Austria and France and about 8 Venezuelan lads, all seemed surprised but happy that I am a dedicated 'birder'. The subject matter never changed, they were getting well into it and I was glad of such fellow company. Unfortunately, they were just leaving and when I emerged for the late afternoon open top lorry drive they had been replaced by quite a different bunch. One lad about 20 and accompanied by his mum and dad (that says something) was a little loud, but interested enough in the photography side of things as he had a video camera himself. Similarly, the GP was partly interested but extremely loud and need politely telling that quiet would be of great importance. One of the benefits (or otherwise) of this stay is that all drinks are included in the price and the younger fella was barely out of the car before he started tucking in. Now, just because this is an 'alcohol free' trip for me doesn't mean everyone else need comply, but the more he had the louder he became and the more he was determined to be my amigo! Before we left, he and I had a walk around the gardens where we found the Currasow pictured below, but 'chiefy' soon put that to flight. Great oportunity to bend his ear, which I did.

Yellow-knobbed Currasow (female) hope to get the male next, complete with knob!

Buff-necked Ibis the first 'lifer' at this site.

Before we left in the large, open-topped wagon Leo asked if the was anything I particularly wanted to see, so I asked him about availability of Hoatzin, Sun Grebe, Horned Screamer and Sunbittern all birds I had fantasized about as a boy and while watching them featured on various Attenborough's. All were certainly available, and with the exception of the Grebe seen that very day, I didn't have to wait long. Still within view of the ranch we stopped at a very shallow pool and there for a few seconds in full view the Bittern, what a beauty. It stayed long enough for the Doctor to finish his compulsive yell, cue another bollocking!

Sunbittern (retreating)

Venezuelan Caimen with a decent catch, possibly Orinoco Perch??

Horned Screamer (2 down, 2 to go)

To be fair, these people were townies and just out for a bit of fun and I'd managed to curb the shouting so we were all enjoying ourselves for different reasons. Then we came across a 'herd' of Capibari by a small lake, where the Caiman had just caught his tea, right place, right time, but they too were put to flight by the hoard as I had my own agenda trying to get close enough to photograph a Screamer. Partly successful, I returned to find a juvenile had been headed off from the pack, and was being pursued from both sides by the noisy photographers. It was plainly obvious what was about to happen as the Capibari had the choice of the humans or the Caimen. It took the later, and I watched helplessly as the Crocs closed in. The small mammal dived and eventually got out at the other side of the pool, but not without sustaining damage to its front left leg. I had a word with Leo, who in turn had a word with them but not much changed.

The hapless juvenile entering the water to escape the humans, I was thinking about following it!

White-headed Marsh Tyrant

Yellow-browed Sparrow - not at all obliging.

Back at the transport Leo had found a pair of Y-b Sparrows and I caught up by finding the Tyrant, both additions to the world list, before pushing on the the far east corner of the reserve. Here the first birds we encountered were a family party of the totally unusual Hoatzin, and all I can say is I hope to bring photographs later. Here also is another lake overflowing with Cattle and Great Egrets, Glossy, Bare-faced, Scarlet Ibis, a massive bonus by way of a single Sharp-tailed Ibis (another 'lifer'), Roseate Spoonbills, Wattled Jacana, Great Blue, Cocoi & Little Blue Herons plus White-faced and Black-bellied Whistling Ducks. However, pride of place had to go to the 'big daddy' of them all a pair of enormous Jabiru and if seeing them at distance were not enough, they obligingly took off and flew right over our heads. Daylight was now rapidly fading, and as if to cap an already perfect afternoon, 'wildlife' wise, a six or seven foot Anaconda slowly slithered through the grass heading for the lake.

Brown-throated Parakeet

Sharp-tailed Ibis

On the way back to camp, in the gloom, headlights were left on full beam, while a hand held 'spot' also assisted in trying to find a Common Pauraque or White-tailed Nightjar, but what some of us got is what dreams and these type of trips are made of. From out of the bushes at the side of the road, and no more than 12 feet away strolled a full blown 'Jaguar'. The driver and Ranger in front said they had seen 2, but for yours truly this single, magnificent beast was more than enough - I don't want to go to bed tonight Mummy!

Trip Additions


Total Trip List - 639 Total 'Lifers' - 442 Total Endemics - 50

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