Tuesday, 15 December 2009

More of the Same

Rancho Grande Biological Station

It was the same time this morning and the same territory, but starting at a slightly lower elevation. The object of our desires at this early hour was Mottled Owl and we didn't have to wait long. Stepping out of the Jeep into clear atmosphere for a change, there were at least 2 already 'calling' close by. It wasn't long before David had taped them in to viewing distance, and while a photograph was out of the question, excellent views were had by all. The traffic this morning was almost none existent, but despite this we headed into the sanctuary of Rancho Grande for which we had the key. There, things started well enough with a pair of most obliging Groove-billed Toucanet, several White-necked Thrush plus 2 'lifers' Wedge-billed and Little Hummingbird.

Groove-billed Toucanet

However, that's when things declined with very few sightings thereafter. David once again blamed El Nino, saying that all the rain we had experienced a couple of days ago had fallen in the desert, while here in the cloud / rain forest there had been none for weeks. It had been the intention to head back to the hotel, to check out, at noon but in the event we got back at 10-45 and prepared for the drive to our next destination Colonia Tovar. This posting is an early start to the days happenings, so if anything eventful should happen en route I will continue this evening if access is available.

Buff-fronted Foliage-Gleaner

Green Honeyeater

Beetles copulating

Golden Tanager

Butterfly Sp

A 'NO GO' Zone!

Again we started out at 04-30 with this mornings target bird being Band-winged Nightjar within the Henri Pittier NP. Everything was set until we got to the site, still under the cover of darkness, to find about 30 commercial vehicles all waiting to form a convoy to negotiate the tricky mountain road. With the attendant drivers shouting and bawling, and headlights blazing there was NO chance of seeing the bird. David had a plan B and took me to another site, where he had recorded them before, but it was not to be. Instead we had good views of a Short-tailed Nighthawk plus both Olive-backed Woodcreeper and Flavescent Flycatcher all of which were 'lifers' for me. Soon after we heard a Schwartz's Ant-Thrush some way off, David describing it as singularly the most of this family of skulkers to see. We persisted, and with some excellent field-craft it was lured to within feet of where we stood. Unfortunately there was no chance of photo or video, but just to clap eyes on this elusive little creature was enough. It was mid=afternoon when our next it of luck struck, which despite the report so far it was pretty much a bird free day. All of yesterday we were dogged by just calls from parties of raucous Blood-eared Parakeets, but today we struck lucky, on a couple of occasions, seeing them feeding high in a number of trees.

Our day count ended up at a megre 59 species, with Lifers also down at 6.

White-edged Flycatcher

Now for a little information on the National Park itself, as a warning to any of you who have had dreams of birding Venezuela. My first statement would be DON'T BOTHER!! It is a hell on earth, as both days it has beaten me, and consider myself pretty tough when it comes to such matters. Firstly, only the roadway is accessible, with very few if any forest tracks. These walkways are narrow and I consider extremely dangerous to unobservant birds with their eyes on other things. Every driver is a maniac, and I would guess at least half of them are drunk in charge, that is unless it's holiday time (which it is at present) when the figure must rise to 70%. The litter and dumped refuse is of astronomical proportions, and one could walk the 15 kilometers on beer cans and bottles. If that were not enough every lay-by has been used as a toilet and every vehicle (mostly old and clapped out) fill the air with massive amounts of pollution and loud hooting. It's rare for me to say I don't like a place but this area is the only place I've come across in many a year that makes our streets at home seem clean! Here endeth the moaning, you'll be pleased to know.

Blood-eared Parakeet (endemic)

Additions to the List


Yellow-olive Flatbill (Flycatcher)

Common Brush Finch

Olivaceous Woodcreeper