Thursday, 17 December 2009

First Day Solo Birding

I have decided on 3 full days and 4 nights in Caracas, mainly to take a little time out to relax, and decide what to do next, before continuing my adventures. The Continental Hotel on the main square isn't cheap but the room is spacious, clean and has Internet access and the breakfast is the best yet in South America. I opted to eat in the garden this morning ,with temperature at about68F, overcast sky and no wind, the day started with a dozen chestnut-fronted Macaw flying over while Great Kiskadee, Pale-bellied Thrush and a pair of Plain-breasted Ground Doves capitalised on the table scraps. It was now time to decide just what I am going to do, now with a few extra days on my hands, I referred to the backup notes I'd brought along with me. This is part of the description I downloaded.

With its expansive area and diverse habitats, Hato (Ranch) PiƱero is one of the best bird watching locations in the world. Here, it is not uncommon to observe more than 100 species of birds in a single day. Just outside of your guest quarters it is easy to spot numerous types of egrets and herons; White, Scarlet, and Glossy Ibis; osprey; macaws; parrots; various hawks; black vultures; and hummingbirds among others. With the aid of a biologist guide, at every turn along the forest paths, you will run across a different species of animal- quite sociable and clearly unaware of the danger normally associated with man's presence. Lazy giant tortoises leave their mark as they cut a path through the bamboo. The storks' flight bothers neither the herds of zebus grazing up in the lush green hills, nor the graceful white-tailed deers or peccaries down below on arid lands turned red by the afternoon sun.

Add to that a very good chance of seeing Hoatzin (the only pre-historic bird surviving in the world today) and Sungrebe, I made a few phone calls. High season, as it is, is always dodgy but I managed to get a room and to make sure I get there I won't risk the 'chicken buses' but try to arrange private transport. I leave, hopefully, early Sunday morning.

After breakfast I decided to try one or two of the cities parks and was not disappointed. Walking via the square it was less than a mile to Central Park, not as big as its namesake in The Apple but just as many, if not more birds. This was my first day without a guide and it was interesting to find out what I had learnt over the past 3 weeks. I had been advised to keep a low profile and camara and bins well hidden, but it was considered safe once inside the park. In all I saw 44 species of which I am confident of 42 as to identity, the 2 remaining being a raptor which I am trying to 'string' into a Double-toothed Kite (which it certainly looks like, but more importantly it's a 'lifer') plus a little grey effort with a black face which I saw briefly while eating. The full list is as follows with 'lifers' marked with an *

Chestnut-fronted Macaw - Great Kiskadee - Plain-breasted Ground Dove* - Pale-breasted Thrush - Bananaquit - Ruddy Ground Dove - Carib Grackle - Feral Pigeon - Blue-Grey Tanager - Red-crowned Woodpecker - Spot-breasted Woodpecker* - Blue & White Swallow - Saffron Finch - Bare-eyed Thrush* - Squirrel Cuckoo - Greyish Saltator - White Ibis - Black-crowned Night Heron - Scarlet Ibis - Neotropic Cormorant - Mallard? - Glossy Cowbird - Blue-and-Yellow Macaw* - Black Vulture - Yellow-headed Caracara - Tropical Kingbird - Great Egret - Cattle Tyrant - Red-billed Parrot - Southern House Wren - Common Tody Flycatcher - American Redstart - Rufescent Tiger Heron - Roadside Hawk - Yellow Oriole - Swallow Tanager - Oriole Blackbird - Brown-throated Parakeet - Orange-chinned Parakeet - Yellow-crowned Amazon* - Orange-winged Amazon* - Scaled Dove

Day Total - 43 Lifers - 6

Central Square, Caracas, Venezuela

The Obelisk

All of the photographs below were taken in the park

Roadside Hawk

Southern House Wren

Chestnut-fronted Macaw

Chestnut-fronted Macaw

Scaled Dove

Swallow Tanager

Swallow Tanager - couldn't resist posting 2 images of this little beauty.

Neotropic or Olivaceous Cormorant

Oriole Blackbird

Spot-breasted Woodpecker

Red-crowned Woodpecker

Great Egret (as they call it)

Scarlet Ibis

White Ibis

Yellow-headed Caracara

male Carib Grackle displaying

Bare-eyed Thrush

Greyish Saltator

Blue-and-Yellow Macaw

Blue-and-Yellow Macaw again

Rufescent Tiger Heron

Squirrel Cuckoo

Yellow Oriole

Red-tailed Squirrel

Brown-throated Parakeet

Common Tody Flycatcher about the size of a Wren