Tuesday, 22 December 2009

A 'Must Visit' Destination!

Leo and I were out again before dawn today, and as published yesterday, in search of the elusive Sungrebe. According to my guide this beautifully marked waterfowl is becoming less and less common, and given its secretive nature chances were slim. We reach the much reduced river at 05-45 and almost immediately added a new bird to the list, a Limpkin. Our walk took us about 3Km into the forest but for much of the time the watercourse was obscured so difficult, if not down right impossible, for Grebe spotting. A second addition came as a diminutive Pygmy Kingfisher settled close by, but there was no sign of the Sungrebe, and by now we had to return to base for breakfast and to pick up the others.

Huto Pinero

Is a 200,000 hectare ranch, given over in the main to wildlife, but because of the vast natural grasslands of the the Yanos cattle play and important part in the economy of the property. It is still owned by the original family, and despite aggressive challenges from the Chaves Government to take over the running of the land (in the name of Socialism) there is strenuous moves afoot to maintain its present status. These days the elders sons of each of the 7 co-owners are responsible for the day to day management of the ranch, which employs 130 workers caring for 20,000 beef cows and 8,000 Buffalo which are kept mainly for milk production used to make a local specialised cheese.

My 3 Amigos - Mario, Thomas and Leo - along with David Ascanio and Thomas's son Danial these people have made this one of the most memorable stays I have had anywhere, Muchous Gracias Amigos!

There is accommodation for about 30 visitors in twin cabins in the well maintained hostel, and the price per day includes all your needs. The food is exquisite and all of ethnic origin, while the bar (beer, rum and various soft drinks) are also included. There are 2 daily safaris 08-00 to mid-day and 15-30 to 19-00 to coincide with dinner. As will be seen from this Blog over the last couple of days there is no shortage of wildlife, and you certainly don't have to be a 'bird watcher' to enjoy this fabulous place. In addition there are dozens of horses which can be hired, and so far I have been able to get an additional tour on request. The staff are all most curteous, nothing be too much trouble, and I would say for any family or dedicated wildlife party this is a Not to be Missed location.

The safari transport - plenty of space for everyone.

The Main Communal Quarters.

Within - the Lounge.

The Bar

The Main Corridor to Dining Room.

Aplomado Falcons (pre-copulation)

Taking off once the deed is done!

Lesser Kiskadee

A better shot of the magnificent Jabiru

Glittering-throated Emerald

Today's Additions

SHORT-CRESTED FLYCATCHER*
PYGMY KINGFISHER
LIMPKIN
NORTHERN SCRUB FLYCATCHER*
DUSKY-CAPPED FLYCATCHER*
STRIPE-BACKED WREN*

Total Trip List - 658
Total 'Lifers' - 455 Total Endemics - 51

Cool for Cats

Monday 21st December 2009

After all that rigmarole about posting on correct dated, I have missed the deadline for getting Monday's post under Monday's date, so let's hope I get it right tomorrow, or today if you're over there. Well, we managed to thwart the Osbourn's, as I have wrongly dubbed them, and set out at 05-30, just Leo and I in search of Sungrebe. That too was destined to fail as by some language difficulty he thought we were trying for 'forest species' else so we didn't end up at the river. However, we did get a few very good birds including Pale-eyed Pygmy Tyrant, Striped Woodcreeper and the endemic Bearded Flycatcher. We were back at base by 07-00 and after breakfast set out with the others (now much calmer than yesterday, probably having got over the initial holiday fervor) for another morning in the bush. As part of the morning we did walk the river but without being in contact with the Grebe, but did get some photos of Hoatzin, saw 2 of the secretive Red-legged Tinamou, plus 'ticking' Pale-tipped Inesia and Yellow-crowned Amazon.

Hoatzin

Rufous-vented Chachalaca

The male partner of yesterday's Yellow-knobbed Curassow (including knob)

Yellow-crowned Amazon

Yellow-headed Caracara

Jabiru at the nest

Wattled Jacana

Common Black Hawk

Capped Heron

The remarkably beautiful and diminutive Pearl Kite

That excellent invention 'siesta' was most welcome after lunch, and a hours 'head down' was followed by some editing work on the photies, then out to meet the new arrivals who joined us this afternoon. They had already picked up on our finest moment yesterday and wanted 'first hand' accounts of the Jaguar and what of our prospects today (lightning striking twice - I doubt it). It was also great to see Thomas again who had driven me here in the first place, and Mario who was the driver on the Ascanio leg. Thomas had to return to Caracas, while Leo and Mario jockeyed for position as to who was going to take me, and what species I wanted. In the end, it will be Leo at 05-15 in search of Sungrebe and Mario after dark in search of Spectacled Owl.

video
Double-striped Thick-knee

Setting of at 16-00 the sun was still a little high but we did pick up a couple of Anhinga (Snakebird) and a 'lifer' by way of Lesser Kiskadee, but the best came as the light faded and the lights were turned on. The dirt roads we were travelling were littered with Common Paurque, Lesser & Band-tailed Nighthawk plus White-tailed Nightjars, seen that well the white outer tail-feathers on the former could be see quite clearly.. A Great Horned Owl put in a lingering appearance at point blank range, while 3 Great Potoo did likewise as 2 Double-striped Thick-knees were all but asking to be run over. Fishing Bats were also busy at most water courses, were we could see them catching their tiny prey, as thousands of birds returned to roost. The afore mentioned lightning did in fact strike, and at first we thought we had another Jaguar, but better still when this tiny cat emerged completely it was seen to be an Ocelot, what a find. I served aboard the Submarine 'Ocelot' in 1968 and many a day as 'casing sentry' (Quartermaster) gazed at her crest bearing an image of this small feline. Agreed, the videos are a little rough, but tell the story, hope you enjoy them!

video
Ocelot

Today's Trip Additions

BLACK-COLLARED HAWK
GREEN IBIS
STRIPED WOODCREEPER*
RED-LEGGED TINAMOU*
HOODED TANAGER*
PALE-TIPPED INESIA*
YELLOW-CROWNED AMAZON*
LESSER KISKADEE*
BAND-WINGED NIGHTJAR*
DOUBLE-STRIPED THICK-KNEE*
GREAT POTOO
GREAT HORNED OWL
BEARDED FLYCATCHER* (E)

Total Trip List - 652 Total 'Lifers' - 451 Total Endemics - 51