Friday, 8 March 2013

'Rock' Around the 'Cock' - Bill Haley and the Comets

Having found yesterday that the
OLD PORT is blocked on 3 sides by Mangroves, I made an
early start and taking the scenic route to see if any birds were to be found.
Reaching the sea wall a small flock of Sanderling, in company
with a Yellowlegs Sp, were spotted
along with these c3 ROSEATE SPOONBILL
perched in the bushes. What I hadn't realised was that I too had 
been 'spotted' by
 and his lovely wife ROONG
Now, before continuing, there are a number of factors that need considering when concluding what sort of a 'quirk of fate' this was! Having stated earlier that I am not on this adventure as a 'twitcher', but there are certain birds I will put in the extra mile for, Blood-coloured Woodpecker, Guianan Cock-of-the-Rock and  Capuchinbird, being 'the' 3 quoted before leaving England. Secondly, that I am now a few days behind the 'flexible itinerary', so had things followed the sketchy plan I wouldn't even be in French Guyana now, and finally, that Jean Francois and Roong live in Thailand it was 'inevitable' that we were to meet and the following table of events follow? I will now attempt to relate the conversation verbatim as it had me back on my heels. As I removed the camera from the bag and pointed in the direction of the Herons, Jean Francois approached and asked "are you a bird watcher". You know the reply to that, but the very next question was, "have you seen Guianan Cock-of-the-Rock", you also know the answer to that (it ain't in red!). Here I digress slightly to say I did, before setting out, have contact with FG Birding Pal Nial de Pradontal who said it unlikely that he could guide me, gave me a location to find this bird and "do not hesitate if more information is needed". Back to Jean next asking, "would you like to"? I'll give a moment here for you to 'catch up', while I finish 'punching the air' and grimacing like a Lottery Winner, if you are finding the answer to this one a little difficult.
Golden-headed Manakin
Next thing I know, I'm in their car heading for their apartment where they had 10 minutes worth of things to do, while I flicked through Jean's 'excellent' water-colour portfolio, and then back on the road for the 80Km drive south.
I remember thinking to myself,
this could be heaven or this could be Hell!
Hotel California
It was about 10:00 when we crossed into the Parc Naturel,
before which I had been briefed that mid-afternoon would be best 
for the 'target bird' and a stopped at another site should be productive.
Well, some may consider the word 'productive' to be appropriate
but we had to stand about for a full minute and a half before the 
appearance of this adult male
coinciding with the only photo I had taken of
Jean's entire etchings, not an addition to the World List
but the first 'male' I had ever clapped eyes on!
Once again, stood there waiting patiently, it was easily gone 10:08 as a
appeared out of the jungle, accompanied by a female.
Departing the location some long while after it was decided, around noon, on another stop where a picnic of salad, pate, crab, prawns, fresh baked baguette, fromage, jambon etc, etc. I was only glad that my contribution, the drinks (oh, you may have noticed the beer) , was accepted.
Our eating took place while watching
at least c17 SWALLOW-TAILED KITE swirling across a blue sky
and the occasional inquisitive
peered out of the foliage.
 Photo-Call for the Humans as we entered 
The steep down-hill path to the site was not an easy one, although on volcanic rock underfoot continuous flowing water, root-stock, fallen trees and the
lack of light all added to the hazards
as we arrived at the viewing area overlooking the Lek!
Heard well before they were seen
the first male
was tantalisingly close but obscured by undergrowth.
with silent patience the views got nearer and clearer
and I think it can be left at that.
In all we reckoned there were somewhere in the region
 of 20 individuals, including just a single female.
The 30 minutes walk back up the steep incline was a bit of a ball breaker,
but the continuing thoughts of what we had just witnessed
would have spurred anyone on.
 Stopping briefly at the Manakin site on the way back,
we were lucky to 'pick-up' on this male
unfortunately the light was now poor.
As this is
it makes the fifth 'World Lifer' of the day as
c2 RED-BILLED PIED TANAGER were also seen. 
A Golden-headed Manakin was also still there.
In the
there were some good views from the hilltops across the Rain Forest Canopy as we wended our way back to Cayenne. A HUGE THANK YOU goes out to Jean Francois and Roong for their grand hospitality!