Tripping Back to the Andes

Andean Tit-Spinetail 11-19-17-8004

Andean Tit-Spinetail

I suppose it’s only fitting I started writing this post today while the outside temperature in Chicago (55 deg. F.) was just two degrees cooler than Quito. We won’t stay here long, though. By tomorrow morning we will have dropped back into the 20’s F.

Birders 11-20-2017-0966We weren’t all that warm up in the higher elevations as the above picture indicates. In any event there was a lot to look at and these pictures are from our first day trek through the mountains from Quito to Guango Lodge.

Masked Mountain-Tanager 11-20-2017-8681

Masked Mountain-Tanager

Tanagers proved to be challenging subjects, often too far away to even try for. I think I’ve been spoiled by other trips where invariably some species came to feeders. But I am happy for the pictures I did get, which were without human enticement of any kind.

Summer Tanager 11-19-17-7701

Summer Tanager, a species that migrates to North America

Scrub Tanager 11-19-17-7712

Scrub Tanager

There will be more tanager species to come in future posts. Below, flowers and a fungus that appeared to branch out with its own petals.

Rufous-Bellied Seedsnipe 11-19-17-8050

We were fortunate to find these Rufous-Bellied Seedsnipe not far from the guard station. A somewhat elusive species, they blend in perfectly with the ground.

Below on the left is a Pale-naped Brushfinch, a bird we saw only in this habitat. The Orange-bellied Euphonia on the right was at various other elevations but I continually struggled to get a halfway decent photo of the male.

The Giant Conebill below seems like it’s worthy of a better name, it’s really quite striking.

Tufted Tit-Tyrant 11-19-17-7913

Tufted Tit-Tyrant

Below are two species of Flowerpiercers. We did eventually see all six species on the list. The one on the left, the Masked Flowerpiercer, was common and quite a willing subject at Guango Lodge. The Black Flowerpiercer on the right was a little harder to capture.

Whenever we found a river we were looking for the White-capped Dipper below and we got lucky the first day.

White-capped Dipper 11-20-2017-9227Also hanging out by the river was the Slaty-backed Chat-Tyrant below.

Slaty-backed Chat-Tyrant 11-20-2017-9271

Slaty-backed Chat-Tyrant

Eared Doves were most common but they rarely posed in good light. This one struck a fortunate pose.

Eared Dove 11-19-17-7691

Eared Dove

A sign and a vista that caught my eye…

When we got down to Guango, we went for a little walk around the property and found one of the Mountain Tapirs that have been seen lately. Our guide Mitch declared her a youngster. We found her adorable.

I’ll be back soon with more magic from Ecuador.

A Tanager Coloring Book

Blue-Necked Tanager

Blue-Necked Tanager

The idea occurred to me when I was going through these photographs and the field guides that if you had a coloring book with page after page of tanagers to fill in, you could never come up with all of nature’s possible combinations.

Bay-Headed Tanager 4-03-15-5732

Bay-Headed Tanager

We were very fortunate to be staying at the Chestnut-Capped Piha Reserve, where the feeders attracted a variety of tanagers. These are generally the photos taken with bananas in them.

Golden Tanager 4-5-15-8118

Golden Tanager

Crimson-Backed Tanager 04-3-15-6369

Crimson-Backed Tanager

Silver-Throated Tanager

Silver-Throated Tanager

Black-Capped Tanager 04-03-15-6101

Black-Capped Tanager

Speckled Tanager 04-03-15-6912

Speckled Tanager

Some of the tanagers were familiar, like the ubiquitous Blue-Gray Tanager, the Bay-Headed Tanager and the Speckled Tanager.

Blue-Gray Tanager 04-2-15-5077

Blue-Gray Tanager

Blue-Capped Tanager 03-31-15-2760

Blue-Capped Tanager

Hooded Mountain Tanager 03-31-15-2650

Hooded Mountain Tanager

I had also seen Palm Tanager before. It’s seems strange, though, to see a neotropical migrant species like the Summer Tanager on its wintering grounds.

Palm Tanager 03-30-15-2161

Palm Tanager

Summer Tanager 04-03-15-5838

Summer Tanager

I wish I had a better picture of the Beryl-Spangled Tanager, it’s so unusual. But then almost all of the tanagers are unusual.

Beryl Spangled Tanager 4-4-15-7331

Beryl-Spangled Tanager

Blue-Gray Tanager 04-03-15-6397

Blue-Gray Tanager

Black-Capped Tanager 04-3-15-6185

Black-Capped Tanager

Scrub Tanager 04-3-15-6347

Scrub Tanager

Hooded Tanager 04-03-15-6795

Hooded Tanager

Feel free to click on any of the pictures to get a larger view. This time I’m going to let the pictures do the talking. I am pretty worn out from work. Cold rainy weather afforded me an excuse to postpone the migrant hunt until tomorrow but we seem to have had a fallout of warblers with last night’s storm, and I want to try catching up with it.

Birds (Birds, Birds) in Costa Rica – Part II

Green Heron 11-14-14-7603Well you knew it was coming, so here are the other bird photographs that wouldn’t all fit into the last post. Leading off with one of two Green Herons which was most cooperative…

Yellow-Bellied Elaenia

Yellow-Bellied Elaenia

I’m always happy when I manage to photograph a bird that isn’t necessarily on the “list” for the day. Even when the bird is partially blocked by whatever it was hiding behind. We’d had Yellow-Bellied Elaenia in the hand and in the field on another day but I think I found the one above myself. I may have been the only person who saw the Variegated Seedeater outside El Cas, the wonderful restaurant where we ate breakfast and many of our lunches.

Female Variegated Seedeater

Female Variegated Seedeater

The Broad-Winged Hawk below sat still for quite a while before assuming this less-expected posture.

Broad-Winged Hawk

Broad-Winged Hawk

I struggled to get pictures of the Sunbittern below, as it was heavily shaded and fairly distant. Some in our group were very fortunate to see the species again later in much better light and even glimpse its open wings as it flew, which is the to-die-for view. Maybe next time.

Sunbittern

Sunbittern

Summer Tanagers were fairly common if not very available for pictures.

Female Summer Tanager

Female Summer Tanager

The Orange-Billed Sparrow is a new species for me. But its range is fairly wide, all across Central America and Northeastern South America, so maybe I’ll get to see it again.

Orange-Billed Sparrow

Orange-Billed Sparrow

I think the Fasciated Tiger Heron is a new bird for me too. This is a juvenile Fasciated, which might be mistaken for a Rufescent Tiger Heron. I have seen Bare-Throated Tiger Heron before.

Juvenile Fasciated Tiger Heron

Juvenile Fasciated Tiger Heron

Some of the smallest birds were absurdly far away to try to photograph, but I made an attempt anyway…

Least Grebe

Least Grebe

Green Kingfisher

Green Kingfisher

Hummingbirds demand closer views. Here is a Brown Violet-Ear resting on the wires of the chayote fields.

Brown Violet-Ear

Brown Violet-Ear

And a young male Ruby-Throated Hummingbird. Click on the picture below to see how the light catches and illuminates his new throat feathers.

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

I treasure the pictures below. We were at Tapanti National Park, which is where several of the photographs on this page were taken, and first saw the juvenile (the one with the orange throat) sitting alone on the twig for a while.  Like magic, mom arrived…

Green-Crowned Brilliant 11-13-14-7299

Green-Crowned Brilliant

Green-Crowned Brilliant

One more look at that cooperative Green Heron.

Green Heron 11-14-14-7650

I might get around to one more Costa Rica post which will jumble together other creatures encountered. Otherwise I may embrace hibernation. 🙂

Local Color

Scarlet Tanager, Chicago Portage

Scarlet Tanager, Chicago Portage

Here are just a few pictures taken over the last week or two in various places. I still need to get back to the Texas pictures, and the Belize pictures, and the East Africa pictures…but spring migration is happening here and now, and as luck would have it I am traveling yet again for more birds over the weekend.

American Redstart, Lake Shore East Park

American Redstart, Lake Shore East Park

Packing lists seem to be everywhere. I will be return to work on Tuesday and to this blog by Wednesday or Thursday…

American Redstart, Lake Shore East Park

American Redstart, Lake Shore East Park

The female Summer Tanager below was a surprise sighting at Lake Shore East Park on May 15. Otherwise I have seen many Scarlet Tanagers this year, perhaps even more than usual.

Summer Tanager, Lake Shore East Park

Summer Tanager, Lake Shore East Park

There have been many Palm Warblers over the last week or two as well, although yesterday I did not see even one (no pictures here from yesterday, they’re not even off the camera yet). Perhaps the Palms have finally moved on.

Palm Warbler, Lake Shore Easst Park

Palm Warbler, Lake Shore Easst Park

One last look from the Summer Tanager. She was there for only one day.

Summer Tanager

Summer Tanager

Best wishes to all in the U.S. for a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend, and to everyone everywhere else, may you continue to spring forth!

 

Southern Illinois paradise

Sandstone cliff

I have been in the southernmost part of my state the past few days and I may as well have been in another country. I had no Internet access but did not miss it. The pristine habitat of the Shawnee region is so remarkable, it is easy to slip into a sense of timelessness. And there is no limit to the discoveries one can make. Our stay was much too short.

Summer Tanager

Warbling Vireo

There were birds everywhere.

Black and White Warbler

Eastern Phoebe

Great Crested Flycatcher

The most elusive birds periodically became cooperative.

Prothonotary Warbler

This Prothonotary Warbler has staked out his territory in the wonderful Heron Pond portion of the Cache River Basin.

A boardwalk invites us into the thick of it all.

It was hard to leave.

We heard Kentucky Warblers everywhere we went, but did not see one until the morning of our departure.

This Kentucky serenaded us from his digs in Giant City.

Kentucky Warbler

Kentucky Warblers spend a lot of time furtively foraging on the ground which makes them hard to see, but this one was nice enough to fly up and perch just above our heads almost at eye level. What a beautiful bird.