2013-01-21 - 12:53 p.m.
I have great copies of photos of the first nest record in argentina for the swallow-tailed kite, however, a paper will be forthcoming and the photos belong to the two "big guns" who took them and will be publishing them later, so stay tuned when I find out where you can see that.
Jan. 16, 2013
It was one of those days where we got up at oh dark thirty to seek out the Barred Forest Falcon. There was a giant wolf spider and several jumping mice but nary a peep from the target. As the sky began to lighten, D. pointed out a Swallow-tail Kite roost, and we examined these elegant yet playful birds for a few moments. S. began to scan the nearby trees and there it was...a working nest with a large baby Swallow-tail Kite being fed by two adults. Perhaps to make sure that the other STKIs in the area knew who this fine specimen belonged to, the adults then picked a nearby rather high and exposed perch where they performed the dirty deed. They made a real performance of their copulation, which seemed to last considerably longer than the Mississippi Kite matings I have observed in the past. The big guns set up their cameras, and they made sure to get plenty of photographs because, as we learned, it was the first active nest of the Swallow-tail Kite ever found in Argentina. How do you like that? Expect a "short communication" in some highly esteemed bird journal very shortly.
These kites put on what amounted to a complete episode of a nature show, since we saw everything from copulation to feeding the fledgling to baby stretching his wings in anticipation of flight. The adults were proud defenders of the colony, and we saw Swallow-tail Kites mobbing Short-tailed Hawks, for instance. There were multiple roosts and, one suspects, probably multiple nests, since this is a colony-roosting species, but we found only the one well-positioned nest.
A particular moment of cute: The STKI nest was thickly lined with moss, and we did notice the birds gathering the moss. One long-tailed male made a point of flying around to display the moss he had captured, even once pretend-dropping and then swooping down to catch it in a quick dive. Now that's just showing off.
If the story of the day was only about the nest discovery, it would still be a big day, especially since S. has been seeking one for 13 years, but wait...there's more. We found a good spot to check for soaring raptors, and we were more or less puttering about, allowing me to add new trip or even life birds such as Planalto Hermit, Red-spectacled Amazon (a BVD), Mitred Parakeet, and a splendid male Fawn-breasted Conebill, when what to our wondering eyes did appear but a fast-flying falcon speeding across the skies! The first call was, "Peregrine," but it wasn't long before the shining white throat appeared into view, and then the general screaming and grabbing for the camera and scope began. Yes, my friend, it was the elusive Orange-breasted Falcon. And we have the photographic proof. Your Orange-breasted Falcon is a Bat Falcon but Peachfront's Orange-breasted is the real deal. Tee hee. I'll be chortling with obnoxious superiority and evil glee for years...
So now we have made a scientific discovery of a nest that S. has been seeking for 13 years. We have observed the rare falcon that many people claim, yet few actually see, since even supposedly experienced birders are often guilty of mixing up large female Bat Falcon with the real thing. And the day was still not over.
For a time, we were entertained by the antics of a pair of Short-tailed Hawks, who seemed to spend most of their time chasing and being chased. As I just noted, they got mobbed by the STKIs but they themselves escorted a Rufous-Thighed Kite off the territory. They also chased off their own crying juvenile that showed up crying and begging for food. Hey, if you're big enough to fly across the mountain, you're big enough to find your own food.
As we watched the skies, we noted any number of Broad-winged Hawks, at least three of them if I remember correctly, with one of them beautifully lit for photography as it flew overhead. Now you may huff and puff and say so what, but apparently the Broad-winged Hawk has only recently expanded its range into Argentina, and S. is assisting on a paper documenting each of the previous Broad-wings seen in the country. Now he has several more, with a fine photo, to add to the discussion.
I was delighted with the beautiful full adult King Vulture that paid us a visit, but there were also nice looks at a Black and Chestnut Eagle being chased by a much smaller raptor. (I forgot to notice the species doing the chasing, as I was too busy enjoying my looks at this fine eagle in flight.) A large female Bat Falcon perched for awhile, giving us a chance to inspect the differences between this bird and the Orange-breasted Falcon, with which it is frequently confused. A soaring Andean Condor is always worth a look. The skies were busy enough that I really didn't spend much time looking at small forest species, but I did note a nearby Streaked Flycatcher, which may be a new trip bird.
As a final capper to a perfect morning, an [Andean] White-rumped Hawk perched very close to the road, allowing us to get great photographs not just from the car but even for a long while after we stepped out. S. assures us that this species almost never allows such a close approach, and we spent a long time enjoying the special moment. I must say that this individual was an especially good snoozing bird. He would pull up a leg and, after awhile, shake out that leg, put it down, and then pull up the other. I'm not sure how long we waited to allow the big guns to get the flight shot, but it was probably over an hour. Meanwhile, we had an artist's eye view of practically every feather, as the bird unfluffed, switched position, and shifted a bit from foot to foot. Best of all, from my point of view, was when he burst into song. 1) He sang with such spirit that you could look down his throat and see his tongue, and 2) He trilled! Really, he did trill. Maybe he isn't going to put any canaries out of business, but it was wild to hear this raptor try to put some tune into his singing. It is worth noting that the White-rumped Hawk we saw in Misiones will be the [Atlantic] White-Rumped Hawk, when the species are split.
Now you may be wondering the name of this magical park, and you may have noticed that I failed to mention it. I don't need to make it too easy for the google search wizard since, as it turned out, we did get heat on exiting the park. Apparently, you cannot hire the guide of your choice to bird the park. You have to hire one of the guides on their list, who don't possess any known qualifications for identifying birds. Our extremely well-qualified friend is for some reason politics not allowed on the list. Now there is no law yet against three friends birding the park, without hiring any guide at all, so don't assume that your humble Peachfront is a complete scofflaw. But, if this park ranger had his way, such foolishness as friends traveling together would simply not be tolerated. And, by the way, scientific discoveries are not allowed without a special permit either. Sheesh. No wonder the nest of such a well-known instantly recognizable species as the STKI has gone unnoticed for so long. In any event, after much discussion, we were finally allowed to proceed on our way.
By that time, it was almost dinner time when we ate our lunch, huge "lomito completo" sandwiches -- roast beef, ham, and so on on crisp French bread. We inspected our photos, got final confirmation on the Orange-breasted Falcon, and sipped self-congratulatory cocktails by the pool. My martini proved to be a rather questionable Martini and Rossi with a lime on it, not what I consider a martini, but oh well. No day that includes the Orange-breasted Falcon can be anything other than a triumph.
assistance with this digishopping this photo courtesy @raptours
Yeah, there's a stupid*** typo in my Twitter. Orange BREASTED Falcon, yall! Twitter, where's our edit function?
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