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spot-winged falconets book a win

2013-01-19 - 4:50 a.m.

Jan. 13, 2013

The owner of the ecolodge spent the night in the cabin I complained about and discovered that the clanking noises were actually caused by a breakdown in the air conditioning equipment. I think he was disappointed because it's a bigger problem than what he thought (maybe a trapped animal crying in the walls), but it's a fixable problem compared to what I thought (bad or green wood constantly snapping and creaking) so I don't think it's a terrible discovery.

All day search for the Spot-winged Falconet, which stubbornly refused to show itself. S. became more and more distressed, as it became clear that the formerly good chaco habitat had been recently removed for agriculture. Also, the temperature was uncooperative. While the weather report claiming a high of 57 degrees C. was clearly a boast, I'd believe it was over 100 degrees F., and local names like Rio Muerto and Infierno will give you an idea of the area people's opinion of the climate.

Fortunately, we had many other spectacular sightings of more cooperative birds. It has become a running joke about how many dark morph White-tailed Hawks we have discovered. Honestly, if I wasn't with a world expert on the topic, I would be under the mistaken impression that it's a pretty common, easy to stumble upon, variation. But apparently we are just the Dark Morph White-tailed Hawk Kings.

Our first views of Bay-winged Hawk, which will be split from Harris's Hawk because they have three juvenile plumages, while Harris's Hawk (our well-known southwestern bird) has only one. When and if I get a chance to update my bird list, I'm going to pre-emptively add it as Bay-winged Hawk, rather than waiting for a bunch of fine folks to vote on it, because it's already a different species whether anyone votes on it or not. A single first year bird and, later, two more crying young birds gave us great views.

I was delighted with the tinamou of the day, the wonderful Brushland Tinamou with its dapper crest. At first I thought it was the sunlight shining through a black crest, but it's actually some nice chestnut color in the black-tipped crest. Snazzy bird...

S. helped me digiscope a two year old Black-chested Buzzard -Eagle, always a popular favorite.

The day ended with a male Aplomado Falcon allowing us to walk up close to give us good looks. On the drive back, we had close-up views of a Crab-eating Fox crossing the street.

New species of the day:

  • White-winged Dove
  • Nanday Conure/Black- hooded Parakeet
  • Bay-winged Hawk
  • Spot-winged Pigeon
  • Brushland Tinamou
  • Aplomado Falcon

Jan. 14, 2013

In the morning, we all agreed that Spot-winged Pigeon was not quite in the same category as Spot-winged Falconet, and we headed out to search a little longer for this elusive species. Among other places, we investigated the seldom-visited (and hot as hades) Copo National Park, where we had great looks at two pairs of calm, confident Aplomado Falcons. You can't let the little things get you down when you're a colorful little falcon, but we did witness one of the females getting chased around by an angry Fork-tailed Flycatcher.

In the course of our search, we enjoyed many views of Tropical Kingbirds mobbing White-tailed Hawks -- including "just another" dark morph. Two other interesting sightings included a Red Brocket that crossed the road in front of us in Copo and a young female Cream- backed Woodpecker that we first spotted working a dead snag along the main road.

The day ended with a blast when we discovered a pair of perched (and then circling) Peregrine Falcons. They were a bit of a mismatched pair, as the "local" male had no cheek patch, while his female companion, who may have been a migratory bird from the north, had quite a large cheek patch. They flew and returned to their favored dead tree a couple of times, allowing us excellent views. The female in particular was being harassed by a bold Monk Parakeet. I don't know about you but I'd think twice about getting that close to a Peregrine if I was a tasty little parrot.

New species of the day:

  • Cream-backed Woodpecker
  • Crane Hawk
  • Peregrine Falcon

Noted: American kestrel and eared dove have greatly benefited from land clearance in the chaco, can't say the same for spot-winged falconet!

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