Sunday, September 8, 2019

Hawk in our yard

I went outside this morning expecting to see a lot of Yellow-rumped Warblers and hoping for the occasional other warbler. I heard the occasional peep deep in the trees but saw nothing.  When this fellow swooped around our fruit trees I may have found the answer to the quiet.

I think it is a juvenile Sharp-shinned Hawk but would appreciate having someone confirm that.  Hawks are probably the family of birds with which I have the most trouble.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Mystery Birds

When one goes to a foreign country in a totally different climate zone, one is apt to see a lot of birds one has never seen before.  Like 300 plus.  One is also apt to take photos of birds that one has no recollection of seeing.

I have pictures of birds on my computer that I know came from my camera, and I look at them and despite all the evidence to the contrary, I say to myself: I have never seen that bird before.  Most of the time I can recognize the family group of the bird, then I look at our list for the day and can usually make a shortlist of possible species after which I start comparing pictures in my guidebook or online and generally come up with an identification.  But then there are the others.  Often the ones that are a bit too blurry, a bit too dark, a bit too hidden by leaves.  But they are still birds and I still want to know who they are. (Yes, I usually refer to birds as who, not what.)

So here are some of the better photos of the mystery birds from two weeks in Ecuador last December. (You don't want to see the worst ones.  Neither do I.)  Clicking on the photos will make them bigger.

UPDATE:  Steven Easley, our guide to all these birds checked out these photos.  He has identified most of them, and made a guess at 3 or 4 of the worst ones.  I will add his IDs in Red.

#1    This is a hummingbird from December 2.  It was in the grounds around the Bella Vista Lodge about 8 in the morning.  It is a dark bird.  What can I say? Gorgeted Sunangel
#2   This next hummer was photographed in the afternoon of the same day at Quinde Luna. I would like it to be a Gorgeted Sunangel.  Obviously it is not since the one above is.  Fawn-breasted Brilliant.

#3     I have no guess what this bird is.  I paged through 1600 birds in my bird guide trying to find it.  Okay, that is a lie.  I totally skipped the shore birds, the gulls, the hawks, the parrots...  Even without them, though, there were a lot of birds to look at.  I thought I would recognize this guy by his shape and his short tail, but I didn't.  It was taken late in the morning on Dec. 2 so it would have been on a walk in the larger area around the lodge.  This one was a challenge even for Steven, given the bad photos, but he has suggested it might be a juvenile Dusky Chlorospingus.
I'm including this second shot of the above bird only because it shows the shape of its bill.  Otherwise it is even more of a throwaway photo than the first.

#4    This is an example of a partial bird, but I hope there is enough here to make an identification.  Perhaps a Becard?  Female?  Black-and-white?  Barred?  Female Black-and-white Becard

#5      Or what about this one?  Bad lighting, the bill looks like the bill of a Becard, doesn't it?  Both of these photos were taken on December 2 around Bella Vista.  Dusky Chlorospingus

#6    Not all the mystery birds were on December 2. This poor photo was taken on December 6.  I would like someone to tell me it is a Double-banded Greytail, but only if it really is.  This one is a big disappointment to me.  It is a bird I wanted to see, but we saw it many other times.  Blackburnian Warbler, winter colours.
I think this is the same bird.

There are unfortunately many more birds that after several months I still have not identified.

#7     Day 2, Bella Vista, outside the dining room window.  Probably Tricoloured Brushfinch.
#8  December 6, Rio Silanche  I believe these two photos are of the same bird but I can't be sure of that.  The second photo looks like a member of the parrot family but my list is a bit short on those birds that day.    Oops, not the same bird.

Collared Aracari
Maroon-tailed Parakeet
#9 also December 6, Rio Silanche tower.  Slaty-capped Flycatcher

#10  December 8:  Antisana.  Should be hawks but which ones?  Again, my list is short on hawks, aside from the Variable Hawk, but this looks a bit too variable for that.  Oops, not hawks.  Juvenile Carunculated Caracara.  Those juveniles can really confuse a person.
#11  December 12:  Soon after leaving San Isidro. Green-and-Black Fruiteater female?  One of the photos I don't recall taking.  I remember seeing the male, but not the female, so maybe this is a different green bird.  Female Green-and-black Fruiteater
#12  December 5, just a random bird flying though the trees while on our way to see the Oilbirds. Probably a female Variable Seedeater.
#13, oops, another from the morning at Bella Vista on December 2.  One of those bad photos that I hope is still identifiable. Masked Flowerpiercer
#14  From our last day, December 14, early in the morning at the Wild Sumaco bug lights.  By the white on the back I am hoping it is a Blackish Antbird.  By the reddish eye I fear it is a White-backed Fire-eye. But maybe it is just reflection.  After all, lots of people get red eyes in photos, and we were using flashlights.  White-backed Fire-eye
#15  December 12, first bird at the bug lights at San Isidro.  Could be a flycatcher. Or not.  Brown-capped Vireo
#16,  December 13, Wild Sumaco, another early morning photo. One possibility is Dusky-capped Flycatcher, but his cap is too small, his throat is too grey.  Or not. Dusky-capped Flycatcher

Unfortunately this is not the end of my unidentified photos but I'm going to quit there.  Maybe some year we'll go back to Ecuador and have another chance to see these amazing birds again.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Ecuador: Day 10

We started December 10 in the mountains around Papallacta  before moving east to San Isidro Lodge.

This day was notable for my seeing the bird I most wanted to see in Ecuador, the Torrent Duck.

That any of the babies live to grow up is amazing.
There were multiple times when one or the other was completely submerged.

The White-capped Dipper is also fond of rushing water.
The Green Jay, not a new bird to us but a beautiful one, was on the edge of the river.
The Tawny-rumped Tyrannulet was found on the grounds of the lodge.
Most of our hummingbirds were seen at Guango Lodge, a stop on our way between Papallacta and San Isidro.

These Chestnut-breasted Coronets may be having an argument, but it could have just been a conversation.

We saw our first of many Long-tailed Sylphs at Guango Lodge, but this photo was actually taken the next day.  His tail might not be as long as some, but the colours show magnificently.
In case you are wondering about sylphs, I couldn't tell the Violet-tailed from the Long-tailed, but fortunately they know on which side of the Andes they belong.  There are several species of birds that have the same characteristic: similar birds but they stay in either the east or the west but not both.

One of the colourful birds of the day, the Crested Quetzal.

December 10, the beginning of our East Slope birding: 55 total species, 25 new trip birds, 22 lifers.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Another Saskatchewan lifer...

Golden-crowned Kinglet

Seen on May 5 beside what we used to call The Pavilion by Gardiner Dam on Diefenbaker Lake.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Ecuador: Day 9

Before we went to Ecuador I read as much as I could about the area we would be visiting. And the more I read the more I worried that it was going to rain ALL THE TIME while we were there.  Therefore it was not unexpected when it rained the first day (go back about 10 posts to see that).  What was unexpected is that it rained little or not at all for the next 8 days.  And then December 9 arrived.  Have you ever seen a less happy looking Great Thrush?  I may have looked somewhat similar.  On December 9 it rained and December 10 and December 11...

We still managed to see about 30 birds of which 12 were new and most were wet.

This Blue-backed Conebill was not the first of our trip but this was the best photo.

This is an Agile Tit-Tyrant, a new bird for the trip and our life list.  Our guide commented on the bird's name saying that birds are difficult enough to see without being recognized for being agile.  This one stuck around for quite a while allowing for many photographs, but I will add that he also moved around a lot, so the photos have several different backgrounds.
It wasn't a big hummingbird day, but we did get views of this bird, which I am fearlessly calling a Viridian Metaltail because it really can't be any of the other birds we saw that day.
Unless it was a bird that missed our day list, like this White-throated Tyrannulet.  Our guide said that when he missed a bird on our daily list, he would wake up in the night saying something like "I forgot the Green Heron!"  This time that did not happen, but as I had about 30 photos of this bird, I knew it was not something he hadn't seen.  It took very little detecting to deduce its proper name.  It was a bird we had glimpsed earlier in the week, but this was the only day he posed for photos.

The Rainbow-bearded Thornbill was appropriately named, given that it was one of the few birds of the rainy day that I was able to photograph. I did not get to see its rainbow-coloured beard, but did see its decorative head design. It is called a Thornbill because of its short bill.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Swamp Sparrow

Outside my office window, along with half a dozen White-throated Sparrows, there is a new bird.  New to me anyway.  First glance, it looked like a Chipping.  Dark line through the eye, rufous cap...but then I noticed the faint streaks on its breast, the grey collar, the black and rufous back.  Chipping crossed with Lincoln's.  The internet was no help.  Obviously I was putting the wrong words in the search bar.  Sibleys, however, came through.

Unless someone tells me differently, this is a Swamp Sparrow.  Nice to get a lifer.  Especially right outside my window.  Best part, it's been here over an hour so Ray and I have both seen it.  Cute bird.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

December 8, Antisana, Ecuador

What I discovered is that it is more difficult for a bird to hide if there are no trees.  Antisana is high in the mountains.  The grass is short and there are few trees.  It was like a gift after trying to see an Umbrellabird in a jungle.

We only counted 44 species on Day 8, 24 were new trip birds and 23 were lifers for Ray and me. Most of these new birds live exclusively at the higher elevations.

There were larger birds like the Black-faced Ibis

and Carunculated Caracara.
There were water birds like the Yellow-billed Pintail.
There were smaller birds like the Black Flowerpiercer,
the Brown-backed Chat-Tyrant,
and the Stout-billed Cinclodes.
There was a Black-tailed Trainbearer,
an Ecuadorian Hillstar,
a Giant Hummingbird,
and the bird with the longest bill in the world compared to the size of its body, the Sword-billed Hummingbird.  If you look carefully you will see where the bill ends and the tongue begins.
There was a Tufted Tit-tyrant, an extremely cute bird,
and an Andean Lapwing.
There was also a Tawny Antpitta, because what is a day without an antpitta?  This one showed up without anyone luring it with worms.
The hilights of the day for our guide were several Spectacled Bears. The rest of us were happy to see them too, especially the two babies that ran and hid as quickly as short legs would take them.