Venezuela - February 2010

Off-the-Beaten Track Tour

Birding in the Morracoy coastal area

25 Feb 2010

We were on our way to the coast, a five hour drive, but we did a quick stop at the Tocuyo Sparrow site where we once again failed. After that we settled in our air-conditioned minibus and watched northern Venezuela rolling past the windows.

The road was now running alongside a sandy beach. We stopped at a suitable place and walked onto the sand. Royal Terns were grouped on the shore, American Oystercatchers were dotted about and two small waders turned out to be Least Sandpipers.

We were on the outskirts of our destination, the seaside resort of Tucacas, which seemed to sell much the same sort of stuff that seaside resorts sell everywhere, and stopped at a shop that sold beer. Our hotel did not have beer so it had been suggested that we bought some before we got there, which we did.

The posada was in the town, behind large locked steel gates, with a boatyard between it and a wooden jetty that stretched over the sea. A three minute walk from our rooms, which were small but adequate, allowed us to be looking at Magnificent Frigatebirds, Brown Pelicans, Royal and Cayenne Terns. After lunch we were allowed a siesta and this writer decided to give birds a miss for an hour and dozed in the hammock thoughtfully provided outside the room.

Dave F unable to resist the hammock at the Posada at Tucacas.  Well it was 37 DegC!

Then we were off to the mudflats and lagoons of the Cuares Fauna Refuge where we found birds by the hundred - Great, Snowy, Little Blue, Tricolored and Reddish Egrets, Wattled Jacanas, Purple Gallinules, a Black-bellied Whistling-duck, Blue-winged Teal, Cocoi and Great Blue Herons, Black Skimmers, several hundred Black-necked Stilts, dozens of Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Wilsonís Plovers, two Wood Storks, a Roseate Flamingo and, outdoing them all, eyeball-scorching Scarlet Ibises. Less aquatic birds found were a pair of Double-striped Thicknees with a youngster, Southern Lapwings, Ruddy-breasted Seedeaters and Yellow-hooded Blackbirds. A surprise was a stooping Bat Falcon, like a dark Hobby. 

26 Feb 2010

We first stopped by a road in a different part of the refuge where we hoped for the endangered Plain-flanked Rail. Several were calling in the mangroves on the far side of a channel but it was some time before we achieved a reasonable view. Other birds in the area were Blue-headed and Orange-winged Parrots, Pied Water-tyrant, Bicolored Conebill and Large-billed Seedfinch. (Goto next page)


Birding at Cuares Former Refuge

Scarlet Ibis and Snowy Egrets, plus a Northern Jacana and a Reddish Egret or two hiding.


Scarlet Ibis, Snowy Egrets and Reddish Egrets


This group is mainly Reddish Egrets, both dark and light phases


Black-necked Stilts - All facing the same way, well almost (There is always one!!!).


Blue-winged Teal


Black Skimmers - The only sighting of this species.  They were apparently quartering the area for a shoal of fish.


Birding in Morracoy National Park

One of the reasons to visit the area was to see the endemic Plain-flanked Rail.  While we did made to see one of two of these birds (while several were calling), it was not easy as the following video clip shows!  Click here to view


Black-necked Stilts    - Several hundred were seen at this site.


Scarlet Ibis - Part of a flock of fifty stunning birds.  Unbelievable colours.  Click here to see a video clip of these birds.


Royal Terns - On the beach near Tucacas


Brown Pelicans  - A common species along the coast.

Double-striped Thicknee   - Three were seen close together including one juvenile.

Reddish Egret  - A dark phase bird.  Many white phase were also present.           

Purple Gallinule  - A number were seen at our first stop off point at this site.                

Magnificent Frigatebird  - You could always tell when the coast was close by due to the Frigatebirds wheeling around looking for a free lunch!               

Wilson's Plover - Three birds together were the only ones seen during the trip.

White-winged Swallow  - Despite an apparent wide range, we only saw this species near the coast.

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