Venezuela - February 2010

Off-the-Beaten Track Tour

Birding in the Morracoy (dry) area

26 Feb 2010 (morning)

We then drove to the dry coastal forest of Morrocoy National Park. A walk along a broad track produced a Streaked Saltator busily eating berries, Ochre-lored Flatbill, Red-billed Scythebill,  Black-crowned Tityra, Straight-billed Woodcreeper (we were just beginning to get the hang of woodcreepers by this time) and Russet-throated Puffbird. A singing White-bellied Antbird caught Cecilia’s attention and we crept through the trees until we saw it singing low down just a few metres away - a stunning bird. Shortly after we found more antbirds - Black-backed Antshrike and Rufous-winged Antwren. At another place, having heard the call, we succeeded in finding a Caribbean Hornero a Scaled Piculet and a Grey-necked Wood Rail.

We then returned to the hotel for lunch.


Glittering-throated Emerald - This hummer was seen in the hotel in Tucacas

Click here to view a video clip of this bird.

 

Birding in Morrocoy dry forest area


Russet-throated Puffbird - Restricted to Colombia and Venezuela and the only Puffbird found in arid habitats.

Click here to see a video clip of this bird

 

White-bellied Antbird - A fairly widespread species in S America.
Click here to view video clip
 

Streaked Saltator - The only bird of this species seen during the trip.  This species has a very restricted range in NW Venezuela.
 

Red-billed Scythebill - A widespread species in S America although we only saw this individual during our trip.

 


Carribean Hornero - An Endemic species restricted to NW Venezuela.  We only just got into the most easterly part of its range.

 


Common Black-hawk - In Venezuela this species is restricted to coastal regions, hence we only saw it during the final three days of the trip.

Click here to see a video clip of this species taken at Las Lapas

 


Northern White-fringed Antwren - Several were seen during the trip.

 


Ochre-lored Flatbill - A common and widespread species in Venezuelia

 


Northern Scrub Flycatcher - The only one seen during the trip.  Restricted to northern lowlands.

 

26 Feb 2010 (afternoon)

 After lunch we set out for the savanna area of Las Lapas. Here, appropriately enough, we saw several Savanna Hawks from the bus as well as an Aplomado Falcon sitting on a fence post, a Laughing Falcon sitting in tree and, at close range, a Rufescent Tiger Heron stalking through reeds and a Whistling Heron by a pond. We stopped by the road and immediately encountered Chestnut-fronted Macaws and Green-rumped Parrotlets. In a tree with the ubiquitous Smooth-billed Anis was a much larger Greater Ani while nearby several White-eared Conebills mixed with various tanagers, including Hooded. And finally, after hearing one calling in the distance, we saw a Lineated Woodpecker.

We returned to the hotel at the end of a day when birds seemed to appear wherever we stopped. We had seen 127 species.

Birding at Las Lapas


Liniated Woodpecker - A widely distributed species in S America.
Click here to view a video of this bird.
 

Green-backed Heron -
 


Aplomado Falcon - Fairly widespread and not uncommon but this was the only one seen . 

 


Crane Hawk  - A widespread species.  We saw four individuals.

 


Crested Caracara - A common and widespread species that we saw most days, but usually in flight or perched as a distance.

 


Green-rumped Parrotlet  - Heard several times but this was the best view we had.

Click here to view a short video clip of this bird.

 


Brown-crested Flycatcher -  Several were seen during the week.

 


Bare-faced Ibis -

 


Chestnut-fronted Macaw -

Click here to see a video clip of this species

 

27 Feb 2010

The plan for the day was: the morning birding, return to hotel, pack, shower, have lunch, drive to airport, fly home. As usual we up and away before dawn. Our destination was an area of large cattle-grazed fields, some wet areas and hilly forest called Cerro Mision.

We walked along a quiet road through pasture and scattered trees where we quickly picked up a pair of flying Red-and-Green Macaws, the first of several encounters with these superb birds, a number of hummingbirds high in the flowering trees, including our first White-necked Jacobin, and a Cattle Tyrant. Then, probably a kilometre away, we saw two Horned Screamers on the top of a palm. We could hear their calls even at that distance. In a marsh we saw a pair of Black-capped Donacobius while, under the canopy of a tree, we found a Dwarf Cuckoo.

The road turned into a track and we climbed a gentle slope alongside the forest. A Bat Falcon sat in the top of a tree and all members of the group managed to see a Lance-tailed Manakin, a female unfortunately. The Masked Yellowthroat in the scrub below the road eluded at least one member of the group (the writer). The screamers had meanwhile increased to six and we could hear their distant calls from across the palm-scattered savanna. It seemed an appropriate ending to a great trip.

We drove the four and a half hour journey to Caracas, said goodbye to Cecilia and Leo, passed through the modern version of Dante’s Seventh Circle of Hell, known prosaically as flying, and arrived home to rejoin reality.

 

Birding at Cerro Mision

The open habitat at Cerro Mision.  The tall Palm trees held Red and Green Macaws and Horned Screamers.  Click here to see a video clip of Horned Scremer.


Birding at Cerro Mision

Click here to view view clip of Saffron Finches

 

Dwarf Cuckoo - Seen on edge of forest.  The only one seen.
 

Black-capped Donacobius - A pair seen in a marshy area.
 

Vermillion Flycatcher - Although apparently common and widespread in N Venezuela, we did not encounter this species until the last to days when we were in more open country.  We saw a good number on our last day.  Click here to view video clip.
 

Yellow-headed Caracara  - Common species seen on most days.
 


Roadside Hawk - A common species seen most days but certainly more in the areas on open country.
Click here to see a video clip of this bird

 

 


Straight-billed Woodcreeper -

 

Black-throated Mango - Click here to see a video of this species

 

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