Venezuela - February 2010

Off-the-Beaten Track Tour

Birding in the Sanare area

23 Feb 2010

Our first stop of the morning was by a busy road near the town of Sanare. The road cut through the side of a mountain so there was an upslope and a downslope. The habitat was dry scrub with scattered cactus, very different from anything we had seen hitherto. The target bird was the local Tocuyo Sparrow.  However the action started with a pair of Sooty-capped Hermits flying in and out of a culvert where they presumably had a nest. A Northern White-fringed Antwren dodged about in a bush. A Beardless Tyrannulet was singing in a roadside bush while a Mouse-coloured Tyrannulet appeared nearby. A male Ultramarine Grosbeak then gave us a bit of a runaround before showing well. We had just set off in the bus when, below us in the valley, we spotted a spectacular White-tailed Hawk gliding past. It had been a worthwhile stop even if we had failed to find the sparrow.

In the late morning we visited a working quarry where Cecilia obtained permission to use their facilities. The site had an orchard which proved to be full of birds. The first was a Pearly-vented Tody-tyrant which was quickly followed by one of the surprises of a the trip - a male Rosy Thrush-tanager flicking leaves into the air as it looked for food. It was only the second time Cecilia had seen one, so even she was excited. More birds followed: Stripe-backed and Buff-backed Wrens, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Barred Antshrike, Grayish Saltator, Bare-eyed Thrush - and a mystery antwren. This bird was seen well by all in the party except Cecilia, who had temporally left us. It looked like a Spot-tailed Antwren with a finely streaked breast but unfortunately nobody managed to photograph it and, because it was out of range and out of habitat our identification was greeted with much scepticism by Cecilia on her return. The bird had disappeared by then and could not be refound. The identification of this bird became a running discussion for the rest of the trip.

Another roadside stop proved equally productive. A Slender-billed Inezia, a Short-crested Flycatcher and a Grey Pileated Finch gave us good views while an Orinocan Saltator and a Black-crested Antshrike were slightly less cooperative. The road climbed into an open landscape with scattered cacti and here we found two Venezuelan Troupials in a roadside tree.


Birding in and Around Posada El Encanto

Bi-coloured Wren - We were fortunate to see three of this species in the grounds.


Lesser Goldfinch - This species was seen in several locations but did like the garden flowers.


White-tailed Kite - Regularly seen near to the posada.


Birding at  "The Quarry "

Rosy Thrush Tanager  - Possibly the bird of the trip.  This is an uncommon species with a very restricted range in Venezuela and only the second that our leader had seen!  The bird was digging deep in leaf litter and at times was completely hidden from view.  Click on this link to view a video of this bird


Rufous-tailed Jacamar - Only seen on two occasions during the trip.  Another good find in the quarry orchard.
Click here to see a video clip of this bird.


Barred Antshrike - Always difficult to get a clear view of this species.


 Sanare Area

Grey Kingbird - This species seemed to be more common on the coast.


Squirrel Cuckoo - A smart bird seen from the main road into Sanare.


Short-crested Flycatcher - One of the "impossible" Myiarchus flycatchers.  According to the book this species is best identified by voice, which Cecilia duly did. 

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