Monday, March 24, 2008

A Forked Tale

This past week I have been down in south Texas doing my annual spring tours there. This year, a Fork-tailed Flycatcher was discovered the week prior to my visit. Each and every day since its arrival at the Lennox Southmost Nature Conservancy property southeast of Brownsville, the flycatcher would put in regular morning appearances.  With special arrangements made for birders to gain access to this normally off-limits site, I decided to try and see this rare find. The day of our visit finally arrived - along with a powerful cold front. For the first morning since it arrived, the flycatcher went unseen. Bummer! To make things worse, we found out later that evening that it had been seen in the afternoon!  Fortunately, the next morning I got a call giving us permission to make a second visit. Since we were nearby, we decided to go.  One of the first birds to greet us was the spectacular Swallow-tailed Kite. We watched as two of them performed some amazing aerial acrobatics. A little while later, a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher darted across the resaca with a similar bird trailing behind. There it was! The Fork-tailed Flycatcher! We spent the next half hour enjoying the antics of this rare visitor from South America. The was a first for me for this species north of Mexico. The icing on the day was a visit to the yard of Allen Williams in Pharr, where we were treated to excellent views of White-throated Robin and a singing Clay-colored Robin. Sweet!

Friday, March 14, 2008

The trail of birds

It has been a bit peculiar this week in that encounters with deceased or dying birds have been much more frequent than normal for me.  While traveling around western Panama, I have so far seen dead Chestnut-capped Brush-Finch, Yellow-thighed Finch, Black-faced Solitaire, and Maroon-chested Ground-Dove.  On top of that, I had a Black-and-yellow Silky-Flycatcher die in my hands.  But not all has been dire.  Today we had excellent views of Resplendent Quetzals, exploring nest cavities near Volcan Baru.  So the cycle of life continues.  

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Birding in Panama

Well, entering into the world of blogging in earnest, I find myself snug in my bed after a great day of birding in the highlands of western Panama.  I have been in Panama for nearly three weeks now, and have had all sorts of exciting sightings.  During my visit, I was able to finally connect with three long time nemesis birds of mine - Pheasant Cuckoo, Speckled Mourner, and Spotted Rail.  The rail created quite a stir as it turns out, since it has been a while since this species has been seen in the country.  All of the local birders have been out to see them now.  This afternoon had a bittersweet moment.  While enjoying a plethora of wonderful highland birds, I watched a Black-and-yellow Silky-Flycatcher come crashing into a glass window nearby, and witnessed its death minutes later while nestled in my hands.