Sunday, December 9, 2018

Pantanal birds

Finally found time to edit part of the many images I took during my trip to Brazil. In this batch I will post the better photos I took in the Pantanal. I did try to document as many species as possible, but many of these photos aren't worthy of blogging. All photos are on my eBird checklists and linked Macaulay Library account.

Most birds we encountered in the Pantanal were on Pantanal Nature boats searching for Jaguars. Bird photography conditions out of a boat are never ideal, but I did my best to produce some worthy photographs. Most species photographed off the boat are aquatic, or species that favour open or riparian forest. Additionally, we did a couple of drives through the campos around Porto Jofre and along the Transpantaneira road, and added a few species at the Panthera Brazil compound where we stayed.

Kingfishers were abundant along the Cuiaba river and its tributaries. We had five species, I got photos of four:

Amazon Kingfisher

Green Kingfisher

Ringed Kingfisher

American Pygmy Kingfisher

Three tern species were seen along the river, mainly sat on sandbars:

Little-tern-like Yellow-billed Tern

The magnificent and vocal Large-billed Tern

Black Skimmer

Plenty of herons, egrets and allies too:

The bizarre-looking Capped Heron

Cocoi Heron

Rufescent Tiger Heron

Striated Heron - oddly this is the same taxon as in the Old World

Jabiru - punk youngsters

Big daddy


Surprisingly few true shorebirds:

Capped Lapwing

Southern Lapwing

Very few ducks on the fast-flowing rivers. Good to see this without the eBird insult '(Feral)':

Muscovy Duck (Wild)

Quite many raptors along the river and tracks:

Southern Caracara feeding on grubs - que super-predator!

Great Black Hawk - parent and infant

Infant - similar to the one cruising around North America at the mo

Black-collared Hawk

One of my most-wanted - Swallow-tailed Kite

Some exotic-looking South American stuff:

Bare-face Currasow - crazy hair day

Blue-crowned Trogon (female)

Rufous-tailed Jacamar

Chestnut-eared Aracari

Great Ani in golden light

Smooth-billed Ani

Guira Cuckoo

Stunning White Woodpeckers

Yellow-rumped Cacique - common and noisy

Yellow-billed Cardinal - very common

Grayish Saltator 

White-headed Water Tyrant 

Grayish Baywing feeding on mango fruit at the camp

The large Brown-chested Martin 

And the small White-winged Swallow

 Common Tody-Flycatcher

Common Pauraque - common on the Transpantaneira after dusk

Silver-beaked Tanager

Yellow-chinned Spinetail

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Birding with giants

This morning I had the pleasure and honour to bird with two ornithological giants - authors of e.g. the recently published Handbook of Western Palearctic Birds, Lars Svensson and Hadoram Shirihai. I know Hadoram well since my childhood, but it was the first time I birded with Lars. We met up at Ma'agan Michael with Dan my boss and had a good drive and walk around the ponds and beach. Though it's not the most aesthetically pleasing birding site in the world, birding was certainly first class. Despite the strong wind we saw lots of birds, and some fine species including 3 Pallas's Gulls, 7 Greater Sand-plovers, 4 Citrine Wagtails, and Jack Snipe. Full eBird checklist here.

Pallas's Gull - an immaculate 1cy, such a beautiful gull

Greater Sand-plovers - note the variation in breast pattern

With Kentish Plover on the left

A surprisingly tame Egyptian Mongoose

Then we went up Mt. Carmel to visit Hai Bar Carmel NP. Heading up, two Common Ravens flew by. Dan and I got excited (they're rare in Israel, especially away from the remote desert) but later on we found out that one of them was released at Hai Bar. Hai Bar Carmel is a true conservation success. Despite the crash in Eurasian Griffon numbers in Israel, this site on the outskirts of Haifa has become their stronghold in northern Israel. During our short visit there we were treated to fantastic views of griffons, including several individuals of the rare un-ringed un-tagged subspecies.

Lars came over to Israel for our annual conference next week - looking forward to spend more time with him and his wife during the next few days.