Mrs B 'scopes across Freckleton Creek towards Naze Pool Little Egret roost.
OK, it's probably not (a record) but it's the most I've seen at one time on the estuary! Before I get onto the harriers I started the quick lunchtime check of the Ribble by stopping at Newton and Clifton Marshes. The Entrance Pool is quite full with no muddy margins so very little there really. Great-crested Grebe was a new one there for me though, plus the usual pair of Little Grebes. Plenty of Swallows around still and at least 40 Goldfinches near the water treatment works. On to Warton Marsh then where a quick first scan produced 3 Marsh Harriers in the air together plus a big barrel-chested female Sparrowhawk. A "sweep" with the 'scope produced 6 (at least) Marsh Harriers in the air at once and a personal record the Ribble. Can't remember seeing more than two together. I could see diggers and other heavy vehicles over at the new RSPBHesketh Marsh Reserve. Can't wait until this opens, should be great.
Single Little Egret seen a couple of times reminded me that the Freckleton roost has topped 80 birds in the recent weeks. Only a matter of time before a rarer egret joins them I feel. Just enough time to drop in at Granny's Bay but loads of grockles there eating ice-creams and tide too far out so I headed back for home. I'll time my visit better next time.
Evening Update: Mrs B and I popped out to Freckleton this evening. A whopping 60 Little Egrets in the roost by 8.15 PM when we had to leave. How times have changed: I've lived in Lancs 7 years and when I saw 3 Little Egrets together at Warton one evening it was a Lancs record (which I held for less than 24 hours as 4 were seen there the next afternoon!). Other stuff seen from the embankment included 7 Snipe, 100+ Blackwits, 4 Ruddy Ducks, 10+ Gadwall and about 30 Teal. Few Jays around the woods plus Kingfisher and Common Sand' heard out of sight down in the creek.
Well not quite just yet. Here's a couple of pics taken on our Brazil trip by Adrian Shepherd (see the list of links for his site). This really strange but nevertheless stunning dragonfly caught our eye in the Pantanal and the hawk moth below was from Carajas.
Insects from Carajas reproduced with kind permission from Adrian Shepherd (see links).
Stuck in the office at the moment catching up with work so no real birding for me lately. Best I can do is a few nice Red Admirals, Peacocks and Commas in the garden.
When the sun is out that is! D&G trip coming up at the weekend ......... need to get out more.
One of the subjects often up for discussion at the moment is the lack of young birders out and about at the moment. I sometimes get asked if either of my two "boys" are interested in birding so this post (you can tell I'm at a loose end) gives me a chance to embarrass, sorry I mean introduce my sons to the blog. I'm all for youngsters taking an interest but can't imagine the stress from those two gripping me off while I'm away ("guess what we saw today Dad?") so to be honest I'm relieved they never took up birding.
I can take some of the credit for this actually. Here they are then with me on St Mary's., sometime in the 90's when I used to be a real birder and knew about emarginations and things like that. They're 18 and 21 now so to save their blushes we'll call Callum (the one on the left of picture) Gladys, and Ben (the taller one, no not me!), we'll call Shirley. Bugger. Didn't think that through, did I?
Anyway as you can see they were introduced to bizarre birding rituals early in life - hundreds of grown (physically, anyway) men running around the Scilly Isles, but I don't think it did them any harm as they have no interest at all in birds, birding or any aspect of natural history. This ensures they never have to be seen with their Dad (or their Mum lately) and they both hate Bill Oddie.
No trip to Brazil is complete without a trip to the local Churrascaria. So to finish the tour and also celebrate John and Janet's anniversary we visited one of the best in Cuiaba. If you like meat, you'll like Churrascarias. Basically once you've been to the salad bar you sit down and waiters bring various selections of meat on huge skewers. They keep coming until you beg them to stop!
Here's Brenda choosing the best cut of beef. Little did she know that Brazil's only demon waiter waits behind her!
As always I am a considerate tour leader and there are two vegetarian options - salad bar or sulk in the hotel. What fun!
Yellow-faced Parrots (tick!), Lago Azul Road, Chapada dos Guimaraes 17 August 2008.
Our last full day in Brazil and we started in a piece of Cerrado on the road to Lago Azul. Burrowing Owls were everywhere, Greater Rheas strolled through the grasslands and Red-shouldered Macaws flew overhead. By 0630 it was already hot but there was still plenty going on - Red-legged Seriemas yelping from the top of fence posts but best of all Yellow-faced Parrots squawked as they few out from the dry Cerrado trees. A long-awaited tick for yours truly (beers for the team at lunchtime in Chapada). Very attractive parrots these, with their big yellow face patches and bellies with orange patches. A great start indeed.
Curl-crested Jays (above), White-eared Puffbirds and a stunning group of Blue & Gold Macaws all seen - I suppose Crowned Eagle was asking a bit too much? Plenty of soaring birds though including some close White-tailed Hawks and fine King Vultures before we started to head back to Chapada for lunch.
Greater Rheas, Lago Azul Road 17 August 2008.
Back near Chapada we spent the afternoon in the Cerrado trying very hard for Collared Crescentchest. Not many calling at the moment and the ones we found kept to the ground out of sight. Splendid male Horned Sungem seen during the search though and a dozen or so Blue-winged Macaws passing by were some compensation.
I was sorry to leave Chapada once again. Back next month though!
Common Potoo at roost, Chapada dos Guimaraes 17 August 2008.
Chapada dos Guimaraes sits on a plateau said to be about 500 million years old and the rock formations are said to be among the oldest in the world.
The high sandstone cliffs of Chapada.
Rusty-backed Antwren (female).
Chapada is a super place to end a trip to Brazil. Great scenery, good hotel and a new selection of birds too. We spent our first full day concentrating on the Cerrado near the town with great success. The Agua Fria road is a reliable spot for Rufous-sided Pygmy-Tyrant, Pale-breasted Spinetail, Rusty-backed Antwren, White-rumped Tanager and also a bird that remained undetected at this site for some years: Chapada Flycatcher (below).
The semi-deciduous forests bordering the Cerrado hold many interesting birds too like Pheasant Cuckoo, Fiery-capped and Band-tailed Manakins, Sirystes, Green-backed Becard and White-backed Fire-eye.
Brown Jacamar, Chapada dos Guimaraes August 2008.
A thorough search of the area's streams produced Sharp-tailed Streamcreeper and one evening in the field produced a fine Striped Owl.
Leaving the Pantanal we headed back to Cuiaba for the night, continuing to Chapada dos Guimaraes the next morning. A short stop in some cerrado en route to Chapada produces a few bits and pieces including a nice pair of White-eared Puffbirds (above).
Crowned Slaty-Flycatcher, also present is easy to find on any bird checklist - just look for the longest scientific name on the list (Griseotyrannusaurantioatrocristatus)!
White-rumped Tanagers, Brazil August 2008.
But undisputed stars were the pair of White-rumped Tanagers. These birds were as always aggressively territorial and spent some time entertaining us with their jumble of notes as an excuse for a song. A typical bird of Brazil's cerrado habitat.
Another cracking morning in the Pantanal walking the trail through the gallery along the Pixaim and then driving south along the Transpantaneira. White-lored Spinetail, Mato Grosso Antbird, Helmeted Manakin, Large-billed Antwren, Red-throated Piping-Guan, Chestnut-bellied Guan, Red-billed Scythebill and Buff-breasted Wren all seen within five minutes walk of the hotel this morning. Further afield we found Rusty-backed Antwren and even better, a Blue-tufted Starthroat in the grassland scrub before meeting our bus. Back on the Transpantaneira we found our first Southern Screamers of the trip.
Solitary Sandpiper in pea soup.
Making our way back to Cuiaba we stopped for Cinereous-breasted Spinetail and these Bare-faced Curassows right next to the road.
Male Bare-faced Curassow, Pantanal August 2008.
Nacunda Nighthawks appeared at dusk as we left the Pantanal and continued our drive into Cuiaba.
Early morning at Pouso Alegre is a wonderful experience. Hyacinth Macaws calling as the sun rises, Great Rufous Woodcreepers (below) in the yard first thing and stacks of birds in the pools, open ground and forest edge before we wander back for coffee and breakfast.
Passing by Sunbitterns (above) and making our way into the dry scrub and forest we added many new birds to the list and it was obvious that today was going to be another "big day". Pale-crested Woodpecker, Rufous Casiornis, Blue-crowned Trogon and best of all Chestnut-bellied Guan were all logged before we reached the Transpantaneira.
A little further south from Alegre and we entered a nice dry forest that has been very rewarding in the past. This fine Rufous-tailed Jacamar was very showy but new birds stole the show like Planalto Slaty-Antshrike, Planalto Woodcreeper and Rusty-fronted Tody-Flycatcher.
Heading south towards the Pixaim we picked up Scarlet-headed Blackbird at a favoured spot before arriving at the hotel by the side of the river.
This adult Jabiru was waiting by the dock as we boarded our boat for the river trip for the rest of the afternoon. The final missing kingfisher of the tour - Green & Rufous - was one of the first birds of the boat trip with many quality species to follow like Boat-billed Heron, Sungrebe, Band-tailed Antbird, Rusty-backed Spinetail and great views of Giant River Otter too.
Travelling back near dusk we added Band-tailed Nighthawk to a very impressive tally for the day but we were not finished just yet! A nightbirding ride after dinner produced Scissor-tailed Nightjars and Pauraques on the airstrip as well as a couple of perched Common Potoos.
Despite having already seen them at Carajas it was still a real treat having Hyacinth Macaws around the lodge in the Pantanal. These birds roosted in the yard of the ranch and would spend the heat of the day in shady big trees nearby, their raucous calls breaking out once in a while.
White-necked (Cocoi) Heron.
Not too much water around at the moment so lots of birds concentrating on small pools near the lodge. Plumbeous Ibis like this one were easy enough to find but I've never had to work so hard to see Bare-faced Ibis in the Pantanal. No whistling-ducks either, just the odd Muscovy Duck and Brazilian Teal.
It's not just water birds here though. There's plenty to see in the forest edge and scrub like this Great Antshrike (male) and the open areas had flock of doves including at least 8 of these dinky Long-tailed Ground-Doves (below) - a nice Brazilian endemic.