Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Banding in Montecristo

Remember a while back I posted photos here of Blue-throated Motmots? Remember that first photo, a blurry shot of a bird in the mid-story shade of a transitional forest somewhere in Chiapas? Then a couple of weeks later I found one in a sunny spot, got a slightly better shot in Coapilla, also Chiapas, and posted that one too.

Last week, I held two of these birds in my hand, and I saw two more in the pine-oak forest of Montecristo, in the northwestern corner of El Salvador. I removed the bird pictured above from a mistnet. These beautiful birds spend much time perched quietly in trees, and are easily overlooked. They tend to vocalize around sunrise and sunset, and the rest of the day are quiet for the most part. At Montecristo, they appear to be fairly common.

Carlos and Roselvy, two biologists working at SalvaNatura, the organisation I’m currently volunteering with, invited me to come along on their five-day banding trip to Montecristo last week.

Here I am with a female Olive Warbler.

This Olive Warbler is one of the 77 birds we caught last week. We ran 16 nets for a sum total of 50 hours, so 800 net hours in total. I removed maybe 20 or 25 of those birds from the nets, including cool stuff like a Collared Trogon, a Spotted Nightingale Thrush, a Slate-colored Solitaire, a few Swainson’s Thrushes, a Black-and-white Warbler, several Wilson’s Warblers, a Flame-colored Tanager and a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.

Also this immature female Black-throated Green Warbler.

This is my last week here in Central America for at least a while. When I started this blog last November (at a Burger King near the airport in Tegucigalpa, Honduras), I just thought it would be fun keeping a log of what I was doing and where I was traveling. The thing needed a name, and not knowing precisely what I was going to write about, I went with the intentionally vague “on the road” moniker. I could just as well have called it “en el camino”, for all this time I’ve been in Latin America.

That’s about to end, though. I’m about to head north, and catch the tail end of winter. I won’t be so much on the road either, because I will be counting hawks on migration at a a well-known Great Lakes site, Whitefish Point in Michigan. There will be pictures of snow-covered landscapes and boreal birds in these pages, although I might be tempted to stick in a photo of a butterfly from Nicaragua every once in a while too, just to counter-balance all that cold, icy stuff. Honestly, I’m a little wary about heading into the cold…

Yesterday morning Oliver, Roselvy and I walked the beach at the mouth of a river about an hour’s drive from San Salvador. Even in the early morning sun, and with a stiff wind blowing, it was already hot. We went there to look for unusual gulls – and found some. I hope to get a chance to post about our sightings within the next few days or so.

Last night I joined the Komars (Oliver, his wife Lorena and their almost 6 year old daughter Yvonne) for a night at the movies. The previous week we watched and enjoyed Pantera Rosa 2 (The Pink Panther 2) at the same theater; this time we got to see Guerra de Novias (Bride Wars), a chick flick with Kate Hudson and Anne Hathaway about two best friends whose weddings at the New York Plaza Hotel happen to coincide on the same day. Watching it, I kept thinking how utterly different these lives are from my life, and how completely disparate their concerns are from mine. I don’t think there were any Oscar contenders in this movie, and it wasn’t exactly exciting cinematography, but all the same the movie was fun enough to watch. It didn’t take itself too seriously, and it was able to poke fun at itself here and there, which are qualities I admire in any movie, work of art, or person.

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