Thursday, December 24, 2009

More goldencheeks

This is the second Golden-cheeked Warbler we found here in la Esperanza. It's the bird we saw the day before and that I posted a photo of in the previous entry, an immature female. We went back there the next day - yesterday - to describe a flock, in hopes of encountering this individual as one of the flock members. And sure enough, the same bird was still there.

The above photo shows a whitish throat and yellowish upper chin, with very little black streaking on the breast. Also visible on this bird (but not in this photo) were heavily abraded rectrices, another indication of an immature bird. It's hard to say whether this is an immature female or immature male, but based on how lightly marked this individual appears, I'm inclined to think it's an immature female.

This bird has an all-black throat and chin, and is an adult male. We found it today, on our third field day here in La Esperanza, as a member of today's large flock, which also included a second adult male goldencheek, and an adult male Golden-winged Warbler. That, incidentally, was our third Golden-winged Warbler here: so far, every flock has had one. Remarkable, since last year's crew had one Golden-winged Warbler here, which they considered a noteworthy sighting in their report. I tried to get photos of today's individual but did not succeed.

Note that this Golden-cheeked Warbler is photographed in a pine. This particular individual spent a lot of time foraging in pines. This is somewhat unusual, because the species has a preference for thin-leaved ('encino') oaks, and these were abundantly available in today's flock area. We saw it foraging in oaks in the middle layer also, but at times it would forage higher in the pines with the Hermit Warblers, which habitually do this.

Here's a photo of a goldencheek in encino oak, playing peekaboo. I took this photo shortly after we encountered the second adult male goldencheek, but I believe it is still the same first individual also pictured above.

Same bird. Note the blackish upperparts, very different from the olive upperparts on that immature female.

Finally, a couple of butterfly photos from today, both 'sisters' of the Adelpha genus. This is a Montane Sister. It shows the classic 'sister' pattern: a white band along the upper median hindwing continuing to the upper forewing, and a series of orange spots on the distal part of the upper forewing. Practically all Adelpha sisters show this pattern, and species are distinguished based on slight variations.

This Orange-striped Sister deviates from that basic pattern by replacing the white band with an orange band. In the region, only the Veracruz Sister shows this pattern, but the edges of the orange band on the upperwing are more concave, not practically straight as here, while the orange band on the hindwing on that species narrows considerably towards the end, much more so than on this butterfly.

I dedicate these photos of sisters to my own sister, who is currently visiting in Holland, over from New Zealand where she lives. I wish I could have spent Christmas with her and the rest of the family in snowy Holland, but here I am in a mountainous village in Central Honduras, looking for warblers. I love doing this, but I also miss the folks back home.

To my family, friends and all readers of this blog: a very merry Christmas!

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