Tuesday, January 5, 2010


National Park Cusuco was next on our itinerary for this winter's search for Golden-cheeked Warblers in Honduras. We found two goldencheeks there, one of them again an adult male! This brings the adult male : females/immatures ratio up to 6 : 3, a very unusual and intriguing result so far. In this part of the winter range, you'd expect that ratio to be the other way around.

We also continue to see Golden-winged Warblers, more than in previous years. In Cusuco, we saw 4.

But for us, Cusuco this year was marked more than anything else by what we found in the early morning on January 1: someone had broken into the car, and stolen various items, including Kashmir's passport, which he - foolishly, it must be said - had left in his otherwise empty camera bag. (I'm writing this blog entry in the Mexican consulate in San Pedro Sula, where we are waiting for his replacement passport to be processed.)

In Cusuco, we stayed at the eco-hostel in Buenos Aires. I had stayed there before and had fallen in love with the desolate, magnificent view of the valley below. However, the hostel's peripheral location also meant an additional safety risk, and indeed several items we had left out - hand soap, detergent - were stolen. That, and the incessant rain the last four days or so, made our visit a little less pleasant than it could have been. I remember swimming in a mountain stream there and seeing groups of Swallow-tailed and Mississippi Kites overhead, once with a King Vulture mixed in, but that was two years ago, in February. This time, it was often quite cold, misty and rainy, and looking for mixed species flocks was sometimes difficult. Two days were lost because we were unable to find a flock. Our last flock was hard to follow in the pouring rain on a steep slope.

Today in San Pedro Sula we bought a 'new' (used) window for the car, had it installed, and Kashmir made progress with his passport. Hopefully he can pick that up tomorrow and we can continue to our next field site, La Botija near San Marcos de Colón. That's on the other side of the country, so we have a long drive ahead of us, to what I expect will be much nicer weather, and a bit more comfort. In previous years, goldencheeks were not common at this site either, but we'll see.

Ever since day one, we've had minor but continuous car problems. We now have had all four tires fixed. We've had to deal with a broken thermostat, halting circulation of the engine coolant, resulting in an overheated motor on a hilltop somewhere. Still remaining is a right front wheel suspension issue, which appears to be minor. We do need to buy another tool for replacing tires, because the one we had was stolen on New Year's Eve.

Here are some snapshots from Cusuco.

This is a Spotted Woodcreeper, a fairly common species in Cusuco and a regular flock member there.

Yellowish Flycatcher is another common species in Cusuco.

Common Bush Tanagers travel in tight packs and often appear to associate with mixed flocks, although they are also found in single-species flocks. They are somewhat omnivorous and will eat fruit as well as insects.

This immature Broad-winged Hawk was on something it caught on the road, but flushed as we approached. It landed in this oak nearby, possibly waiting for us to leave so it could return to its prey.

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