Monday, January 25, 2010

The Zen approach to tick bites

Yes, four sites into the yearly five-site cycle of looking for Golden-cheeked Warblers in Honduran pine-oak forests, I have picked up a fair share of ticks. They're small, about the size of the period at the end of this sentence. Every evening, before I go to bed, I inspect my body and try to pick them off of me. Around 9 PM, I go to sleep, and about midnight I'm woken up by the ticks I missed biting me. It is then that the Zen approach comes into play, for scratching only makes things worse. I get up, put on my head lamp, retreat to the bathroom, and locate the remaining critters from where the itching is worse.

Bet you didn't need to know that.

These ticks are an occupational hazard that I simply endure, for during these field seasons there is much to recompense for this.

Alright, so back to how we're doing in the project. Well, we just finished La Tigra, where Golden-cheeked Warblers are quite abundant. Here's a few pictures of birds we found there. The bird at the top and in the two photos below is an adult male.

We're still finding way more adult males than birds in other plumages. With four sites down and only one more to go, we have found 24 individuals so far, 15 of which were adult males.

The black throat, black chin and black upperparts indicate an adult male.

Other birds we saw in national park La Tigra, near the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa, include Resplendent Quetzal.

Many believe this to be the most beautiful bird in the Americas, and it's hard to disagree. My photos here are of birds that were distant, high in tall trees. Click on the photos for a better view.

There may still be many neotropical migrants here and up north it may still be very much winter, but here in Honduras, the first sign of spring for us was this early return of a local breeder to La Tigra, the Swallow-tailed Kite. These birds are common in Honduran cloud forests from February on, but spend the 'winter' in South America.

Most exciting find for me personally in La Tigra this week was a male Ocellated Quail advertising a territory near one of our field sites. We never saw the bird, but heard it quite clearly. This is a mysterious bird of which very little is known. It occurs in pine-oak forest, but keeps a very low profile for much of the year. Having spent much time in its range and habitat, I had nonetheless never heard or seen one.

Our last field site is Uyuca, where later this week we will be joined by two bird banders from SalvaNatura. We will assist them with setting up a banding site in this location. We're all hoping to catch some goldencheeks...

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