Sunday, June 20, 2010

Parque Los Pericos

Yesterday I went on an excursion, organized by Partners In Flight / El Salvador, to an old coffee plantation on the outskirts of San Salvador, called Parque Los Pericos. At this point, it is still no more than that: a former coffee plantation. SalvaNATURA recently signed a contract with the municipality to develop this area into a park where Salvadorans can escape the exhaust fumes and noise of the city, and relax.

I didn't really expect we were going to find any rarities here, within the San Salvador city limits, but we did stumble across one: a female Magnificent Hummingbird, pictured at the top. Regular blog readers will have seen photos of this bird before in these pages, but those photos were all from areas where this bird can be expected: Central American highlands. The normal elevational range for this species is between 1500 - 3000 m. Yesterday we found it below 900 m. What was it doing there? Did it come down from the nearby volcano? Is there some altitudinal migration in this species? Who knows?

Other cool birds seen or heard there included Thicket Tinamou, Masked Tityra, Yellow-olive Flycatcher, Violaceous Trogon, and quite a few Berylline Hummingbirds.

We saw a good number of butterflies too.

This one, for example, is Tegosa guatemalena, or Guatemalan Tegosa.

And this is Mechanitis polymnia, or Confused Tigerwing. This species is often found in coffee plantations.

This skipper is called Urbanus proteus, aka Long-tailed Skipper. Apparently this individual lost one of its long tails. Urbanus skippers are often easy to photograph, because they keep returning to favorite perches. All you need to do is move close to its perch. It'll probably fly away, but if you keep still and don't make any sudden movements, it will come back to the same spot.

All these species are common butterflies here. The most abundant species we saw was Anartia fatima, Banded Peacock. This may well be the most common butterfly in Central America.

The excursion, by the way, was organized by Roselvy, coordinator of PIF/El Salvador, and had as guests two biology students from the local university, Jennifer and Melvin, and me. This park has many park rangers, and a small army of them greeted us as we arrived a little after 7 in the morning. Three went with us in the field. The guy in the middle told us he had seen Masked Tityra in the park, and when we got to the spot where he had seen it, we also saw one there.

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