Monday, April 8, 2013

New species for El Salvador: Clapper Rail

Clapper Rail has not been reported from El Salvador, but after recent documentation of the species in the Honduran and Nicaraguan parts of the Gulf of Fonseca, its occurrence on the Salvadoran side of that area was to be expected. Saturday afternoon, Oliver, Roselvy and I set out to find the species in a salt ponds complex called Salinera San Ramón in La Unión, not far from the Honduran border. We were there before in February and even did some unsuccessful playback of Clapper Rail back then.

This time we birded later in the day, and as it got dark, Clappers began to vocalize. We had been playing tapes along the southern side of the salt ponds earlier, when suddenly we heard Clapper Rails giving grunt calls from the mangroves on the northern side. Quickly we walked over a dike to the other side and started recording what sounded like at least three pairs - one close, two further in. Oliver recorded the following vocalizations, documenting the presence of Clapper Rails in El Salvador for the first time:

The next morning, we heard and saw a Clapper Rail in another salinera, La Ostia across the border in Valle, Honduras. We've had this species here several times before, since I first found two adults here last August tending chicks. Sunday I managed a poor quality shot of a bird that briefly came out of the vegetation to inspect my playback.

"documentation shot" of Clapper Rail (in Honduras, not El Salvador)
The first Honduran record dates from 2010, when Robert Gallardo and Mayron Mejía observed and photographed a pair in Choluteca, and the first Nicaraguan record dates from 2012 (van Dort 2013). Although recently discovered, the population in the Gulf of Fonseca may number in the hundreds, if not thousands, given the availability of suitable habitat. Why it has gone undetected for so long is anyone's guess, although I suspect that the relative lack of researcher attention to the Central American mangroves has something to do with it. Or perhaps this population is simply bouncing back from historical depressions after the ban of DDT.

Van Dort, J. 2013. Clapper Rail breeding in Honduras. El Esmeralda, Vol II (1): 23–26. Asociación Hondureña de Ornitología (ASHO).

1 comment:

Tom said...

Congrats and good Work!!!!!!!