As restrictions concerning Covid 19 had been changed a bit, me and my two friends Claes and Per decided to take a 4 days/ nights trip up to northern Härjedalen. Per has an apartment in Ramundberget so it was easy to organize day trips from here. Day trips may not be the correct word as you need to be in the field very early and very late because of the position of the sun at this time of the year. We started our first day at 03.00 and drove to Mittåkäppen. This mountain is a "famous!" and a popular spot for hiking. The first section is bush and lower trees where you find some typical birds like Brambling, Redpoll, Willow Warbler and at the edge between forest and the "tree boundary", Bluethroat. We had to walk through some snow but it was a great experience as it was very warm and birds were singing all around. We had 5-6 Ring Ouzels here on the way up to the top but I never got close enough for a decent pic.
Our first stop was just before the parking where this beautiful lake is and here we saw a group of Willow Ptarmigans.
I was surprised to see and hear so many Reed Sparrows here (as they are quite common around the lakes and reed where I live). Here the seem to like a more forest like habitat not necessary with a lake and reeds.
At the top we had hoped for Horned Lark and Dotterel but none were to be found. Still a very nice walk and superb views of the Swedish mountains. Me at the top.
The next day we wanted to go to Flatruet which is the most southern road in Sweden that goes strait over a (flat) mountain top. This place is famous among birders to be a very good spot and also with easy access.
You are allowed to walk in some areas here and the reward is some true star birds of this habitat. The most common one is the Meadow Pipit but close by we found several Lapland Buntings.
There are a few small lakes here that normally attracts one of my favorite birds, the Red-necked Phalarope. This year only one pair with a young were found.
Close to this small pond a pair of magnificent Long-tailed Skuas had their nest. The male had a favorite stone where it returned after every hunt. To see see this star bird with the mountains in the back is a true privilege.
On my walk back to the car I bumped in to a single female Rock Ptarmigan which was having a drink in a small creek.
As shore birds are my favorite group of birds I also enjoyed the quite common Wood Sandpiper, which breed with several pairs here as well as the very cute Dotterel.
We came back later in the evening to listen for Great Snipe. Usually not a well known place for this species but this year there had been quite a few reports. We arrived around 10 pm and stayed until midnight. I was not any wind and we heard 7!! different males but never got our eyes on one. Still a fabulous way to end this day.
The next day we ended our trip by doing some walk along the river (lower down) to see if we could catch up something more. This area had lots of the stunning Bluethroat and also several pairs of Yellow Wagtail. I also managed to have a quick swim in the cold water of this beautiful spot.
Sweden is a stunning and great place!!
After a long transfer in New Delhi we finally arrived to Sri Lanka, very early in the morning. Our fantastic and gentle driver Malan was waiting for us. We had booked a private driver for 14 days since it is quite cheap in this country. I had planned and booked everything else as it became cheaper and I also like to make my own plans. (Bad photo taken by a present taxi driver!)
Still, we more or less went the most frequent route putting in the most famous and recommended places in the tour. Our first stop was at Sigiriya which is about 5 hours drive NE from Colombo. This area is famous for its giant rock in the middle of a flat country. This site is sacred because of the sculptures and paintings of Buddha. At the top it's also a ruin of a former palace and it's hard to understand how they make the transport up with all the stones and other material that was needed to build it earlier. A must stop and also a good place to see some good birds. Maybe my most wanted species was to see the Indian Pitta. The Swedish name Jewel Thrush is more accurate to the beauty of this hard to see group. Believe my great excitement and joy when one of the first birds seen in the hotel (expansive) garden was this gem. I played the recorder and it responded immediately and flew up in to a tree. The Yellow-billed Babbler was common here jumping on the lawn outside our room and a handsome Shikra made a pose at the garden wall. At the "Rock" the endemic Toque Macaque was common and I fond these young relatives quite irresistible on our way up.
After 2 days at this great (but rainy) area we continued our journey south. Next stop was the hilly town of Nuwara Eliya. At the height above sea level of 1860 meters this is a cooler place surrounded by beautiful forested mountains and the place for the famous Sri Lankan (Ceylon) tea. There are many places to stop for tasting and buying. In Nuwara Eliya the Victoria Park is a famous park for birders. Many migrating species make this their wintering home. Looking at ebird you find many good species but in low account. That is also understandable when you come here. The park is quite small and you walk across it in just 15 minutes. I had a few targets that had to be seen here, if ever during this trip and I managed pretty well. I saw birds like Kashmir Flycatcher, Indian Blue Robin, Indian Black Thrush, Indian Pitta (heard only) and the endemic Sri Lanka White-eye. No photos though as they were all skulking and hard to see even in my bins. More easy birds however were, Indian Pond-heron, Oriental Magpie Robin, Grey Wagtail and the stunning endemic Yellow-eared Bulbul.
Next day we continued to the popular hilly village Ella.Ella is now getting very popular for all kinds of people, backpackers, yoga-people and nature lovers. Here you can make the relatively short walk up to Little Adam's Peak (not be be compared with the original I was told) and witness the stunning sun set.On the way back I got this funny pic of two endemics making acquaintance to each other; the Sri Lanka Red-backed Woodpecker and the Yellow-fronted Barbet.
An other must do thing is to take the walk to the 9-arches Bridge. This bridge lies in a nice valley and people go here to see the local trains pass by. I took a jungle walk here and was lucky to come up close to the national bird of Sri Lanka, the Sri Lanka Junglefowl and also got (maybe) the shot of the trip. Her I also saw a small group of Grey Tits which is closely related to the European Great Tit.
My list increased with some more birds here and just outside my room I found my first Red-vented Bulbul (showed to be quite common further on during the trip).
After two wonderful days our trip went south and down from the hilly areas. The weather had improved significantly the last days and our following days were all more or less sunny and we had that feeling you want of a tropical vacation away from the cold nordic Scandinavia. When you leave the mountains, southern Sri Lanka is rather flat and consists mostly of different types of agricultural habitats. Our new destination was Tissamaharama (Tissa in common talk). Most people who stay here do it because of the proximity to Yala National Park. Yala is world famous for the high possibility of seeing a Leopard. Elephants are usually seen and birdlife is abundant. Before the trip I had contacted a birdingpal clled Nalin (a group of birders from all around the world that like to help travellers) and he had given me some important information how to think and plan my trip. He helped me with a contact to a local guide whit his own jeep and he also suggested that we should not go to the main area in Yala (Block 1-2) but instead to block 5. The reason is that Block 1-2 is very crowded and some people (especially true nature lovers) finds it to be like a driven zoo. I'm happy about our choice and our guide Bandala was great in many ways. As we entered the park we saw our first Spotted Deers which later proved to be very common. Here a male and also a female/ young.
The park is a combination of lakes, rather thick bush but also some more open forest. Our first stop was at a smaller lake where we had this Yellow-billed Stork and a massive Mugger Crocodile.
Close to this lake I got the first endemic of the day, a Sri Lanka Swallow.
I have never seen so many Bee-eaters at the same spot as here. I probably saw more than 300 during the day. Most abundant was the absolutely gorgeous Little bee-eater.
The two other Bee-eaters that are present in Sri Lanka is the rather common Blue-tailed Bee-eater and the least common Chestnut-headed Bee-eater, both real stunners as well.
Next to the lake we got our first raptors for the day, an "unshy" Grey-headed Fish-eagle and a Crested (Changeble) Hawk-eagle. The latter seems to be a bird which taxonomists are discussing as there are many forms and whether it is one or two separate species is still an issue.
A central area in this block is the big lake with an elevated road that leads straight and with good views of what animals and birds that are around. We saw two displaying males of the Indian Peafowl which is a great sighting, especially in the wild.
There were one or two Leopards present in the area but we only saw one resting deep in to the bush which was a little bit of a disappointment. While standing at one point waiting for one, this Grey Mongoose came up close and gave us an interesting moment. Close by this Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher showed up. It's a quite uncommon bird here and our guide said it was the first time he had seen it in this section.
To see elephants you have to drive to an other part of the park (block) as they like the more open areas. In this sector we only saw one old female elephant which was a little bit surprising. A fantastic thing about this time was that we were completely alone here. For 2 hours we drove all by ourselves and beside the elephant (among other good stuff) we saw a group of Golden-backed Jackals, disturbed a Crested Hawk-eagle with a new prey and a stunning White-bellied Sea eagle.
Time for lunch, we parked in a "safe" place and enjoyed the splendid Lankevian kitchen at the back of the jeep. Bandala had prepared some classic curry which tasted good. We had nice views of the uncommon Lesser Adjutant Stork as well as a Hoopoe.
As the afternoon slowly got closer, we started slowly to drive towards the entrance gate. Close by the road we found a group of Water Buffalos. They claim these are true wild ones but if you read about it on serious web sites, most scientists seem to have the opinion that all now (in same way) are mixed up with the feral population. Still a massive sight though. Also my first (and only) Malabar Hornbill was seen here.
Just next to the gate we came up pretty close to the nice and funny Indian Robin, It was displaying, singing and moving all the time and was a great way to finish up the day in this nice park. The sun was dropping and we hit the main road. Inside the park itself we only saw one elephant but now on the main road we had to stop 5 times because of elephants standing on the road. The guide told us that this section was a cross over for them during the afternoon and therefore he had almost expected us to see a few on the way back.
The last day in Tissa I had booked a half day "safari" to Bundala N.P for myself. This park is next to the sea and is a mix of wetlands and bushy habitat. A part of the park is also the salt pans which attracts many shorebirds and other water birds. As the true shore bird lover I am, this day had big expectations, as I would have the chance to get to lifers in this group, Great Thick-knee and the Small Pratincole. The Great Thick-knee breeds here in small numbers and the glorious and quite difficult Small Pratincole winters here in small number. I was picked up by a local guy who took me there. I told him most time should be used for searching these two. The Great Thick-knee was easy and actually seen immediately at arrival but the the pratincole showed (not surprising) to be much harder. Finally after some hard week I saw two birds at quite a long distance in my scope, puh. The pic under is just to give me a souvenir of this moment.
Lots of water attracts kingfishers and my guide became quite excited when we found this Black-capped Kingfisher which is a rare winter migrant. To fill up the list we also got this Pied Kingfisher and the special Stork-billed Kingfisher.
At a small pond we also got this group of Lesser Whistling Ducks in front of a Pacific Golden Plover. I've seen the plover once in Sweden so it was a good bird to see. Mongolian Plovers and Little Stints were quite common and a few came in close enough for a photos.
There are three different species of monkeys in Sri Lanka and 2 of them are decently common when you drive around to different places. This group of young Tufted Grey Langurs was a cute sight in the morning as well as the mother and child.
A splendid finish of this half day was this perched Crested Hawk-eagle.
Most people who visit Sri Lanka spend many days around its magnificent beaches and now it was our turn to spend some time here. I had chosen a tiny beach called Hiriketiya. What I didn't know at the time of booking is that this beach is the best place in Sri Lanka to surf at this time of the year. Waves are not gigantic but the shape of the beach pushes the water in so that waves are created but not at the beaches around. It's a small place but highly recommended. Here my son doing it for the first time in his life and also a beautiful Black-hooded Oriole and that was seen in the garden.
I also took a walk to the next village which has a harbor and on my way I came up with this beautiful Orange-breasted Green Pigeon as well as this funny Toque Macaque.
After 3 days at the sea we started the trip towards Sinharaja (Forest) N.P. This park is the last remaining true rainforest in Sri Lanka. It is also the place to see most of the islands 32 endemics. The most frequent place for birders to visit is at the northern entrance and most reports are from there. However, I decide to try the southern part mostly because it is more convenient and also more "family friendly". I didn't see all endemics but had a truly good time here and saw many good birds. We stayed at a lodge at the absolute edge of the park an d it was ok but I would much more recommend the place my private guide recently has started. Only 2 rooms but they are absolute spotless and next to a valley/ slope down towards the river. I saw so many nice birds here in just an hour. He (Saman Shanta) also has his own restaurant. The place is called Villa Evergreen and restaurant. The first evening I booked him for a night walk which proved to be very successful. Our first bird was the Brown Hawk-owl just outside the park.
As we walked in to the forest it started to rain so I got pretty disappointed that the evening would be ruined. I was completely wrong. Except from the wake up of leeches (I had about 20 on each leg) we had fantastic views of Sri Lanka Frogmouth. My guide heard an owl call and he said maybe the endemic Chestnut-backed Owlet but when we finally found it after some tough walking we were stunned to find the Serendib Scops-Owl. This endemic is one of the rarest birds on earth (maybe only 80 of them) and only found in Sinharaja. However, this was actually the first record ever in this section of the park and this made a strong feather in his hat. At the end of our walk he showed me a great Tarantula Spider behind a sign.
The next morning I had booked Saman again for a full day in the rainforest. The plan was to bird whit him alone until 10.30 and then my family would join at a meeting point for further walking inside the park. It's a great park with several water falls and also the chance of a nice swim and "wild" fish therapy. We had a great start directly at dawn with a pair of Brown Fish-owls. A suggestive moment with these glorious birds beside the mist coming up from the river in first day light.
There are 2 endemic Thrushes here, no one easy so seeing on of them in this short time felt almost like a bonus. He knew a place for the Spot-winged Thrush where we also went. In poor light I managed to at least get id-photos to remember this event.
Day light came quick and as you know, bird intensity falls back quickly whit sun and heat. Maybe the biggest target today was the almost unreal Sri Lanka Blue Magpie. Sometimes tricky to see well but still a decent chance even if you only have one morning. At a bridge over the river we managed to finally see a pair which gave a big relief.
My family joined us as planned and we had a great moment in the forest with swimming, fish therapy and a few more birds like this pair of malabar Trogon as well as a handsome endemic Sri Lanka Green Pit Viper. Our friendly guide Saman was with us all the time.
Here in Sinaraja you can see the endemic Purple-faced Langur which is quite rare compared to the other two shown before. We had a group of three which gave good enough looks.
My trip, as far it comes to birds ended the last hour at Shaman's place where I saw my last 2 endemics, the Orange-billed Babbler and Layard's Parakeet and the stunning White-throated Kingfisher. This was a great trip and is highly recommended both as a pure birding trip as well as a combined family trip. Bottom you can see a woman and a kitten. This kitten had hide itself inside the car behind the engine and was too scared to come out. It was pure luck that my daughter saw when it jumped in, otherwise something terrible could had happened. Happy end though.
In total I saw 175 bird species of which 74 were lifers. Of 34 endemics I managed to see 20. Below you can see the list of endemics. SL= Sri Lanka.
Endemics seen: SL Jungelfowl, SL Green Pigeon, Serendib Scops-owl, SL Grey Hornbill, Yellow-fronted Barbet, SL Small Barbet, SL Red-backed Woodpecker, Layard's Parakeet, SL Hanging Parrot, SL Woodshrike, SL Blue Magpie, Black-capped Bulbul, Yellow-eared Bulbul, SL Swallow, SL Scimitar-babbler, Brown-capped Babbler, Orange-billed Babbler, SL White-eye, Spot-winged Thrush, Dull Blue Flycatcher. (20)
Endemics missed: SL Spurfowl, Green-billed Coucal, Red-faced Malkoha (heard Sinaraja), SL Wood Pigeon, Chestnut-backed Owlet, SL Greater Flameback, SL Crested Drongo, SL Bush-warbler, Ashy-headed Laughingthrush, SL Hill Myna (Heard Sinharaja), White-faced Starling, SL Scaly Thrush, SL Blue Whistling-thrush, Legge's Flowerpecker. (14)
This blog about Pantanal is the third part of my trip to Brazil (Itatiaia and Chapada d G Jardim Amazonia are the other two).
So, welcome to the biggest weatland in the world, famous for all its birds but also as the best place to see Jaguars among other wildlife. As you enter the Pantanal the road turns in to a dirt road. During the northern summer and fall the region is dried out which gives high concentrations of animals. During the other half of the year the area is much flooded and many places hard or impossible to reach by car. It was a great feeling to reach this place after the long drive from Jardim da Amazonia. First stop was Piuval Lodge and included in the price was a Jeep-tour which gave us the first looks of this fantastic place.
A good bird during this car trip was the Red-shouldered Macaw. Macaws are great bird and always nice to see, this one not so common. A bird we thought should be a little bit hard to see was the Sunbittern but we saw quite a few of this special bird.
A true symbol of the Pantanal is the huge Jabiru. Though quite common around, still an amazing view everytime you see it. Here on in flight towards the nest and two just resting.
Piuval is a good place for mammals as well and we saw this cute S.A. Coati and the funny 7-banded Armadillo.
On this tour we also saw our first Great Potoo. What a remarkable bird!!
At nest we also saw this Great Horned Owl and close by the special Guira Cuckoo.
At the lodge itself birding is good and we saw many nice species. Here the quite common Cattle Tyrant, Giant Cowbird (on feral cow!) and the brilliant Yellow-billed Cardinal.
Just a short walk out from the lodge I also found this striking Black-collared Hawk.
Happy after our day at Piuval we now drove towards our next lodge a little bit further south, Pouso Alegre. Piuval is an upscale lodge with pool and other nice facilities. On the (quite long) way in from the Tranpantaneira we saw the hardest of the herons, the Capped heron as well as this pecular male Bare-faced Currasow.
Pouso Alegre is a more rustic and basic place know to be very good for spotting Great Ant-eaters. Birding and other wildlife are excellent too. We had heard that a Great Ant-eater comes inmost evenings to look for food around the lodge which it did our night as well. However, we were lucky to see one out on one of the trails which gave a more natural experince.
This walk also gave us the Undulated Tinamou, a bird much easier heard than seen as well as this handsome Red-throated Piping Guan.
Many lizards were around and one favorite was this robust Black & White Tegu. The lodge has a feeding area which attracts many different species but still surprised to find this elegant Plumbeous Ibis on the roof next to it.
Befor we left this nice place we had a stop at a trail together with the owner. Among some other goodies we found this awesome Helmeted Manakin.
Our next stop was SouthWild. Owned by the person who helped us with the planning and booking and also the company which "rented" the car to us. Situated next to the Rio Sararé in Pixaim area this place is great. An upscale place with a small pool, great feeding areas, complimentary boat trip on the river and a photo hide for Ocelot. We stayed here one night on our way south and two more at the end of our trip. There are extensive trails but I guess you need to have good nerves as referred to on this sign just a couple of hundred meters outside the lodge.
Meanwhile we payed a visit further south, the lodge had a Jaguar crossing its property. When we arrived we saw this cute Marsh Deer which hardly scared us. On our first we didn't see any signs of Ocelots but finally in the evening this beautiful animal showed up. First a little bit shy but soon more active looking for food.
The river tour here is excellent for herons and other water birds. The river Piquiri further south is a much bigger one with sand banks and other vegetation. This river in tiny and gives you the opportunity to come up close bothto birds and reptiles. The Yacaré (Caiman) is very common and we probably saw almost a 1000 of them in total all over Pantanal. Not as powerful as the crocodile species, it is still a beauty to watch.
Herons were so plentiful so you could almost imagine beeing in a restricted zoo area. The "white ones" were the most common but we easily saw Black-capped Night Heron, Boat-billed Heron, Rufescent Tiger Heron and the hard and elusive Agami Heron (why hide when you are the most stunning one of them all??).
Other water birds like this Grey-necked Wood-rail and and the very sought after and difficult Sungrebe kept our smiles going on for hours.
In Brazil there are 5 different kingfishers. We saw them all and here you can see the most common one, the enormous Ringed Kingfisher and the most hard one, the Green and rufous Kingfisher. Also here Nick's favorite bird?? the Black-capped Donacobius!
At the feeding place of the lodge you can easily spend some time resting while you enjoy top class birds. What about this stunner, the Orange-backed Trupial and Yellow-chevroned Parakeet together with the most iconic bird of South America, the Toco Tucan. Quite happy I got a pic when it's on its way to swallow a "fruit" it had thrown up in the air.
We now started our drive towards Porto Jofre and our place Jofre Velho. The road became more and more rough in some places and some of the 120!!! wooden bridges you passon the way south did not look completely safe. Her one which was ok and an other which was quite scary to pass.
On the way we stopped at several places and had good moments like this Crane Hawk (the only one we saw) chased by White-rumped Swallows. Our Duster became more and more dusty!! The rather common Roadside Hawk (here a juvenile) looked rather suspiciously at us and our car!
We finally arrived to Jofre Velho (not well signed) and saw the beutiful ground teeming with birds. Jofre Velho used to be a research station and the rooms are in different status. Still a very pleasant (and much much cheaper) than the other options here. The family took very good care of us and the food was simple but still very tasty and well prepared. Even if we had seen the amazing Hyacint Macaw (the worlds biggest parrot) decently before, we here had smashing views and performances of this absolute marvelous bird.
As a nerd shorebird enthusiast I had big hope in seeing the Pied Plover and the Collared Plover. The Wattled Jacana had been seen previously but great looks were given here. I feel priveleged to have seen these star birds so well.
Two boat trips were included in every nights stay (morning/ afternoon) as even the most avid birder's main choise is the chance of seeing a Jaguar. In Pantanal and especially at the Rio Sao Laurenco/ Rio Piquiri the chances are (very) high to lay your eyes on one. I felt pretty sure we would see one but the question was more how well we would see it. Many times when people see them they just lay down in the shadow which makes the sight quite bad. THis is in some way similar to jeep safaris in East Africa when dussins of jeeps (here fast boats) hurries in on or an other direction in hope to give their customers the best. Our boat was a smaller and not as fast as many of the others which actually proved to be a winning concept. Alone on this part of the river (the others were gone further away) we had our first individual after only 20 minutes. It made some slow walks on the river bank and showed pretty well.
Before we went back we had some nice views of a Capybara family. Obviously they rest at these banks as they need to be cautious to the Jaguars which have the Capybaras and the Yacarés and their main food. These cute Proboscis Bats were resting in a tree we passed. Not beeing the most wanted bird it was nice to have good views of the only pipit in the region, the Yellowish Pipit.
Along the river there also some terns (3 species) which are easy to spot from the boat. Here the elegant and specialized Black Skimmer with its scissor like bill and the local Great-billed Tern.
On short walks around the lodge we also had more beauties like this Thick-billed Euphonia, Rufous-tailed Jacamar and the plain but handsome Southern Berdless Tyrannulet.
Next morning was just beautiful and we had good feelings when we entered the boat again. Our guide knew his boat was slower than the others but was calm and polite, knewing what he was doing. Here he is with (from left) Nick (thinking of celebrating with a evening beer?), Jim and Per.
Seeing all the boats we wondered what was happening. It showed up to be a family of Giant Otters. We saw several different groups of these entertaining and special species. They just loved to play with each others.
The other boats took of and again we were alone! Traveling softly I saw something lying on a stretch of beach. Realizing soon what it was I screamed (Yellow) Anaconda! We approached it slowly and had great views of this fantastic creature. After some time the fast boats started to arrive and to my disappointment these people went up on the beach and of course scared it away down to the water. Such rude and bad behaviour both of the boat men and the tourists. This also meant that many people never got the chance to see it.
Well, saving the best till the end of this blog. We had 20 minutes totaly by our own with this male Jaguar (again because the fast boats had chased away again). It came out just in front of our boat and swam just 8-10 meters from the boat. Taking some shorter distances at the edge before going into the water again. We also saw make some attempt to catch a Yacaré. What an absolute wonderful animal it is. So majestic and powerful and yet also proud, relaxed and curious. I've been privileged to see and experince many animals over the world and this really takes a very vey high position.
WE had a safe trip back and some unforgetable memories as well. We saw 415 species of bird of which 337 were new ones for me and also many other excellent animals. What a great trip and place!!
This 3,5 day trip to Itatiaia NP was a part of a longer trip in Brazil (other parts described in other blogs). Itatiaia is Brazils oldest NP and an excellent place to find fantastic birds. In these days we saw 193 species including 18 different Tanagers. We also birded the wetlands just outside the park itself. Our guide Hudson was great! His English needs some improvements but he surely knows his birds. Here the four Gringos (me Örebro, Per Askengren Örebro, Nick Armstrong England, Exeter and Jim Royer USA, California, Los Osos) from a selfie of him.
Hotel Ype where we stay is a very cosy place and highly recommended. The feeders are famous for attracting Tanagers, Hummers, and many others. One of my sought after species was the Frilled Coquette which we only saw briefly once the first hour.
When it comes to Tanagers, this place is just amazing. During the three full days we spent here we saw no less than ... Tanagers. Quite common at the feeders at were these two stunners, Green-headed Tanager and Black-goggled Tanager.
If you are interested in photography, you can easily spend a half day here and just let the birds come to you. Also quite frequent was the Blue Dacnis, here both a male and a female.
The second day we took the winding Agulhas Negras road towards the top of the mountain at 2400 meters. On the way we stoped for Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture and a group of Red-rumped Warbling-Finch.
Halfway we had a short stop for some shoping and the everywhere excellent Brazilian coffee.The long drive gave us stunning views, crispy air and the endemic Itatiaia Spinetail.
One of the starbirds up on these higher levels is the gorgeous Green-crowned Plovercrest. You would probably not find it by yourself but Hudson knew where to stop.
Hotel Ype also has its privileges during evenings and nights. During the last hour of light usually a few Gray-necked Wood-rails emerge from the thickets to feed and stroll at the lawns. Hotel Ype also is a good spot for the Tawny-browed Owl which we had excellent views of in the flashlight. Next to the restaurant I found this great and beautiful Moth Bugmaniac.
Obviously, hummers are a highlight and some of them frequently come in to the feeders. Here a Violet-capped Woodnymph, White-throated Hummingbird and a male and a female Brazilian Ruby constantly obseved by the Black Capuchin.
We also explored areas just outside the park as there are plenty of good birding in some of the more open areas around the town and nearby wetlands. We stopped randomly? just in the middle of the small town and I experienced some of the most memorable minutes of the trip. In a tree (which we later called the "crazy tree") we saw Tropical Parula, Southern Beardless Tyrannulet, Purple-throated Euphonia, Narrow-billed Woodcreeper, Hooded Tanager and many more.
Further down close to the wetlands we had these two beautiful hummers, Glittering-throated Emerald and Glittering-bellied Emerald. As a finish of this fantstic day we experienced super high class birding with the funny performance of a group of Streamer-tailed Tyrants. Something I wish all birders sometimes will be able to see.
Our great birding continued with so many great birds and memories. My number one bird was this Such's Ant-thrush which we waited for about 30 minutes before it arrived. It was at a stake-out and the bird surely knew that Hudson had put out some worms. Unforgettable to hear it coming closer by just walking on the jungle floor!
The last day our great birding continued with so many good birds. What about male and female Surucua Trogon!
If you go here you can also see the "ruins" of the abandoned hotel Simon, which used to be afamous luxury hotel before it was bancrupt. Still it now possible to stroll around and see some good birds like this Variable Antshrike, Sirystes and White-crested Tyrannulet.
Now we went back to the airport at Sao Paolo for the flight to Cuiaba and more birding at Chapada dos Guimaraes, Jardim da Amazonia and the Pantanal (se these blogs)!!
The last week in November I went to Los Osos, California to see my friend Jim who lives there. The main reason was actually because my son should do some internship there for a couple of weeks and needed my assistance to get there. As Jim had a normal working week, we didn't bird together more than a few days. My first day was a Sunday though, so this day we birded around Los Osos. The day was quite windy and at Morro Rock we did some sea watching and saw many Loons, Ducks and Shorebirds. Here Jim scanning the sea and below a juvenile Black Oystercatcher.
In the bay we saw some Gulls chasing a Sea Otter which had a clam on its breast, which was quite an amazing event.
We then continued to the wetlands further in where we had good views of Bushtits and Am. Pipits, Cooper´s Hawk and also a wintering Hermit Thrush.
This area is full of birds and even if I have seem them all before it´s still very nice making acquaintance with all these birds. Here both Say´s and Black Phoebe, House Finches and a Northern Flicker.
I also spent some time for myself which was great. The places I visited was almost deserted and I really enjoyed it. The first time I met Jim he took me to the Carrizo Plain which is a plateau a couple of hours drive from his home. Up here the landscape is steril but still holds lots of stunning birds. One of the first birds that showed up was the awesome Mountain Bluebird.
While taking photos of the Bluebird I realized the fields were full of birds. Hundred of Horned Larks were present and also different sparrows showed up. Here Savannah and the cute Lark Sparrow.
Also some raptors showed up and this Red-tailed Hawk seemed especially interested in me.
As you drive up here you will soon reach the salt lake (completely dry) where a specialty lives in the low brushes, the Sage Sparrow of which I was fortunate to see a family.
I searched in vain for Mountain Plover, which I saw last time here but many other birds showed well as this Ferruginous Hawk which together with the feeling of chosen loneliness ended a fantastic day
Next day I planned to walk the spit all the way to the jetty at Morro Rock. From the parking this is a very strenuous walk (I didn't´t understand how far it was until I reached the jetty). However, knowing I had good chance of seeing a Black Scooter (which has been observed earlier) in good light together with the knowledge of hundreds and hundreds of shore birds made it an easy choice. As you can see on the first photos they were plentiful and I had 7km of beach all for myself (talk about being privileged). You see the silhouette of Morro Rock at the horizons.
As shore birds are one of the groups of birds you like the most, this is just paradise. Long-billed Curlews and Marbled Godwits were plentiful and here I have two photos with their "faces" straight towards me, which makes it a little bit confusing which one is which. The third picture showing some Godwits at "take of".
Not so plentiful but easy to see was Grey Plovers and Western Sandpipers.
Even though the sanderling is more beautiful in breeding plumage they are very handsome in winter plumage looking almost as snow balls at the beach, here one alone sleeping.
Next picture shows a Dunlin, Sanderling and a Western Sandpiper which in a way is educational.
Also present in small number was the Samipalmated Plover which resembles the Common Ringed Plover we have here in Europe.
One of my absolute favorites is the Snowy Plover. The combination of the look and its peculiar behavior of running and "hiding" in small potholes when you approach is funny.
Turning my face towards the sea I saw many ducks and scooters and the Turkey Vulture patrolled the beach constantly.
I was very tired but happy when I returned to my car. By the way, I saw the Black Scooter but it was too far out for a decent photo.
Next day I decided to drive north towards to the Elephant Seal colony at San Simeon. My first stop was San Simeon Creek Campground where I walked the beach for an hour. Again I saw many Snowy Plovers but also some Ducks and gulls like this stunning Bufflehead. While walking the spit I saw some Least Sandpipers but this individ was not taking much notice on me.
I´ve been at the seal colony a couple of times before but it´s a pleasure to see them every time. Quite a few this time of the year but many were sleepy.
On the way back I stopped at Estero bay, Cayucos Point which is a splendid spot for "rocky shore birds". I had hoped to see wandering Tattler, which I only have seen briefly before, but no, the seems to be scarcer here than before. I saw one Surfbird and a group of Black Turnstones.
Next day Jim took a half day off and we drove to Avila Beach south of Los Osos. This is a very pleasant place I can recommend anybody to make a stop at. We were looking for a Red-naped Sapsucker that had been seen before but we had no luck. Normally quite secretive this Wrentit seemed to liked the sun which gave good opportunities for photos. Close by a Western Scrub Jay also enjoyed the sun.
In a small inlet I saw this Western Grebe.
We also birded Spooner´s Cove just south of Los Osos and saw some common but nice birds like these White-crowned Sparrows (ad + 1:st winter) and the Golden-crowned Sparrow which winters here.
I had a fantastic week and I pass my best regards to Jim and Celeste for their outstanding hospitality.