Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Pinocchio and the Old Snake

Wednesday’s bird survey followed a classic structure: just as intern Russell was organising his team and declaring the start time, the first drops of rain began to fall. They were the first of many...

As the heavens opened on Caño California the team realised they were in for a serious soaking. However, what could have been a miserable survey was kept alive by the constant flow of records. No glamorous or exotic sightings perhaps
- a lot of green herons, little blues and snowy egrets - but the numbers added up until all bird survey records were broken for the new sites. The final tally, as a very cold and wet team returned,was 146 individual birds.

It’s been a good week altogether for Rich’s birds project. On Saturday, Jo’s survey team on Sierpe Viejo were treated to a privileged encounter after being forced to turn back prematurely due to fallen trees and low water. A few minutes after their turnaround, something on the bank caught the team’s collective eye.

Initially identified as a tri-coloured heron, when the bird reappeared it became apparent that its beak was just a little longer than one might expect...the colouring just a little different. Conclusion? A juvenile agami heron, fishing right in front of them. As they watched, the agami continued to fish on the canal edge, spearing a second fish and leaving a boatful of very excitable birders to head for home.

Are limpkins common in Tortuguero National Park? Having only seen 2 in the whole of 2009, our records have now gone through the roof (well, ok: 3 so far this year). Let’s face it, who hasn’t seen one this phase? Well, Sam, as it goes. “Elusive scallywags, aren’t they?” was all he could say when we asked for his feeling on the matter. Keep looking, Sam...