Monday, March 12, 2012

A Lucky First Outing on the Boat

The elusive Limpkin

Learning the thirty bird species that comprise our canal monitoring project can be a tricky business. Some look confusingly similar (Kingfishers being particularly guilty on this charge!) and many look entirely different when sporting their juvenile plumages (and yes, they still require correct identification!). Luckily all new volunteers arriving at Jalova are put through an intensive training programme to ensure everyone is up to speed, and to safeguard the quality of the data we collect on the canal surveys. As part of the training we take the new guys out for a ride on the boat so they can see some of the species first hand and try out their newly acquired ID skills.

Today Alex and myself (Leo) were taking the latest batch of recruits down Caňo California with the hope of seeing a good selection of the thirty species. It was a lovely day to be out on the water with the rising sun slicing the early morning mist that hung over the waking forest. The usual suspects were all out en masse and binoculars at the ready we were quickly able to tick off a fair portion of the list as we slid past an abundance of Snowy Egrets, Little Blue Herons, Northern Jacanas and other common species.

Second shot of the Limpkin

Today however, we were in for a special treat as we explored the farthest reaches of California. Traversing the increasingly narrow and winding canal, we had reached the point where we could take the boat no further when we were rewarded with a fantastic sighting of the elusive Limpkin! Lucky it was indeed, for on their very first trip out on the canals, the new volunteers had been fortunate enough to observe one of the least seen canal bird species. This was only the second time in more than eighteen months a limpkin has been spotted here. Needless to say, mine and Alex’s excited reactions soon made the volunteers realise that this was no ordinary sighting but was something altogether more special.

-Leo, GVI Intern