Monday, January 31, 2011

Backyard Birds Today

Eurasian Collared Doves, Common Grackle, Brown Creeper, Northern Flicker, Downy Woodpeckers, European Starling, White-breasted Nuthatches - and not in this order.

Saturday, January 29, 2011


Hoatzin   Opisthocomus hoazin     Guyana's National Bird, locally called 'Canje Pheasant', with Canje being a river in Guyana.  Some people call them 'Stinkbirds' because they smell bad (see digestive system)

The Hoatzin is a very peculiar bird.  How peculiar - well, go read what Wikipedia has to say about it here.  It has a digestive system different from other birds, to digest its diet of leaves.  The young hoatzins have claws on their wrists to help them crawl back into trees, after they jump into the river to escape preditors, or bale out for other reasons - maybe just to take a little swim in the hot, humid afternoon.  Perhaps our fearless leader, Richard Knapton, will weigh-in with his knowledge re this bird.

Whatever, it was an absolute joy to see these birds.  They are wonderful.

Ha!  The birds are big, bulky and a tad awkward.  Their landings on thin vines are more than a little graceless!  (I think I'll start a Facebook album featuring bird bottoms - it is often one's sole view when birding from far below on the forest floor).

Click on photos to enlarge, if you want to.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Abary River, Guyana

More photos from the early morning at Abary River (pronounced  ah-BAR-ee).

Crimson-crested Woodpecker    Campephilus melanoleucos    This is another of my much-wanted birds.  I love woodpeckers, especially these big fellas. 

Roadside Hawk  Buteo magnirostris 

Pied Water-Tyrant  Fluvicola pica   Another new bird for me.    

Orange-winged Amazons   Amazona amazonica   My first look at them.  These birds were everywhere we travelled, in large groups.  I never tire of parrots, no matter how common they are.

A swampy area where several species of herons and other waders were hanging out, including Lesser Yellowlegs (see you Up North in a few months).

Not surprisingly, I got several Lifers this morning (my first trip to the Atlantic Coast of South America).  Many of these would become common sightings during the trip.  A few (*) were my only sightings.

*Rufous Crab Hawk  Buteogallus aequinoctialis
Brown-throated Parakeet  Aratinga pertinax
Orange-winged Parrot  Amazona amazonica
Black-throated Mango  Anthracothorax nigricollis
White-chested Emerald  Amazilia chionopectus
*White-bellied Piculet  Picumnus spilogaster
*Blood-coloured Woodpecker  Veniliornis sanguineus
Crimson-crested Woodpecker  Campephilus melanoleucos
Black-crested Antshrike  Sakesphorus canadensis
Pied Water-Tyrant  Fluvicola pica
Brown-crested Flycatcher  Myiarchus tyrannulus
Yellow Oriole  Icterus nigrogularis

Other Birds
Cocoi Heron, Cattle Egret, Striated Heron
Black & Turkey Vultures, Osprey
Great Black, Black-collared, Gray & Roadside Hawks 
Snail Kites, Yellow-headed Caracara, Peregrin Falcon
Wattled Jacana, Lesser Yellowlegs
Rock Pigeons, Ruddy Ground-Dove
Greater Ani
Glittering-throated Emerald
Ringed Kingfisher
Yellow-bellied Elaenia, Common Tody-,  Dusky-capped & Fork-tailed Flycatchers
Lesser & Great Kiskadees, Tropical & Grey Kingbirds
Grey-breasted Martins
Yellow Warbler
Blue-Gray Tanager
Blue-black Grassquit
Carib Grackle, Shiny Cowbird

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Rufous Crab Hawk

I'm having a hard time getting back into the groove of daily blogging.  There are some things to talk about from the very beginning of my trip at Pearson Int'l in Toronto, that isn't falling into place yet since it involves two people I travelled with - two lovely people, with whom I've become friends over the past three weeks.  I need to ask them if they mind being blog subjects.  Some people are more private than others, aren't they.


In the meantime, I had quite a few target birds I really wanted to see in Guyana and Trinidad.  Birding guide Rhonda in Georgetown took me out to the Abary River where we found Rufous Crab Hawks and Blood-coloured Woodpeckers, along with many other bird species.

This is the Rufous Crab Hawk  Buteogallus aequinoctialis

There were two perched beside the river when we arrived at the trail head.

These beautiful raptors aren't considered 'threatened' yet but their mangrove habitat along the coast is.

No pix of the Blood-coloured Woodpeckers (Veniliornis sanguineus) though.  We did find them - a pair fussing about in some brambles.  I waded in far enough to see both birds, but they were unco-operative about a photo session.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Home Again

Back home, as of about 4:30 this afternoon.  I had a great trip.  A fantastic trip, really.  No doubt this blog is going to be crawling with photos of  Guyana and some of Trinidad for the next long while - er, that is assuming I managed to get a few semi decent photos.  I suspect most will be just a tad fuzzy, but that is not going to stop me from posting them, no sir. 

After Day 2, I stopped culling out the bad pix; that was right about the time I stopped jotting down daily journal notes (about par for the course with me on a trip).  I filled up an 8 gig card and got well into a second.  Could take a while to sort through things, but hey, I'm sure I'll be happy to spend the next few days doing so.

Guyana now tops my list of Favourite Places.  My travel pards and I voted Surama, Atta and Iwokrama our top favs of the trip.

We found some truly great birds and I met some very wonderful people.  

Chat more tomorrow.

xoxo K 


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Go Long, Guyana. Hello, Trinidad

I leave Georgetown mid-morning, flying out of Cheddi Jagan Int'l Airport, arriving in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad about an hour later. 

I'm visiting the Asa Wright Nature Centre with a few excursions to other places on the island.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Kaieteur Falls

We fly out from Rock View

to Kaieteur Falls. 

As excited as I am about seeing the falls, I know I'm going to have a little bit of trouble with the viewing area at the top of the falls.  Heights, no problem unless there is moving water and no hand rails.  Then we have vertigo big time.  Makes my stomach queasy just thinking about it.

Guess I'll survive it - or I'll tumble over....  Ha!    If so, see ya in the next life.  Assuming that doesn't happen, we fly back to Georgetown after the Falls, and overnight at Cara Lodge again.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Rock View

The trip is drawing to a close.  We leave Iwokrama after early morning birding around the lodge.  We drive back through the forest to the Rupununi Savanna again

this time to Rock View Lodge.  We're only here one night.   

This is an incredibly interesting site 

Saturday, January 15, 2011


Should be some very interesting birding today.  We transfer from Atta to Iwokrama River Lodge and the Iwokrama International Centre for Rainforest Conservation and Development (IIC)

This place is a bit of a big deal.  The birding will be great and the scenery quite spectacular, from the sounds of things.  There's also internet at the lodge so maybe I'll be able to post something from the rainforest/jungle!  THAT would be neat - well, for me at least.

We are at Iwokrama for two nights.  We'll all be very tired and quite dirty by this time.  And bet me, the first order of business will be to arrange for laundry to be done.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Canopy Walkway

Canopy Walkway!

We leave Surama and bird our way to Atta Rainforest Lodge.  After lunch we head on over to the Iwokrama Canopy Walkway.  I'm looking forward to this, too.  There's no way to see the various canopy bird species and butterflies from the forest floor.  These canopy walkways are great. 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


We have an early morning departure from Karanambu Ranch.  We travel (by road) east across the Northern Rupununi Savanna, birding along the way. 

Lunch will be at a place billed as Guyana's best-equipped Truck Stop.  I wonder if it will be at all like my North American idea of 'truck stop', like a big Husky service station. 

Then we carry on to the Macushi village of Surama.  The accommodations at the Surama Eco-lodge are 'comfortably rustic'.

Things we are advised to take along with us on this trip include cigarette lighters and matches.  I think this is likely one of the places we need these - for lighting candles at night.  I image there are diesel generators supplying electricity at certain hours during the day or evening. 

We stay at the Eco-lodge for two nights

Monday, January 10, 2011


We leave Arrowpoint and fly southward to Karanambu Lodge.

Of all the places we go, this is the one I'm most excited about.  Giant River Otters, Giant Anteaters, giant waterlilies...  Oh birds - could be heaven.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Arrowpoint Nature Reserve

We go to the Botanical Gardens this morning.  This afternoon we take a boat up the Demerara and Kamuni Rivers to the Arrowpoint Nature Reserve.  Overnight at the reserve. 

Arrowpoint is operated by Arawak Indians.  It is named after the arrow trees, abundant in the area, from which the indigenous people make their arrows.

This Twin Tours outfit isn't who I'm with, but here's a look at Arrowpoint, where I'll be tonight

Friday, January 7, 2011

Cara Lodge, Georgetown, Guyana

Not much going on today; a little sight-seeing on the way into Georgetown from Cheddi Jagan Int'l Airport which a bit inland from the city.

Some info about Georgetown here

Two nights at the historic Cara Lodge, Georgetown

Monday, January 3, 2011


This is where I'm going birding.  That is, this is a map of the place.    The country is about the size of Idaho.  Tropical forest covers more than 80% of the country according to InfoPlease

Update:  Most of my locations are in the between Mahdia - Kurupakari - Annai - Lethem - Potaro River & Landing.  The Iwokrama Forest Reserve is in that area.  Karanambu Ranch is north east of Lethem on the Rupunumi River.  The rest of our lodges, etc are fairly close together.

For your info:  Remember the Jonestown event from the 70s?  That was up in the NE corner of the country somewhere

This is their flag.  It's pretty jazzy.  Certainly no stiff old British Union Jack carry-over.

And even wilder than the flag, the national bird is the Hoatzin, which I may not get a chance to see

I'll pull out my uber-detailed map and try to figure out where exactly I'll be and update this post tomorrow - if I connect any dots.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year

May 2011 bring the best birds your way - literally and/or metaphorically - whichever way you run your life.

A couple of photos of the Souris River at Taylorton Bridge, yesterday during our CBC

Regular blog postings will be interrupted for the next few days - probably.  I am getting ready for my Guyana adventure.  While I'm away, there will be mostly daily postings about where I will be in Guyana with links (high-lighted) to click on if you are interested in looking at sites about the lodges or areas I'll be visiting.  If I find a place with internet, I will try to blog directly or email a blog post.  My info sheet says that the majority of lodges we stay at don't have phones.  Hard to say, what communications systems will be available.