Sunday, February 24, 2013

El Tigre Fields

Green Ibis. Superficially similar to Glossy Ibis, but sporting a short bill with a thick base, and a slightly shorter, fatter neck. The difference in structure is obvious even from great distance.

After spending much of the day at La Selva, we decided to try out a random spot in the birdfinding guide I hadn't paid much attention to before...the El Tigre fields. This area was recommended for its marsh and grassland birds, neither of which we had really come across at this early point in the trip. The birdfinding guide warns that the site might not exist anymore, due to the high probability it might be turned into pineapple fields (a sad and common fate of much good habitat in the country), so we arrived with low expectations. Thankfully, this doomy prophecy was not at all true, and as of December 2012 the place was in good condition.

They also have what appears to be incredibly broad wings.

Green Ibis don't really get too colorful, but it was great to see them nonetheless. We had them as a heard-only bird at La Selva (thanks to Hainer of course) so it was immensely gratifying to add another Threskiornid to the ol' life list. 

We were given permission to walk out into the fields, and trip birds and life birds alike began appearing at a rapid pace. Among others, we were treated to crakes (heard only unfortunately), Sora, Purple Gallinules, Jacanas, Southern Lapwings, Harris' Hawk, Merlin, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Wilson's Snipe, Gray-crowned Yellowthroats, Giant Cowbird, Blue-black Grassquits, Olive-throated Parakeets, and the birds you see pictured today. What was probably a Sedge Wren got away without giving good looks (argh). Is this isolated population really the same species as our Lower 48 birds? Seems unlikely.

Anyways, no real crushes today, but the birds are of high quality...truly top shelf ticks. El Tigre was a great bonus spot, Dipper Dan later claimed he was in the throes of ecstasy while birding there. Check it out if you are birding the Sarapiqui area.

Red-breasted Blackbird was Bird Of The Site for me, although the seed Ffnch (see below) was a close second. Red-breasted Blackbirds are fond of grasslands, have a cool display flight and sing like a Savannah Sparrow...not much in common with the blackbirds of the north.

It was a crippler.

Nicaraguan Seed Finch was one of the species that we found here and no where else on the trip. I could not get over the size of their bills, they don't seem necessary. Gargantuan bill aside, these birds were quite a bit larger than the variety of other black finch/grassquit/seedeater type things that are found in the country.

Wild Muscovy Ducks!

Amazon Kingfisher is superficially similar to Green Kingfisher but is much, much larger and has a bill that could be used as a murder weapon.

I had seen this species before in Mexico but it was great to be reunited. Again, look at the size of that bill!

A haggard young Gray Hawk is just starting to acquire it's adult plumage. I'm sure it was grateful to be molting, because it really looked like shit.

Stilt was fiending for El Tigre, she frothed at the mouth. With every lifer her eyes would roll back into her head and she would begin speaking in tongues. Here she is recklessly diving into a canal and doing something weird with her hands.


  1. So many cool birds. I think that red breasted blackbird is my favorite. The kingfisher looks a little like our belted on steriods with that beak.

    1. Yes it does bear some resemblance to Belted as well...Im sure that misidentification has been made more than once.

  2. That is SO not a Gray Hawk- it does not look exactly like the photo in my field guide. Can't fool me! (Right? That's what that lady was debating on some forum you shared?) Anyway, holy honkin bill on that kingfisher. And Giant Cowbird? Uhhh... I'm picturing like a big penguin-sized cowbird. I hope that's what that is.

    1. Oh, "not convinced" FJ?

      It was a bigass cowbird fur sure. Seen only as a flyby. Must see more.

  3. Pretty into those red-breasted blackbird photos. I saw one from a far away distance in Trinidad but could have gone for some better looks. uh huh.