Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Secret Treasures

Guatemala is a real treat for any birder or wildlife aficionado.  The country has over 732 bird species alone!.  And there certainly are birds hidden everywhere.  My advice about when to bird in Guatemala?  Winter.  The bird population doubles as most of our North American birds migrate back down into Central America for the winter.
While there, I found 130 different species. Some I had already seen, but most were all new.  
Take for example, the Dusky-capped Flycatcher(above).  It's call makes this bird easy to identify.  It has a "meeee-ooooo" sound that stands out in the crowd.  It was fun seeing birds we have in Arizona down in Guatemala. Each bird species found was worth one imaginary birder point.  If you are going to bird a place, you challenge yourself to find as many bird species as you can. 
 And while I had seen this Yellow-winged Tanager (below) back in Antigua, I hadn't seen it in this county.  So another challenge for me was to find as many birds as I could in each place! So while the Tanager wasn't a lifebird, it was still an important find during my observations.
 Now I have to say this.  The views in this country are out of this world.  This particular post is set around Lake Atitlan.
 While we were there, I witnessed massive flocks of Lesser Goldfinches.
Something as common as American Coots were hard to find.  Only at the end of our journey, did we encounter them in very small areas around Lake Atitlan.  I was actually excited to find these birds.  Something so common back home was special here.  And it made me look at them differently when I returned back to Tucson.  I appreciate them even more.......if that's even possible. 
BUT!  I had been hearing birds that I did not recognize.  For this particular stay, I studied my birds well because there were some strange ones found here.  Take for example the Provost's Ground Sparrow.  I was coming back from dinner and caught the bird near our terrace. The bird quickly vanished.  By this point in my trip, I was exhausted.  I knew this bird from my studies and pulled out my cell phone to play the call.  When I did........Mr. Provosts came out to visit with me. 
But the hardest trial for me was the last bird.  I heard the call and instinctively knew I couldn't let this one get away.  And I pished!  AND PISHED!  My friend continued on her walk while I chased this warbler through the trees. 

 There was an intense urgency with me that I didn't understand.  But something inside my head made me instinctively recall this sound. 
I made contact with the bird and then realized why this one was special. It was a real treasure for it was the one and only Rufous-capped Warbler.  A bird found south of Tucson in the Santa Rita mountains.  However to get to them, one must make a tricky hike up a waterfall full of grasses and cactus. These warblers follow the stream up and down the canyon.  My friend Kathie almost fell off the rocks, but thankfully I blocked much of her fall. She still got some nasty bruises though!  I've searched for this bird 3 times on that dangerous trail, memorized it's call, filled my water pack for the hot trek and have plenty of stories to go with those adventures.  I remember once an old woman sitting on a stone moving her feet back and forth like a little kid.  She asked us, "Did you find the warbler?"  
"No.", we replied.
"I won't go up that rock.  It's too dangerous."
She reminded me that time is indeed ticking.  I won't always be able to do these treks. So this warbler is for all those people who can't see them on their own. After all, an adventure is best shared, isn't it? Below is a video I took to show you the kinds of habitats we explore to find those birds.  Life is truly wondrous. 
The adventure continues.....
Check out Wild Bird Wednesday for other worldly discoveries!

25 comments:

  1. great capture of the chameleon

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  2. love that lizard! the provost is awesome!

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  3. Wonderful report, Chris! Beautiful birds and gorgeous scenery! The lizard is cool! Congrats on your sightings.

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  4. Amazing birds and views and that blue-tailed lizard is fabulous. And yes thank you much for sharing your adventures

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  5. My heart's desire is to see Guatamala. *sigh*

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  6. while the birds are fabulous; so too is the photograph of that wonderful coloured lizard

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  7. Adore your shared adventures, Chris! Thank you so much!

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  8. Great post! Love the lizards, and a very interesting variety of birds!

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  9. OK, I understand the travel part. But to go someplace else to see the birds you see at home has me confused. Unless you were staying at the place on the cliffs above the water. Now that's cool. Great post Chris. Hope you know I'm kidding you.

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  10. Another good look round. The Lizards are just great.

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  11. :) Of course I know you're joking Gaelyn:) By the time I left Guatemala, I was number 9 or 10 in the country!!! It's a really fun game to play......just how much can we truly see if we put our eyes and ears to work?:)

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  12. Wonderful post! The lizards are cute.

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  13. Beautiful series!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

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  14. Thats a great set of pictures - and nice to see one mans rarity in another mans everyday bird.

    Cheers and thanks for linking to WBW.

    Stewart M - Melbourne

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  15. Wonderful post and photos Chris - thanks so much for sharing :) Love the lizard and well done on all the new species you are seeing :)

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  16. What a fabulous adventure. I am feeling quite envious. ;)

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  17. Did you notice the star in that little warbler's eye? Love the lizard!

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  18. Hi Chris Very interesting post and great photographs. Just discovered your blog so have joined as i want to see more.

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  19. Great variety of birds here and I love the lizards. A beautiful place.

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  20. Outstanding captures, Chris!

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  21. Guatemala is a beautiful country. I'd be just as interested in seeing all of the other beauty around me there as I would the birds. BUT--I'm not 'into' birds as much as you are. I do love them --and can understand how exciting it is for you to find a new one...Love the Rufous-capped Warbler. Great find!!!!
    Hugs,
    Betsy

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  22. A great account of your visit in the Lake Atitlan area, Chris, accompanied by some mouth-watering images of the wildlife and scenery. Sadly I know in my heart that it's somewhere I'll never make it to, but I'm grateful for the glimpse you've given us. Thank you

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  23. Chris, what adventures you have. Your blog is aptly named! Glad you found all these birds and got to visit such amazing places! I'm really glad you kept me from falling that day on the trail and so glad you finally got your bird!

    BTW, that goldfinch sure looks way different from our AZ Lesser Goldfinches!

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