Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Greener Pastures

Through the pastures I walk.  Each new sound pulls me closer to new birds.  I watch carefully to make sure I am not chased down by a grunting territorial bull.  I move carefully over a rickety bridge making sure I do not fall into the mosquito infested waters.  I keep an eye open for anyone who may be hiding behind a tree wanting to cause me ill will.

Rufous-tailed Hummingbird
I marvel at the diversity found in this stretch of grassy pasture.  It sits next to untouched rain forest. I slowly move along the path keeping my eyes on the smaller movements jumping all around the vegetation.  What I see makes me scratch my head.

A hummingbird I understand, but these little tiny birds are everywhere!  And not one of them are the same!

Do I spy a warbler on the far branch?  I research warblers after my observations.  This bird is no warbler!
Look carefully to your right.......the tiny Yellow-faced Grassquit
The hummingbird reminds me that I have entered new territory and not all birds will be recognizable.  It was perhaps the most dizzying display of birds I had seen on my trip so far.  So many tiny birds and all of them lifebirds.  Now if I could only get my eye on each one......


The pastures were fascinating.  Situated along the Río Dulce behind a swamp area along a rain forest, these grassy hills had quite a number of birds visiting.....

Cattle Egret
No matter the time. In the mists of the morning.  During the warm breezes before a dark storm approached.  Or the scalding rays of the sun as they burned forcefully onto the pastures...........I found birds.

Tropical Kingbird
I discovered not warblers nor finches......but grassquits.

Blue-black Grassquit(male)
They lined fence posts and open branches. When they weren't sitting, they were buzzing up and down from the grasses.  Their strange movements looked as if they were a hybrid of hummingbirds and warblers. They were a lot of fun to observe. 

White-collared Seedeater(female)
The pebble paths exposed Ruddy Ground Doves.  Their constant twitching caught my attention.  If I got too close, they'd fly off in a quick burst from the ground. 

Plain-breasted ground dove
But it was the grasses that held the greatest mysteries....

For there were strange birds that took me a long time to identify such as the one below.

Gray-crowned Yellowthroat
One distraction led to the next.....allowing me better observations of the Golden-fronted Woodpecker feeding a juvenile.

Golden-fronted Woodpecker
My body at this point of the trip was exhausted.  I had mapped this area out for 3 days because I was seeing a lot of different birds at different times of the day.  I went once in the morning, again in the afternoon and a final walk at night. I was able to find 20 new species in this area alone plus add another 30 birds to my Guatemala list from the Río Dulce sector!

And then this strange and cool looking number happened by me.  I barely saw the bird, but I repeated its calls and watched it look at me from the branches for about 4 minutes. Finally, it flew off.

Common Tody-Flycatcher
But it was the evening that allowed me to capture these brilliant parrots flying back to their roost for the night. 

Red-lored Parrot
This was the first true pasture I've birded. Well one that had real water running through the area.  We don't have many of them around the Tucson area:) And there would be many more discoveries in the days ahead on this memorable trip to Guatemala.  Life is but a dream. The words to this song are beautiful and what's on my radio lately. PS. I hear a Jay at the end of this video.  Just saying:)
  I'm linking up to Wild Bird Wednesday.


  1. Hi Chris,

    Sounds like an amazing time. It also makes me imagine how I'll be feeling when I visit Costa Rica next year, only I'll be more so as we don't have most of those families in Australia!

  2. Chris, now you have me wanting to visit Guatemala. You saw a wonderful variety of birds during your visit. Beautiful photos. Have a great day and happy birding!

  3. I think I need to go somewhere completely different, where almost all birds are new!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  4. What a superb location for birds and what a great variety you saw :) Love the song by the way :)

  5. Beautiful pictures of the different species of birds.
    Here in the Netherlands are not those species.
    Very well photographed, compliments.
    Greetings Irma

  6. Lovely birds and animals, great Chris.

  7. Great series, I love the hummers!

  8. Yeh I heard the Jay too..well I heard a bird :)) What an excellent trip, Guatemala looks excellent through your birding eyes..so many beautiful little birds that I'd never get to see if it wasn't for you, merci beaucoup Chris.

  9. What a fabulous day you had birding. Great photos of all the beauties you found.

  10. Wow, Chris! That pasture could almost be anywhere in the UK, the only giveaway being the roof in the background - until you see the fabulous birds there!!!

    Your journeys are inspirational!

    Thank you- Richard

  11. That pasture looks great for birds and I love the hummingbirds

  12. These are all fantastic birds and photos but... you lost me a bit at the swamp next to the rain forest. I got itchy.

  13. I am in awe of the beautiful scenery and birds you have encountered in your rain-forest adventures Chris.
    Happy birding :)

  14. A rewarding pasture indeed. They seem to disappear here and honeybees and butterflies with them. :-(

  15. Wonderful! I love the hummingbirds and the woodpeckers.

  16. Great photos. I have similiar photos of sunbirds perched on the Heliconia. The diverse array of birds that you have captured is awesome.

  17. Thanks, Chris, for this wonderful little journey through such a rich habitat.

  18. What a paradise you've found!
    I know, it's a dirty job, but someone has to do it!

    Nice work on the i.d. challenges and nice photographs!

  19. You got nice captures of the lovely birds! indeed, your photographs always inspire me to better there I just found the seven wonders of the incredible India. I hope you will explore its through my new post.

  20. How wonderful!!So many new birds you have discovered Chris.You have earned them with your passion and courage to walk alone in a strange envirament.I have never seen any of these birds in the wild, and only ever seen parrots in cages.
    Have a great weekend!:)

  21. So many new species and difficult ones too that most of us would be bog-eyed at the end of the day. Carry on nenjoying Chris.

  22. Hi Chris, just discovered you via Kathie's blog. Love your photos and enthusiasm for birding! Now following via email. Cheers!


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