(Bolivar state), 27 Feb. to 10 March 1995
John van der Woude - www.jvanderw.nl
Birding trip report in two parts, see also part 2.
in 1994, we had a marvellous birding trip to Venezuela. This year we went
to Bolivar state only, which is SE of the Orinoco. Avifaunistically, this
area has as well elements from the northern part of Venezuela (N of the
Orinoco), as from the broad Amazonian/Guyanan region Distinctive bird
groups, which we saw at many places, comprise parrots & macaws,
jacamars, manakins, toucans, trogons, piha's, bellbirds, etc, so we are in
the real Neotropics.
sketchy map with places mentioned.
sketchy map with places mentioned.
stayed at three places: 1. at the base of the Escalera, the road going up
to the Gran Sabana, passing several tropical forest zones, 2. El Palmar,
for a visit to the Imataca Forest Reserve (Rio Grande), and 3. Las
Trincheras in the lower Rio Caura valley. At 1 and 3 we stayed in lodges,
at 2 in a hotel. This was all arranged through the Audubon Society of
Venezuela (fax 58 2 910716). We had a car from Budget, but this car was
not without problems, probably also due to the fact that we arrived at
Carnival time, so we had the last car available. We later changed it to a
much better car, in Ciudad Bolivar, also from Budget.
general, the visited sites were forests, or rather forest borders: along
roads and tracks, rivers, clearings, etc. At a few places we also walked
trails into the forest. In between we also had interesting savannas. Photo
right is of slash-and-burn plot in Imataca forest reserve.
two lodges were really nice. Henry Cleve of 'La Barquilla de Fresa' at km
85 at the base of the Escalera, was very hospitable and he knows a lot of
the surroundings (he is a birder himself too). We spoke mostly German with
him. Breakfast is possible at 5.30 or even 5 a.m. already. As they always
serve something hot at breakfast (like pancakes or arepas), you are being
awakened by the smell from the kitchen. The take-away lunches are a
delight, as are the dinners at 7.30. Other dinner times were possible too.
The lodge is a sort of 'long house' with open-roof rooms with 4 bunk beds
each, although I don't think he would have put other people in our room.
Henry's garden is a nice place to bird now and then. Henry has a shelf
with several books on natural history, e.g. books on mammals, butterflies,
etc. Henry always closes his gate, so the car is safely parked.
other lodge, at the lower Rio Caura, has a fantastic view across the
river, and the food there was very good. Warden (not owner) Juan and his
wife were not yet used so much to birders; for example, a take-away lunch
was something strange in their eyes, a real lunch is much better of
course. (A few years later we heard that Juan still was not really used to
birders, alas.) We slept in a private cottage, with a view on the river
(photo). There is an open house with several hammocks too, probably that's
cheaper. The lodge is situated at the end of a tiny end-of-the-road
village (Las Trincheras), so there is no gate, and car theft is something
unheard of. Nevertheless, I put the car every night right in front of the
when hiring a car, it is not possible (at least not in our case), to be
insured against theft. Apart from some chigger bites we had no health
problems. We trusted the food in the lodges so much that we even ate
salads. Probably we even always had (filtered) tap water in the local
juices of the lodges. Outside those we had our bottles of mineral water,
or soft drinks. The night rest was reasonably good in these tropical
lowlands, certainly compared to what we heard about the ordinary hotels in
weather was fine for birdwatching: sunny and nearly always dry. This is
the dry period (el verano, the summer) for N. Venezuela, and to a lesser
degree for S. Venezuela as well. This year, according to Henry Cleve the
dry period had been very dry and long for Bolivar state. This may have
negatively affected the presence of several bird groups, or the ease to
find them. Nevertheless, at the beginning of the trip we had some rain in
the night, and this may have induced several birds to become more active.
dryness also meant that we had easy access to all sorts of places, by car
as well as on foot. My sporting shoes were fit for every site. Care had to
be taken for other animals than birds: snakes (we only saw some on the
road, mainly thin tree snakes, but also a very fast fatter one), scorpions
(once we nearly stepped on one of about 12 cm), and the few chiggers
used a tiny tape-recorder together with several american bird sound tapes
in order to check occasionally bird calls that we heard in the forests.
Some study at home of Ridgely & Tudors handbooks proved valuable, as
was the report by Hornbuckle (DBTRS nr V36), and of course the booklets by
Mary Lou Goodwin.
the itinerary, bird names are given in three styles:
had good flight connections from Curacao via Maiquetia (Caracas) to Puerto
Ordaz. In Maiquetia, we had to wait a few hours, and after the vouchers
for the lodges etc. had been given to us by Sr. Antonio the taxi driver of
Hotel Tojamar in Macuto (arranged through the Audubon), we made a short
tour of 1.5 hours with him through the surrounding area. Only at a few
localities there is something left of the original landscape, most of it
is rapidly filled up with appartment houses. At a brook we noted (not
included in the trip list) Gray en Tropical Kingbird, Lesser Kiskadee,
Boat-billed Flycatcher, Yellow Warbler, Scaled Dove, Carib Grackle, Shiny
were happy that the reserved car was there, at our late arrival at Puerto
Ordaz airport (20 h), and we went straight on to hotel Rasil. The parking
lot there has a guard.
28 February 1995
woke up at 6.15, to see that the day starts really earlier here than on
the more westward situated Curacao. On the way to the Parque Cachamay,
clearly shown on the map in the Lonely Planet Guide, we noted that the
car's odometer and km-counter don't work, after we had seen already that
the safety belts had no proper lock. We went on to the park first, and
would go to Budget afterwards. The main entrance of the park is where the
autopista runs closest to the river. The view on the shallow but broad
rapids is magnificent (photo). At this point we observed Lesser
Seedfinch*, Large-billed Tern, Ringed Kingfisher, Great
Egret, Snowy Egret, Neotropic Cormorant, Streaked
Flycatcher, Greater Kiskadee, Squirrel Cuckoo, Red-crowned
Woodpecker, Blue-gray Tanager, Dusky Parrot*, Black-collared
Swallow*, Yellow Warbler.
Budget we made the deal that we would have all km free with this car. They
had no other car available yet. For the safety belt lock we found a
hand-made solution with two pieces of wood. So, at about 11 h, we set off
for the Escalera, some 350 km to the South. The first 250 km or so pass a
landscape of savanna and light forests, with many small fires. We didn=t
stop there, but noted Swallow-tailed Kite, Southern Lapwing,
Crested Caracara, Turkey Vulture. In one of the villages
we had to stop a while to let pass a Carnival group of mainly children,
most of them had their faces painted black with some greasy stuff.
1 March 1995
recommended by mrs. Goodwin of the Audubon, we went birding the dust road
going West at Km 87, at the entrance of the village called 'Km 88'. This
road leads through some good lowland forest patches, with fine views on
small openings beside the road (photo). After c. 5 km the road bifurcates,
with a guardpost on the right. At that spot there should be a Capuchinbird
lek. But we didn=t
make haste to get there, because along the road we saw several of the
lowland species for the first time. From c. 6.30 h we observed Lineated
Woodpecker, Silverbeaked Tanager, heard trogons, Little Tinamou,
and Screaming Piha, saw several yet unidentified parrots flying
over from their roosts probably, Red-eyed Vireo, Black-necked
Aracari*, Mealy Parrot, Paradise Jacamar*, Orange-winged
Parrot, Green Aracari. Further species were Cayenne
Jay, Yellow-tufted Woodpecker, Red-billed Toucan*, Black-eared
Fairy* on a branch, Slate-coloured Grosbeak*, Blue-headed
Parrot* (feeding), the first of the beautiful Painted
Parakeet*, Red-legged Honeycreeper, Red-rumped Cacique*,
Masked Yellowthroat*, Violaceous Trogon* (female), Olivaceous
Woodcreeper, saw a few Howler Monkeys, and flying overhead with
clear sickels at the end of the wings a Crane Hawk.
the bifuraction after 5 km, we didn't know where to look for the
Capuchinbird, but heard somewhat to the South a strange sound, as if from
a chain saw. But it was too short for that, trees nor branches can't be
cut here in such a short time.
at 10.50 h we started our first visit to the Escalera proper. At a dry
pond at km 91 we saw Purple Honeycreeper, and Swallow
Tanager. At the huge rock called Piedra de la Virgin (km 98) a Cliff
Flycatcher* pair was nesting, but little stones were thrown at
them by a nasty boy, the son of the couple who tried to sell something to
visitors of the little shrine at the base of the rock. Apart from some
lone cars the Escalera further was very quiet during our stay (but
afterwards I heard that can be quite different during holiday times).
this first day we had said to Henry (the warden of the lodge) that we
would have lunch in the lodge instead of take-away. So we just went up the
Escalera a bit to see how it looks like. To our surprise, the first White
Bellbird* that we heard, we also saw, close by, on the top of a
slender dead tree at km 111. His wattle nearly disappeared in his wide
open mouth when calling. Its metallic 'doingg!' is echoed by several other
the road a Greater Pewee was looking for insects, and we
further heard a Rufous-browed Peppershrike. On the way back
we observed at the roadside a juvenal Double-toothed Kite
chasing after an orange leave that came down. Lower, at a more open spot,
we saw our first White Hawk*, impressive against the all
green background. We passed some Blue-and-white Swallows,
old friends of us.
the lunch and a short nap we walked a bit in Henry's forest. At the
backside we saw several small greenish grayish birds high up in the trees,
but couldn't make anything of it. A long slow chase after a bird at the
bottom produced a Spot-winged Antbird*. Back in Henry's
garden there was the Black Nunbird* (again), which is
apparently nesting here.
we learned from Henry that the strange sound of the sawing machine is in
fact from the Capuchinbird, we decided to go to the km 87-road again. And
there we heard them again, some 100 m S of the bifurcation mentioned
before. We managed to see one Capuchinbird* via a very small
footpath starting 30 m after the bifurcation. This is a real lek, because
the one we saw and heard right above our head, in the top of the tree, was
surrounded by some 4 or 5 colleagues. Nearby you can hear that the
chainsaw sound is preceded by a soft 'chchch' sound. The bird bends its
bare head down while singing, so that it looks rather flat. That must also
be the reason why the guard at the post on the righthand road after the
bifurcation thought that they were so small. He often sees them in the
tree above his post.
the small clearings along the dust road we further saw Red-billed
Toucan, Cayenne Jay, and a group of displaying Red-rumped Caciques.
Back at the main road we ticked the Blue-black Grassquit.
were able to have breakfast at 5.30 h already (yes, this is a real
birders' lodge), and went up the Escalera with take-away lunches. At km 98
(the Rock) we saw the Cliff Flycatchers again (this time without
the nasty boy), as well as two macaws that should be Red&Green, but
that we were to see later on much better. At Km 111 we made a long stop,
in order to look for Cock-of-the-Rocks. We observed Two-banded
Warbler*, Gray-crowned Flycatcher* (10 cm, grey cap, 2 wing
bars, eye ring, yellowish below). Fork-tailed Woodnymph*, Slate-throated
Redstart. Again we saw the nice Black-eared Fairy hummer,
but now cocking its tail while hovering. Meanwhile we observed one or two >oranges
thrown across the road=:
Guyanan Cock-of-the-Rock*. Of course this sighting is not
nearly as impressive as that of the Andean COTR=s
last year. Further species at this site were Rufous-bellied Euphonia*,
Yellow-bellied Tanager*, Squirrel Cuckoo. Going up we saw a
perching Roadside Hawk.
next stop was km 117, another of the 'famous' points, although, when you
add all the famous points from the different authors together, you'll
probably get the whole Escalera. Here we heard White Bellbird and a
typical clicking manakin sound. We went after them a bit into the forest
and saw two displaying Scarlet-horned Manakins*. We further
identified a Masked Trogon* and a male Fork-tailed
km 118, at the clearing with the radiomasts or whatever, we had a fine
view of c. 8 feeding Fiery-shouldered Parakeet* with their
deep orange and blue colours. Going after a small brownish songbird in the
open bushes, we flushed a Solitary Sandpiper at a sort of
first of the many Bearded Bellbird* did we hear at km 120,
as well as the equally unmistakable song of the Flutist Wren*.
There was also a group of Golden-tufted Grackle* flying
around. At km 122 we noted Black-headed Tanager* and Roadside
Hawk. Slightly beyond is a short gravel road to the left, where our
guests led us to show a male Peacock Coquette* (not
displaying his plumes however). Further species in this interesting
half-open patch of forest were a Veniliornis woodpecker, Brown
Violetear*, Black Hawk-eagle passing by, and we
heard (and checked on the tape) the Variegated Tinamou*.
now, the forest has become lower and thinner, although very varied (photo
right). At km 131.2 our guests knew a fruiting tree, on the righthand side
just before a bend with a small pool (the road acts as a dam at several
places, but apart from giving a look into the forest, the pools are not
especially worthwile). In this tree there was a coming and going of many
birds: Bearded Bellbird (so we have seen now already both
bellbirds; both are heard all around here, Bearded more than White over
here), a flock of 12 stunning Paradise Tanager*, Blue-naped
Chlorophonia*, a pair of Green Honeycreeper, Tropical
Parula, Bay-headed Tanager, Blackburnian Warbler,
and to our surprise even some White-fronted Manakin*.
the early afternoon we went on to the Gran Sabana (photo left), the open
savanna at 1300 m above sealevel, and planned to return to the Escalera
forests later in the afternoon. Before and around the Soldiers Monument at
km 140 we saw Black-faced Tanager*, Ruddy-breasted Seedeater,
Tropical Kingbird, Rufous-browed Sparrow, Tropical Mockingbird,
Crested Caracara, and finally the one we sought especially, Hooded
Siskin* (2 males and 1 female). Their behaviour is quite like the
siskins in Europe. At the river at km 141 we observed Red-shouldered
Tanager*, Southern Rough-winged Swallow, American Redstart,
Sierran Elaenia* (white in crown seen), Burnished-buff
Tanager, Speckled Tanager. So at these first kms of the
Gran Sabana you see birds of open forest and Llanos-type open savanna.
at km 131.2 on the Escalera we saw the same species at the fruiting tree
as this morning, but also male Scarlet-horned Manakin, and a small
vireo-like warbler with grey-blue head, brownish back and pale yellow
below: Tepui Greenlet*. Back at km 111 I briefly saw the
wren that we had heard already a few times and now it could also visually
be identified as Coraya Wren* indeed.
dusk we stopped at the pool of c. km 92, but only saw two Mealy Parrot
in a tree (mostly you only see them flying overhead), and White-winged
we planned to do the upper part of the Escalera, and go in the afternoon
to km 200 on the Gran Sabana, indicated by Henry Cleve as a good time and
place to see something of the tepuis, the table-topped mountains rising
another 1300 m above the Gran Sabana. During the early morning ride up the
lower Escalera we noted some mammals (identified at night at Henry's
library): Red-rumped Agouti (a genuinely orange-red rear part), a Tayra (a
black weasel/martyr with a light coloured head), and a fresh dead
Anderson's Gray Four-eyed Opossum on the road.
two macaws flying over at km 117, and a White-necked Thrush at the
roadside at km 119, we birded some time at km 120: Golden-tufted
Grackle, Flutist Wren (always only heard), Black-hooded Thrush,
Black-headed Tanager, both bellbirds of course, Brown Violetear,
and also two birds that we could not identify other than White-faced
Redstart* (/Whitestart) although this is be a rare bird here
(should be on higher tepuis only). They were even in courtship display. A
Furnariid of c. 12 cm, with red-brown fluffy tail, light belly and breast
and dark above, hopping swiftly on the branches did we identify, also
based on the altitude, as Pale-breasted Spinetail*.
did the short gravelly side road at c. km 127 again, and were rewarded
with a fine view on a Rose-collared Piha* resting a while in
the trees before hurrying on again. There too were two groups of Fiery-shouldered
Parakeet, and a Speckled Tanager.
next stop was exactly at km 130. This forest looks a bit dull, but a flock
of 20 Paradise Tanager pleased us much. Accompanying species were Violaceous
Euphonia, Blackburnian Warbler and a Red-eyed Vireo-like bird with
wingbars. By sight and sound we identified a Lineated Woodcreeper*
there too. Other tanagers around were Speckled and the endemic Olive-backed
Tanager* (with sharp transition from throat to breast indeed, as
depicted in Ridgely & Tudor.
we went to the fruiting tree at km 131.2. We noted Black-hooded Thrush,
Blackburnian Warbler, Golden-olive Woodpecker, Paradise Tanager, Bananaquit,
Speckled Tanager, Olive-backed Tanager, Scarlet-horned Manakin (the
lek now), Coraya Wren, Slate-throated Redstart, Two-banded Warbler, Orange-bellied
Euphonia, and heard Variegated Tinamou, and both bellbirds.
Around km 133/134 we looked for the endemics described for this part of
the Escalera, but found only (at the end of the morning) 4 macaws, most
probably Red&Green (always too high in the air they are), and spended
a long time on a bird sound in the ditch of the road, a sneezing 'pe-tsjew'
(stress on second syllable), but the bird didn't show up.
the rather sharp transition to the Gran Sabana, at c. km 136, we again
chased a long time in the low bushes after a bird singing clear staccato
whistled tunes, accelerating and decreasing in pitch. The song was
responded by two others further from the road. Probably this is
Black-throated Antbird. Easier species around were Swallowwing and Southern
Rough-winged Swallow. We saw two Red&Green Macaw*
finally clearly from above.
km 142.5 we had two Tawny-headed Swallow* circling around.
As we had not been able to fill the car=s
tank this morning at Km 88 (gas station opens only at 7), we were glad to
be able to do that here, at the military post. A while further on was even
a second gas station. At km 182 flew a Maguari Stork,
strange idea - so far from the Llanos, but indeed, this is savanna too.
Finally, at km 193, we were rewarded with a splendid view (photo right),
across a river, on a group of three tepuis, from left to right: Traamen-
(means striped or stained), Karaurin- (means fishing basket) and Iru-tepui
(= big tree).
at the Escalera part, at km 133/134, we heard a very thin and very high
'dog-whistle' tune, drawn out and even increasing in pitch. The bird
itself was difficult to spot clearly, a greyish bird of about 15 cm: Red-banded
Fruiteater*. While watching this, we nearly stepped on a scorpion
of 12 cm in the gutter of the road. We identified a hummer as White-tailed
Goldenthroat*: rather small, bright green (also the rump), white
tail end, hermit-like face and bill. Other species around were Black-and-white
Warbler, Speckled Tanager, White-collared Swift, 4 Swallow-tailed
Kite, Flutist Wren and the sneezing bird again.
at 131.2 eight Red-throated Caracara* came by, screaming,
and agitatedly landing together in a tree nearby. At km 113, at 17.50 h
(nearly dusk) we heard a nightbird: a sort of staccato rolling, increasing
and subsequently decreasing in volume as well as pitch, 3 seconds in
total. This clearly is from the Otus guatemalae complex - Vermiculated
we would do some more lowland forest birding. First we shortly checked the
dust road going West at km 80. In this 20 minutes or so we didn=t
see more than Black-necked Aracari, Channel-billed Toucan, Dusky
Antbird*, Orange-winged Parrot. Then we drove on to the km
67-trail (leading to Guyana). Halfway I braked for two Bat Falcon
perching on either side of the road. At this moment it became clear that
we would have to change to a better car when passing along P. Ordaz in a
few days - the brakes were loosening pressure.
asking a family in the tiny village 150 m N of the km 67-trail to keep an
eye on the parked car, we set off on this (old secondary?) forest trail at
c. 7.30 h. Many species were seen at the first small clearing N of the
track: Magpie Tanager, Streaked Flyatcher, Cayenne Jay, Green
Honeycreeper, Bare-eyed Thrush (heard and checked on a tape.
Further species passing by were Gray Hawk, Turquoise Tanager*,
Black-spotted Barbet* (a pair), Buff-throated
Woodcreeper (heard), Guianan Toucanet*, Paradise
Jacamar, macaws, Red-throated Caracara, Crested Oropendula,
Red-billed Toucan. In the forest beyond we met a hasty flock counting
at least the fine Rufous-bellied Antwren*, Plain
Xenops* and Chestnut-rumped Woodcreeper* (song
checked). At several places we heared Pale-vented Pigeon
(sound checked). All the time we tried to hear the Musician Wren, but none
was singing. The large clearing beyond produced the usual Plumbeous
Kite, and King Vulture, Black Nunbird, Yellow-tufted
noon we parked the car at the grocery shop just S of where a tiny footpath
besides a brook leads to the 'km 74'-trail (which should join the 67-trail
somewhere). First we ate our lunches at the steps of the grocery, and had
some refrescos. The owner of the shop speaks a nice English, probably from
Guyana. After a short rest at a small shady pool some 300 m from the road,
we set off on the trail proper for a mile or so. The promised Golden-headed
Manakin* was there indeed. Again we met a too hasty mixed species
flock, and couldn't make more of it than a foliage-gleaner, a large
woodcreeper, Bananaquit, Wedge-billed Woodcreeper, and a
flycatcher (probably Ochre-bellied). At a small brook we saw White-crowned
Manakin*. This walk was concluded by a group of 10 Crested
Oropendula and finally a hermit, too fast for me (Reddish, we would
see this species better the next day).
headed back for the Escalera once more, and were surprised by a Sunbittern*
flying low across the road from a pool E of the road at c. km 82 or 83,
not far from Henry's. Henry said us that evening that we had been really
lucky, he had seen this bird only twice here. Further inspection of the
pool (viewed from the road) produced a White-tailed Trogon*,
heard so often already, but seen for the first time now.
indicated by Henry, we parked the car at km 102, where locals come with
small trucks to fetch water from a pipe W of the road. Just 15 m S of that
pipe a small footpath leads after 100 m to a strange spot of bare rock
with enormous bromeliads, and a fantastic view over the vast forest West
(photo), especially now with a low sun. Red-legged Honeycreeper (a
group of 8), and Spotted Tanager* hung around. In the water
of the bromeliads small frogs should occur. We didn't see them there, but
I found one on the way back to the car, crossing the trail, a dramatically
black-and-yellow spotted little frog (Hydrobates leucomelos,
according to Henry). The car began to have ignition problems too, now!
sunset we yet stopped at the pool at km 92: Black-spotted Barbet,
Purple Honeycreeper, Blue Dacnis.
saying goodbye to Henry Cleve, we set off North for El Palmar, but planned
to do yet the km 27.8 track mentioned in Hornbuckle's report, as well as
some marsh birding along the road from Villa Lola to El Palmar. But the
first marsh birds were there already at the pool of km 82: Muscovy
Duck, Wattled Jacana, Ringed Kingfisher.
short visit to the W-bound km 80 track produced a pair of Yellow-headed
Parrot*. There were playing and preening each other at a high
branch, and performed an acrobatic show for us. After they left, a pair of
Red&Green Macaws came to do the same on exactly the same spot.
Further species were a.o. Cayenne Jay, and once more we heard the Variegated
Tinamou (checked on the tape again).
km 45.5 we stopped to take a picture of a black slash-and-burn plot W of
the road (see photo at beginning of report). Nearby, in the forest on the
E side of the road, we heard a Capuchinbird. Driving down the main
road, we saw several toucans and aracari's crossing. Then we turned down
the track E at the Pepsi stall at c. km 27.8 (still always the km-counting
S of El Dorado). At the start we paid some attention to two little doves: Plain-breasted
drove on this track for about 2 km through clearings and forest patches,
well into a larger forest, and worked back from there until the last
clearing at c. 1.5 km from the main road. The forest is tall, and the
openings (cutting of single trees) along the track are just large enough
to give some good views. We heard Screaming Piha (several), Chestnut-rumped
Woodcreeper, Buff-throated Woodcreeper, a cat-like miaul, and a nice
clear, whistling bird song, somewhat complaining, consisting of two notes,
the first 0.5 sec, the second 1.5 sec and lowering in pitch. We saw Black-tailed
Tityra, Lineated Woodpecker, Violaceous Euphonia, Green-rumped
Parrotlet, Black-eared Fairy, and a real Reddish Hermit*.
We thought that we at last got to see a Screaming Piha, but from its
flycatcher behaviour it is clear that it is a Grayish Mourner*.
Further species in the forest were Black-and-White Warbler, Paradise
Jacamar, and Black Nunbird.
we entered the 'last clearing' at c. 1.5 km from the main road, and
located to the N side of the track. It was 9.45 h when, from a shady spot
on the track looking at the first Long-tailed Tyrant of the
trip, I saw from the corner of my eye something big landing in one of the
lone dead bare trees in the clearing (photo), and heard many shrieking
bird sounds. Shakingly, but for about 3 minutes, we were watching now the
unbelievable at only 60 meters from us, with the sun in its face: an adult
Harpy Eagle*! All the details were fitting: big (about 1 m),
dark upperside, light head with dark eyes (looking frighteningly straight
at us), black band at breast, white below, very thick legs, fine but clear
barring at transition from legs to belly. When the bird started scratching
its throat, bending its head down anyway, we clearly saw the divided
crest. The bird was not as massive as a female should be, so we think it's
a male. Before it sailed away, at right angle from us and towards the sun
(so giving another fine view of the bird - heavy banded underwings, and
again clear black breast band contrasting with belly and head), we had
taken some pictures with the 135 mm lens (back home this appears to be
just enough). The Harpy disappeared in the forest, probably not very far
(it sailed already upwards again), but we didn't see it again.
course, we were extremely happy with this absolute highlight of the trip,
and decided that we would not spend half a day with a guide from El Palmar
to go for the radiotagged juvenal Harpy in the Rio Grande forest. The
Swedish tour leader had told us how relatively disappointing this juvenal
in fact is, because it has not yet a black breast band, so can hardly be
distinguished from a Crested. The famous nest has fallen down, so the
adults (not breeding this year) are not readily found there anymore.
birds at the Harpy clearing were Red&Green Macaw (4, well seen
from above), Paradise Jacamar (2), 1 adult King Vulture,
the main road further down towards Villa Lola we still noted White-shouldered
Tanager*, several Swallow-tailed Kite, a group of 15 Painted
Parakeet, a dead Band-rumped Swift (picture taken). Afterwards,
in the more arid region we saw Yellow-rumped Cacique, Smooth-billed
Ani, Scarlet Macaw, Black Vulture, White-winged Swallow,
Crested Caracara, Great Egret. In this savanna area, at c. km 111
(counting from Ciudad Guyana here), we had a pleasant lunch stop at Bodega
Los Aceiticos (the last bodega of about 4). In the shade of a fruiting
tree we drank two Manzanitas each and ate our lunch from Henry, meanwhile
observing there in the tree Buff-throated Saltator, Great
Kiskadee, Blue-grey Tanager, Palm Tanager, Yellow-rumped Cacique, Brown-throated
Parakeet, Red-crowned Woodpecker.
14.30 h we left the main road at the 'Villa Lola' crossing and took the
yet quieter road to El Palmar. After 3 km and some Yellow Oriole,
the road went down to a large pond on the S side of the road: Anhinga,
Great Egret, Little Blue Heron, Wattled Jacana, Vermillion
Flycatcher, Pied Water-Tyrant, White-necked Heron, American
Kestrel, Solitary Sandpiper, White-headed Marsh-Tyrant (a
pair), Social Flycatcher, White-winged Swallow, Green-backed Heron,
Blue-black Grassquit, Yellow-hooded Blackbird*, Neotropic
Cormorant, Grassland Sparrow* (indeed a sparrow in the grass
marsh), Southern Lapwing. So we feel as if back in the Llanos. A
short while further is another pond with some extra species: Black-bellied
Whistling Duck, White-faced Whistling Duck, Ruddy
Ground-Dove, Fork-tailed Flycatcher, Red-breasted
Blackbird, White-tailed Hawk (2 in courtship
display), Green Ibis. After stopping the engine of the car,
we had some ignition problems again.
reaching El Palmar we yet saw Savanna Hawk (juv.) and the
omnipresent Crested Caracara. To reach the Parador Taguapire we had
to go to the central plaza and ask for the direction there. The Parador is
situated near an enormous tree on the top of a low hill at the W end of
the village, and the street has been named after that tree: Colina de la
Ceiba. We were welcomed by the owner, mr Stofikm, and had some beer (very
cold) right away. After refreshing ourselves a bit in our very hot outer
room, we made a short sunset walk west: Yellow Oriole, Blue-gray
Tanager, Tropical Mockingbird, Eared Dove, Barn Swallow, Common
Gallinule, and several pairs of large parrots flying around to
their roosts probably. A real large roost we saw of parakeets, probably
Brown-throated, but too far away.