rotating banner

Thursday, October 27, 2011

San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua: Birds #35-#41, plus... a Squirrel?

Welcome back for the third and final recap of James's expedition through Nicaragua. James found his best life bird of the trip, saw another volcano, and apparently almost got pinched in the face by a crab! Read on for the bird-filled details...

After two days on the quiet Isla de Ometepe, it was time to continue our trek across Nicaragua. After another 20-mile, two-hour cab ride, we got to the ferry terminal to head across the narrow part of Lake Nicaragua. Thankfully this ferry ride was only a half hour, and also gave me some nice looks at large group of Neotropic Cormorants.

In my opinion, much cooler than their Double-crested cousins.

The ferry dropped us off in Rivas, and from there we took a short 30-minute cab ride to the small beach town of San Juan del Sur, famous for good surf and incredible sunsets.

See? Told ya they were incredible!

We arrived at our hostel only to find that they had overbooked, and had no room for us. Thankfully for us, San Juan del Sur has far more hostels then tourists and finding another room was not an issue. Our new hostel was actually cheaper and it was right on the beach.

Literally, it turns out - looks like high tide comes knockin' at the door!

As much as I had loved Nicaragua up to that point, there was one thing that had been bothering me; it was never sunny. That was until one lovely morning in San Juan del Sur. I stepped out onto our balcony, and waited for the birds to come by. The first bird to offer some good looks was a very nice White-winged Dove, who found the power line across the street from us to be an excellent place to land.

::Robert's Note:: Not to brag or anything, but I got my lifer White-winged Dove in North Carolina!

After he headed off, one of the very common Crimson-fronted Parakeets quickly took his place. I had gotten poor views of this bird throughout the trip, but luckily this guy decided he wanted to get a little bit closer for me.

Much better than just glimpsing them flying over... like 99% of parrot sightings.

While enjoying my view of this awesome bird, I noticed a nice male Great-tailed Grackle enjoying the sun in a nearby palm tree.

::Robert's Note:: A bird we regrettably missed in California - still looking for my lifer!

Three life birds in less then thirty minutes without moving – not half bad! I eventually decided to leave the comforts of our hostel, and walk around the town a little bit. This turned out to be a very good decision. I noticed a couple of birds flitting about in a very warbler-like way. After following them around, I finally found one who decided to sit still and pose for me in a low flowering tree. I quickly realized it was a Blue-gray Tanager, one of the birds I was really hoping to see. He eventually got back to his flitting ways, but not before I got my shot.

::Robert's Note:: This is it... the number one most envious bird James found in Nicaragua...

I then noticed that the large birds that had always been soaring way out in the distance over the bay had elected to come towards the shore, giving me my first good looks at the Magnificent Frigatebirds that frequented the bay.

::Robert's Note:: These things never seem to show up when I'm around.

We ended up staying in San Juan del Sur for three days, and on our last day in the beach town, we took a hike up to the towering statue that watches over the bay.

Not a bad view... for a statue.

Surprisingly, the hike did not yield any new birds for me, but it did give me spectacular looks at one of the incredibly colorful crabs of Nicaragua, Gecarcinas quadratus – the aptly named Halloween Crab.

I pinch!

In addition, I found my second new mammal of the trip, as a Variegated Squirrel climbed over our heads. This mammal gave Robert and I more trouble then I ever thought a mammal possibly could, but we eventually were able to successfully ID him. ::Robert’s Note:: Yeah, this was an odd one. When we first looked at pictures of squirrels from Nicaragua, we could only find one gray-colored squirrel, the Deppe’s Squirrel, but it didn’t look quite right. There were however, many pictures of red Variegated Squirrels online, and it looked pretty close, only it was, you know, red. So I left it unidentified until very recently, when I checked Google Images just to see if anything had changed, and sure enough in the year since James went to Nicaragua, there are now several gray-morph Variegated Squirrel pictures on Google. Consider yourself ID’d, squirrel!

Truth be told, I find most squirrels difficult to ID. Chipmunks too!

We completed the hike and headed for our last stopping point of Masaya. Masaya was the least touristy town that we visited, and was really only famous for its volcano, which itself is famous for constantly releasing gases, and occasionally spitting up large, car crushing rocks.

::Robert's Note:: I think he's lying about those rocks...

The visit yielded me my first looks at an active volcano, and a good look at a very cool Stripe-headed Sparrow, which made an awesome last life bird in the awesome country of Nicaragua.

Could maybe use a better name though... how about Striated Volcano-Sparrow? Eh?

Well that's it folks - James left Nicaragua and came back to the States just a day later, and though he left all those cool Neotropic birds behind, that doesn't mean there aren't great lifers to come. Stay tuned next week as the Birding Bros. are reunited and head for sunny San Diego, California!

No comments:

Post a Comment