31 October 2011

Back to Brazil

Not had the best start to this trip! We finally arrived in Brazil yesterday afternoon rather than Saturday evening as planned, thanks to Iberia delaying our connecting flight in Madrid by 18 hours and shoving us in a crap hotel overnight, and today (31 October) saw very heavy rain for most of the day, restricting birding opportunities. A brief walk around the wetland this morning did, however, produce a REGUA tick in the form of two Grey-necked Wood-Rails. I've only heard them once at REGUA in the past, so this was a welcome addition to the patch list. Other 'highlights' on this rather highlight-less morning were 1-2 Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, 14 Masked Duck, a nice adult Rufescent Tiger-Heron, 2 Capped Heron, 1 Ringed Kingfisher, a Greater Ani, 1 Black-capped Donacobius and a noisy colony of nesting Red-rumped Caciques. This afternoon the lodge garden was also very quiet apart from a fly-over Ringed Kingfisher and good numbers of hummingbirds enjoying the rain: 10+ Black Jacobin, 1 Reddish Hermit and several Rufous-breasted Hermit, Swallow-tailed Hummingbird, Violet-capped Woodnymph and Glittering-throated Emerald. In the evening 2 Rusty-margined Guan appeared on the fruit feeders.

Hummers do love the rain. Black Jacobin is a summer migrant to REGUA and
there's plenty around at the moment.

28 October 2011

Cotingas and Manakins

Just received my complimentary copy of Cotingas and Manakins by Guy Kirwan and Graeme Green. It's always nice to see some of your own photos published in a book, and I'm really pleased to have photos of Blue Manakin and Shrike-like Cotinga published in this incredible monograph. The amount of information on each species is monumental, and the plates, by Eustace Barnes, are simply stunning! This is without doubt the definitive work on these Neotropical families and if you are interested in Neotropical birds then I strongly recommend you buy a copy. I can't put it down, and the timing couldn't be better as I'm off to Brazil tomorrow morning. Check out the plumage of the Shrike-like Cotinga (Elegant Mourner) chick in the plate below (click to enlarge)!

14 October 2011

Update on new Long-tailed Potoo ID feature

I've finally submitted a paper to the Neotropical Bird Club, describing in detail a previously unknown feature I observed last year in south-east Brazil on a couple of Long-tailed Potoos Nyctibius aethereus. The tips to the scapulars, wing coverts, tertials and some of the mantle are sharply upturned on Long-tailed Potoo (click on the photo below to enlarge), whereas on all other potoo species the feathers lie flat. This feature is not mentioned in the literature or shown in any field guide illustrations, but a study of photos and museum specimens of all seven potoo species found the feature to be unique to Long-tailed Potoo, and therefore a useful identification feature in the field.

Three subspecies of Long-tailed Potoo are currently recognised: the nominate N. a. aethereus, found across south-east South America (previously split as Large-tailed Potoo); N. a. longicaudatus of Amazonia; and N. a. chocoensis of the Chocó region of west Colombia and north-west Ecuador. I found upturned feathers on aethereus and longicaudatus, albeit less pronounced on the later, but unfortunately I couldn't find any photos or skins of chocoensis. Hopefully the paper will be accepted and published in either Cotinga or Neotropical Birding next year.

7 October 2011

A quiet autumn afternoon at Staines Moor

Moderate north-westerlies and showers produced a few migrants at Staines Moor this afternoon: a flighty male Stonechat (photo below) at the north end associating with 3 Northern Wheatear, 40 Meadow Pipit, 40 Linnet, 3 Chiffchaff and 1 Yellow Wagtail (heard overhead). Also seen were 2 Reed Bunting, 10 Goldfinch, 1 Kestrel and 1 Kingfisher and a Little Egret on the Colne.

Also 1 Eurasian Sparrowhawk was noted on Stanwell Moor.