Thursday, May 24, 2012

Rarities and Anomalies in Parque Internacional La Amistad, a report by Michael Froude

A spontaneous visit to the Cerro Punta area in late April yielded the following notable observations in Parque Internacional La Amistad.
On 29 April, near the lowest point on Sendero El Retoño, at about 2170m I had an extended intermittent sighting through tangled foliage of a Streaked Xenops, behaving very similarly to the familiar Plain Xenops, including hanging upside down. I noted the obvious streaking, supercillary and malar stripes of the same colour compared with those of different colour of the Plain Xenops and with the supercillary only of the larger Ruddy Treerunner seen the previous day, also hanging upside down. I had another brief sighting of Streaked Xenops (maybe the same one) the following day in tangled foliage just below the park entrance, at about 2100m. These altitudes are higher than the range quoted by Angehr.
At the spectacular cascade which is the destination of Sendero La Cascada, at about 2400m, on 30 April, I saw an Ochraceous Pewee, on an exposed perch high above the pool at the foot of the cascade, making repeated hunting sorties and returning to more or less the same perch. Having seen a Tufted Flycatcher the previous day I could make the following comparisons: larger, less pronounced crest, duller ochre breast (the difference was more pronounced than suggested by the illustrations in Angehr), pink lower mandible.
My mild irritation at the restricted opening hours of the park (8 to 4) was more than compensated by sightings of Resplendent Quetzal in the relatively open area at the entrance on both mornings whilst waiting for the park to open. On 29 April a male perched high in a tree took flight just as I got my binoculars on him and I didn’t see him again. But on 30 April I saw (the same?) male and a female flying back and forth and perched over a period of about 20 minutes. Can birding get any better than the sight of a male Resplendent Quetzal in brilliant emerald, scarlet and white breeding regalia in full sunlight, flying across a vivid blue sky? A little later I had the bonus of a further sighting of the perched male from my breakfast table on the terrace of the agreeable ASAELA restaurant just inside the park gate.

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