Thursday, August 13, 2009
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Posted by Bill of the Birds at 1:35 PM
It's really hard to leave the incredible setting of the Asa Wright Nature Centre verandah, but if you want to see certain species of the centre's wonderful forest birds, you've got to hit the forest trails. Our first morning, after breakfast, we met our guide Roodal Ramlal at the foot of the verandah stairs. He took us down the main trail and into the forest. All around us we heard insects droning and birds calling and singing. Lizards scooted across the path. We kept our eyes peeled for snakes, but, sadly, saw none.
From the dappled sunlight along the upper path, we entered the forest proper, stopping only to identify birds: a golden-olive woodpecker, a cocoa woodcreeper and a cocoa thrush—birds which prompted smart-aleck comments from nearly everyone ("I'm cuckoo for cocoa thrush!")
Jeff Bouton, who works for our trip's sponsor, Leica Sport Optics, contorted his body into all sorts of shapes to get that perfect digiscoped image. This was Jeff's second trip to Asa Wright, so he knew (but only hinted at) what we were about to experience.
Before long we were at one of the spots where manakins could be found. How did we know this? Well, there was a sign...
Actually, there were two signs. One pointing us to the correct spot, the other telling us more about the manakin species we were seeing and hearing: the white-bearded manakin.
A small group of about a dozen male white-bearded manakins was making noise and flitting about a few feet off the ground on the right side of the trail. We stopped and spread out to try to catch some of the action with out eyes, binoculars, spotting scopes, and cameras.
Soon one male stopped close by.And he showed us why the species is known as white-bearded manakin, by puffing out his throat feathers in a partial display to a nearby female whom we never saw.
Soon the forest underbrush was alive with male manakins, flashing about in streaks of black and white. Stopping long enough to strike funny poses, puff out their bearded throats, and do a little dance.
And then the birds came even closer. They seemed to be completely oblivious to our gasped exclamations and beeping, whirring cameras.
Then again, we were nowhere near the top of their must-impress list. That skulking female manakin was the object of their attention. And I have to say, even I was impressed with the energy and singing and dancing prowess that was on display that morning.
But this was just one of four separate, mind-blowing birds we would see on this day, on this trail, in this fabulous place. One of them, I've already shared with you prior to today's post. It was the bearded bellbird.
Tomorrow I'm going to throw down a bit of white-bearded manakin video.
[BACK TO TOP]