Monday, April 12, 2010

Guyana Part 2: Shorebirds at Dusk

Monday, April 12, 2010
After getting back off the boats from the Mahaica River in the late afternoon, we enjoyed a few minutes of air-conditioned comfort on the bus as we drove to our next destination: a tidal area of mangroves and mudflats that was a good shorebird spot. This was a somewhat unexpected stop in that it was not on the itinerary, but our Georgetown-based birding guides wanted to show it to us, and we were glad they did.

In the tropics, near the Equator, the sun cycles of daylight and night are 6 to 6. Day ends and night comes on with a suddenness that is alarming. The sun sets and rises at the sixes: 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. As we stepped out of the bus at the shorebird spot, we were already losing light. Still there was time and light enough to climb up onto the sea wall to scan the mudflats. Oh my this place was birdy. Egrets and night-herons dotted the mud. Lines of shorebirds scampered back and forth. I got the sensation that anything could should up here, and the nagging thought that we'd only have a few minutes here now.

Clapper rail.

Several clapper rails called from the vegetation. Then one and another strode out into the open giving us all fine scope views.

Scanning from the sea wall.

Standing on the sea wall we could see over the mudflats and clumps of vegetation and mangroves. Picking through the shorebirds and wading birds was quite fun. We added numerous species to our growing trip list, including semipalmated sandpiper, willet, short-billed dowitcher, both greater and lesser yellowlegs, and whimbrel, plus osprey and black skimmer. According to a couple of our guides, there had been a possible sighting of an even more exciting shorebird here recently: an Eskimo curlew! No images were captured, but there will be extra attention paid to all large, brown shorebirds in the future during the regular surveys conducted at this site.

If you look closely, you can see a whimbrel and a willet in this image.

As the light faded and the colors receded, we took our last looks at a couple of scarlet ibises foraging with some yellow-crowned night-herons and a tricolored heron. It was a nice way to end our first afternoon of birding in Guyana.

Two of these seven birds are scarlet ibises.


On April 12, 2010 at 8:00 PM CNemes said...

Very cool! I learned not too long ago in a geography class about the rapid sunsets and -rises that occur along the equator...I never thought about it before, but of course it makes perfect sense! Looking forward to finding out what else you saw on your epic trip!

On April 13, 2010 at 3:33 AM Mark Young said...

It sounds like the sort of place you could spend a good day at just by itself.