Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Lambayeque rarities and an unidentified hawk

I have been out traipsing around in search of birds to quite a few sites recently and come across some great birds. I will be writing a complete guide to the areas at some point, as I think that information would be valuable to publish online and this seems like the perfect venue for it, but here are just a few teaser pictures of what we have found… and a mystery!
Brown-chested Martin, Progne tapera
There is a small, but seemingly breeding population of Brown-chested Martins at the represa in La Viña, just outside of Jayanca. Schulenberg, et al., mention it in Tumbes near reservoirs and this seems as good a habitat as any, but a bit out of range. Looking at eBird, there are a few reports in scattered locations, but none recently.
This is the mystery hawk:

Sorry about the size/terrible quality - it was far away
Juan Molina and I located it outside of the pueblo of Sauce, near the town of Salas. My first thought was of a Variable Hawk (Buteo polysoma), though Juan immediately thought Short-tailed Hawk (Buteo brachyurus). We both agreed that it had a very well-defined hood, which can be seen in the pictures – we disagree about whether this hood is within the range exhibited by Variable… I think so, he does not. We also did not see a clear-cut tail band while in the field (the pics are useless for that, sorry), which we would expect an adult Variable to have. The bird was soaring on thermals 400+ meters from us and eventually disappeared to the east. I am not sure - it would be an odd Variable, but Short-tailed is really far out of range here.

On that same trip, we located a couple Rufous-winged Tyrannulets (Mecocerculus calopterus), which seem a little bit out of range, but are probably around most of the hills there.

Rufous-winged Tyrannulet, Mecocerculus calopterus
In La Viña, at the represa, we have had good success with Comb Duck (Sarkidiornis melanotos) finding 1-2 per visit. In the guide it is listed as a rare vagrant to coast, though talking to people here, they say it is around occasionally.

Female Comb Duck
Also at La Viña (are you sensing this is a good spot yet?) at least 4 Blue-winged Teal (Anas discors) were present along with several Solitary Sandpipers (not really a rarity, but not too easy to find, either).

Blue-winged Teal, male, with White-cheeked Pintail (Anas bahamiensis)
While not really a rarity, this Zone-tailed Hawk near the town of Algorrobo was a nice surprise – we also found another near the crossing of La Vina and the old Pan Americana.

Zone-tailed Hawk, Algorrobo (near Salas), a life bird for me!

We have found Savannah Hawk four times recently: adults in Poma Tres and Tucume and two separate juveniles in La Viña – one near the cerro and the other at the represa, an individual with a very white head, as pictured.

Juvenile Savannah Hawk, La Viña represa
We also found 3 Least Grebes (no records on eBird in Lambayeque, but surely there are records) and at least 3 Great Grebes at La Viña as well.

Finally, at several spots in the Motupe/Olmos area we have found Dull-colored Grassquits (Tiaris obscurus) and outside of Motupe Ash-breasted Sierra-finches (Phrygilus plebejus) as well.

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