Whos keeping an eye on me....

Saturday, 31 March 2012

Venezuela - Part 1 Casa Maria and surrounding locality

A birding trip to South America and a little over two weeks to spend in Venezuela. This trip report will be split into four parts... Part 1 Casa Maria. This will be our base for the majority of the trip. Part 2 Llanos, Part 3 Yacumbu park and Part 4  2 x Mountain trips.

Casa Maria is set amongst some lovely mountain landscape nr to the town of Bejuma in the Carabobo state it is also aptly named Bugs Paradise, and what a paradise. Owned by German couple Norbert and Gabby Fluager this is ideal for anyone who has an interest of nature and is possibly one of the best wildlife orientated guest houses the world has to offer. 

See here http://www.bugparadise.com/index.html From this base our trip would unfold!

Birds and wildlife within the casa maria boundry is exceptional and include numerous frogs, beetles and Sloths..... of which an occasional one would fall from a tree and land on the patio! Birding this area took a number of forms... The large gardens including orchards, woods and trails including a seat looking over a large valley. Outside the grounds we walked up and down the hill and along the Palmichal road for aprox 6 kilometers which gave great birds all along the route. A single mornings visit to the Palmichal cloud forest, plus single trips to San Pablo marshes and many mornings from early dawn or late evenings at the casa maria moth light.

A total of 300 species were seen (I didnt count the many heard only Species) including various raptors such as Solitary Eagle towards the top of the Palmichal rd, Double Toothed Kite at what seems to be a nest site 2km from Casa Maria, large numbers of Swallow Tailed Kites soaring low over Casa Maria grounds.
Double Toothed Kite

Swallow Tailed Kite
Noisy Russet Backed & Crested Oropendolas kept everything on their toes when large flocks moved about while plenty of colourful Tanager species including Summer, Guira, Fawn Breasted, Blue Necked, Bay Headed, White lined, Blue Grey Speckled Tanagers amongst a host of others often fed close to the roadside or on the garden feeders and a single sighting of an Orange Crowned Oriole on the road was a nice suprise.

Fawn Breasted Tanager

Speckled Tanager

Some of the more common birds to the area were Bannaquit, Common Tody Flycatcher, Tropical KingbirdSocial, Rusty Margined, Boat Billed and Great Kiskadee Flycatchers.

Common Tody Flycatcher

Rufous Margined Flycatcher

Bran-Colored Flycatcher

Every morning the dawn silence was broken by the arrival of 8 Rufous Vented Chachalacas. These wonderful characters came for bananas from the feeders... or even from humans!! they just wern`t fussy.

Chacalacas - wild! you wouldnt think so would you.

These species were in and around the gardens everyday
Rufous Tailed Jacamar

Buff Throated Saltator
glitteringThroated Emerald

Barred Antshrike

Streak Headed Woodcreeper

Some of the stars of the area were the Endemic Groove Billed Toucanets, we even had a pair of them feeding on rotten bananas on the ground letting us get to within 10ft or so.... brilliant. Blue Headed, Orange Winged and Red Billed Parrots while during a couple of evenings we were treated to Black and White Owl... one of the evenings we had a pair perched on the same stand while they took turns to catch moths. A very early get up also bagged us a Short Tailed Night Hawk also taking moths from around the night light.
Black and White Owl
Sooty Capped Hermit

and Hermit nest with chicks - they fledged during our stay.

Red Crowned Woodpecker 

Groove Billed Toucanets 

A little further afield at San Pablo marshes we got stunning views of the rare 5mtr Orinoco Crocodiles. A little easier to get close to were OspreyPurple Galinules, Lesser Kiskadee, Snail Kites, Northern Screamers, Little Cuckoos, Scaled Piculet and the wonderful Black Capped Donacobious.
Little Cuckoo

Snail Kite

Black Capped Donacobious
With plenty of wonderfull flowers on show they of course ensured we had plenty of Hummingbirds to see especially the nesting Sooty Capped Hermit and this Stripe Throated Hermit which showed during the very last hour of the holiday

and just to cap a fantastic place Three toed Sloths were in abundance

Casa Maria really is paradise