Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Suriname- Winding Things up in Paramaribo November 16, 2011

The last day of a birding trip is always hard, especially when it is someplace as special as Suriname. On most trips I am ready to go home, even with a bit of reluctance. I really didn't want to leave Suriname. We got up and I was ecstatic to find my toe almost completely normal. I have no idea what I had done to it the day before, but it was only a bit swollen and I could walk just fine. We ate breakfast at the hotel, the typical bread and egg sandwich and instant coffee. Did I mention before you can only get instant coffee in Suriname? That was the one thing I didn't like.

Sean came by and picked us up and headed back to Peperpot Park, across the river. We had really liked this place when we visited at the beginning of the trip and were looking forward to returning. We went to the entrance on the other side of the park. Peperpot wasn't open, so we birded the road, which runs parallel to the Suriname River. We were seeing some of the more common birds, when I saw a gray raptor sitting on top of a tree. It was a Slender-billed Kite, a life bird for me and one we had dipped on at the beginning of the trip. It was a very sharp looking bird and the bill really was slender!

We arrived at the park just as it was opening. A Striped Cuckoo demanded some attention near the gate. We found a pair of Black-throated Antbirds within a few dozen yards of walking in. Martin was particularly delighted with the Little Hermits we saw buzzing around. I looked up and spotted a Black-spotted Barbet high in a tree above me.  A Blood-colored Woodpecker gave us much longer looks than the bird we saw on the first day. My photos were still really horrible. One of my favorite birds of Peperpot was a bright little Pygmy Kingfisher. I had seen one in Brazil, but it was only the tail end as it flew away. This one perched and even allowed a few photos.  We were really happy to get looks at Painted Tody-Flycatcher. We were ticking like bastards, as Martin likes to say.

Sean found out a Great Potoo was being seen at the other end of the park, where we had birded before. One had been regularly seen in a tree on that end for a long time, but that particular tree had fallen in a storm. The potoo had returned and found a new roost. We hopped in the van, parked and walked in. It is amazing how such a large bird can be almost invisible. Potoos sit upright during the day with their bills pointing up. Their plumage is the color of dead bark. It is very easy to walk right past one, blowing it off as a snag. Sean and Martin found it and we got incredible looks. I wish we could have heard it call, as it has a crazy voice. Next time you run into Martin, ask him to do his imitation of it.

The next part of our day involved an owl chase. Sean knew possible roosting places for Striped and Crested Owls. He wasn't positive, but he had a good feeling. Well, Sean didn't know that we have the worst owl karma in the world. More than once we have gone for a "sure thing", only to find that the bird was sitting on a fence post in broad day light, the day before, but no where to be seen today. This adventure ended the same way, but we did have a good time looking.  We sucked it up and headed for the coast.

Martin really wanted Long-winged Harrier very badly. We had searched on our first day, with no luck.  We slowly cruised the road past grassy fields that looked perfect for a harrier. We found a Laughing Falcon near the road, a bird that could show up in Texas some day. There were plenty of Snail Kites. Unfortunately the owls must have called the harrier, because he was a no show. We did find a Little Cuckoo in a woodpile, who flew to a nearby fence to look us over. We stopped by an over-grown flooded ditch, where Sean had heard there was an Azure Gallinule. Guess what? No luck there either.

We returned to the shorebird site we had gone to on the first day. It was a quieter, but we did see a few herons, egrets and shorebirds. The ocean is only a short distance down the road from this spot. We went down and scanned the mudflats. A Magnificent Frigate Bird swooped above us. A Black-bellied Plover picked its away across the mud. The most interesting thing to me were the lung fish, wiggling from puddle to puddle. It was a bit late in the afternoon at this point, so we decided to slowly work our way back to Paramaribo.

We didn't go far, stopping at some woods along the road. We were really lucky to get very close looks at Spotted Tody-Flycatcher. I was able to get some of my best photos of the trip. Then an Arrowhead Piculet popped out. We had seen one at the Botanical Gardens on the first day, but this one was a lot closer. He was joined by a female. This is the one endemic species from Suriname. I love woodpeckers; how can anyone resist a really tiny one?

We made a last stop at the Azure Gallinule spot. The vegetation in the ditch was so thick, I wondered how on earth we would ever see it, if it really was in there.  Then Martin spotted an almost white head poking up from the weeds. It was the gallinule! We watched it wind through the plants, giving us pretty good looks. Then we saw two more. These gallinules were really beautiful, very pale with a soft blue shading across the breast and a light brown back. The sun was setting and the light was fading. I said that I wasn't going to look at any more birds, as I wanted this to be the last bird I saw in Suriname. We got in the car and pulled onto the road. Then Sean and Martin saw a large bird flying over the field, a Limpkin. I hadn't seen one in Suriname, so I had to weigh whether I wanted a larger list. I looked.

We went out to dinner with Sean and his delightful wife, Jini. It was a great ending to our trip.  The food, Chinese, was really good. Their company was even better. It was a nice ending to the trip. Sean did take us back to the airport VERY early the next morning. Our trip back to Texas took a full 24 hours from the time we left the hotel in Paramaribo until we landed in Houston.

This trip was an amazing experience. Suriname is nothing like any country I have ever been in. The people are wonderful. I am amazed at how so many different groups of people get along so well. I might have mentioned before that the synagogue in Paramaribo is next to the main mosque. Hindus and Muslims lived in peace together, even during the troubles in India in the middle of the 20th century. Sean Dilrosun was a great guide. I would highly recommend him. Don't pass up the chance to visit Suriname. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions. Thanks for sharing our trip with us!

Photos from this day:

The bird list for the day:

 1 Cinereous Tinamou- Heard
2 Magnificent Frigatebird
3 Great Egret
4 Snowy Egret
5 Little Blue Heron
6 Tricolored Heron
7 Cattle Egret
8 Striated Heron
9 Wood Stork
10 Black Vulture
11 Turkey Vulture
12 Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture
13 Osprey
14 Gray-headed Kite
15 Snail Kite
16 Slender-billed Kite
17 Black-collared Hawk
18 Roadside Hawk
19 Yellow-headed Caracara
20 Laughing Falcon
21 Peregrine Falcon
22 Purple Gallinule
23 Azure Gallinule
24 Limpkin
25 Black-bellied Plover
26 Wattled Jacana
27 Spotted Sandpiper
28 Solitary Sandpiper
29 Greater Yellowlegs
30 Lesser Yellowlegs
31 Least Sandpiper
32 Common Ground-Dove
33 Ruddy Ground-Dove
34 Brown-throated Parakeet
35 Green-rumped Parrotlet
36 Orange-winged Parrot
37 Little Cuckoo
38 Striped Cuckoo
39 Greater Ani
40 Smooth-billed Ani
41 Great Potoo
42 Rufous-breasted Hermit
43 Little Hermit
44 Gray-breasted Sabrewing
45 Black-throated Mango
46 Crimson Topaz
47 Glittering-throated Emerald
48 Green Kingfisher
49 American Pygmy Kingfisher
50 Black-spotted Barbet
51 Arrowhead Piculet
52 Blood-colored Woodpecker
53 Yellow-chinned Spinetail
54 Straight-billed Woodcreeper
55 Black-crested Antshrike
56 Pygmy Antwren
57 Black-throated Antbird
58 Mouse-colored Tyrannulet
59 Northern Scrub-Flycatcher
60 Pale-tipped Tyrannulet
61 Spotted Tody-Flycatcher
62 Painted Tody-Flycatcher
63 Gray-crowned Flycatcher
64 Pied Water-Tyrant
65 Cinnamon Attila
66 Swainson's Flycatcher
67 Short-crested Flycatcher
68 Great Kiskadee
69 Boat-billed Flycatcher
70 Rusty-margined Flycatcher
71 Piratic Flycatcher
72 Tropical Kingbird
73 Cinereous Becard
74 Ashy-headed Greenlet
75 Gray-breasted Martin
76 Barn Swallow
77 Buff-breasted Wren
78 House Wren
79 Tropical Gnatcatcher
80 Pale-breasted Thrush
81 Spectacled Thrush
82 Tropical Mockingbird
83 Yellow Warbler
84 Bananaquit
85 Silver-beaked Tanager
86 Blue-gray Tanager
87 Palm Tanager
88 Turquoise Tanager
89 Grayish Saltator
90 Blue-black Grassquit
91 Wing-barred Seedeater
92 Blue-black Grosbeak
93 Red-breasted Blackbird
94 Yellow-hooded Blackbird
95 Yellow Oriole
96 Crested Oropendola

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