Back From Guatemala

My wife and I enjoyed a relatively quick (12-day) getaway to Guatemala for a birding trip. Traveling, flying, or just being in public places in this continuing pandemic is particularly stressful, but we were traveling with a trusted group of Covid-vaccinated and tested friends and excellent local guides with a well-established itinerary. Aside from the two long and uncomfortable travel days (airports, planes, etc.), touring in Guatemala was very exciting and pleasurable.

Arranged through JB Journeys, our local guides were the incomparable (and surprisingly young) John Cahill and Josue de León L. Part of our stay was at the Community Cloud Forest Conservation (CCFC) in the highlands of central Guatemala, hosted by John’s parents, Rob and Tara Cahill. All of these folks are superb birders and naturalists. The work being done at CCFC is particularly inspiring; see the link below to their website for full details of their important efforts. One afternoon, I got a picture of John, Rob, Josue, and visiting friend Moises Rodriguez, who collectively constitute 4 of the 5 top eBirders in the country!
https://ebird.org/tx/region/GT/ebirders?yr=all&m=
My first upload from the trip is appropriately emblematic of the country and the journey:
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/105035553
We saw two male Quetzals in beautiful cloud forest habitat. I ended up with a bird list of over 300 species, including at least 27 Life Birds. That latter number may be supplemented by some "heard only" species--some glimpsed briefly--that were new to me.

Perhaps most thrilling for me were a few encounters with over-wintering Golden-cheeked Warblers in cloud forest and humid pine-oak habitat in the highlands. In very real ways, those brief sightings rounded out my life-long studies and work with the Golden-cheeked Warbler. I certainly hope to spend more time with GCWAs on their winter range, but now their full life history story has so much more meaning to me personally, bringing it “full-circle” in an ecological sense. John even took us birding in the hills above the village of Tactic, presumably close to the spot where the Golden-cheeked was originally discovered by Osbert Salvin in 1859. We saw one of our Golden-cheeked Warblers close at hand, foraging in oaks in those hills. That gave me chills just thinking about the history involved in all of that.

I will have hundreds of iNat uploads of plants, insects, and a few more birds over the next several days and weeks. Stay tuned! Here are a some relevant links to information on the tour company, guides, and other Guatemalan information:
https://www.jbjourneys.com (our U.S.-based tour company)
https://xikanel.com (John Cahill’s tour company)
https://cloudforestconservation.org (CCFC; hosted by Rob and Tara Cahill)
https://www.hotelatitlan.com (4-star hotel for our first two nights)
http://www.hposadaquetzal.com (2 night’s stay in cloud forest)
http://www.tikalnationalpark.org (our last 2 days and nights. It’s Tikal; what more can I say!)
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?place_id=6940 (all iNaturalist observations for Guatemala)
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?place_id=6940&user_id=gcwarbler&verifiable=any (my Guatemala sightings—keep checking back)

Publicado por gcwarbler gcwarbler, 16 de enero de 2022

Observaciones

Fotos / Sonidos

Qué

Quetzal Mesoamericano (Pharomachrus mocinno)

Observ.

gcwarbler

Fecha

Enero 2022

Lugar

Guatemala (Google, OSM)

Descripción

"Toto, I don't think we're [on Salton Drive] anymore!"
MK and I took a break from the cold (?) Texas winter with a 12-day getaway in Guatemala on a birding trip. This digi-scoped male Quetzal seems like an appropriate subject to start my uploads. I'll have a few more birds, a handful of moths and insects, and a ton of plants to upload in coming days and weeks.
Scope views of the present bird courtesy of one of our premier guides, Josue de León L.
Edit (2/2/2022): I've added a 2nd image which was taken with my little point-and-hope Canon PowerShot camera, zoomed out to about 20X. It produced a very respectable image (after a little brightening with software)!

Fotos / Sonidos

Qué

Perico Pecho Sucio (Eupsittula nana)

Observ.

gcwarbler

Fecha

Enero 14, 2022 04:49 PM CST

Descripción

Digiscoped image. Scope view courtesy of our guide Josue de León L.

Etiquetas

GUA

Fotos / Sonidos

Qué

Pavo o Guajolote Ocelado (Meleagris ocellata)

Observ.

gcwarbler

Fecha

Enero 2022

Etiquetas

Fotos / Sonidos

Qué

Buco Barbón (Malacoptila panamensis)

Observ.

gcwarbler

Fecha

Enero 14, 2022 08:43 AM CST

Descripción

Digiscoped image; scope views courtesy of Josue de León L.

Etiquetas

Fotos / Sonidos

Qué

Tangara Capucha Negra (Lanio aurantius)

Observ.

gcwarbler

Fecha

Enero 13, 2022 04:16 PM CST

Descripción

This bird was part of a mixed flock attending an army ant swarm. We literally watched these birds from the balcony of the lodge! Both images taken in deep shade with my point-and-hope Canon PowerShot zoomed out to 20X+.

Etiquetas

Fotos / Sonidos

Observ.

gcwarbler

Fecha

Enero 2022

Lugar

Guatemala (Google, OSM)

Descripción

Found during a night prowl at CCFC.

Etiquetas

Fotos / Sonidos

Qué

Chicharrita Arlequín (Agrosoma placetis)

Observ.

gcwarbler

Fecha

Enero 9, 2022 04:45 PM CST

Descripción

Elevation about 4700 ft.
The gaudy diversity of leaphoppers in a grassy, weedy pasture at CCFC had me wondering if I'd taken some halucinogenic substance. MK got more images of these. I meant to go back with a sweep net to sample further, but I got caught up in other activities.
See, for instance:
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?place_id=6940&taxon_id=53237&view=species

Etiquetas

Fotos / Sonidos

Qué

Polluela Canela (Laterallus ruber)

Observ.

gcwarbler

Fecha

Enero 8, 2022 05:12 PM CST

Descripción

Small marsh in pastureland near the village of Chicoy. Elev. 5083 ft (1550 m).

Etiquetas

GUA

Fotos / Sonidos

Observ.

gcwarbler

Fecha

Enero 13, 2022 01:04 AM CST

Descripción

I'm going to try to be systematic about my moth uploads, but I may jump around a little bit. I thought I'd get this wasp moth uploaded even though it was one of the last moths I documented. This species occurs from Colombia to the Yucatan Peninsula (Belize, Mexico), but I can't find any images or records of it in Guatemala. Geographically, the occurrence is not unexpected since the type locality (coll. 1913) was on the Old River in Belize only about 70 to 80 miles (110-130 km) to the east. It has also been documented to the north in Campeche and Quintana Roo and in Chiapas to the west.

Etiquetas

Fotos / Sonidos

Observ.

gcwarbler

Fecha

Enero 10, 2022 12:59 AM CST

Descripción

This is the largest moth that I documented in Guatemala. It's wingspan is about 12.5 cm or about 5 inches. The placement to genus is pretty certain. Each of the species in the genus can be highly variable in ground color, but the pattern of lines and eyespots is usually helpful for ID. This is the closest placement I can make.
The species is widespread from Mexico to Brazil but apparently nowhere common. This appears to be a first image for Guatemala.
https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/528087-Copaxa-decrescens
The genus is related to the Polyphemus Moth of North America.

Etiquetas

GUA

Fotos / Sonidos

Qué

Insectos Alados (Subclase Pterygota)

Observ.

gcwarbler

Fecha

Enero 11, 2022 09:08 PM CST

Descripción

OK, make up your own joke:

"A caddisfly, a moth, and a beetle walk into a bar..."

Fotos / Sonidos

Observ.

gcwarbler

Fecha

Enero 11, 2022 05:55 PM CST

Descripción

This moth took some effort to ID. It is a life family for me--the Sematuridae. It is something of an intermediate between Geometrids and the Swallowtail moths, Uraniidae. There are a couple of dozen species in the genus and many of them are apparently highly variable in the presence/absence of bands on the FWs and HWs. This species generally lacks pale bands on the HWs and has the characteristic white apical corners on the HW (above and below). I had to dig back into some old (1879) literature from the Zoological Society of London to find an image and description of the species. That article by Westwood indicates the species had been collected from, among other places, Cobán, Guatemala--i.e. just around the corner from the present location.

Etiquetas

Fotos / Sonidos

Observ.

gcwarbler

Fecha

Enero 7, 2022 11:04 PM CST

Descripción

Well this gaudy Tortricid turns out to be pretty interesting. It is a member of a diverse set of moths which have converged in a mimicry complex with the overall pattern of orange wings with bold black-and-white marginal banding. Other members of this complex are in this genus, related genera, and even in other moth families. Franziska Bauer created an array of images of some members of this mimicry complex (images from BOLD) and uploaded it to Flickr:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/franziskabauer/25772488391
Some of these, particularly the Tortricids, can be confusingly similar, with minor variations on this color scheme, wing shape, venation, etc.
This species was originally described from Guatemala by Walsingham in Biologia Centrali-Americana, Heterocera, Vol. 4, p. 214, 270, Tab. 8, fig. 8 (1909-1915). I finally tracked down a relatively recent revision of this genus by Obraztsov (Proc. US Nat. Mus. 119, No. 3543, 1966). His key allows me to fairly readily key this out to Idolatteria simulatrix, but even at the time of his revision, the species was only known from the original holotype from Guatemala. I subsequently found another example from nearby in El Salvador on iNat which appears to match this species:
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/86929756
Here's a link to the Obraztsov paper:
https://repository.si.edu/bitstream/handle/10088/16916/USNMP-119_3543_1966.pdf%3Bjsessionid=FA96FE806EF6C41C0C1BE6D9AF4A35C9?sequence=1

Etiquetas

Fotos / Sonidos

Observ.

gcwarbler

Fecha

Enero 11, 2022 08:21 PM CST

Descripción

The overall dark coloration, simple crosslines on the FW, pink base of the HW, and dusky bands on the HW point to this species. The genus is very diverse in the Neotropics.

Etiquetas

Fotos / Sonidos

Observ.

gcwarbler

Fecha

Enero 10, 2022 09:14 PM CST

Descripción

We came across this mated pair of Eois moths during a night prowl at CCFC. The difference in coloration of the male and female (which is which?) is pretty striking. I'm uploading two images, each with one of the moths "on top".

Etiquetas

Fotos / Sonidos

Observ.

gcwarbler

Fecha

Enero 9, 2022 11:04 PM CST

Descripción

This is the only species of Uraniidae that I encountered on the trip. I'm not 100% confident of the species placement.

Etiquetas

Fotos / Sonidos

Observ.

gcwarbler

Fecha

Enero 13, 2022 09:16 PM CST

Etiquetas

Fotos / Sonidos

Qué

Tasajillo Alado de Chiapas (Acanthocereus chiapensis)

Observ.

gcwarbler

Fecha

Enero 2022

Lugar

Guatemala (Google, OSM)

Descripción

Or possibly A. chiapensis? How can these be distinguished?
Growing at the edge of low semi-evergreen forest at about 1600 m (5200 ft) elevation, adjacent to the Reserva Natural Atitlán.

Etiquetas

Fotos / Sonidos

Qué

Alfilerillo (Lopezia racemosa)

Observ.

gcwarbler

Fecha

Enero 6, 2022 10:54 AM CST

Descripción

iNat's CV seems to have pegged this one pretty well. New genus to me.
Understory of highland pine-oak at 8300 ft (2330 m).

Etiquetas

Fotos / Sonidos

Observ.

gcwarbler

Fecha

Enero 6, 2022 06:48 AM CST

Descripción

I'm expecting this to be some type of large shrubby Senecio or a related genus, but I can't seem to find anything quite like it among Central American Senecioneae uploaded to iNat thus far. It forms large clumps as much as 3 to 4 m tall and wide. This was a fairly common and conspicuous understory shrub in highland pine-oak forest, at about 8300 ft (2330 m) elevation. See also:
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/105985672
Asteraceae, Senecioneae

Etiquetas

Fotos / Sonidos

Observ.

gcwarbler

Fecha

Enero 8, 2022 10:49 AM CST

Descripción

I had a heck of a time narrowing down the ID of this tiny orchid, only to realize I had been looking at the flowers upside down. Still not easy. The flowers are only about 5 to 8 mm long. Common small epiphyte on tree trunks in cloud forest at about 5640 ft (1720 f) elevation.

Etiquetas

GUA

Fotos / Sonidos

Qué

Mirto Sureño (Salvia holwayi)

Observ.

gcwarbler

Fecha

Enero 8, 2022 04:09 PM CST

Descripción

Roadside in wet pine-oak woodlands at 5630 ft (1715 m) elevation.

Etiquetas

Fotos / Sonidos

Qué

Estrella de Fuego (Epidendrum radicans)

Observ.

gcwarbler

Fecha

Enero 9, 2022 09:06 AM CST

Descripción

Roadside in dry pine-oak woodland at about 5125 ft (1560 m).

Etiquetas

Fotos / Sonidos

Observ.

gcwarbler

Fecha

Enero 11, 2022 09:06 PM CST

Etiquetas

Fotos / Sonidos

Observ.

gcwarbler

Fecha

Enero 11, 2022 08:15 PM CST

Etiquetas

Comentarios

Wonderful. Just awesome. Can't wait to scroll through ALL of your observations. :)

Publicado por sambiology hace 11 meses (Marca)

That sounds like a dream! I'm excited to see your other pictures.

Publicado por mbwildlife hace 11 meses (Marca)

Thank you taking us on y'all's journey from the comfort of our homes. I was in and around Lake Atitlan around 30 years ago. It will be sweet to see your observations!

Publicado por aprilsee hace 11 meses (Marca)

Looking forward to the rest of your uploads! Congrats on seeing your namesake in its winter range. (The only Canada warblers I have ever seen were in Colombia, haha).

Publicado por hydaticus hace 11 meses (Marca)

Was wondering about those first uploads. Glad you both had a good time Chuck!

Publicado por oddfitz hace 11 meses (Marca)

Glad you and Mark Kay had a good time.

Did you observe Straggler Daisy during your adventure?

Publicado por connlindajo hace 11 meses (Marca)

Linda Jo, As you can imagine, I was on the lookout for Straggler Daisy everywhere we went in Guatemala! I didn't see any that I'm convinced was our favorite low-lying herb, but we did encounter one patch of plants which was distractingly similar. I'll hunt for that among my 1700 images and try to upload that one soon. Since this was primarily a (serious) birding tour, I had only moments here and there to study and document plants--usually on the run on some trail somewhere. We could have spents many days iNatting at any one of the 25+ locations we birded over the course of 12 days.

Publicado por gcwarbler hace 11 meses (Marca)

Sounds like a fantastic trip! I look forward to seeing the uploads. This makes me want to go to Guatemala for birding, and the tour operator you used looks really good!

Publicado por rambrose hace 11 meses (Marca)

Hey, Rich. Great to hear from you! The tour company is super. And our local guide John Cahill is as good as they get. He has an incredible ear, picking out different warbler and hummingbird flight notes, for instance. Although I haven't had the pleasure of birding in the Neotropics a great deal, I'd rate him among the very best birders in the region, right up there with the likes of Bret Whitney and the late Ted Parker.

Publicado por gcwarbler hace 11 meses (Marca)

That's a great review! I'll definitely keep them in mind. I haven't done any birding in Central or South America - we had a trip to Costa Rica planned right at the beginning of the pandemic restrictions - but it's somewhere I want to explore now that I have more time for it.

Publicado por rambrose hace 11 meses (Marca)

Agregar un comentario

Acceder o Crear una cuenta para agregar comentarios.