Surama & Harpy Trail
A very early start today as we wanted to hit the forest early to increase our chances of a Ground-Cuckoo. The forest echoed the call of Red-legged Tinamous and eventually after much play-back, a Rufous-winged Ground-Cuckoo was heard, game on!! We set ourselves into position and patiently waited for the bird to call again, which it did, but slightly further away. A second attempt also failed and it seemed a huge disappointment knowing we only had one more full day left after today to get this bird. We did have hope though as during the morning we would be walking the 'Harpy Trail', one of the more reliable sites for the Ground-Cuckoo, and after breakfast we made our way there. I was feeling tired or something similar and could only resort to laying asleep on the back seat. Ron and others in the back vehicle radioed us to quickly turn around and get back to them as they had found a displaying Crimson Fruitcrow. We sped back with me now in full alert and ready for action. The Fruitcrow had disappeared but thankfully returned and quickly as it had left and we enjoyed scope views of this stunning male, that initially was displaying. A huge relief to get this bird, and it seemed a good start to our morning outing. A lengthy stop here produced a large feeding flock containing anything from Tanagers to Antwrens to Cuckoos, and with most birds being new for me it was somewhat mind boggling sifting my way through the ticks.
Next up was the 'Harpy Trail' and with a high level of excitement we started the trail, not knowing that over the next two hours we were going to be treated to some mouth-watering birds. First up was a superb roosting Long-tailed Potoo, this being my third Potoo species of the trip. We watched this stationary bird for a while, being staggered by its size and plumage. Arriving at the Harpy tree the guides didn't look to amused, as the 10-month old bird didn't seem to be where it was meant to be. This was now a panic for those who hadn't seen one before, and despite further searches around likely trees, there was still no sign. This bird seemed a given so there was hope that it may return.
Ron went off on his own and yet again the echoing call of a Ground-Cuckoo blasted out of his Bluetooth speaker. Though next thing we knew, Ron came dashing back and called all of us over as two Ground-Cuckoos had come straight into his play-back. We carefully but probably very noisily moved ourselves into position. The play-back commenced and we waited for what felt like minutes, but it must have only been a matter of 30 seconds before back in the dark understorey, a shadow dashed across, followed by another. It was a tense atmosphere but eventually we all got tickable views as a Rufous-winged Ground-Cuckoo emerged for a mere few seconds into a clearing. It was then all just a memorable blur as the birds got closer and closer, and then circled us before remaining in a stationary position in the open before both birds melted away into their dense habitat. A huge moment for all present, especially for Nick P who's quest for this family had taken him numerous times to northern South America in search, and he let his emotions almost get the better of him.
Back at the Harpy tree our impatience on this bird got the better of us and a tactic to attract the youngster in worked a treat as the bird came straight in, although out of sight from where we were standing. After a quick negotiation of cobwebs and many branches, we had clear and in-obstructed views of the superb Harpy Eagle. Although this bird was only ten-months old, it was very impressive, especially the feet and talons, just incredible. It was a good moment to end the morning (mainly as it was now afternoon) and head for lunch. Ron's Mum was our host this time (slowly ticking off the Allicock family to) where many Red-rumped Caciques nested. The afternoon was mainly spent relaxing and taking in the surroundings. Ron took a couple of us to see a roosting Great Potoo and then as the sun went down we enjoyed for the second night running lots of Nighthawk/Nightjar activity. A brilliant day.
Rufous-winged Ground-Cuckoo - 2
Fork-tailed Palm Swift
Rufous-winged Ground-Cuckoo - MEGA
Long-tailed Potoo - note the tail length longer then the wings
Harpy Eagle - look at those feet
Great Potoo not giving itself away
Rufous-winged Ground-Cuckoo nicely ticked off
Harpy Eagle centre shot