05 February - 03 March 2000
(The Search for the Screaming Piha)
by David and Yvette Bree
This report is a little more wordy and a little less birdy than some, but I wanted to make sure that people had a good idea of the conditions vs. birds, so that you can determine if Guyana is the birding destination for you. Skip to the end if you just want to check out the bird list. If you have any question we would be happy to help. Contact us at email@example.com.
My wife and I thought about going to Guyana for our first trip to South America when we heard of a “Rainforest Lodge” that offered reduced rates in exchange for volunteer work. Adel’s Rainforest Lodge, as advertised on the Internet at www.abcsvcs.com/adels.htm, indicated it was an ecolodge benefiting local AmerIndians, a 60 acre farm surrounded by pristine rainforest. Work could be anything from manual maintenance labour to teaching the local children. This appealed to us for a number of reasons. We could stay longer on our limited budget, Guyana is an English speaking country (our Spanish is virtually non-existent), and we liked the idea that we would be putting something directly into the local community and hoped to teach, though we would be happy doing whatever, despite our limited maintenance skills. While this seemed a little too good to be true, the operation appeared to be on the level and we didn’t have to give them any money until we were in the country (we made our own travel booking directly through the airline with a discount as arranged by Adel’s).
While we try to go into any trip with no pre-conceived expectations about what we will see, some always creep in. My one expressed birding expectation was to hear the Screaming Pihas. Their distinctive whip-like call is an indicator of good Amazonian rainforest. It is a stock background sound for any Amazon nature show and I knew they were common, so felt I wouldn’t be raising my hopes too high to have this expectation. Of course any trip brings a number of surprises (both good and bad) that usually adds spice to a trip. On our trip to Guyana, we were to get a few more than normal, and our unofficial motto for the trip became “have no expectations”.
We did expect this “birding” trip to be quite different from our normal trips, where we tend to rent a car and dash madly about to as many different habitats as possible. In Guyana we would be based in one area with the option of taking 1 day boat trips to a couple of different locations. This idea also appealed to us as we have always felt we didn’t give full justice to any one area and staying a whole month in one location would give us a chance to get to know it, at least a little better than was our usual habit. As we are interested in mammals, reptiles, amphibians, insects and plants as well as birds, this also seemed a good chance to spend some time concentrating on these creatures during the hours we normally spend driving to a new location. After all, the rainforest is such a diverse habitat we couldn’t possibly get bored with it!
With this in mind we packed a little more heavily than usual, bringing with us our many tools and toys to help in our studies. “Birds of Venezuela” by Schauensee, Phelps and Tudor was a must. The weighty volumes 1 & 2 of the “Birds of South America” by Ridgely and Tudor were also loaded. I found the latter invaluable before the trip in determining exactly what passerines could be expected in Guyana. I also found myself consulting them often in Guyana, particularly for the Ovenbirds, Antbirds and Flycatchers. The notes on vocalization and habits of these difficult groups helped considerably in sorting out many of the species we came across. Photo equipment, tripods, dragonfly net, and books on butterflies and rainforest mammals were packed. I also invested in a small portable tape player, parabolic mike (designed for use with a cam corder), and a number of the sound tapes on neotropical birds available from the ABA bookstore. The mike and tape player I bought on impulse just before I left, which unfortunately left no time to test it, a move I would later regret. I figured I could record some songs of the birds I couldn’t determine for later consideration. Also, while I normally don’t play back calls, I thought in this unbirded area I was going to, 1 or 2 playings would not stress the birds. I was to find that the idea of focusing on the sounds was a good one, unfortunately the tape player I bought developed recording problems so I didn’t use it in this capacity much.
Our trip started off reasonably well, not counting the 3 hour delay in leaving Toronto. We were met at the airport by Hyacinth Ruffuna who efficiently got us through customs and out to a taxi. She told us a bit about Guyana on the 45 minute trip to her house in Georgetown, the capital. We would be staying there until arrangements could be made to take us into the “interior”. We paid her our fee, and the money was immediately changed ($180 = 1 US dollar, $120 = 1 Canadian dollar. The cambios in Georgetown happily took either in cash. But note that the ATM. machines are not linked internationally and we could not get money that way). We then went out to buy basic food supplies for our stay. While Adel’s is a “farm” and the inference is that you eat what is produced there, the reality is that not enough variety is produced to feed everyone there. Hyacinth made sure we were going in with enough food to see us through.
That afternoon we walked to the Botanical Gardens for some birding. Guyana has a reputation for violent crime and while we never felt uncomfortable anywhere in Guyana, Hyacinth insisted we always went accompanied by a guide on any walk while in the city. On our return, I did go to the Gardens one early morning by myself, where I met a local birder. He repeated a warning offered earlier by Hyacinth’s guide not to follow a road that leaves the main road to the right about 200 yards from the gate and heads into the “back” of the gardens. This looks like very good treed habitat but I was assured that I would be “ambushed” in there and to stay to the open and edges within sight of the main road. There would be lots of good birds to see along there and it would be quite safe. It would be foolish to ignore such local advice and I pass this on.
The Gardens did provide good views of some good birds. Our evening visit found flocks of RED-BELLIED MACAWS, YELLOW-CROWNED AMAZONS and ORANGE-WINGED AMAZONS staging at the tops of the palms before flying off to roost. On my second visit RED-SHOULDERED MACAWS were also present feeding in the Ete? palms.
There is a series of canals cutting through the gardens which provide habitat for a number of water birds such as STRIATED HERON, GREEN KINGFISHER, YELLOW-THROATED SPINETAIL, GREATER ANI, PIED WATER TYRANT, and WATTLED JACANA. Many of these birds were easier to approach and photograph here than anywhere else we went.
Part of the Gardens is a roosting area for both Great Egrets and Black-crowned Night Herons. The same trees harbour SNAIL KITES, which use the area at this time of year as a kind of lek and numerous examples of kite displaying behaviour were noted.
Other good garden birds seen were PLAIN-BELLIED EMERALD, PALE-BREASTED THRUSH, TURQUOISE TANAGER, YELLOW ORIOLE, YELLOW-RUMPED CACIQUE, and CRESTED OROPENDULA. Georgetown was also the best place to see the CARIB GRACKLE.
Arawak Nature Resort (Double ‘B’ Exotic Gardens)
- same place
Arawak Nature Resort is a private “farm’ specializing in Heliconias that also has a nice chunk of native forest protected. Boyo Ramsaroop who owns the property, is committed to keeping most of his land in its native state while developing a small section for day visitors, as well as his flowers. We actually visited this area on our way back home but place it here in the narrative due to its proximity to Georgetown. The forest here is not rainforest but rather tropical hardwood forest, probably secondary, but seems quite mature. We were to find that the birds here were quite different from what we saw earlier, so it made a nice complement to our trip. Another advantage to this locale is that it is about 15 minutes from the airport, so makes a great early morning stop before a flight out. At this time there are no accommodations available, but a guest house is planned.
Boyo charges $10 US/ person/day if you have your own transportation. For us he charged $40.00US/person for transportation to and from Georgetown (1 hour away) and provided lunch as well as gave us a tour of his Heliconias. We stayed all day, arriving just after sunrise and leaving at sunset. Almost immediately upon driving onto the property we saw some great birds. RED-BILLED TOUCAN, CHESTNUT WOODPECKER, GIANT COWBIRDS, and CAYENNE JAYS sparring with a pair of GREY HAWK were quickly seen. Lots of the more common birds here too, like displaying Jacana and Palm and Blue-grey Tanagers. A little more searching added WARBLING ANTBIRD, BUFF-THROATED WOODCREEPER, and YELLOW-THROATED WOODPECKER. We also saw Midas Tamarin Monkeys here.
Unlike the other locations we visited in Guyana this place did get very quiet, very quickly. By 9am birds were pretty scarce. We persevered until lunch, adding BUFF-THROATED SALTATOR and VIOLACEOUS TROGON to the trip list. Boyo has a very nice pavilion with chairs and hammocks to while away the hot hours. I stalked some of the more open country birds for photographs and managed to capture LESSER KISKADEE foraging in a canal. In the mid-afternoon I decided to take another walk around while Yvette remained in the shade. I managed to find a feeding flock of the common birds that included a PARADISE JACAMAR. In my absence Yvette had seen a pair of SWALLOW TANAGERS working along the clearing edge. Niether of us were to see the other’s “bird”. I figured we were about even on these two.
We went for a walk again as the sun started setting. Things definitely picked up. The shrubby garden area produced in rapid succession, BLACK-SPOTTED BARBET (both spot and clear breasted forms), TROPICAL GNATCATCHER, PURPLE HONEYCREEPER, and a BLUE-BLACK GROSBEAK that Yvette was not quite tall enough to see in the open. A troop of Squirrel monkeys added to the excitement.
We were so taken with the place, at least in the early AM and late PM, that we arranged to come here before our 11:50AM flight out in two days time. Our two hour visit at that time yielded us CHANNEL-BILLED TOUCAN, GREAT ANTSHRIKE, YELLOW-OLIVE FLYCATCHER (probably) and a Brown Capuchin monkey. We also stood under a very busy canopy flock that seemed to include several species of flycatchers and a vireo-like bird but could not see anything well enough to ID. Certainly this location has great potential for more species.
This is the best known tourist attraction in Guyana. It is an area of primary rainforest that features a 741 foot waterfall plunging off a sandstone tableland (the legendary tepuis of Venezuela). It is a one hour small plane flight from Georgetown and day trips can be arranged in advance for about $160.00 US per person. Guianan Cock-of-the-Rock are supposed to be guaranteed.
The trouble with the typical tour is it doesn’t leave until 9am, stays a maximum 2.5 hours at Kaieteur Falls (it’s a half hour walk from the airfield to the forest), then flies to another location for a 45 min. lunch stop before heading back to Georgetown. Perhaps this is good value if you want to see the falls and like small planes. I wanted to see the falls, the birds, and the habitat, and I don’t like small planes. We thought we had arranged to go on a full day trip to the Falls before we headed to Adel’s. We were to leave at day break and stay at Kaieteur all day. Unfortunately, when we returned from Adel’s, we found that we were booked on the typical trip.
Could we do anything else? There is a guest house at the falls that costs about $Guy4000/night for the two of us but we would have to pack in all our food and sleep in hammocks. To go in one day and come out the next would cost about $211 US/person. This sounded good enough for us but unfortunately we could not get a flight back out in time to get us to our flight home. To charter a plane for the day would cost about $600US. We decided that $320US was too much to spend for 2 ½ hours on the ground at the location we wanted to be at. In retrospect I would have liked to have arranged two or three or more nights (how much food could we carry?) at this location (I might also take a tent, I like my bed stable). It is a national park, with lots of trails, or so I am told. It sounded like a great place to explore. Maybe next time.
There are also about 5 or 6 rainforest lodges near Georgetown. These are supposed to be ecolodge locations. I did not visit any but I am told that despite their nice write-ups, none of them is in primary rainforest and they run over $100US/ person/ night. They might be worth exploring and they might offer comfortable accommodations. There are also some nice sounding lodges in the interior in savannah and rainforest habitat. There would probably be more wildlife at these, but again expensive.
Our trip to Adel’s started early on our second day and would take 4 hours. We went 45 minutes by taxi, then switched to water taxi (speed boat) for the 45 minute ride across the mouth of the Essequibo River. It is 24 miles wide at this point and while this river does not measure up to the colossal South American rivers of the Amazon and Orinoco, riding across its mouth gave one a greater appreciation of the truly tremendous volume of fresh water pouring out of this continent. The water taxis are open boats with a large outboard motor. This type of boat was used for river transport everywhere we went. They are fast, bumpy and wet. More akin to an amusement park ride than a form of public transit. Our first few experiences were a little disconcerting until we caught on. We learned to put on our rain gear before getting in the boat - they travel fast enough that you remain cool - and wrap your gear in a waterproof container. The 5 extra heavy duty garbage bags I threw in our luggage as an afterthought proved invaluable. Even if you don’t get drenched by spray there is a good chance it will rain on you when you are in the boat, so will need the gear covered anyway. To be fair the bigger boats provide tarps, and the boat drivers are very skilled. There is also a law that requires these taxis to provide life jackets.
Once on the other side of the river we transferred to taxi again for the 70 min. ride to Charity, the end of the road. Another 45 min boat ride, down the Pomeroon River (much quieter and dryer than the Essequibo), brought us to Adel’s. It was on this ride that we first caught on that one of our main expectations was not to be. Adel’s is not in rainforest. It is situated on the corner of the Pomeroon River and Akawini Creek in a narrow strip of “farm” land between tall mangrove and wet savannah. Farm land here consists of mostly overgrown shrubby fields with a few bananas and coconut trees. So the overall habitat is still very birdy, but it is not rainforest. Oh well, it was still a part of the world we had never investigated and it would probably be easier to see birds here as well as butterflies, etc. but I despaired of hearing any Pihas on this trip. We quietly determined to make the best of it. Later discussions with our hosts indicated that we could reach good forest by boat up the Akawini creek, so hope for Pihas rose again.
The farmland at Adel’s is quite unique in my experience, the coastal strip of Guyana is essentially under sea level. Mangrove forest (some quite tall) and wet savannah (marsh and swamp) make up the natural vegetation. We were 15 miles from the sea, yet a 5 foot tide affected the creek and river. The “farm” land is surrounded by a series of earthen dams and trenches that block out this twice daily inundation. Such is the volume of fresh water flowing that no hint of salt water can be found in the inland system despite these tides.
Adel’s itself is also a unique lodge in my experience. We were afforded a status somewhere between honoured guests and part of the family (family relations are very important in Guyana, with most business operations being extended family matters. Even the standard honorific bestowed is “auntie” and “uncle” regardless of your family connection. I heard many employees calling their bosses by these terms). Our Amerindian hosts Vicki and Errol Smith, and their 12 year old son Michael, made every effort to see to our wants. We felt very well looked after and secure in their care. Yet we lived as they did, and the conditions would be considered quite primitive by western standards.
We stayed in a stilted, wide-porched, open walled, palm frond-roofed cabana that was in need of some repair. A tarp over our bed ensured that end of the room stayed dry. They had mosquito netting over the bed, which was a must, and we set up the net we brought at the other end of the large room to act as a washing room. The only concession to western comfort were the flush toilets (but we hauled the water to flush them ourselves) with a septic system. Hygiene was very good and while our hosts drank rain water (most locals drank creek water), bottled water was purchased for our use. We had no problems with our health our entire trip, with the exception of the many itchy insect bites we picked up. Coming from Canada, I have always been pretty condescending when it comes to tropical mosquitoes and such (though always respectful of the potential for disease they carry). The Canadian mosquitos are just so much more voracious, and while Adel’s mosquitos were still not up to our standards, we did learn we had to put on bug dope when we got up at dawn and again an hour before sunset.
Being so wet (and muddy), it is almost impossible to walk anywhere in the native vegetation. The earthen dams, which are about 6 inches to 4 feet wide, provide the only walking access around Adel’s. Both mangrove and wet savannah, as well as overgrown plantation, are accessible. We spent every morning we didn’t go on a boat trip exploring the area via these dams. Late morning was spent working, afternoons in photography, reading, light housekeeping chores, or just sitting (it was very warm), and late afternoon in teaching “school” to some of the local children. This allowed us to become very familiar with the birds and other wildlife of the area.
We also tried a little wildlife attracting. A hummingbird feeder we had brought was set up off the porch and provided us with good views of “our” hermit, plus 3 other species. The orange slices we set out never succeeded in attracting tanagers but we did get regular Morpho butterfly visits and some nocturnal animal appreciated them every night.
Finally Some Bird Stuff
The most common and conspicuous species quickly made themselves known. SILVER-BEAKED TANAGERS, BLACK-CRESTED ANTSHRIKE, SPOTTED TODY FLYCATCHERS, HOUSE WREN, PALM TANAGER, BLUE-GREY TANAGER, RUFOUS-BREASTED HERMIT, TURQUOISE TANAGER, and VIOLACEAOUS EUPHONIA, flew around and sometimes through, our domicile. There were also larger Flycatchers like KISKADEE, RUSTY-MARGINED, PIRATIC, TROPICAL KINGBIRD and later in the stay, BOAT-BILLED FLYCATCHERS that could be easily seen. The Boat-billed was probably around earlier but just started calling about 6 days into our stay.
As time wore on, we discovered more avian residents and we continued to discover new birds for Adel’s right up until our last day. Since we did about 15 days of birding at Adel’s, we felt we gained a pretty good idea about what was common and rare. At the end of this report are two lists of birds seen. One for Adel’s with a rarity indicator, and one for all locations, including Adel’s. Since the other locations were only visited once or twice, we don’t feel we can make comments on species abundance.
An advantage of being in one area for an extended period was that we eventually managed to get great views of almost every bird we saw. There were a few exceptions, the GREY-NECKED WOOD RAILS, even though they were very noisy at night (sometimes calling loudly under our cabana), never allowed more than a glimpse. With the exception of an AZURE GALLINULE, which we got very good looks at, we never saw another rail, though I suspect we heard 2 or 3 other species. We never tried any tape play back of rail calls so more may be possible here. The PLAIN-CROWNED SPINETAIL was another skulker that just would not come out, the TOCO TOUCAN was just a very good tick for Yvette as it flew over one day, and the RED-BILLED TOUCAN just a voice in the mangroves.
Many other secretive or just hard to pin down species eventually were well seen. Among these were SILVERED ANTBIRD, BARRED ANTSHRIKE, LITTLE CUCKOO, STRIPED CUCKOO, RUFESCENT TIGER HERON, LITTLE CHACHALACA, WHITE-TAILED TROGON, PYGMY KINGFISHER, GOLDEN-SPANGLED PICULET, STRAIGHT-BILLED WOODCREEPER, BLACK-FACED TANAGER, EASTERN SLATY ANTSHRIKE, GRAYISH SALTATOR, MASKED YELLOWTHROAT and the RUDDY-BREASTED, VARIABLE, and CHESTNUT-BELLIED SEEDEATERS.
Staying a longer time also gives one time to work on the small confusing flycatchers that on a quick visit are often given up on in case there is a Toucan waiting around the corner. Some were not too hard. Once I realized the ASHY-HEADED GREENLET was a greenlet and the female BLACK-CAPPED BECARD was a becard they quickly fell into place. But some like the YELLOW-BREASTED, FUSCOUS, and SHORT-CRESTED FLYCATCHERS required serious study of behaviour and vocalization, as well as their physical marks to pin them down. As it is, I believe there is a medium-small, grey-brown flycatcher new to science flying around Adel’s. Even though this species was well seen and heard and is reasonably distinctive looking, I could not match it to a name in any of the books.
In addition to the trails and our Cabana porch, we spent a lot of time at the landing, or dock. This is a 200 foot plank structure along the banks of Akawini Creek. It was reasonably shaded in the afternoon, and the far bank about 15 yards away, was a wall of mangrove. There was also a fruiting tree at the end of the dock that provided many good sightings. A few birds like the WHITE-WINGED BECARD and GREATER ANI were only seen at Adel’s here, but I figure nearly every species of bird in the area could be seen from that dock if you sat there long enough. In addition to the above, best Adel views of CRANE HAWK, CREAM-COLOURED WOODPECKER, ORANGE-WINGED AMAZON, FORK-TAILED PALM SWIFT, GREEN-THROATED MANGO (male), YELLOW-RUMPED CACIQUE, and CRIMSON-HOODED MANAKIN were made from the dock.
The manakin is considered a Guyanan speciality. Of the approximately 20 Guyanan specialities listed by the world bird-watching web page, only this, and the RUFOUS-CRAB HAWK were seen at Adel’s. The Manakin was seen half a dozen times, but only two were mature males. The Hawk by contrast is very common and allowed a close enough approach on occasion to take some photographs. This hawk replaces the Common Black Hawk along the Guianan coasts. Despite this we also saw 1 Black Hawk soaring over the dock one day.
A few of our other birdy highlights at Adel’s included: LESSER YELLOW-HEADED VULTURE soaring just over our heads in good light so its head was clearly seen; a flock of 20 PLUMBEOUS KITES, and a plumbeous kite hawking insects from a perch near our cabana; good views of YELLOW-HEADED CARACARA, and LAUGHING FALCON, laughing out on the savannah; and TROPICAL SCREECH OWL calling outside our cabana. According to local myth this bird announces the advent of a new birth in the community and depending what call it gives predicts the baby’s sex. The more raucous call means one of those mischievous boys.
We also discovered that LITTLE HERMITS seem to form leks. There were two places around Adel’s where these tiny birds would sit all but invisible within dense vegetation and sing constantly. They were very difficult to visually pick-out, but they never seemed to shut up! The CRIMSON-CRESTED WOODPECKER giving its harsh loud drumming from a near-by mangrove was more easily seen. It was also interesting to see how quickly birds react to habitat change. Fields are constantly becoming overgrown and being re-cleared. It is a back-breaking job of machete slashing and burning. No sooner would a field be burned than new species would move in. The only BLACK-BILLED THRUSH and RED-BREASTED BLACKBIRD seen at Adel’s moved into such a field the day after it was cleared.
Nesting and Stuff
This was the end of the rainy season and many species were courting and nesting. As our stay wore on, we jokingly considered starting a list for birds seen without nesting material, so common was the sight. In all we discovered no fewer than 4 Tody Flycatcher nests, 2 Antshrike nests, 2 YELLOW ORIOLE nests, and 1 nest each of Plumbeous Kite, Lineated Woodpecker, and Silver-beaked Tanager. We also had a House Wren nest in the kitchen, and a Rufous-breasted Hermit nesting under a banana leaf right outside our door.
We saw the hermit working on her nest, which was already well started, on our first day (Feb 5th) and thought if we were lucky we would get to see the young fledge. We were soon to learn that the building of nests in the tropics is not the frenetic activity it is back home. No eggs were in the nest until the 16th and the two tiny eggs had still not hatched by the 28th when we left. It was hard to tell if the Tody-flycatchers were making or dismantling their untidy looking nests, so little progress did they make. Only the Yellow Oriole seemed to be in a hurry, he? completed his basket-like structure in less than two days.
The Black-chested Antshrike was also very frustrating to watch. We first saw them working on their nest on the 8th. It was located right beside the trail and we thought it would make a great photo subject with no disturbance to the birds. But they only seemed to add a strand of grass a day, and it wasn’t until the 18th that a single pink-toned, maroon flecked egg was present. The nest was empty and abandoned two days later! Indeed the raising of young seemed a perilous undertaking. Of all the nests we saw, only the House Wren in the kitchen fledged young. One tody nest was raided by Turquoise Tanagers for nesting material and destroyed, another abandoned, reason unknown. The other two were still being worked on when we left. The Silver-beaked nest went from feeding very small young to no activity in one day, though it was too high to check on. The Yellow Oriole nest might have been done in under two days but when we went to check on it a Piratic Flycatcher popped out! These birds apparently earn their name by harassing birds that make pendulous nests until they leave them to the flycatchers. Undaunted the oriole was seen 100 yards further down the path in another palm, hard at work.
In addition to birds we saw 3 Red Howlers in a tiny remnant of mangrove forest. There was also a single squirrel monkey in the plantation area. Two species of tree snake, (whip snake) made excellent photographic subjects as they froze to avoid detection. We also had three species of frog living in our cabana with us, as well as a wide selection of insects and other arthropods. There were many great butterflies and dragonflies (palm flies) to photograph as well. I mustn’t forget the tarantulas, they were a deep greeny blue colour with pink toes. Quite attractive I thought but Yvette insisted I remove them when they made their way onto the porch.
In total 99 species of birds were identified at Adel’s, but our total list for Guyana was about twice that as we were able to take a number of boat trips to different habitats. These boat trips were both our greatest joy and our greatest frustration. Adel’s is supposed to have a boat with motor available for use by guests for the cost of the gas. Unfortunately the boat was out of commission when we were there. Undaunted, our hosts (Vicki and Errol Smith) arranged for a relative of the lodge’s owner to take us to various locations, again just for the cost of the gas. This was not the most successful arrangement as the first boat driver was late for the first three trips we took, once by 2 and 1/4 hours! When trying to get to a birding location as early as possible, it’s frustrating to be sitting on the dock as the morning wears on.
Our last two trips were more successful, we had a new driver and I paid him a bonus ($1000 Guy) to be on time. I don’t know if that made the difference. The following are the places we went and what we saw.
This is not really a trip location, it is about 10 minutes away from Adel’s either going up the Pomeroon, or you can get in from up the Akawini Creek as well. If there was a boat at Adel’s, it would be easy to get to anytime. As its name suggests, this is a wide open rice field covering about a square mile. We went for one afternoon visit for about an hour and a half. We were hoping to see some waders, particularly ibis which we knew roosted nearby. Dennis, an employee who walked part way with us, said he sees them periodically. The rice was quite high and Great Egret were barely visible so any ibis present stayed hidden from us. This might be a more successful location for these birds early and late in the day when they are flying in and out, or after a harvest when the fields afford better visibility.
A couple of open country birds present here and not seen at Adel’s were Tropical Mockingbird and Cattle Egret. The Red-breasted Blackbird and seedeaters were much more common here compared to Adel’s. There is also a possibility we glimpsed one of the rare big billed Seed-Finch species. Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture and Long-winged Harrier were also present. The Rice Fields would seem to offer a chance to see some open country birds that might be missed at Adel’s during a short visit.
Shell Beach is a strip of coast on the west side of Guyana. It is the place to go for the locals in this part of Guyana. A trip to Shell Beach is a real treat, and not something they can often do, as it is a two and a half hour trip by boat with a 50 HP engine and gas is quite expensive here ($Guy 450/gal). With us paying the gas (about $9000), we were happy to provide a lift to whoever could fit in the boat. Michael got to see the beach for the first time. This trip didn’t start out well for us as we misunderstood where our destination was. We thought it was at the end of the Pomeroon River but it is about a 2 hour trip beyond, across the open ocean. Even though the seas were relatively calm, the trip was bumpy and wet, and did not improve when we drove through a heavy rain storm. This wouldn’t have been too bad if we had been prepared, but we were not. I repeat again, put on your rain gear before you get in a boat and wrap your gear in waterproof bags!
Shell Beach is 85 miles long, with a low, narrow, back dune system. The whole thing is made up entirely of shells, mostly bi-valves about an inch in diameter. An amazing sight in itself, but it is no stereotypical tropical beach. While long, it is not very wide. Only a few feet at high tide (I am told it is wider further along, but we were getting so miserable in the boat on the way, they landed at the nearest end of the beach). Being made of shells, it is not bare-foot material, at least not for us. Also the water along the entire Guyanan coast is heavily silt-laden and very brown and muddy looking. Behind the 10 to 30 yard wide dune system is wet savannah (swamp) as far as the eye can see. The Guyanan coast is in no danger of being developed anytime soon.
But we were happy to be on dry land again. We decided to walk down the beach about two miles where the boat would meet us. The wind was blowing stiffly which made for a pleasant walking temperature (and helped dry us off), but probably kept bird activity low. Birds seen here not noted elsewhere were BROWN PELICAN, MAGNIFICENT FRIGATEBIRD, ROYAL TERN, PEREGRINE FALCON, and OSPREY. This was also our first look at WHITE-NECKED HERON, WHITE-WINGED SWALLOW and MUSCOVY DUCK and our best look at BICOLOURED CONEBILL, and RED BREASTED BLACKBIRD. One wide vegetated section of the dunes had dozens of these blackbirds flying about and displaying.
After an early lunch we continued walking but quickly came across a temporary fishing community. This section of the beach was soiled by an oil? spill. Surprisingly, there were more shore and wading birds along this stretch of the beach than on the pristine sections. A small flock of plovers might have been either Semipalmated or Collared but they flew quickly away. It was getting very hot and the back beach area became very open. We could see tall trees further up the coast but felt it unwise to continue walking in the full sun. We called it a day at 12:30pm and headed back.
This was by far the most expensive trip, and the least birdy. It was our least favourite trip, but the one that the Guyanese enjoyed the most - Michael did all the things any 12 year old boy would do on the beach and we are glad he got a chance to go. Other guests taken here loved it so much they camped for three days! I don’t think we would go again for birds, but sea turtles nest here in the summer and it might be a good trip to see them at that time, and maybe arrange to camp. Also the beach further west might be more appealing.
Akawini Creek and Waikanipa
The Akawini Creek, while only 15 yards across at the mouth, is navigable up stream for over 50 miles. This journey makes a great trip and costs about $Guy 6000 Guyanese in gas. We went twice, though once again we didn’t get quite what we expected on the first try. We were told there was good rainforest upstream that we could walk through. Visions of Screaming Pihas once again began dancing in my head. We left about an hour after first light in a smaller boat with a 15 HP engine. Slower, but better gas mileage, and the other boat was too big to make it anyway. The motor boat is not the best for viewing birds unfortunately as it is noisy and scares them away. The locals that canoe this route probably see more birds, but it takes them 16 hours of continuous paddling (there is no place to stop and sleep) to make the trip. We hoped to do it in 2 hours.
The first half hour of the trip went through high mangrove forest. RINGED KINGFISHERS and GREEN IBIS flew up in front of us but they were hard to appreciate in the dim morning light. The creek then narrows down to about 10 feet. A species of Arum, locally called Ete, grows as a solid wall on either side and the vegetation roofs the channel over in many places. Real jungle adventure stuff. Again difficult to see birds in here but we did make some good sightings. More Ringed Kingfishers and a glimpse of a PYGMY KINGFISHER. A BAT FALCON and BLACK-COLLARED HAWK perched overhead. Both times we went up we saw squirrel monkeys jumping over the creek. The small grey bird with a brownish tinge to the wings was determined to be a MOUSE-COLOURED ANTSHRIKE.
After about an hour we could see that the Ete wall was getting narrower and shrubbier, and open savannah lay beyond. GREATER ANIS (Old Witch) were the most conspicuous birds here, sunning themselves along the creek edge. WHITE-NECKED HERONS, SAVANNAH HAWKS, and the usual flycatchers were also seen. This part of the creek is plagued by floating islands, and the channel can get sealed off with a shift in the wind. Not to worry, the boat just noses in, revs up and pushes the island aside enough to squeeze through. It was at one such slow down that a pair of LESSER KISKADEES were recognized, easily told from their look-a-likes by their longer, slimmer bill.
After a while the creek gets wider and we are into open savannah. The river meanders back and forth. We can see rainforest at the edge of this flood plain, but like a mirage it never gets any closer. A single APLOMADO FALCON is seen in beautiful light before flying off. The most conspicuous birds in this section are the GREAT EGRETS, but other birds seen here not noted elsewhere include NEOTROPICAL CORMORANTS, ANHINGA, and WHITE-HEADED MARSH TYRANT. Overhead 3 rare CHESTNUT-FRONTED MACAWS and a flotilla of 6 CRESTED CARACARA fly by. People live sparsely along this section of the river, long channels are cut through the sedge plain to connect their homes among the trees with the creek channel.
We pass the new government-built school house and after nearly 3 and half hours the channel gets very narrow. BLACK-COLLARED HAWKS are thick, and BLACK-CAPPED DONACOBIUS fly up from the grass and perch to stare at us gliding by. But where is the forest? I thought we were going to go walking? Suddenly the boat can go no further and after staring across the wet grass for 15 minutes, without a word, our guides turn us around and we head back. What’s happening? The long ride through the unchanging savannah and the monotone of the engine has numbed us and we stare blankly at each other. Where is the forest? Unfortunately I was in no mood to appreciate the Donacobius staring at us as we went back past them. It started to rain, hard, and we scrambled to put on our rain gear (the packs were already safely stowed in garbage bags).
I finally managed to ask if we were going to be able to walk in a forest. Our guide says yes he knows a place back down the river. I am somewhat confused as to why we didn’t go there first but obviously there was a breakdown in communications. So we head back down the river for an hour, miss the turn go back for 15 minutes and finally head into the village of Waikanipa (pronounced somewhat to us like White Guinea Pig, much to everyone’s amusement). Our guide has relatives there, he marches us up and into their house where we eat the lunch we brought. We feel somewhat awkward dropping ourselves in on these people and eating in front of them but they seem quite happy to have us there. After a quick meal we jump up to head to the forest. And there it is, only 500 yards away. It is now 12:30pm and we have to head back at 2:00pm to get home before dark. Not exactly prime birding time but it has just stopped raining and perhaps the birds will be active.
The bad news was that this was far from pristine rain forest - charcoal burning and selective logging goes on (logs are hauled out by hand) and the natives hunt here. The short part of the trail we travelled had the feel of an edge habitat with the canopy rarely closing over us. Perhaps the trail, which goes for miles, gets into better forest. That was the good news, we didn’t get too far down the trail because there were too many birds to see! Almost immediately SWALLOW-WING and YELLOW-TUFTED WOODPECKERS are noted on high dead branches. Yvette quickly abandoned her struggles with some small flycatchers when I called her to come see the CHANNEL-BILLED TOUCAN. A short distance down the trail we came across a CRESTED OROPENDULA colony with SWALLOW-TAILED KITE soaring above with nesting material in its talons. SQUIRREL CUCKOO and BUFF-BREASTED WRENS were found in the shrubbery below. Almost immediately after this we came across a canopy feeding flock that was miraculously low down at a clearing edge. In bewildering and rapid succession TURQUOISE TANAGERS, YELLOW-GREEN GROSBEAKS, PYGMY ANTWREN, PURPLE HONEYCREEPER, BANANAQUIT, CINNAMON-RUMPED FOLIAGE GLEANER, and the bright green mystery bird with a blue head are seen. How can you not figure out a bright green and blue bird? With so many things to look at I just said “Oh a Chlorophonia!”, and looked on. A later look at the book revealed that this didn’t match the reality and it was too late to check!
Under this flock was a pair of WHITE-SHOULDERED ANTSHRIKES. According to “The Birds of South America” this bird is not supposed to be in Guyana. But we saw the male AND the female well, as well as heard their call notes to each other. The key to figuring out Antshrikes we learned, was to see the female, even more diagnostic than vocalization. By this time our two hours was gone and we headed back to the boat.
We were determined to get back to this wonderful place and managed another trip here 10 days later. This time we motored directly to the village landing, a trip of about 2 ½ hours. On this second trip we spent from 8:30am until 12:00pm on land. The birds were definitely singing more at this hour but we never ran across another feeding flock. However we saw some great additional birds like GOLDEN-WINGED PARAKEET, BUFF-THROATED WOODCREEPER, MORICHE ORIOLE, BAT FALCON, SLATE-COLOURED GROSBEAK, BLACK-TAILED TITYRA, RUDDY-TAILED FLYCATCHER, LONG-BILLED GNATWREN, REDDISH HERMIT, AMAZONIAN ANTSHRIKE, BLUE-CHINNED SAPPHIRE, and FORK-TAILED WOODNYMPH. Pihas were conspicuous by their absence, we were just not in good enough forest. Just a few minutes further up the trail from were we stopped on our last visit was a tree with both RED-RUMPED CACIQUE and oropendulas nesting in it.
A section of the Akawini Creek we would have liked to explore better was the section just above Adel’s. This high mangrove seemed to have a lot of potential. But without a boat we were stuck. We should have arranged something earlier but were under the impression that a boat would be available in a few days. One never was. Finally we arranged to rent a boat on the Sunday afternoon before we left. Most boats are used every day, but one of the neighbours up the creek lent us his boat. For $Guy 500 (gas money) he picked us up and took us to his house where we were provided with two paddles and a 24 foot dory! It was light but we had some adventurous times going against the current.
While not the birdiest (it was difficult to stop the boat on demand), this was one of the highlights of our trip. Floating silently back down stream with the “jungle” slowly slipping past on either side is the stuff South American dreams are made of. Unlike being in the motor boat, we were able to hear all the sounds around us. We did pull in to shore at one spot where there was a hole in the mangroves for a pee break. Standing there staring into space I was suddenly shocked to note two male CRIMSON-BREASTED MANAKINS about ten feet in front of my face staring back at me! Quickly arranging myself, I called Yvette to come up on shore and see. The two males were obviously at a lek, but there must have been no female near, for their side-to-side shuffling and perch-hopping seemed to lack conviction. However, having such brilliant birds so close at hand was a real treat. Our presence didn’t seem to phase them as they stayed in their area for the ten minutes we were there.
Other highlights on this trip all had to do with mammals. We heard a single male Red Howler, saw a troop of 20+ squirrel monkeys scampering through the trees along the creek, had bats explode from the mangroves in front of our boat and watched an Arboreal Rice Rat watch us. To top things off we drifted down on a pair of Giant Otters that snorted and screamed at us before swimming off. These fabulous creatures are highly endangered and their presence on the Akawini so close to human habitation was a surprise even to our hosts when we told them.
Wakapoa (walk a po) is an Amerindian reserve located up another Pomeroon River tributary creek. It is a 1½ hour trip with a 15HP motor and a 45 minute trip with the 50HP motor, about $Guy 5000 in gas, though the bigger motor costs more. From what I understand from other sources, a permit is required to visit an Amerindian Reserve in Guyana, but our host family comes from this reserve and it didn’t seem to be a problem for us to go up with them. We went to this location on two occasions. The first time we didn’t get there until 9:30am, and stayed until 3:00pm. There is a tractor track that goes into the interior where selective logging occurs. It was already hot when we left. The village itself is very shrubby with lots of coffee bushes in evidence. The trail then goes into thick secondary growth with small diameter trees, then gets into a patch work of abandoned farms, scrub and forest remnant. The effects of slash and burn agriculture are all too evident here. The natives clear a few acres, farm it for a little while until the soil gives out then move further into the bush to start over. The fields left behind consist of shifting white sand with a few straggly shrubs growing. This was a little depressing as we went along. We walked for about 4 miles before we got to the land currently being farmed, a banana and cassava plantation. Obviously we were not going to hear or see any Screaming Pihas here, sigh! Along the way we had seen a combination YELLOW-RUMPED and RED-RUMPED CACIQUE colony, picked out SWALLOW-WINGS sitting at the top of dead trees and caught glimpses of CORAYA WREN in the thick secondary growth.
Thinking that more of the same lay before us, we turned back. While it was shortly after noon, our walk back was much more productive. A florescent green frog carrying three eggs on its back hopped across the trail. A little further on I heard snapping and whirring noises from the thick vegetation beside the trail. I said that it reminded me of a Manakin lek (from a trip to Trinidad years earlier). Yvette payed me very little attention as I had been saying this since getting to Guyana whenever I had heard a strange buzz. Undaunted I worked my way quietly into the shrubbery. The clicks and whirring continued, suddenly a small black and white bird with bright orange feet appeared on a sapling before me, A WHITE-BEARDED MANAKIN! I watched them for several minutes before convincing Yvette to join me. After convincing herself that she couldn’t see from the trail she too crawled into the shrubbery for the show. After several more minutes of viewing Yvette suddenly exclaimed in a hushed voice that she could see something walking through the undergrowth. It was very dark and I couldn’t pick it out. “Where are you looking?” I asked. “By that bright yellow leaf,” she replied, “wait a minute, that’s not a leaf, that’s a beak!” The shadowy figure of a BLACK CURASSOW with its glowing yellow cere finally resolved itself for me. What a bonus, two great birds at one lek!
Feeling better we continued back down the track. In the second growth we came across the wrens again and saw that they were not alone. An understorey feeding flock was quietly working the dense bush. After quite a bit of work we were able to pick out PLAIN XENOPS, DUSKY ANTBIRD, WHITE-BROWED ANTBIRD (the book doesn’t do justice to the female), and GOLDEN-SPANGLED PICULET. The birds were not skittish, it was just the vegetation was so thick. Yvette was getting quite frustrated as her few views were usually of birds too close for her binocs to focus on. I faired better with my close focusing pair.
We thought that this would be a good area earlier in the day and arranged another trip. On our last day we had perhaps our best trip. Our driver actually arrived a half hour early. Unfortunately we were still lying in bed at 4:30am, but jumped up and were away by 5:10am. The bigger motor was on the boat and while it was too dark to go full speed, we were at Wakapoa landing by 6:30am. We had to leave at 1:00pm in order to get back to teach our “school”. We quickly walked to the second growth. Bird calls were all around us, but the only species we could pin down was the White-browed Antbird. Yvette saw the male this time.
We continued along but despite the noise, it was difficult to actually see anything in the vegetation. This was getting frustrating! We finally resolved to pick one of the unknown sounds and run it to ground. Twenty minutes of peering and we finally saw a HELMETED PYGMY TYRANT. Once we saw it, it wasn’t hard to follow, but I don’t know why it took us so long to pick it out. While we were watching him a WEDGE-BILLED WOODCREEPER worked through. We continued along the track to where we turned back last time. The plantation looked like it would go on for some distance but we thought we would keep walking. 200 yards further on we walked over a small rise and saw before us the track disappearing into tall trees! Could it be? Yes it was? Primary Rainforest!! We had turned back just before reaching it last time!
It was about 10:30am by this time, but we were hardly into the forest when a large hawk crashing in the canopy started a canopy flock into scolding action. Lots of noise and movement overhead, we eagerly craned our necks but could only pick out a pair of GREEN HONEYCREEPERS. A great deal of noise was also coming from a little further up the track, but from low down. Deciding to give our necks a break, we moved forward. Birds seemed to be flipping everywhere. Despite good, if brief looks, I had no idea what we were looking at. Later study of the “Birds of South America” indicated that this understorey flock consisted primarily of CINEREOUS ANTSHRIKES, acting and posing very differently from the other antshrikes we had seen. The only other species we saw here was a pair of GRAY ANTWREN, but there may have been other stuff present. As the flock moved off into the bush we suddenly heard it, a distant whip-like call. We quickly looked at each other to confirm we weren’t imagining it - A SCREAMING PIHA! We had made it, now we might as well get greedy and try and see one.
Before starting on our quest we stopped to ferret out a family of WHITE-BREASTED WOOD WREN foraging beside the track. Listening carefully it became apparent that there were at least two leks of Pihas going. Moving along the track we noticed a narrow trail heading into the bush towards one of these. We moved eagerly down this trail but it soon ended at a big stump and lots of sawdust. An example of selective logging. I was actually very impressed at how they could remove such a tree with so little disturbance. It is felled and sawed in place and the planks carried along the narrow access trail to the track where it would have been loaded on a wagon and hauled out by the tractor.
While we were contemplating this scene a flash of yellow alerted us to the presence of a SULPHUR-RUMPED FLYCATCHER foraging quietly almost at ground level. A raucous calling quickly had us swivelling our heads upward. Two enormous silhouettes flashed overhead. Macaws for sure but what kind? Perhaps Scarlet? Without seeing any colour we would never know. While we were standing there we had been vaguely aware of the noise of objects falling to the ground and a rich pungent smell. These things were to be expected in a rainforest I would think. Now however a crashing in the trees above alerted us to the troop of Red Howlers above us. Just as our mammal guide said, they were making their displeasure known by defecating on us! And we hadn’t even clued in! Luckily we were just beyond the edge of the group or perhaps we would have noticed earlier. They soon moved off after we started looking at them through our binocs.
Another sound impinged on our hearing, a loud, explosive short drumming. A woodpecker? , but a very short drum, only 1 or 2 taps. It seemed to be coming from a dead tree a little way into the forest. A short trek rewarded us with a great view of a RED-NECKED WOODPECKER. Again another sound made itself known on my conscious. The Piha! One was screaming close by in response to still distant birds. (I understand Pihas use dispersed leks, so are not in close proximity). We must have been suffering from some kind of sensory overload, it seemed to be taking us a long time to sort out the sounds of the forest.
Back to the trail we went, the Piha sounded closer. I headed back into the forest. Between screams I could hear a “garoo garoo”. Another bird, maybe a curassow? Then I saw movement just under the canopy above me. The Piha, “I have it” I said, and Yvette came up to join me to look at its back. I realized the “garoo garoo” was the soft opening notes of its call. “Yup it’s a plain grey bird” I said, “But what a song”. Just then it turned around on its perch and opened its mouth to scream. We found ourselves looking straight down its bright orange throat. We could even see its paraglossum? quivering down there. The search for the Screaming Piha was over.
And none to soon, it was time to head back. Reluctantly we left the cover of forest and stepped into the banana plantation. In rather rapid succession we were treated with some good forest edge sightings. Yvette noticed a vulture soaring overhead that had a pale yellow head that contrasted with its black feathers far more than the Turkey and the Lesser. The GREATER YELLOW-HEADED VULTURE provided good looks before it disappeared back over the forest. At the edge where it disappeared 3 MAGPIE TANAGERS sat in a distant but open tree. In the other direction a pair of MEALY AMAZONS sat in the open. Unfortunately these birds did not allow a close approach, and they too headed back over the forest. The next day we left Adel’s for Georgetown and home.
Between the two of us we saw 195 species of birds, with 3 or 4 different ones only being seen by one of us. Half of those were seen at Adel’s, the other half in the other locations. While we were there a month, it would probably be possible to see most of these in about two weeks if one worked at it. Certainly the potential exists for a lot more species to be seen in the rainforest areas.
The trip was a very positive one for us, we certainly got to know the nature and people of a different part of the world, but I am not sure if I would recommend it as a birding destination. We did pretty well but could we have seen all this and more in Venezuela? Could we have done it as cheaply? (We spent $1186.00US in Guyana and another $1060.00 Cdn on airfare). I don’t know. I suspect yes for the first and no for the second. I will let you make up your mind from what you read here. Certainly I feel Guyana has great eco-tourism potential and developing this potential may be all that will protect Guyana’s wildlife in the future.
To really trade in on the eco-business, Guyana must develop easily accessible “protected” habits where people can go to see the large and small wildlife. I get the impression that most of interior Guyana is still pretty untouched, but mining and lumbering and slash and burn agriculture is moving in.
One of the more disturbing aspects of life in the back country of Guyana I have not touched on is the tremendous traffic in live animals that goes on there. Every week a boat comes down the Akawini Creek loaded with animals to sell. Even the tarantulas are caught and sold for $20 Guy (about 12 cents US). It is very common for the local people, particularly the Amerindians, to have caged birds as pets. Our host family had an Orange-winged Amazon and 4 Variable Seedeaters.
But most of the animals are sold for the pet trade in the US. I am sure some are CITES proscribed species. Toco Toucans I am told will fetch $2500US. This is a truly staggering amount and for the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere (after Haiti), a fortune to most people. I don’t know what the answer is, but I can see Guyana’s natural heritage trickling away. Everywhere we went people had a hard time coming to grips with the idea that we were interested in birds (strange enough), but that we would show no interest in seeing a captive animal. One store owner wanted me to invest in a business with him. When I told him I was not a businessman he looked at me quizzically and said “Then what are you doing in Guyana?” Everywhere I went I emphasized the point we were there, spending money, to see wild and free birds and other animals. “Keep your animals in the bush and I will pay you to take me to see them. You will be able to make money off them for much longer that way”.
We didn’t make a big deal of it, but we said it time and again. Maybe some will think about it, but it’s hard for a poor subsistence farmer to look at the long term. One of our lasting and very poignant memories of Guyana will be the Red Howler Monkeys howling at the sound of the chainsaws below them cutting the bulldozed mangrove trees up for fire wood. The chainsaws were louder.
Bird List for Adel’s Rainforest Lodge, Lower Pomeroon River, Guyana
Adel’s Rainforest Lodge is located on the Pomeroon River at the mouth of the Akawini creek in north-west Guyana. It is in a habitat of overgrown plantation with a few newly cleared fields and is bordered on the river side by a thin strip of mangrove forest, and inland by wet savannah. The following is a list of birds seen on the property of Adel’s Lodge and all the surrounding area that is accessible by foot, between Feb 5th and Feb 29/2000. At least a couple of hours a day during this time was spent actively searching for birds. An indication of how common/conspicuous a species was at that time is given after each. This time of year is at the end of the rainy season and most resident birds seemed to be involved in courting/breeding behaviour which no doubt makes some of them more conspicuous then they would be at other times of the year. Conversely water birds might be expected to be more numerous later when inland savannahs dry up.
A - Abundant - seen everyday in good numbers, often in several different
C - Common - seen on at least 50% and more like 75% of the days when in the right habitat
U - Uncommon - seen on about half the days, or less when in the right habitat.
R - only seen once or twice
Rufescent Tiger Heron - R
Snowy Egret - R
Great Egret - U
Striated Heron -U
Muscovy - R
Black Vulture - R
Turkey Vulture - A
Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture - R
Plumbeous Kite - C
Crane Hawk - U
Common Black Hawk - R
Grey Hawk - R
Roadside Hawk - R
Savanna Hawk - C
Rufous Crab-Hawk - A
Yellow-headed Caracara - A
Laughing Falcon - U
Little Chachalaca - C heard, U seen
Grey-necked Wood Rail - C heard, R seen
Azure Gallinule - R
Wattled Jacana - C
Solitary Sandpiper - U
Spotted Sandpiper - C
Pale-vented Pigeon - C
Ruddy Ground Dove - U
Red-bellied Macaw - C (at least flying)
Brown-throated Parakeet - C
Orange-winged Amazon - C
Little Cuckoo - C heard, U seen
Squirrel Cuckoo - R
Striped Cuckoo - C
Groove-billed Ani - A
Greater Ani - R
Tropical Screech-Owl - C heard
Paraque - U heard
Fork-tailed Palm Swift - U
Rufous-breasted Hermit - A
Little Hermit - A heard, U seen
Green-throated Mango - U
White-chested Emerald - R
Glittering-throated Emerald - C
Plain-bellied Emerald - U
White-tailed Trogon - C
Ringed Kingfisher - U
Pygmy Kingfisher - U+
Red-billed Toucan - R
Toco Toucan - R
Golden-spangled Piculet - U
Cream-coloured Woodpecker - U
Lineated Woodpecker - U+
Crimson-crested Woodpecker - C
Pale-breasted Spinetail - R
Plain-crowned Spinetail - C heard, R seen
Yellow-chinned (thr) Spinetail - C
Straight-billed Woodcreeper - C
Black-crested Antshrike - A
Barred Antshrike - C
E. Slaty Antshrike - R
Silvered Antbird - C heard, U seen
Yellow-bellied Elaenia - U
Spotted Tody-Tyrant - A
Pied Water Tyrant - C
Yellow-breasted Flycatcher - U
Fuscous Flycatcher - R
Short-crested Flycatcher - U
Boat-billed Flycatcher - C
Great Kiskadee - A
Rusty-margined Flycatcher - C
Piratic Flycatcher - C
Tropical Kingbird - C
White-winged Becard - U
Black-capped Becard - R
Cinereous Becard - R
Crimson-hooded Manakin - U, R breeding male
Grey-breasted Martin - C
House Wren - A
Black-billed Thrush - R
Ashy-headed Greenlet - C
Yellow Warbler - U
N. Waterthrush - U
Masked Yellowthroat - U
Bicoloured Conebill - R
Turquoise Tanager - C
Violaceous Euphonia - C
Palm Tanager - C
Blue-grey Tanager - C
Silver-beaked Tanager - A
White-lined Tanager - U
Black-faced Tanager - R
Red-breasted Blackbird - R
Shiny Cowbird - U
Moriche Oriole - R
Yellow Oriole - C
Yellow-rumped Cacique - C
Crested Oropendula - U
Grayish Saltator - C
Blue-black Grassquit - C
Variable Seedeater - U
Ruddy-breasted Seedeater - R
Chestnut-bellied Seedeater - U
Aditional and more common species from Rice Fields
Guyana Bird List: Feb 5th to March 3rd/2000
by David and Yvette Bree
The following is a list of birds seen in Guyana during a 1 month stay between Feb 5th and March 3rd/2000. In general birds were looked for every day. All locations are within 70 miles of the coast and range from open fields to primary rainforest. For descriptions of individual habitats see the report that goes with this list. A more detailed list for the area around Adel’s Rainforest Habitat with an indication of species abundance is given in a separate list.
A - Adel’s Rainforest Lodge - Feb 6th to 28th
Ak - Akawini Creek - Feb 15th & 25th
B - Double B Exotic Gardens, Timehri - March 1st & 3rd
G - Georgetown Botanical Gardens - Feb 5th & March 2nd
S - Shell Beach - Feb 12th
Wcr - Wakapo Creek - Feb 22nd & 28th
W - Wakapoa - Feb 22nd & 28th
WKP - Waikanipa - Feb 15th & 25th
|Sea Birds et. al.||-|
|Neotropical Cormorant||S, Ak, Wcr|
|Herons and Allies||-|
|Rufescent Tiger Heron||A|
|White-necked Heron||S, Ak|
|Great Egret||G, A, S, Ak|
|Little Blue Heron||G, S|
|Snowy Egret||S, A|
|Cattle Egret||G, A|
|Striated Heron||G, A, Ak|
|B-C Night Heron||G|
|Muscovy||S, Ak, A|
|Vultures & Raptors||-|
|Black Vulture||G, S, A, B|
|Turkey Vulture||A, S, Ak, Wcr, W, B|
|Greater Yellow-headed Vulture||W|
|Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture||A, Wcr|
|Swallow-tailed Kite||WKP, W, B|
|Plumbeous Kite||G, A, Ak, W|
|Crane Hawk||A, W|
|Great Black Hawk||Ak|
|Common Black Hawk||A|
|Grey Hawk||G, A, W, B|
|Savanna Hawk||A, S, Ak|
|Yellow-headed Caracara||A, S, Ak, Wcr, W|
|Aplomado Falcon||Ak, Wcr|
|Bat Falcon||Ak, W, WKP|
|Little Chachalaca||A, W|
|Grey-necked Wood Rail||A|
|Shore Birds et. al.||-|
|Wattled Jacana||G, A, Ak, Wcr, B|
|Southern Lapwing||Ak, A|
|Spotted Sandpiper||A, S|
|Amazon (Yel-billed) Tern||along rd to Charity|
|Pale-vented Pigeon||A, S, Ak|
|Common Ground Dove||B|
|Ruddy Ground Dove||G, A, W, WKP, B|
|Red-bellied Macaw||G, A, Ak, W, B|
|Brown-throated Parakeet||A, B|
|Orange-winged Amazon||G, A, W, B|
|Little Cuckoo||A, Ak, W|
|Squirrel Cuckoo||A, WKP, B|
|Smooth-billed Ani||G, B|
|Groove-billed Ani||A, S, Ak|
|Greater Ani||G, A, Ak, Wcr|
|Owls and Nightjars||-|
|Swifts and Hummingbirds||-|
|Fork-tailed Palm Swift||A, Ak, Wcr, W, B|
|Rufous-breasted Hermit||A, W|
|Glittering-throated Emerald||A, B|
|Plain-bellied Emerald||G, A|
|Trogons to Toucans||-|
|White-tailed Trogon||A, W, WKP, B|
|Ringed Kingfisher||A, Ak, Wcr, B|
|Pygmy Kingfisher||A, Ak,|
|Channel-billed Toucan||WKP, B|
|Golden-spangled Piculet||A, W|
|Yellow-tufted Woodpecker||WKP, W, B|
|Lineated Woodpecker||A, WKP|
|Yellow-chinned (throated) Spinetail||G, S, Ak|
|Cinnamon-rumped Foliage Gleaner||WKP|
|Wedge-billed Woodcreeper||W, B|
|Straight-billed Woodcreeper||A, B|
|Buff-throated Woodcreeper||WKP, B|
|Barred Antshrike||A, W, B?|
|E. Slaty Antshrike||A, B?|
|Amazonian Antshrike||WKP, W|
|Silvered Antbird||A, Ak|
|Yellow-bellied Elaenia||G, A, B|
|Pied Water Tyrant||A, W|
|White-headed Marsh Tyrant||S, Ak, Wcr, B|
|Boat-billed Flycatcher||A, WKP, B|
|Great Kiskadee||G, A, S, Ak, W, B|
|Lesser Kiskadee||Ak, B|
|Rusty-margined Flycatcher||G, A, B|
|Piratic Flycatcher||A, W, B|
|Tropical Kingbird||G, S, Ak, A, W, B|
|Fork-tailed Flycatcher||Ak, G?|
|Black-tailed Tityra||WKP, B|
|Manakins and Cotingas||-|
|Jays and Swallows||-|
|Grey-breasted Martin||G, A, B|
|White-winged Swallow||S, Ak, Wcr|
|S. Rough-winged Swallow||Ak, Wcr, B|
|Wrens et. al.||-|
|House Wren||G, A, S, W, B|
|White-breasted Wood Wren||W|
|Thrushes and Mockingbirds||-|
|Pale-breasted Thrush||G, WKP, B|
|Tropical Mockingbird||G, S, A|
|Vireos and Warblers||-|
|Yellow Warbler||G, A, B|
|Tanagers and Allies||-|
|Purple Honeycreeper||WKP, B|
|Bicoloured Conebill||S, A|
|Turquoise Tanager||G, A, WKP, B|
|Violaceous Euphonia||A, B|
|Palm Tanager||G, A, WKP, W, B|
|Blue-grey Tanager||G, A, Ak, WKP, W, B|
|Silver-beaked Tanager||G, A, WKP, W, B|
|White-lined Tanager||A, Ak, W, B|
|Red-breasted Blackbird||S, A|
|Shiny Cowbird||G, A|
|Carib Grackle||A, B|
|Moriche Oriole||A, W, WKP|
|Yellow Oriole||G, A|
|Red-rumped Cacique||W, WKP|
|Yellow-rumped Cacique||G, A, Ak, WKP, W, B|
|Crested Oropendula||G, A, WKP, W, B|
|Finches and Sparrows||-|
|Yellow-Green Grosbeak||WKP, W|
|Grayish Saltator||G, A, W|
|Buff-throated Saltator||W, B|
|Blue-black Grassquit||G, A, W, B|
|Chestnut-bellied Seedeater||A, B|