Day 2 - All day at El Toro, Venezuela, in the Orinoco Delta Oct 25—Nov 08, 2004

Posted by Peter English


Peter English

Peter English became interested in birds while in the fourth grade. He graduated from Williams College in 1988 and received his Ph.D. in zoology from the University of Texa...

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Black-chested Tyrant

Black-chested Tyrant — Photo: Peter English

Two years ago when Steve Hilty and David Ascanio first talked about doing a cruise along the northeast coast of south America, we never in our wildest dreams could have imagined that the first day of that cruise we would make ornithological history. We rediscovered the Orinoco Softail, known from only a few specimens and not seen anywhere for 34 years. We also saw the Black-chested Tyrant, a flycatcher known from only a few specimens and localities. Both of these birds were lifers for Steve Hilty, who wrote the Birds of Venezuela, and also for all the VENT leaders. Fortunately, almost everyone saw both of these incredibly rare birds. I have never seen Steve Hilty and David Ascanio so excited as they were today.
Cruising up the stream in a Zodiac

Cruising up the stream in a Zodiac — Photo: Peter English

We spent all day today birding gallery forest and savannah along a small tributary of the Orinoco. Much of the time we were birding from Zodiacs, but we also walked into the forest on a trail that we opened for this trip. It was an incredibly productive and enjoyable day. In addition to the two rarities above, highlights included perched Blue-and-yellow Macaws, White-throated Toucans, Cream-colored Woodpeckers, Crimson-hooded Manakins, an Agami Heron, Slender-billed Kites, Hoatzins, and Festive Parrots.

A Festive Parrot eating fruit

A Festive Parrot eating fruit — Photo: Peter English

It is hard to imagine how we could have had a better beginning to our trip, and we are excited to see what tomorrow brings. We are ending the night tonight watching a total eclipse of the moon from the top deck of our ship.