August 14, 2017

Greetings from Brazil

Hello iNat folks. My wife and I departed on a trip to the Pantanal of Brazil on August 8. We will get home Aug. 20, but then gone again 23rd to 27th of August in west Texas. Internet very slow to none in Brazil so I have not been making any posts nor responding to 65+ pings to me....just too tedious to deal with at the slow pace of this Internet. I'll make posts eventually and get caught up on pings when I can. I have seen about 10 Jaguars in the past 3 days which has been quite an experience. No images of some, poor images of other and pretty decent shots of a few....I'll post these eventually. Should have some interesting bird and other mammal stuff as well. Anyway, best to all and I'll get back on iNat when I have a decent Internet connection.
Greg

Posted on August 14, 2017 03:55 PM by greglasley greglasley | 1 comments | Leave a comment

February 02, 2016

iNatting in Costa Rica

Hello iNatters,

It may seem as if I have dropped off the face of the iNat world (was that a distant cheer I heard? :-), and in a very real sense, that has been true since I’ve had no Internet connection (or even a useable cell phone signal) since the evening of January 26. But I have been taking lots of images which will get posted on iNat when time and Internet conditions permit. I will make this initial blog (I guess this is a blog?) post and sort of keep it as a running journal of this trip for those interested.

I have a friend, David Ferry (who is not on iNat but an O.K. guy anyway), who I have known for 38 years. He is a retired physician from southern California and a superb bird/wildlife photographer. Every now and then David gives me a call and we abandon our wives for a while and take off to do some bird photography someplace. This time Dave’s idea was Costa Rica. I have been in Costa Rica several times before, but the most recent trip was more than 20 years ago, so I was well out of practice with Costa Rican birds, etc. We planned out a three-week trip back in the summer of 2015, and on January 26, 2016, we met up in the Dallas airport and then flew down to San Jose, Costa Rica. We spent the night in a hotel in the city, then on the morning of the 27th, we picked up a rental car and launched off toward the Nicaraguan border. We were headed toward an eco-lodge named Laguna del Largarto in northern Costa Rica about 10 miles from Nicaragua. We had a Garmin GPS road navigator, several maps as well as driving directions sent to us from the lodge, so we should be fine…..right? Well, not so much. It was a total of perhaps 150 miles or there-abouts, but about 1/3 the distance was on very rugged dirt roads (read 15-20 mph max) with few signs and many roads going in many directions. The poor little Kia Sportage we rented (less than 4000 kilometers on the odometer) never before saw such roads, I’m sure (but we have only had one flat tire…so far). We arrived at our destination, after a few roadway adventures, about 6 hours after our departure from San Jose. Laguna del Largarto is in a lowland forest location, so it is quite warm and humid. It is near the Rio San Carlos which flows north into the Rio San Juan at the Nicaraguan border, just a few miles away. Our room at the lodge was spartan and utilitarian but quite clean and it had a fan! All three meals each day are served on a large open-air deck with a roof with lots of perches set up at eye level where a host of toucans, parrots, a few tanagers and many other birds come to feed on bananas put out for them, much to the delight of bird photographers! Every now and then a troop of 12-15 Coatimundis comes into the area like a military assault unit to grab the bananas which is always a riot to watch. We had arranged for a guide at the lodge who caters to photographers so we had access to several photo blinds and other photo opportunities which was a special treat. I will mention a few details about the photos with the photo records themselves when I post then rather than going into it all here. Suffice it to say the image quality will range from quite high-end images that I consider among the best stuff I’ve ever taken, to some quick “iNat photos” taken from a great distance, from a moving boat, or out of the car window along roadsides or in some cases from a Land Rover. Although designed as a bird photo trip, I tend to get distracted by butterflies, dragonflies, frogs, etc., from time to time as some of the images will illustrate. Dave and I are fortunate enough to have professional quality photo gear and on occasion we manage to use it correctly, so some of the shots I would consider of excellent quality. I hope you will agree.

We left Laguna del Largarto this morning, February 2, headed toward another eco-lodge called Bosque de Paz which is where I am now....with Internet for three nights! I will add comments to this posting as we go along the trip and as Internet availability and my time permit. I had 393 emails waiting! We will visit two additional locations after Bosque de Paz. We are often busy all day with barely enough time to download images at night, so it will take me some time to catch up. We plan to be home February 14, and at the rate things are going now, I will have many very nice images from the trip (along with many images destined for iNat eyes only :-).

Greg

Posted on February 02, 2016 06:12 PM by greglasley greglasley | 27 comments | Leave a comment

January 06, 2016

iNatting in the Texas Panhandle in Winter!

The Texas Panhandle in winter can be very cold and very windy. The landscape is mostly flat and some would say boring. Most of the region is grasslands and/or croplands. There are few towns or cities and you can find yourself in very remote areas where you won’t see another vehicle or person for long periods of time. You can be hit by an unexpected blizzard or storm. I love it!

For naturalists, especially folks interested in Texas bird populations and distribution, the Texas Panhandle in winter is an area of the state unlike any other. Species we usually consider more northern or western in distribution can be in the Panhandle in winter. Ferruginous Hawks are common. Rough-legged Hawks, while not as common as Ferruginous Hawks, are still much in evidence. Northern Shrike, American Tree Sparrow, and other species occur in the Panhandle more than any other part of the state. Other raptors such as Golden Eagle, Prairie Falcon, and Merlin are regularly seen as are, of course, Red-tailed Hawks.

I have been making birding and nature trips to the Panhandle since the late 1970s. I suspect I have made 20 or more trips to this area of Texas over the years. Some of these trips are with friends such as @gcwarbler (our first winter trip together to the Panhandle was in 1978 when I saw my first Mountain Bluebird, American Tree Sparrow, and Northern Shrike), but many times I venture off on the trip alone, like right now. The northern most 25 or so counties in the Panhandle are more or less square shaped and of similar size. Most roads, both paved and unpaved, typically run east and west and north and south and are as straight as an arrow. While there are busily travelled highways, there are also very remote and seldom travelled dirt roads that go for miles near the Texas/Oklahoma border area. I just love wandering these roads watching for raptors perched on fence posts or telephone poles, then trying to get photos when the bird leaves its perch as I drive slowly by. Some of my best shots of hawks are taken on these sorts of trips. Some winters the area is swarming with longspurs. Last winter, @gcwarbler and I came across a flock of 8-10,000 Lapland Longspurs:
http://www.inaturalist.org/observations/1169565

I have been up in the Panhandle the past three days enjoying lots of hawks, eagles and falcons, but with more cold and potentially wet weather coming into the area I am headed south, and soon back to central Texas. My iNat observations over the past few days will illustrate some of the birds I’ve been fortunate enough to see.

Some shots from this year and previous years of some of the species I enjoy seeing in this region of the state.
Rough-legged Hawk:
http://www.inaturalist.org/observations/137784
Ferruginous Hawk:
http://www.inaturalist.org/observations/2552926
http://www.inaturalist.org/observations/137716
Merlin:
http://www.inaturalist.org/observations/137735
http://www.inaturalist.org/observations/1123892
Northern Shrike:
http://www.inaturalist.org/observations/515814

If you have never visited the Texas Panhandle in winter, and have a spirit of adventure and curiosity, and have three to four days to spare…give it a shot!

Posted on January 06, 2016 03:41 AM by greglasley greglasley | 8 comments | Leave a comment

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