Departure Day 12/8/15 – Getting to the Lodge at Pico Bonito

A 5:30am international flight meant a departure from cape may just after midnight. Sure I could have pushed it, but who can sleep before such an adventure anyway? Podcasts and wawa coffee got me through and I made it to the gate before it opened, along with a Mexican couple and soon a family from Guatemala. Just hearing Spanish again got me excited for the journey ahead. But first I would have to contort into a pretzel for a three hour flight to Houston.

Sunrise finally arrived and it was beautiful
Sunrise finally arrived and it was beautiful

The flight couldn’t end fast enough, but once there and after a quick bite, it was all smiles and hugs with the rendezvous of Leica Sport Optics’s marketing manager Jeff Bouton, Israel’s Jonathan Meyrav, and Nina Cheney from Eagle Optics in Middleton Wisconsin, only 15 minutes from my old stomping ground in Madison. Already on the plane was Rob Ripma from Indiana, who has led several tours to Honduras and therefore represents our #1 ringer (or scapegoat, depending on how things go) for the trip.

Whereas I was just trying to form myself into as small a ball as possible on the way to Texas, the second leg has been all reference material: previous trip lists, scouring the Costa Rica field guide (many species overlap both countries and I don’t yet have the Honduras guide), and listening to the Honduran bird playlist put together by Michael O’Brien. So many of the songs brought me back to my months in Costa Rica over a decade ago…so many more just reinforced the nature of tropical birding: diversity is king!!

A lovely Honduran woman sitting next to me indicated she couldn’t read or write when the flight attendant passed around our entrance paperwork to fill out and immediately I was plunged back into the Spanish speaking world with little preparation. How fun it was though to work through addresses, and then the 10 questions that you better answer NO to lest you face the wrath of customs. We got a kick out of the “$10,000.00 or more” declaration question…sí, ¡yo tampoco! In the end I remembered more of my conversational Spanish and she got her paperwork filled out. You’ve gotta have some serious street sense to navigate this world unable to read or write. She had spent the last three months visiting an aunt in Denver Colorado. Too cold for her at her age, she said; but it was beautiful. She’s happy to be going home too.

Next stop, Honduras! Shit…I never did make it to the cash machine in the US!

Almost as soon as we arrived, we were whisked off in a bus headed for the Lodge at Pico Bonito where Elmer gave us an orientation…

Elmer giving us an orientation on the way to Pico Bonito
Elmer giving us an orientation on the way to Pico Bonito

…and we settled in for the 3 hour tour…

With a bus like this - we're in for some serious birding! Look out Honduras, team Leica has arrived!!
With a bus like this – we’re in for some serious birding! Look out Honduras, team Leica has arrived!!

but had to stop for our new favorite fruit, the Rambutan!

Rambutan - to eat me is to love me
Rambutan – to eat me is to love me

A few more stops along the way for provisions also resulted in some good fun…

Sure, they're great for birding, but when you need to check the score from one store away in between stops in Honduras, never fear, the new Leica Trinovid HD is here!
Sure, they’re great for birding, but when you need to check the score from one store away in between stops in Honduras, never fear, the new Leica Trinovid HD has your back!
lost in translation takes a creepily poetic twist #honduras
lost in translation takes a creepily poetic twist #honduras
They're great for just about every situation, including racking up a few lifers while you guard the market! The new Leica Trinovid HD - adventure in every view. Hmm...is it just us, or does that shorty look like a Silverline edition??
They’re great for just about every situation, including racking up a few lifers while you guard the market! The new Leica Trinovid HD – adventure in every view. Hmm…is it just us, or does that shorty look like a Silverline edition??

And finally, just before dark, we arrived…

A welcome sign, followed by a welcome drink, followed by some of the most welcoming hospitality ever. The lodge at Pico Bonito is pure gold!
A welcome sign, followed by a welcome drink, followed by some of the most welcoming hospitality ever. The lodge at Pico Bonito is pure gold!

And here we are- after a wonderful dinner at the lodge, watching bats feed on the hummingbird feeders and the moth traps, and after a brief but good look at a Great Potoo, day 1 is coming to a close. I can barely keep my eyes open- and we’ve only just begun!

Stay tuned for more tomorrow. In the meantime, here are a few yet-to-be-named moths from a few minutes at the moth sheet.

Happy Naturalizing!

David

IMG_1480 IMG_1481 IMG_1474 IMG_1475 IMG_1476 IMG_1472

Back…to the TROPICS!

when Jeff called and asked if I wanted to come to Honduras for a new Leica product launch, I immediately checked my schedule and earmarked vacation days and said OF COURSE!! While I’ve been to South America twice in the last decade, both times for work and little free time, this will be my first time returning to the Central American tropics since around 2001…and I am STOKED!! Honduras generally, and the Lodge at Pico Bonito, specifically, have been on my short list of places I want to visit. Having crossed paths with James Adams, who runs Pico Bonito, over the last five years I know that one can expect great things around the lodge, and even more within a short drive from it. Getting to do it all with a stellar group of birders, naturalists and great writers, just sweetens the deal! So stay tuned as I blog about our adventures over the next week. In the meantime…where is the ticket agent!?

All's quiet on the United front
All’s quiet on the United front

 

The future of woodcreeper.com

To radar, or not to radar, that might be the question. Well I finally got my site back online after some file and database issues caused every link to lead to a blank page…frustrating! It seems like everything is fixed now and you can browse the archives as you wish. If you’re looking for some background on how to read the radar for bird migration, check out the FAQ at the top of the page, or use this link.

This week marks my last days as a Leica employee and two weeks before me and my family head back to Cape May so I can assume my new role as Director of the Cape May Bird Observatory. As you can probably guess, I’m beyond excited about this new opportunity, and grateful for my time with Leica Sport Optics which really broadened my experience in areas important to excelling in my new role. Sometimes the stars align.

As for woodcreeper.com, a new hosting plan has ensured that my overhead costs will be less than before, which helps ‘keep the lights on’. I will keep the site going as an archive of radar data and analysis for as long as it remains useful. As for going forward, that’s a little more up-in-the-air at this point. Given my recent life schedule, daily radar updates are unlikely to continue. Perhaps I’ll post periodic radar analyses when possible and/or when notable. Quite likely I’ll also be posting thoughts and ideas from my new life as Director, musings on migration in general, and reposting things I find interesting on the web and otherwise.

So there you have it, an official update! Thanks again for being a supporter of woodcreeper.com, and please say hello if and when you’re down in Cape May after August 1st!

Good Birding,
David

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Front overtakes the migrants over Lake Erie shoreline – possible fallout conditions today at Magee Marsh

Click on the image for the animation! (then go birding!!!)

Base Reflectivity from 7:30pm on 5/6 - 5:30am on 5/7. Frontal storms overtake migrants in the early morning hours.
Base Reflectivity from 7:30pm on 5/6 – 5:30am on 5/7. Frontal storms overtake migrants in the early morning hours.
Base Velocity from 7:30pm on 5/6 - 5:30am on 5/7. General trajectory is from the SW->NE. Frontal storms overtake migrants in the early morning hours. Many birds made it north of the front, but a good number appear to have fallen out under the storms.
Base Velocity from 7:30pm on 5/6 – 5:30am on 5/7. General trajectory is from the SW->NE. Frontal storms overtake migrants in the early morning hours. Many birds made it north of the front, but a good number appear to have fallen out under the storms.

More birds moving through the Central US

National overview

BOOM! There they go again! Heavy migration behind the latest fronts from the Mid-Atlantic to the West Coast. The heaviest migration was smack dab in the middle of the country, owing to the great movements of birds out of the Upper Midwest over the last few nights. Migration was lighter south of the fronts, and minimal along the New England coast (where I am right now!) due to the southerly flow… but that should change as these fronts move farther south and east today and tomorrow. In the meantime, fallout potential exists along the frontal boundaries and good birding conditions should be apparent at migrant traps throughout the Central US.

national composite nexrad from around 11:00pm on 9/12/13
National Composite NEXRAD from around 11:00pm on 9/12/13

Below are the radar loops from sunset last night through 5:00am (central time) this morning

Upper Midwest

Minnesota

Frames are every 1/2 hour. click on the thumbnail to view the full-sized animation.

base reflectivity image from Duluth base velocity image from Duluth

base reflectivity image from Minnesota base velocity image from Minnesota

Wisconsin

Frames are every 1/2 hour. click on the thumbnail to view the full-sized animation.

base reflectivity image from green bay, wi base velocity image from green bay, wi

base reflectivity image from milwaukee base velocity image from milwaukee

base reflectivity image from la crosse, wi base velocity image from la crosse, wi

Iowa & Illinois

Frames are every 1/2 hour. click on the thumbnail to view the full-sized animation.

base reflectivity image from chicago, il base velocity image from chicago, il
base reflectivity image from davenport, ia base velocity image from davenport, ia

As always, woodcreeper.com depends on you to report your sightings and be our ‘eyes on the ground’, so please come back and give us an idea of how we’re doing predicting birding conditions in your neck of the woods.

Good Birding,

David

For migration updates in other regions check-

Michigan’s Upper Peninsula - The Northwoods BIRDAR by Max Henschell
New England - Tom Auer’s blog
Florida/SE - Badbirdz Reloaded by Angel and Mariel Abreu
PA/Ohio Valley - Nemesis Bird by Drew Weber
NW Ohio - Birding the Crane Creek by Kenn Kaufman
Pac NW - Birds Over Portland by Greg Haworth
Continental US - eBird BirdCast Forecast & Report by Team eBird