The new year has arrived and brought much change, new home, new state, and new places to look for birds. The recent move from Annapolis to Charlottesville has wreaked havoc on my bird records. It will be tough to leave behind my Anne Arundel county life list of 217 species and shift to a new county. Nonetheless, Albermarle county will be a pleasure to bird and I look forward to learning all of its secret spots privy to birds and yet unknown to me. I am currently at 39 species two behind the leader after adding Common Raven, and Yellow-rumped Warbler yesterday. The lakes are frozen solid eliminating chances for any ducks I may find.
Even though I have just arrived, in 3 days I will leave for the tropical warmth of Costa Rica on assignment to operate the bird banding station at the Caribbean Conservation Corporation Tortuguero Biological Field Station located within Tortuguero National Park on the northern Caribbean coast. This is a real paradise in the world with staggering biodiversity and I feel privelaged to have been selected to work at the banding station. The bird life in this park is phenomenal with over 300 species occuring within the park boundries alone. Taking a detour from birds, I have spent the day trying to become familiar with the reptiles, most specifically the venomous snakes of the region. Few of you may remember that before my obsession with birds, I was equally obsessed with snakes and frogs and sought to find and photograph as many as I could. Having had the opportunity to participate in a research project collecting reptiles and amphibians in south eastern Peru in 2005, I am familiar with many of the species found in Costa Rica. However many of them will also be new and given the time that I will spend in the forest, I will inevitably encounter a venomous species. Don't worry, I won't touch the venomous ones. Here are a few pics of snakes I took when I was working in Tambopata National Reserve in Peru.
Coral Snake (although I forget which one) Micrurus spp.
Lead Herpetologist Wilfredo Arizabal catching the very venomous Fer de Lance, Bothrops atrox
Me, practicing my snake handling skills on the non-venomous but beautiful Rainbow Boa; Epicrates cenchria
And now for something completely different...
Savannah Sparrow, Sandy Point Beach
A pair of American Pipits on Sandy Point Beach
Northern Shrike, Chino Farms in QA county, Maryland
Merlin - Near the shrike
Ruby-crowned kinglet - Thomas Point Park
Hermit Thrush - Thomas Point Park