North American Birds

VOLUME 70 NO1 2017

A Quarterly Journal of Ornithological Record Published by the American Birding Association. The mission of the journal is to provide a complete overview of the changing panorama of our continent’s birdlife.

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 127 of 139

N O R T H A M E R I C A N B I R D S 126 C E N T R A L A M E R I C A are likely tied to the extraordinary ENSO event. We're slowly beginning to learn more about occurrence patterns of storm-petrels in the Gulf of Fonseca, a small inshore pelagic area on the Pacific coast of Central America shared by El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Prior to 2015, few trips were made to these waters, so a framework for the 2015 observations is still being developed. Two species were regular throughout the report period, while a third— Wedge-rumped Storm-Petrel—appears to be scarce but possibly annual. First found in this area in 2014, a Wedge-rumped Storm-Petrel was seen in Honduran waters of the Gulf of Fonseca on 5 Aug (RJ, JvD) and again on 2 Oct (JvD). On 4 Aug, one was also observed in the Gulf of Nicoya, Costa Rica (JZL). Two dark- rumped Leach's Storm-Petrels, thought to be of the subspecies chapmani, were in Honduran waters of the Gulf of Fonseca on 23 Aug, about 2 miles southeast of the island of Amapala, Valle (ph. AA, JvD). This subspecies breeds on is - lands off Baja California and, unlike others in the Leach's Storm-Petrel complex, was not re - cently split off from that species. Intermediate in size between the Least and Black Storm-Petrels they associated with, the two individuals were observed for about ten minutes, and stood out by their distinctive flight style. This was a first country record for Honduras, and a surprise find for a taxon that is typically not associated with inshore waters. Least Storm-Petrel was new for Honduras as recent as July 2015, but immediately became the most frequently ob - served storm-petrel in Honduran waters of the Gulf of Fonseca throughout the report period. It was found on all seven pelagic trips in the Gulf between 5 Aug and 29 Nov, with the high - est number recorded on 12 Oct, when at least 20 individuals were observed (ph. JvD et al.). A single Least Storm-Petrel was observed nearby cation six days later (ph. JvD). In Costa Rica, one was photographed on 13 and 14 Sep at San Pedrillo, Corcovado NP, Puntarenas (ph. JRR); another was pho - tographed at Quepos, Puntarenas on 10 Oct (ph. JC), and another the next day in the Gulf of Nicoya (ph. JZL). Yet another was photographed at Caldera, Puntarenas on 19 Oct (ph. GS), where a differently- plumaged individual was found on 1 Nov (ph. PO). Now annual in Honduras, but still uncommon, three Forster's Terns were present on 2 Aug at the El Jicarito wetlands in Choluteca (AA, ph. JvD). One was also seen in shrimp ponds on 28 Nov at Punta Piedra, Colorado de Abangares, Guanacaste, Costa Rica (JZ), where it is a rare species. Impressive numbers of Black Terns were seen in coastal and offshore waters of s. Belize this fall, with maxima of 550 and 250, respectively, seen feeding with boobies just beyond the reef at Lime Caye in the Sapodilla group on 11 and 12 Sep (LJ). Much higher num - bers are typically present in Pacific waters. Away from the breeding grounds, most Sooty Terns reported from shore are either sick or exhaust - ed, and a juv. standing on driftwood at Barra del Colorado, Limón in Costa Rica on 10 Sep (ph. JAZ) fit that pattern when it allowed itself to be picked up for a photo. An Inca Tern was seen on 5 Aug from Playa Chancha in Corcovado NP, Puntarenas, where it had been present for several weeks, according to local guides. Several other individuals have been reported in Costa Rica and western Panama since the beginning of the ENSO in early 2014. Galapagos Shearwater, while not uncommon over inshore waters off the Pacific coast of Cen - tral America year-round, is nevertheless rarely reported from the Gulf of Nicoya in Costa Rica. This fall, however, the species was reported multiple times from that area. Between 1 Aug and 13 Sep, several observers reported this spe - cies on five different occasions from the Puntar- enas/Paquera ferry, with 15 individuals on 13 Sep being the highest count (RJ, ph. JvD). Gala - pagos Shearwaters were also seen from the Pun- tarenas/Playa Naranjo ferry (8 individuals on 20 Aug, RG), and from the tip of Puntarenas (3 on 5 Sep, PO and 5 on 13 Aug, RJ, ph. JvD). It's possible this species has been overlooked in the Gulf of Nicoya, or was driven into the area by El Niño. Costa Rica's second Waved Albatross, a critically endangered species from the Hum - boldt Current, was documented well in Bahía Ballena, Puntarenas on 17 Aug (ph. AO). This spectacular record was followed by another two weeks later and at less than 200 km distance, near Cabo Blanco, Puntarenas (WV, ph. NV). These occurrences, potentially involving a sin - gle individual, off the coast of Central America Yojoa, Santa Bárbara was a rare find (ph. AH, OK, DA, MB, et al.), while one photographed at San Cristobal Verapaz on 25 Nov (JPC, DA, AH) is the first record for the department of Alta Verapaz in Guatemala. A first-cycle Lesser Black-backed Gull seen in Belize City on 25 Oct (ph. DC, et al.) provided only the 3rd (or possibly 4th) record for Belize. New for Costa Rica, and one of only a handful of records for the eastern Pacific Ocean, was a well-document - ed Roseate Tern on 20 Sep at Playa Papaturro, Bahía Soley, Guanacaste (ph. CAv). Arctic Tern is very rarely reported anywhere in the Region, but during the fall of 2015, several individu - als were documented from the Pacific coasts of Honduras and Costa Rica. One seen at very close range following a small boat for a short time in the Honduran Gulf of Fonseca on 26 Sep (RL, EL, JvD) provided a first country re - cord for Honduras, and the same species (same individual?) was photographed at the same lo - This Roseate Tern on 20 September at Playa Papaturro in Guanacaste, was the first recorded for Costa Rica, and one of just a few records from the eastern Pacific Ocean. Such birds are presumed to be migrants from the Atlantic or Caribbean populations, which cross the isthmus perhaps with other migrating terns. Photo by © Cristian Avila. Although Arctic Terns migrate past Central America twice per year, in most years they are not reported, and are presumed to fly far offshore. This season, six separate Arctic Tern reports was unprecedented, and perhaps due to the same phenomenon that brought other Pacific pe- lagics close to shore. The Arctic Tern here was Honduras' second (both this season), in the Gulf of Fonseca on 2 Oct. Photo by © John van Dort. Another rare Pacific pelagic close to shore, this Waved Albatross was near Cabo Blanco, Costa Rica, 1 September. This species is presumed to be a vagrant influenced by El Niño. It breeds only on the Galapagos Islands, due south of Guatemala and west of Ecuador. Photo by © Norman Vega.

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of North American Birds - VOLUME 70 NO1 2017