20 January 2015

The End of 2014: An Overview

I will try to write a more formal, in depth post about some of my specific adventures in the near future, but the last two and a half months have been a whirlwind for me. I will try to recap as best as I can for now, and will elaborate later. (David Bell, if you are reading this, I am copying your format as it seems to work well!)

November 24: Caroline and I left for northeastern Arkansas, where we spent the night in lovely Paragould.

November 25: Caroline and I birded northeast Arkansas and the Missouri Bootheel, finding large rafts of waterfowl and generally enjoying the Mississippi embayment. A sample checklist: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S20674203

November 26-27: Caroline and I stayed in Slidell with her mom, and then spent Thanksgiving Day at her Uncle Pete's in Lafayette, Louisiana.

November 28: Caroline and I journeyed through Cameron Parish, Louisiana towards Houston, where we spent the 29 at the Houston Zoo with her dad.

November 30: I left for Equatorial Guinea.

December 1: I arrived, exhausted, in Malabo at the base of Pico Basile.

Malabo Morning

Pico Basile as seen from Malabo.

December 1-5: Luke, Jared and I met up and began working on logistics. Like many areas in Central Africa, getting cars, transportation, and other related issues straightened out can take quite a long time. Luckily, we had some excellent urban birding in Bata.

December 6-18: Despite a two day break where I returned to Bata for supplied, the entirety of this period was spent in the primeival forests of Parque Nacional de los Altos de Nsork. This fascinating area was the site of our research, and I will try to write more in depth about some of the localities soon. I encountered 146 species in Wele-Nzas during this time, including such local specialties as Congo Serpent-Eagle, Yellow-throated Cuckoo, Lyre-tailed Honeyguide, migrant Wood Warbler and many of the ten country firsts that we encountered during our trip!

Spermestes fringilloides (Magpie Mannikin)

First country record of Magpie Mannikin for Equatorial Guinea! 13 December 2014.

December 19: On this day, we explored the coastal regions of Equatorial Guinea, visiting the grasslands to the south of Bata.

Petrochelidon preussi (Preuss's Cliff Swallow)

Preuss's (Cliff) Swallows in Mbini, Equatorial Guinea. So far as we know, this is the first breeding colony located in the country. 19 December 2014.

December 20-23: We spent our last several days in Moka, on the south side of the island. One of my favorite places in the entire country, the Afromontane forests in this region did not disappoint! We once again encountered the rare and local Bioko Batis, found high-elevational Forest Weavers and Klaas's Cuckoos, and saw a bunch of other fascinating birds such as Black-capped Woodland Warbler, African Hill Babbler, Cameroon Olive Greenbul and African Stonechat. Check out the following checklist to hear some of the recordings I was able to obtain during our hike on the 23rd: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S21028472

December 24-Jan 1: Grand Junction, Colorado with my family.

The new year has so far been promising. I have been working almost non-stop, but things are progressing well and I am back into the swing of work and Caroline just started a new job at the university. I also saw the legendary Ivory Gull on the Mississippi River, so I will take that as an omen that another fantastic year has begun.

I'll post more soon!

Pagophila eburnea (Ivory Gull)

Ivory Gull in Quincy, Illinois. 5 January 2015.

2014

A map of all the places I birded in 2014. Here's to another great year!