Rio Palenque: July 9-10, 2008

To break up the journey to the southwestern coast, Aimee and I decided to spend a night at Rio Palenque and to bird the small patch of forest there for an afternoon and the following morning. Having visited in February, I was already familiar with the trail system and some of the birds and mammals in the reserve; however, this visit offered plenty of surprises, most spectacularly including the Brown-Throated Three-Toed Sloth.

We discovered the sloth before dawn clinging to a small bare trunk, right near the trail, only about three meters from the ground. The sloth’s head was tucked tightly against its body, and it didn’t move a centimeter while we marveled at it, the first either of us had seen in the wild. Perhaps we came across it just as it was ascending from the forest floor back into the canopy, for several hours later it was gone. It’s remarkable to consider that sloths still live in these highly isolated few hectares of forest.

Other differences from my previous visit included seeing two different species of puffbirds as we drove into the reserve from the main road. I was only able to identify one, the White-Whiskered Puffbird, as the other stubbornly refused to turn towards us so we could see its front side, although I expect it was a White-Necked Puffbird. I had improved my knowledge of antbirds as well, this time noting the Dot-Winged Antwren, Great Antshrike, and Chestnut-Backed Antbird in the forest undergrowth.

Notable birds seen: White-Whiskered Puffbird, Band-Backed Wren, Rufous-Browed Peppershrike, Dot-Winged Antwren, Lineated Woodpecker, Bay Wren, Great Antshrike, Western Slaty Antshrike, Chestnut-Backed Antbird, Pale-Mandibled Aracari, Blue-Necked Tanager, Bay-Headed Tanager, Dusky-Faced Tanager.

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