Sunday, November 9, 2014

Birdwatching in Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve II-aquatic birds

Lake Apoyo is deep and clear with far less shallow water than a typical lake. Immense, deep areas provide ideal habitat for small, schooling fish in the open waters, and these fish are preyed upon by lots of fish and birds. Most of the shoreline is steeply graded; the water is more than a meter deep just a few steps inward. The shallow areas available for wading birds are somewhat more limited than in Lake Cocibolca, for instance, but several egrets and herons can always be found around the lake, always good for birdwatching.

Lake Apoyo as seen from behind Estacion Biologica. Photo Jesse Bickley.
The wide expanse of water invites year-round populations of Osprey (Pandion haliaetus), Magnificent Frigatebird (Fregata magnificens), which feed on fish in the open waters. Black Terns (Chlidonias niger) are found year-round, as well, often swimming when not preying on schools of fish.
Diving birds such as the Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps), Least Grebe (Tachybaptus dominicus) and Olivaceous Cormorant (Phalacrocorax brasilianus) are found in regions of depths up to about 20 meters. They are usually seen swimming and diving.
Great Egret
Great Egret (Erdea alba) flies over Lake Apoyo. Photo Jesse Bickley. 
Wading birds include Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias), Great Egret (Ardea alba), Snowy Egret (Egretta thula), Tricolor Heron (Egretta tricolor), Little Blue Heron (Egretta caerulea), and Little Green Heron (Butorides virescens) are found in shallow water along the shoreline. Nocturnal herons are also found, usually seen roosting, in small numbers: Boat-billed Heron (Cochlearis cochlearis), Black-crowned Night-Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax), and Yellow-crowned Night-Heron (Nyctanassa olivacea).
Birdwatching Nicaragua
Great Egret in flight. Photo Jesse Bickley.
Aerial fishing birds also include the Ringed Kingfisher (Megaceryle torquata), which find prey while perched on trees along the shoreline, usually small fishes (Atherinella sardina), then fly out and dive headlong to catch the prey, returning to their perch to consume the fish.
Ringed Kingfisher
Ringed Kingfisher (Megaceryle torquata) in flight over Lake Apoyo. Photo Jesse Bickley.
Along the shoreline, during the winter periods, Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularia) are common. This species exhibits a characteristic pumping action with the tail while foraging along the shoreline, just out of the water. Other sandpipers and plovers are rare in Lake Apoyo. It is a relatively easy bird for a birdwatcher to follow.
Pied-billed Grebe
Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps) is commonly seen swimming in the clear waters of Lake Apoyo. Photo Jesse Bickley.
All you need for birdwatching in Lake Apoyo is good field glasses, an experienced guide, a reference book, and patience. Birds are easily found in several habitats in all seasons. We would be happy to reserve a birdwatching tour for you, just contact us!

A Little Blue Heron (Egretta caerulea) accompanies a Great Egret (Ardea alba) in lakeside meditation. Photo Jesse Bickley and Anna James. 
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Tropical Kingbird
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