Monday, July 13, 2009

Bocas' Lowlands

Saturday's evening and Sunday's morning found us bidwatching the Two Tanks Road in Chiriqui Grande, Central Bocas del Toro. Earlier, on saturday, the conditions of the Pipeline road after the Fortuna dam prevented us from birding the usual spots in the Bocas' foothills. Several landslides were partially blocking the road (and I couldn't find the entrance to the Verrugosa trail) and some streams overflew on the way, making difficult to stop in the usual sites (for example, Willie Mazu). Anyway, this part of the country form a part of the Central American Caribbean Slope EBA and has its own special birds. We stayed at the former Bull Pension (now, Hospedaje La Amistad) and birded only the first part of the road, since the last part of the dike road has been used as a dumping site. Although the activity was low, it was constant, with common species showing up and even some surprises (for me). The first birds sighted were the Brown Jays, easily detected by their loud calls, followed by the huge Montezuma Oropendolas. Common birds were Passerini's, Golden-hooded and White-lined Tanagers, Band-backed Wren, Olive-backed Euphonia, Groove-billed and Greater Anis, Blue-headed and White-crowned Parrots and Pale-vented Pigeons. A little bird working the bushes along the road turned out to be a male Pacific Antwren, a long desired lifer for me! Not much later, a quick search to the sky produced a group of ten or more Gray-rumped Swifts, my second lifer of the day! They flew against the forested hill, allowing me prolonged views of the pale rump and throat. The second day we found almost the same species (except the antwren), plus a Laughing Falcon and a Green Ibis that flew directly to us! We were hurried to return over de Continental Divide in order to visit Las Lajas beach (Panama must be the only place where you plan a beach trip to the Pacific Ocean standing on the Caribbean coast). After all, two lifers is pretty good if you're not twitching.

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