Sunday, October 25, 2009

Bim-bim... who is?

Nothing is more pleasant than to withdraw to the countryside after a week of arduous work in the big city. That is why I went with Gloriela to Penonome (central Panama) yesterday, visiting her parents' finca. Each weekend, they plant native trees in what used to be cattle land a couple of years ago. Now, it is a regenerating habitat holding a wide variety of wildlife, including birds. The plan is to have a little cabin in the property (already in construction) to shelter of the sun and the rain, since the entrance's tree is not good enough for that purpose. By now, it was just what Gloriela needed to hang her hammock and to take a nap, while I was having a walk in the surroundings. Eventually, I found a medium sized shrub with tons of little yellow berries frequented by lots of birds... all of them flycatchers: Lesser and Yellow-bellied Elaenias, Social, Panama and Streaked Flycatchers and Tropical Kingbirds were all taking advantage of the fruit bonanza. A little further, a flowering tree was attracting Snowy-bellied Hummingbirds and what I'm tentatively calling a female Sapphire-throated Hummingbird (range and habitat... If you have other opinion let me know), plus a family group of Red-legged Honeycreepers. The countryside is NOT countryside without the call of the Bim-bim (aka Yellow-crowned Euphonia) filling the air. These beautiful little friends are common cage birds in some parts of the country because of its calls and its brightly coloured plumage (males only). By the way, as you surely guessed, the local name Bim-bim [beem-beem] is an onomatopeia of its common call. Other Euphonias has their own onomatopoetic names in Panama, like Ren-ren (Fulvous-vented and Olive-backed Euphonias). The Euphonias used to be considered as little stubby tanagers, but now they are considered more closely related to the fringillids (siskins and goldfinches), a decision that makes more sense to me. The finca still has part of its original vegetation along the creek, where you can find a more humid habitat, with mossy trunks and tall Cecropias... and birds like Thick-billed Euphonias (not to be confused with the Lesser Goldfinches -a fringillid- also present), Lance-tailed Manakins, Black-chested Jays, Masked Tityras and Chestnut-headed Oropendolas. I even found deer's tracks in the muddy shore of the creek and heard a Sepia-capped Flycatcher in the bushes. We spent most of the day in that place, just relaxing, having fun and hearing the incessantly bim-bim, bim-bim, bim-bim. Because everyting comes to an end, we started to head back to town in the evening to say good bye to our friends and relatives. See you next weekend!

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