Thursday, November 5, 2009

Birding in PILA (birding a lot)

PILA are the initials for Parque Internacional La Amistad; but, in our panamanian spanish, to say "en pila" means "a lot"... an appropiate title for this entry since Gloriela, Darien Montañez (of the Xenornis) and your host blogger watched many birds yesterday in that huge park, which Panama shares with Costa Rica. As I told you, we were seeking bamboo specialist... so we met at the small restaurant close to the hotel where Darien was staying, ate our breakfast (accompanied by a Stripe-tailed Hummingbird) and headed towards the settlement of Las Nubes, where the park's headquarters are located. It is a picturesque road across farmlands, streaming rivers and a small agricultural community. The entrance to the park gives you an idea of the impressive forest that this park protects. Tall moss-covered trees and giant tree ferns hold tons of birds and other animals. The humid and foggy environment is ideal for the survival of the epiphytes, which in turn are ideal for the furnariids. There is something about the furnariids... they aren't the most colourful nor beautiful birds, but they are so scarce in the lowlands (where I do most of my birding) that the opportunity of finding any of them thrills me. Of course, we found many furnariids in tne form of Buffy Tuftedcheek, Ruddy Treerunner and Streaked Woodhaunter. We also got many Spot-crowned Woodcreepers, but deep inside me I still feel uncomfortable by including the woodcreepers (which are very common in the lowlands) into the furnariids. We took the "El Retoño" trail, finding Ruddy-capped Nightingale-Thrush, Black-faced Solitaire, Wrenthrush, Silvery-fronted Tapaculo, Gray-breasted Wood-Wren, Rufous-browed Peppershrike, among others before reaching the large tracks of bamboo (Chusquea sp.). Once there, we didn't see any bamboo specialist, but we were entertained by a mixed flock composed mainly by Black-cheeked Warblers and Yellow-thighed Finches, but including also Wilson's & Black-and-white Warblers, Collared Whitestart and even a Hairy Woodpecker. We got also a nice selection of hummers, including Green Violetears, Magnificent & Stripe-tailed Hummingbirds, White-throated Mountain-Gems, Violet Sabrewing and the bird of the day: a cute Green-fronted Lancebill flycatching over the stream. It was getting late for our return journey to Penonome, so we lunched at the small restaurant in the park's entrance and said goodbye to Darien, who stayed in the area... looking for more birds (and hearing a flock of Barred Parakeets later). On the way, we found the parade celebrating the national day of our flag... a particular way to end a birding morning in the highlands.

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