Saturday, December 5, 2009

Long-billed Curlew and more along the coast

Gloriela picked me up yesterday evening at work to head towards Panama Viejo and Costa del Este, taking advantage of the 16-feet high tide. The heavy traffic (typical of december days) slowed us down, but somehow we managed to reach Panama Viejo's mudflats just in time to watch a huge group of gulls and terns. Most of them were Franklin's Gulls (somewhat weird... usually they are outnumbered by the Laughings), with Gull-billed and Royal Terns also common. Then, a Whimbrel-like bird catched our attention. It was preening at the edge of the flock. We walked towards the bird, reaching the shore, but it remained too far away for my lens, but not for my binoculars. The long and downcurved bill was evident... confirming our initial suspicion: a Long-billed Curlew. For some years, a lone individual (maybe the same) have been wintering this part of the mudflats. In fact, my life curlew was some years ago in that precise site during a Christmas Bird Count... this time, it was a lifer for Gloriela. My poor pics at least show it most important field mark. After few minutes, it flew to the mangroves, showing then other important field mark: the cinnamon underwing coverts (similar to that of the Marbled Godwit). The flock flew too, so we decided to drive to Costa del Este, stopping at the mouth of the Matías Hernández river. From the sidewalk, we saw a group of birders at the beach so we joined them. The huge number of shorebirds and gulls was extraordinary though we did not find anything really rare. The flock was composed mainly by gulls (Franklins' and Laughings). with some tern and skimmers; but also lots of shorebirds (Godwits, Whimbrels, Willets, Lapwings, and so on...), cormorants and pelicans. We were not prepared for the sand and the sun (without hats, long sleeves or sunscreen, Gloriela dressing with high heels shoes!) so we started to return when the birders pointed us to the sky. A group of Wood Storks was circling high over us against the sky, contrasting with the modern skycrapers of the place. It was a nice way of saying goodbye to the place.


  1. Did you check if the Skimmers were North American ss or South A.?

  2. Hard to tell, the all flock raised up so I wasn't able to follow the skimmers to check the tail color or the others fieldmarks