Sunday, December 20, 2009

PAS Pacific Christmas Bird Count

After almost 12 hours of intense non-stop birding (hmmm counting), we finally are at home, trying to compile our day list. Not yet a preliminary result but we had a great day (along with Rafael Luck), with some goodies. But what most impressed us was the number of birders that participated in this count (most of them Auduboners, of course). It seems that this will be a good year eh? The site assigned to my group was the coastal area to the west of the Panama Canal (Farfan, Palo Seco and Veracruz) in the morning, plus Amador and the Causeway (including Punta Culebra) in the evening. The owling hour produced at least two Tropical Screech-Owls, a Common Pauraque and a pre-dawn Laughing Falcon. We waited for the sunrise at Farfan and started to count birds by ear... then, we got enough light for traditional birding, walking a trail through mangroves and a saltwater-filled lagoon, finding lots of water birds and species more related to the mangroves (Straight-billed Woodcreeper for example). We also found a cooperative White-necked Puffbird. I take very seriously my compiler "status", so usually I only stop for enough time in order to get a positive id and move on to the next bird during the Birds Counts... but wow, that Puffbird was almost begging for a photo. I digiscoped it with Gloriela's point-and-shoot (I did not carry my camera during the count... to record rare sights was Rafael's job jeje). Back to the rocky shore, we spotted a distant group of birds resting. A closer look with the scope revealed two American Oystercatchers, a rare sight in this part of Panama (photo only for record purposes). We drove then to Palo Seco, finding a nice mixed flock of flycatchers and warblers along with Gray-headed Tanagers, and lots of Lance-tailed Manakins. In Veracruz (close to the limit of the counting circle), despite the low tide, we managed to found four species of plovers (with Wilson's and Collared being highlights), 500+ Neotropic Cormorants and lots of the expected gulls and terns (but alas, no Elegant Terns). After meeting with the others participants (and after annotating those birds still missing), we headed to Punta Culebra not before picking-up the Mouse-colored Tyrannulet at Diablo Heights. Once there, it just took few minutes to locate our target bird there: Northern Scrub-Flycatcher. We also recorded Mangrove Warbler, Sapphire-throated Hummingbird, Garden Emerald, Streaked Saltator, and a group of raccoons (I need some help... are them Crab-eating Raccoons?). Along the Causeway, we saw both species of Boobies (Brown and Blue-footed) flying to the limit of the count circle, Saffron Finches with Tropical Mockingbirds feeding at the gardens (but no Cattle Tyrants) and finally we saw a Wood Stork in a little section of mangroves when exiting Amador. Well, after all we got good birds... having a great time!

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