Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Metropolitan Natural Park

Panama is the only latinamerican capital city blessed with a tropical dry forest within its boundaries. The Metropolitan Natural Park is considered the lung of Panama City, and it holds an amazing diversity of plants and wildlife (including birds) considering its proximity to the busy city. After spending a couple of hours at Veracruz beach and leaving an unexpected passenger at the main buildings of the park last sunday (january 17), we decided to walk La Cieneguita and the Mono Tití trails just to see what we can shoot (with the cameras). It was about 10:30 AM so the activity was low, but anyway we managed to find some birds. At our first stop, one of the rangers pointed us a branch that at first glance looked like any other, but with the binoculars we verified its identity: a Common Potoo perfectly patterned for disguising like a tree. What a beautiful creature, in spite of its reputation... this bird is the famous "Tulivieja" (a kind of witch) of our peasants due to its lugubrious (but enchanting) song. We delighted ourselves photographing this magnificent bird, but soon we were shooting other one: a pair of highly vocal Crimson-crested Woodpeckers in courtship display. A little farther in the trail we heard the characteristic buzzy call of the Slate-colored Seedeater and soon one male answered to our recordings (always close to the bamboo). This seedeater used to be very rare, but it has become regular at the bamboo in this park since last year. Other birds seen were Dusky and White-bellied Antbirds, Red-throated Ant-Tanagers and a Rosy Thrush-Tanager. We crossed some birders in the trails including a group, guided by our friend José Carlos, trying to spy an Orange-billed Sparrow, but having great views of a Slaty-tailed Trogon instead. We said goodbye to them, heading to the exit, but the musical whistles of a pair of Yellow-backed Orioles delayed us. As you can read, it was a very busy morning!

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