Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Skimmers at Costa del Este

After a heavy birding morning (visiting Veracruz, Farfan and the Metropolitan Natural Park) and a well deserved rest, I went with Gloriela and Michael (her nephew) to Costa del Este taking advantage of the evening's high tide last sunday, january 17. As usual, lots of birds were congregated at the mouth of the Matias Hernández river. Among them were at least four different Black Skimmers maybe of the South american race (there were only two in the morning, according to the e-mail that Rosabel Miró sent me). I suppose that it is now a regular bird in this site. The skimmers were not the only highlights. Among the gulls, the most numerous were the Franklins', they used to be quite uncommon in Panama, always outnumbered by the Laughing Gulls. Not only adults, but 1st winter birds too, allowing to check its field marks (notice, for example, the large hood and the white outer tail feathers in the flying individual that I picture here). Why we have so many Franklin's Gulls wintering in Panama this season? Maybe El Niño has made too warm their usual wintering grounds in South America (I remember THOUSANDS of Franklins' wintering in coastal Lima, Perú, some years ago) or who knows and perhaps we have been overlooking them so far (less likely). Also present were Black-bellied Plovers and Southern Lapwings (6th plover species for the day); Marbled Godwits, Greater Yellowlegs, Willets and Whimbrels representing the large shorebirds; and a compact group of Western and Spotted Sandpipers moving with the waves. Very much farther, the usual assortment of cormorants, pelicans and egrets were accompanied by a lone Cocoi Heron (first for my year list). It was a very short visit, but full of birds anyway!

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