Thursday, March 18, 2010

Birding Boquete: Part II

After a very good birding in the morning, the group conformed by me & Gloriela, Osvaldo Quintero and Osvaldo Quintero Jr., Rafael Luck, Milagros Sánchez and Olmedo Miró, decided to have a well deserved late lunch close to Boquete (western Panama highlands), in Alto Lino at an italian restaurant. It was around 3:00 pm and all of us enjoyed a tasty pizza (except Rafael who ordered pasta) in the lovely place. There was a creek in one side of the restaurant where a Torrent Tyrannulet was having lunch too. It perched on rocks in the restaurant's garden right by the window, allowing some very close photos. While listing the birds watched during the morning, everyone was impressed when I mentioned an American Dipper seen from the car in the middle of the Caldera river at Bajo Mono. It seems that nobody else have seen this bird before, so we quickly decided to return to Bajo Mono searching for it. After passing by "The Bricks" (an hexagonal basalt wall of volcanic origin), we stopped close to the "Y" (an intersection in the road of bajo Mono) to inspect the river. After few minutes, a pair of American Dippers appeared close to us. The most amazing thing about these birds is their habits. They swim and dive in the cold waters of the river, looking for aquatic invertebrates. They stayed together for a while, but then one of them flew upriver, giving some high-pitched calls. The other bird stayed for more photos, diving, swimming and even giving a glimpse under the water, as I pictured in my photo. Eventually, it was joined by a pair of Torrent Tyrannulet, about half of its size despite the subjective proportions of my photos (the photo of the tyrannulet was of a very close bird). Unlike the dippers, the tyrannulets never wetted intentionally. They picked up tiny insects from the surface, tolerating the splashing with the water if neccesary. A little farther, a Black Phoebe completed the trio of stream dwellers (a forth one, the Buff-rumped Warbler, is found at a lower elevation). Continuing the day, we went towards the area of Horqueta, making few stops for common birds, including the omnipresent "Tío Chicho" (Rufous-collared Sparrow), but also Green Violetear, Flame-throated & Tennessee Warbler, Mountain Elaenias, Orange-billed Nightingale-Thrush and White-naped Brush-Finch among others. Once in Horqueta we decided to walk a little bit the lower trail, but it was getting late so we decided to return when I saw a bulky ground-dove perched in a bush. I clearly saw two distinctive violaceous wing bars just for three seconds... then the bird flew reveling its wide white tail corners: a female Maroon-chested Ground-Dove!!! The combination of wing bars and white in the tail, plus the altitude (1.995 meters above sea level) confirmed the id. We didn't see any bamboo in the site, and the bird flew to a coffee plantation. That was the last bird of the day... and what a bird! Back at Olmedo's house, we planned a trip to Batipa (in the lowlands) for the next morning, but that is another history!

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