Saturday, March 20, 2010

In the way to Cerro Punta

After birding the previous day in Batipa, we woke early the morning of monday, march 15th in order to leave David city (the capital of Chiriqui province in western Panama) towards the highlands, this time to the western side of the Baru volcano, to the town of Cerro Punta. Despite our original plan was to spent most of the morning searching for an adult male Resplendant Quetzal in Cerro Punta, we decided to make some stops along the way after the town of Concepción. Now, there are only few scattered patches of disturbed forest remaining along this road, but sometimes those patches can have surprises. Our first stop was at the town of San Vicente. We took the road towards the town of Escobal, but drive only few meters until reaching a bridge over a shaded creek. Almost immediately we heard the distinctive noise of a Manacus manakin and, after a little searching, we found a pair of Orange-collared Manakins. This species is a regional endemic (southeastern Costa Rica - western Panama), a really handsome one, but there are still some taxonomic issues about its relationships. Anyway, the male was very cooperative (the female dissapeared quickly), allowing many photos in full view. We only recorded common species in the area, including Chestnut-sided Warbler, Yellow-crowned Euphonia (I checked it well, it wasn't a Spot-crowned) and Piratic Flycatcher (calling everywhere). We spent about half hour in that place and then moved on. The next stop was at the Macho de Monte river, entering through the Cuesta de Piedra town. We had been quite lucky in this site before, but that day there were heavy construction works at the bridge, with lot of noise, so we were sceptical. A quick glimpse revealed common birds like Blue-and-gray, Cherrie's and Golden-hooded Tanagers plus a Buff-rumped Warbler. I also noticed a flowering Inga tree, so I decided to check it out. The first hummingbird I saw was a Snowy-bellied Hummingbird, but then, a tiny bee-like hummer appeared. Mostly rufous, with white throat and white rump band: a female White-crested Coquette!!! I took a couple of (bad) photos and then ran to warn Gloriela who was still in the car. Soon we relocate the bird, perched nicely on a bare twig, allowing more photos. We stayed for an hour or so, while the coquette remained in the surroundings. This is a very rare hummingbird (at least in Panama), with recent reports from this same place and from El Chorogo (at the border with Costa Rica in the Burica peninsula). My only other sighting was of a female too many years ago precisely in El Chorogo... I suppose that I will have to return in order to see an adult male! Eventually, we reached Cerro Punta, but it was a little bit late for birding... anyway, we looked for an adult male Quetzal in several spots before finding one in Las Nubes (more details in the next post). After that, we descended again, this time we took the road to Santa Clara and found a bunch of fruiting Cecropias by a coffee plantation. Highlights were Speckled and White-lined Tanagers, Scarlet-thighed Dacnis (all of them year-birds), Masked Tityra and a pair of Fiery-billed Aracaris feeding on the Cecropias. Great collection of birds below Cerro Punta, don't you think?

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