Friday, July 9, 2010

Birding Bocas: Part III

The first day of our trip we birded around Changuinola; the second day we explored the frontier zone with Costa Rica and ended in the town of Punta Peña after an excellent birding in El Silencio; the third, and last, day of our birding trip started very early in Punta Peña were we stayed for the night. We (Rafael Luck, Venicio "Beny" Wilson and your blogger host) headed to a restaurant in order to have breakfast when we saw a flying Barn Owl in the fields and a group of Brown Jays. Great way to start the day! After a quick breakfast, we headed to the Two Tanks road in Chiriqui Grande to find a specific target, Green Ibis, before moving to the foothills and to Fortuna in our way to Panama City. Soon we got our birds, a group of at least five Green Ibises calling from the huge trees and flying around. We got excellent views, and even saw the green tones of these birds with the suitable light. Otherwise, these birds look almost black in the field and, when flying with those broad wings, sometimes recall vultures until you heard its characteristic cacophony. We saw others common birds, but the highlight was an irritable Common Snapping Turtle right in the middle of the road (Beny moved it out of the way for its own safety). My first Snapping Turtle... and a big one (this and others Bocas' herps here). We then moved to the foothills, taking the winding Oleoducto road that is under heavy reparations works, specially in the several bridges. We did few stops along the way, finding no many birds, but the highlight were Tiny Hawk, Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer, Bay-headed Tanagers, Sulphur-winged Parakeets and both Slaty-tailed and Lattice-tailed Trogons (both females). The noise in the main road by the heavy equipment, plus the very sunny day made the activity low. We decided to drive directly to the Continental Divide just to see if the things become better. By the entrance of the trail to the Continental Divide we found a mixed flock with Common Bush-Tanagers, Azure-hooded Jays, Spotted Woodcreepers and even a female Black-bellied Hummingbird. Farther in the road to the communication towers (and always within the Bocas del Toro province) we saw a contrasting Crimson-collared Tanager and a family group of Blue-hooded Euphonias. A flying flock of 30 or more parakeets turned out to be Barred Parakeets, identified by voice, shape, size and the ausence of yellow in the underwings. The first life bird for the day, but not the last. Not long after that, Beny recognized the calls of a distant Ornate Hawk-Eagle. We tried the tape recorder on it and guess what... it heard us!!! Soon, the magnificent bird was flying above us and even perched conspicuosly in a nearby branch for our delight. What a bird and what a show!!! Voted as the best bird of the entire trip, a life bird for me! The rest of the day we appreciate the scenic road in our way to Panama City, just stopping in few places to take pictures of the landscape (including a picture to the impressive waterfall at the Chorcha plateau in the Chiriqui province) and in El Chiru (Cocle province) were we saw our long-desired Grassland Yellow-Finch as a bonus bird for the trip!

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