Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Savanna birding

Last sunday, I went very early to the savannas just to the south of Penonome (Cocle province). It was quite foggy, but anyway I found most of the typical birds of this habitat, and more. I noticed that many of the rice fields were flooded, attracting many birds, both residents and migrants. I saw (and photographed) most of the birds while seated in my car, using it as a hide. This technique proved very useful because the birds are used to the cars that regularly transit the dirt road that I explored. Without it, this photo of a pair of Crested Bobwhites would have been very hard to get.
Both, Eastern Meadowlarks and Red-breasted Blackbirds shared the same fields. This comparison makes more sense in spanish, since both species are called "pastoreros". You can see the little amount of pink(ish) colour at the throat of the female blackbird in the second photo.
About passerine migrants, I found Yellow and Mourning Warblers, Northern Waterthrushes, a single Swainson's Thrush and a flock of distant Dickcissels (barely evident in my photo). Also, some non-passerines migrants showed up in the form of Soras (I got glimpses of one, but heard MANY more in the rice fields), five Solitary Sandpipers and my personal highlight: several Wilson's Snipes. They were too shy... I only got a photo of a flying-away bird, but at least you can see its striped dorsal pattern and straight bill (OK, you may need to enlarge the photo). Other shorebird in the area, the Southern Lapwing, is definitively resident. I say so because for the first time in my life I saw a little chick accompanied by three adults. No doubt these birds are doing extremely well.
Of course, you may know by now (if you have read my previous posts about this part of Panama) that the place is very good for raptors.
I took all the next photos while seated in my car, except by the migrant Mississippi Kite (an immature) pictured here flying. It was with a huge flock of migrating Turkey Vultures and Broad-winged Hawks.
Both Crested and Yellow-headed Caracaras were very common.
Not so often you find a perched White-tailed Kite so close. WOW, those eyes are expressive!
This Roadside Hawk was, as you guessed it, by the road.
The Aplomado Falcon is an scarce resident of these open lands. I found a pair of these beautiful birds. The male (judging by its smaller size) was eating and unidentified bird.
Others raptors for the area included Osprey, Savanna Hawk, a migrant Peregrine Falcon and a pair of American Kestrels on a wire.


  1. Oh, pretty pretty. Lovely shots. I'm envious!

  2. Man, that is a grat day on the savannahs! Great imnages as always, especially the bobwhite, Aplomado, and the kite!