Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Great little pond

Yesterday's afternoon was so sunny and warm, very summer-like, that I decided to go with Gloriela on a short ride to the former U.S. military base of Clayton (Panama City), now home of The City of Knowledge and a residential area. There is a pond right in the center of the area where two species of grebes were seen during the last Christmas Bird Count. I still needed the Least Grebe for my year list so it was an extra reason to visit the site. I drove, entering the relaxing neighborhood, with its wide avenues, forested parks and low traffic; passing by schools, houses and business centers before reaching the pond. I parked in front of it (at the visitors' parking lot of an apartments tower) and then we walked towards the shore, where you can sit on a park-like chairs facing the water. Almost immediatley we found the first, of two, Least Grebe in the far shore. They were readily identified by their bright yellow eyes and small size. One of them even showed to us its white wings panels, which are seldom seen in the wild (It was the first time I see that field mark). One stayed floating while the other was diving frequently... but not as the Pied-billed Grebe present in the same pond. It only showed itself for brief periods of time, long enough to breath. Most of the time it stayed underwater, emerging randomly in different sites of the pond, sometimes close to the Least Grebes. You can tell it apart by its general browner coloration, bigger size and heavier bill. Both grebes were lifers for Gloriela, and the Least Grebe was a new year-bird for me! The only other bird we saw at the pond (well, not including those at the trees surrounding it, like Tropical Kingbirds and Common Tody-Flycatchers) was a Green Heron inspecting the banks close to us (file photo). Well, nice way to spent the afternoon of a sunny day... getting lifers and new year-birds!
P.D.: did I mention the HUGE Common Sliders (aka Pond Slider, Red-eared Slider, Slider Turtle), Trachemys scripta, inhabitating the pond?

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