Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Mid-week Twitch

Imagine the worst day to bird in the foothills of Cerro Azul (central Panama): dark, rainy, foggy, windy and cold. Well, that day was yesterday... and despite it Osvaldo Quintero, Gloriela and I visited the site in an after-work twitch to see the Brown Violetear reported there a week ago. It was the third visit for me (and the second for Gloriela and Osvaldo) in less than seven days, I already posted the story of my previous two visits. We reached the Cerro Azul gate quite late (around 4:20 PM) due to a huge traffic jam in the city... this because of the shopping madness for the mothers' day and the heavy rain all day long. Despite the weather, Cerro Azul had surprises for us... starting with a Fasciated Tiger-Heron standing on a rock close to the road by the Río Jefe... and I was just telling Osvaldo that finding that bird was very unlikely because the torrential made the usually-clear-and-nice forest creek into an unleashed, mighty, roaring river! Did I mention that it was a long-desired Panama life bird for me and a lifer for Gloriela? Great way to start.
When we finally reached Birders' View, it was very dark and windy... not very promising. But Osvaldo's networking showed to be useful when he received the information that we can try Birders' View's neighbors "Smithy" and Rachelle, who keep hummingbirds and banana feeders in their property. So we introduced ourselves and the couple kindly received us willing to show their incredible feeders, completely FULL of colourful birds and hummers! We simply got distracted by all that activity, tons of hummers zipping right at our faces, lots of tanagers, euphonias, grassquits and others begging for bananas, bread and seeds... wordless! Then, I saw a big hummer at one of the several hummingbirds feeders of the backyard: a BROWN VIOLETEAR!!! A lifer for all of us! It was comparable in size to the White-necked Jacobins accompanying it at the feeder, and considerable bigger than the Snowy-bellied and Rufous-tailed Hummingbirds of the picture. If the Jacobins were approaching too close, it was confronting them opening its erectile violet ears... amazing! Its green-and-blue gorget was also evident while perched on the feeders (Jacobin in the foreground, Violetear in the background). It made several visits to the same feeder, to then perch in the same Hibiscus plant (popular known as "Papo"). It appeared just in time because the light was dissapearing fast (it was almost 6:00 PM!). The Brown Violetear is a rare and erratic hummingbird in Panama, with just a handful of records, including only two other previous records for this locale. So, despite the rain, the fog and the wind I can't think on a better day in Cerro Azul!

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