Monday, January 24, 2011

2011's First Lifer

Last saturday, january 22nd, after birding during the first hours of the morning in Campo Chagres, the team formed by Gloriela, Rafael Luck, Osvaldo Quintero, Euclides "Kilo" Campos and your blogger host decided to spent the rest of the morning (and the first hours of the afternoon) in Pipeline Road and the Panama Rainforest Discovery Center (PRDC). At the center, we enjoyed some cold beverages and the company of the center's staff, old friends of us. Of course, we also enjoyed the myriad of hummingbirds that visit the center's feeders. We also saw others birds at the center, including Broad-billed Motmot, Scarlet-rumped Caciques and Ruddy-tailed Flycatcher. In the way out, we stopped at the entrance road to the center right where Osvaldo photographed a tiny Golden-crowned Spadebill the last week, but the bird did not show up. Instead, we found a pair of White-whiskered Puffbirds. The male was looking at us in a curious manner, like asking what's up with us? A little after that, Gloriela detected a noise in the understore... an aptly named Scaly-throated Leaftosser was working very close to us in the forest floor, picking the leaves with its long beak and throwing it apart looking for insects and other critters. These birds are more often heard than seen, and their calls are typical voices of the lowlands rainforests. This is the first one I actually see in many years, and was a lifer for Gloriela. We saw all the diagnostic field marks, including the obvious white scalloping to the throat. While admiring the leaftosser, Kilo heard a mixed flock of antwrens. I saw Checker-throated and Dot-winged Antwrens, but Kilo assured me that he also heard a Moustached Antwren, formerly merged with the Pygmy Antwren, now restricted to South America. This beautiful patterned antwren likes the highest part of the trees, where it moves quickly... and habit that, combined with its tiny size, make it quite difficult to watch... now imagine how difficult it is to photograph. But I tried it anyway, when we finally find it high above us. If you enlarge the image, you will see its characteristic shape (with very short tail), yellow underparts and white throat. We were not tired yet, so we walked beyond the Juan Grande creek to see what can we find. We heard more antwrens and found a group of Scarlet-rumped Caciques and Purple-throated Fruitcrows harrasing a magnificent Gray-headed Kite (file photo). Little after that, in a huge Ficus tree, Kilo heard the bird of the day, at least for me: a Gray Elaenia. Its call was confusingly similar to that of the Tropical Gnatcatcher (a pair was present in the same tree), except by the first two or three buzzy notes. When I first saw the bird, it reminded me a becard, due to its gray and black coloration, but its bill shape and habits confirmed the ID. The wing pattern was specially contrasting. I'm pretty sure that most of us overlook this bird due to its call, and the fact that it is a canopy-dweller species (Rafael's photo shows its silhouette high in the canopy against the sky). What a nice surprise, the last of the regular-recorded birds in Pipeline Road that I still was missing, a great life bird to have as first for the year! Well, it seems that I have no more reasons to go back to Pipeline Road (JUST KIDDING!!!, I still need a good photo!).


  1. Congratulations! Pipeline holds many more surprises waiting for me...

  2. Thanks Leslie... and you are right, who knows what else can we expect in Pipeline?