Saturday, January 29, 2011

Not only ducks at Las Macanas

As I mentioned in my last post, we do not only found ducks at Las Macanas marsh (Herrera province, central Panama) this morning, we (Osvaldo, Kilo, Hector and your blogger host) also found tons of other interesting birds as well. As usual, the place was simply great for raptors, with common species like Savanna, Common Black and Roadside Hawks in the nearby fields, Ospreys and Snail Kites in the marsh. Las Macanas hold a permanent population of these kites (a male in the photo), the only one outside the Canal Area. In the way to the marsh, we also saw Peregrine, Aplomado and Bat Falcons, plus Yellow-headed and Crested Caracaras (also falconiformes). The other group well-represented are the waders... we saw ALL the egrets (except Reddish), plus Great, Little Blue and Tricolored Herons, and two Black-crowned Night-Herons feeding in the open. We also saw some Wood Storks flying, tons of Glossy Ibises and several White Ibises as well. The Glossy Ibis breed there, and, despite its commoness, I still need a good photo of it as you can see. Anyway, they are really "glossy" with the adequate light. We walked along the edge of the marsh, out of the visitors area guided by Hector, finding in the way a Mangrove Cuckoo, which seems regular in that site in the right season. We reached an area with hundreds of whistling (and others) ducks, but also some shorebirds, including Least Sandpipers, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Black-necked Stilts and four Killdeers (the third group I found this month... curious considering that I saw none last year). Kilo detected a group of five dowitchers that looked suspicious. In first place the habitat: a freshwater marsh away from the coast. They also exhibited dark gray breasts and, in flight, dark tails contrasting with the white patch on rump and lower back... but more interesting, they emitted a sharp and clear kick! when alarmed (after joining a bigger group of dowitchers looking essentially the same), and the same note in a quick series when they flew away... Long-billed Dowitchers! I'm pretty familiarised with the more musical call of the Short-billed Dowitchers, and these were completely different! A very rare migrant to Panama, and a lifer for two of us (Kilo saw them last year with Hector). All over the place, the Sandwich Terns were from one side to another, checking the ponds, but at this section of the marsh we also saw a flock of eight magnificent Caspian Terns. We saw them perched first, but they didn't allow us to approach them, so I only got flying shots. Anyway, its huge size and coral-red bill make them impressive birds. I'm convinced that Las Macanas is the most reliable site in Panama to find them. It was a good day. After all, for me, a day with a lifer definitively is a good one... but a day with TWO lifers is GREAT! What I'm talking about? Keep reading my next post and you will figure it out!

1 comment:

  1. Hello Axel and Gloriela, Love your blg site! My wife Sally and I were at Las Macanas on April 9. We really agree with you that this is a ,"Special", place.Not just for the birdlife, but also for its ,"Serenity".We spent 4 hours on the tower that morning and it was definitely our favorite morning of what was our 2nd birding visit to Panama.The outstanding sighting there was of a Large Billed Tern,[immature], that flew by the tower at about 10 am.We are two very accomplished birders in the tropics and are field leaders for Audubon back in New York State.We have seen a great many tern species and are sure of this sighting. The Large Billed Tern did not stay in our vicinity with the 4 Caspians but continued down the lake to the northern end and we did not spot it again.It was,of course, totally unexpected and a terrific thrill for us.We also saw the resident Snail Kite, 6 Southern Lapwing's, 4 White Ibis,Glossies too, and close to 500 Black bellied Whistling Duck,[wow!].We spent the next 6 days at Santa Fe, then El Valle and ended with a morning on Pipeline Road. We love your country and will return for a 3rd trip, hopefully to visit Nusangandi and/or Cerro Chucanti.Sally and I don't usually go with tours.We like to hike most places on our own.But for Cerro Chucanti it seems we need to go with Advantage Tours. Again, thanks for your wonderful site and we would be pleased to hear from you guys.Good Birding, Carl and Sally