Sunday, January 23, 2011

Saturday's morning in Campo Chagres

Yesterday, I went with Gloriela, Osvaldo Quintero, Rafael Luck and Euclides "Kilo" Campo to the Campo Chagres section of the immense Chagres National Park. This section is adjacent to the south shore of the Alajuela lake, and holds an impressive dry forest reminiscent of that of the Metropolitan Natural Park, in the city (despite most of the park's forests are very wet). The first gate was locked, so I walked with Kilo all the way to the rangers' station where one of the rangers offered to open it, so the rest of the group entered with the car. We saw and heard many birds in the road and in the station grounds, including Collared Forest-Falcon, both Common and Slate-headed Tody-Flycatchers, Golden-collared and Lance-tailed Manakins, and Rosy Thrush-Tanagers (file photo). Apart of a disjunct population in western Mexico, this species is restricted to Costa Rica, Panama and northern South America. They are terrestrial and furtive, and have a rich song that is given by a duetting pair. All these make them odd tanagers, more similar to the northern thrashers. Despite these numbers, the birds were more easily heard than seen, and the activity was a little bit low. Surely, the sunny day was not helping. Anyway, we followed Kilo into the trails, finding a male Gartered Trogon quietly perched at the entrance of the trails, the first of four species recorded for that single site (the other three were Black-throated, Slaty-tailed and Black-tailed Trogons, the last one was a lifer for Gloriela). We also saw a Blue-crowned Motmot, a Western Slaty-Antshrike and a Dusky Antbird; and heard a Thrush-like Schiffornis and a Green Shrike-Vireo. About the migrants we saw Yellow, Bay-breasted, Chestnut-sided and Golden-winged Warblers plus Yellow-green Vireos heard anywhere. These vireos breed in Panama, and have just arrived from South America where they spent the winter. Its arrival is marked with a lot of song, making it one of the most abundant species at our forests. We decided to go back to the station grounds, finding Yellow-crowned Euphonias and Summer Tanager in the same tree. While admiring a mixed flock with White-shouldered Tanagers and Golden-fronted Greenlets, Kilo heard (for the third time in the morning) the call of a Yellow-green Tyrannulet. This bird is a Panama's endemic, only recorded from the Canal Area to Darien (close to the colombian border). Only Kilo and I saw well the bird, the rest of the group only had glimpses of it. This is because is a tiny, green canopy-dweller, active as a warbler. Can you imagine how tough it is to follow the bird high in the trees with your binoculars? After a while, we decided to left the place. It was still early in the morning, so we drove to the Gamboa area and the Pipeline road (30 minutes away) for the rest of the morning... but that is another story.

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