Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Coquette and others hummers in Cerro Azul

The last place visited during our saturday trip to Cerro Azul (foothills east of Panama City) was the lovely home of our good friends Williams and Claudia Ahrens (both members of The 600 Club). They are full time residents in Los Altos de Cerro Azul, and they have banana and hummingbird feeders all over their place. After trying to find the Rufous-crested Coquette in Birders' View, Rafael Luck, Osvaldo Quintero and your blogger host, headed to the Ahrens' place (after seeing only the regular Violet-headed Hummingbird at the supposed coquette site). As usual, the place was full of birds, not only hummingbirds, but also tanagers, honeycreepers and woodcreepers among others. Bill and Claudia welcomed us warmly and invited us to check their feeders, where we immediately saw the usual suspects, mainly White-necked Jacobins, but also some Amazilia hummingbirds and even a male and female Violet-crowned Woodnymph (female on a feeder). We were surprised with the answer to our question about the coquette: Bill said "ahhh, she is at the feeders right now, or in the Verbenas outside". What!!??? The coquette was there all the time? Just seconds after his answer, I saw a little black dot leaving the feeder that he pointed, heading to the purple flowers of the Verbena : a female Rufous-crested Coquette!!! We all started shooting while the beautiful creature was quietly visiting the flowers, with its tail cocked up and looking like a big bee. They say that at least two female-plumaged birds have been visiting their grounds in the past few day, one probably is an immature male. An adult male often appears too, but not recently. We were lined up in front of the Verbena, only the shooter's noise was heard. Definitively, we looked like paparazzis taking photos of a celebrity, the coquette certainly is one. Then, Claudia saw another specialty of her garden visiting one of the feeders, a Long-billed Starthroat that quickly flew to a perch in a pine tree. The colourful gorget (the "star" throat) is hard to see in the field, but the white moustache and the long and straight bill are diagnostic. The coquette reappeared in the same bush, and we took many more photos. Eventually she left the place, leaving us astonished! We barely paid attention to the others hummers in the property, despite a Snowy-bellied Hummingbird did its best to show us that it can be radiant too, showing its glowing feathers with the sun. Thank you Bill and Claudia, and lets us know if the male coquette appears!

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