Saturday, February 26, 2011

Walking the Pipeline Road

I'm back from an early visit to Gamboa and Pipeline road (central Panama) this morning with Osvaldo Quintero. As usual, we started at the Gamboa Ammo Dump, where the activity was great, with lots of common birds in the surroundings. Among the flycatchers, the chachalacas, and the jacanas, we found a cooperative pair of Barred Antshrikes feeding at eye level. Curiously, these are the first individuals of this species that I see this year, despite they are pretty common in the city (and perhaps elsewhere). I really like its call, a ba-ta-ra-ra-rarara-RA! frequently heard, and the origin of the spanish name for the group (Batará). Many people think that the female is prettier than the black-&-white male, what do you think? Close to them, two or probably three Buff-breasted Wrens were skulking, giving loud notes eventually... they were simply too shy for my camera! We left the Ammo Dump and headed to the entrance of Pipeline road, where a huge fallen trunk blocked it. We had to left the car in the entrance and started to walk the first part, which usually we by-pass to go directly to the Juan Grande bridge or to the Panama Rainforest Discovery Center (PRDC). It was a good think actually, because we got some others birds in the short walk, and we also joined Jennifer Wolcott who arrived earlier to the road. We found a group of skulkiers in the undergrowth, including Dusky Antbirds, Dot-winged Antwrens and a Black-bellied Wren that I barely captured with my camera... you can have an idea of the tangled and dark habitat this wren prefers by looking at the photo. In an area with tall grass (where we never stop with the car), I detected little activity in some vains, it was a warbler and I managed to take these photos (you can enlarge them):
Not the best photos (Osvaldo's are much better), but at least you can see the mostly bright yellow underparts with white vent and undertail coverts and the narrow black line through the eye of a Blue-winged Warbler, another rare warbler for this season's collection! In the field was very evident its two white wing bars over the blue wings. It was foraging alone, despite there were two Squirrel Cuckoos and several Lesser Greenlets close to it. The cuckoos stayed for photos, the warbler did not. It is so nice to have such a gorgeous and big cuckoo as a common species in Panama. We walked beyond the Juan Grande bridge, but we only heard more antwrens, some fruitcrows and a pair of Black-breasted Puffbirds, so we decided to walk to the Rainforest Discovery Center. Good choice because the activity was crazy there, both of birds and people... several birders and non-birders groups were in the Center, even George Angehr (author of the new field guide to the birds of Panama) arrived there later. After saying hello to the staff, and after having some sodas and a snack, we started birding the surroundings. A huge mixed flock was passing by, with Yellow, Bay-breasted, Chestnut-sided and Golden-winged Warblers, Brown-capped Tyrannulet in a Cecropia tree (usually only heard, this is a canopy-dweller, tiny flycatcher), White-winged Becard, Dot-winged Antwren, another Black-bellied Wren and several Scarlet-rumped Caciques. We heard the characteristic call of a Moustached Antwren, and after a quick search we found him with the flock high in the canopy.... again, only marginal photos of this tiny, but attractive bird. At the end, it was worth the effort to walk into the road, instead of driving it.

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