Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Photo safari in the savannah

Like many thousands of panamanians, I went with Gloriela, some relatives and friends to Penonome (central Panama) in order to relax and to enjoy the carnival, which is a serious celebration for most of Panama's population! Our house in the outskirts of the town was full and the responsability of being the host was heavy... but anyway we both manage to reserve a couple of hours in the morning to visit the savannah to the south of the town. Gloriela took most of the photos that appear in this post because I was driving, and I have to admit that she did a very good job (you will see). As usual, the place was excellent for raptors, with Roadside and Savannah Hawks, White-tailed Kite, a Bat Falcon and both caracaras in several sites of the road. The Crested Caracara is a fierce-looking bird with powerful flight, this individual was in the ground checking a bunch of dry leaves. Not too far, a Common Opossum, with its little cub on the back, was running away... probably the presence of the caracara had something to do with its hurry. The doves were well-represented there, with lots of Ruddy and Plain-breasted Ground-Doves all over the place, many White-tipped Doves and some Pale-vented Pigeons around... but the award for the most pretty dove is for the Mourning Dove. You only need to see its soft tones and subtle iridiscence to the neck, and that cute facial expresion to know what I mean.
They are quite shy, but we managed to approach one of them that was vocalizing... it was the first time that I heard this dove vocalizing in Panama, a soft call with three hollow notes, very low, almost unaudible.
Ridgely & Gwynne stated that this call have not been heard in Panama, but the new field guide by Angehr & Dean simply describes the call... doesn't mention nothing about how often it is heard. For a dove locally so common, I have to admit that it is weird that this is the first time that I heard it... probably the low volume plus its shy habits have something to do with this. We found most of the common inhabitants of this habitat, including many Fork-tailed Flycatchers eating a lot a fruit (and nop, none of these were Scissor-taileds... we checked them all). These masters of flight have a very distinctive trilling call that is a common sound in these fields. We also crossed several coveys of Crested Bobwhites, with one short-crested individual staying enough for a photo after crossing the road and a pair of Southern Lapwings inspecting a recently burned field. Very entertaining for a short photo safari through the savannah!

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