Saturday, April 16, 2011

Dry arch's fruits and birds

It has been a while since my last post, I have been busy at work this month... but somehow I managed to accomplish some short trips to the dry coastal lowlands to the west of the former Panama Canal Zone, an area known as the dry arch for its weather conditions, very popular for its white sand beaches and many resorts along the coast. At almost the end of the dry season, tons of fruiting trees are fully loaded in some tropical, tasty and colorful candies. If you drive along the PanAmerican highway in this section you will see lots a tiny fruit stops where you can buy them. One of the most abundant fruit is the plum. Despite we call it a plum, these fruits probably are not related. The plum trees are popular as fence's posts around the properties and houses. Grape-shaped, these fruits are hard, turning red and fleshy while maturing. In fact, many people eat them still green, calling them then "cracker plums" due to the sound they produce with each bite. Many birds visited the plum trees at Gloriela's relatives property in Gorgona (western Panama province, at the eastern end of the arch), including Blue-gray, Palm and Crimson-backed Tanagers (a gaudy male in the photo), Red-crowned Woodpeckers and Brown-throated Parakeets; but, to be honest, I saw none actually eating the fruits. Another common tree loaded in fruits was the cashew. If you don't know from where the cashew nuts come from, then just check my photo and you will recognize one of them attached to that yellow fruit. The fruit itself have a funny taste, I like it more in juice, or "chica" as we say in Panama (in other countries of the region, the term chicha implies some alcohol in the content of the drink... it is not the case in Panama). Again, many birds are attracted to these fruits, but also the insects and others critters that also attracted other non-frugivorous birds, like the female Barred Antshrike or the singing Rufous-browed Peppershrike that I'm showing here, both of them photographed near the fruits while catching the insects. But by far, probably the most iconic tropical fruit in this part of Panama (and perhaps, everywhere) is the mango. There are too many varieties of this fruit, with so many regional names that it is impossible to list them all, but here is a little sample: mangos calida', chupa-chupa, hilacha, huevo 'e toro, papaya, etc... If you know more mango varieties or any other dry arch's fruit missing, let me know in the comments.

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