Saturday, April 30, 2011

Ring-billed Gull in Santa Clara beach

After visiting Penonome (central Panama) during april's last weekend, Gloriela and I decided to stop by the Santa Clara beach before returning to the city. For my surprise, we found a Ring-billed Gull among the dozens or more Laughing Gulls. Probably for most of you, the Ring-billed Gull is an abundant, boring gull found everywhere... but for us, in Panama, it is a very scarce migrant, present mostly on the Pacific coast of central Panama, specially around Panama City (more birdwatchers there?). It has been a while since my last sighting of a Ring-billed Gull in Panama... surely due to my few visits to regular sites like Costa del Este and Panama Viejo. The presence of this gull is expected in this part of the country according to Panama's new field guide (Angehr & Dean 2010), but for me was a nice surprise. It was not a mature adult, as you can see by the brown flight feathers; but I'm not an expert aging sea gulls. It was with a flock of Laughing Gulls, begging for food close to a group of visitors. Compared to the the Laughings, the Ring-billed was bigger, paler, heavier, with a distinctive pale iris and a different flight pattern, which both of us saw several times. I followed the flock for a while, trying to capture some close pictures, and I think I did it well. After a while, the whole group flew away (surely a group a playing kids with their canine pets had something to do with that)... so we left in the place enjoying the breeze, the sand and the cold waters of Santa Clara beach!

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