Sunday, October 30, 2011

At the castle

To end well the weekend, I went with Gloriela (and Gabrielle of course) to the Caribbean coast of central Panama, to the Colon province. Specifically, we tried the San Lorenzo National Park and the former Fort Sherman. In the way, we drove through heavy rain and dense mist along the Transisthmic highway, but as soon as we reached Colon, the weather improved, and a radiant sun illuminated us. The road to Sherman is very picturesque, as I have said before, passing through grasslands, primary forests, lagoons and mangroves. The phone lines along this road are the most birdy in Panama... we saw at least one Broad-winged Hawk, several Common Black-Hawks, a male White-tailed Trogon and four Black-breasted Puffbirds perched on the lines. Notice the drops of water in the puffbird body... it was raining a little bit. Not only that, in the stretch of mangroves, the guests on the wires were the Ringed Kingfishers... three of them were noticed along the route... and all this before reaching the gate at the entrance of Fort Sherman! The grasslands in Sherman were alive with birds, including many migrants. For some reason, the most common migrants this time were the Indigo Buntings and the Blue Grosbeaks. Most of them exhibited the dull winter plumage (essentially all warm brown), some had patches of blue in the wings and ventral parts. In these photos you can notice the difference in bill's size and shape (smaller and thinner in the bunting)... the size difference is not evident (the grosbeak is considerably larger than the bunting). Eventually, we reached the old Castillo de San Lorenzo... as usual, we were almost the only beings in the place, except for a family that was also visiting the ruins. The serenity, the silence and the spectacular sights makes this place special... I'm pretty sure that this Brown-throated Three-toed Sloth was also enjoying these aspects of the castle. Do you remember why he looks so green (if not, you may want to read the comments of this post)? In the castle's plaza, two little birds caught my attention. They were feeding actively in the ground, constantly wagging the tails and with conspicuous yellow undertail coverts: a pair of Palm Warblers! It is always great to find this species in Panama because they are rare here... but not only that... supposedly, they arrive to Panama by mid-November, with november 7th as the earliest date recorded (in El Real, Darien... check the report here). Probably they happen unnoticed or simply unrecorded. We crossed all the corridors of the castle and took many pictures of it... of course I couldn't refuse to take a photo of Gloriela and Gabrielle having the mighty Chagres river as background... a small souvenir of her first visit to the castle!

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