Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Festivities in Cocle province. Part I

November is a month of national festivities here in Panama... Gloriela and I took advantage of the long weekend, starting thursday, november 3th (celebrating the separation of Panama from Colombia), to rest and to spent some time at our house in Penonome, the capital of Cocle province in central Panama. That day, we went to the Aguadulce Salinas (saltponds) quite early. The chill breeze from the ocean and the immensity of the place was appreciated better by the fact that we almost saw no one else in the place! We were just starting the long road through the saltponds when I noticed a medium-sized, dark heron close to it. The all dark bill and legs confirmed by initial suspicion: an immature Reddish Egret in dark phase! It was our closest encounter with that bird, and only my third sighting of it (lifer for Gloriela!). The egret was still, and only moved to get away, so we were not able to see the acrobatic feeding behavior characteristic of this species. Essentially a rare bird for the republic, the Reddish Egret seems to be quite regular in this site. There were big -but distant- flocks of Semipalmated Plovers and unidentified peeps (those identified seemed to be Least and Semipalmated Sandpipers), plus tons of egrets and herons. A group of big waders, composed by a migrant Great Blue Heron, an adult Wood Stork and an absolutely gorgeous Roseate Spoonbill, was a great sight. The bright pink plumage of the spoonbill is simply beautiful, and makes this species identifiable from long distances. Blurry photos.... but a great bird anyway!
We spend less than two hours in Aguadulce. In the way back to Penonome, we stopped at my grandma's house in the little (perhaps tiny) town of El Caño, just in time to see the parade of the only elementary school in town celebrating the separation of Panama from Colombia.
Birds, drums and typical suits... what else do you need for a day in november?

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