Sunday, February 26, 2012

Back to the coclesian lowlands!

After spending most of the morning at the chilly foothills of Cocle province (central Panama) and having a refreshing bath at Las Yayas (both above El Cope), Rafael Luck, Luis Isaza and your host decided to have lunch in the lowlands around Aguadulce, and that was how we change from misty cloud forest to very hot scrubs, savannas, saltponds and the Pacific ocean in less than one hour!
We crossed the Aguadulce Salinas (saltponds), that were essentially devoid of birds, directly to El Salado beach and town, where we did saw some interesting species despite the midday's heat. Interesting in fact was the Bananaquit that we found in the garden of a house, because we also saw two of them earlier in the morning accompanying a mixed flock in the cloud forests above El Cope, and now it was alone in a desert-like habitat... how amazing is that!
We enjoyed a delicious fried fish with smashed green plantains in a restaurant close to the beach, a most for every visit to this part of Panama, and now a tradition for me and Rafael. In the way back, we saw some shorebirds and waders in a little pond, so we decided to took a side road to have a better look.
The number of Black-necked Stilts was amazing, these elegant birds are always welcomed to our day lists. The ponds proved to be like an oasis in the middle of a desert for many birds, including several heron species, Greater Yellowlegs, several groups of migrants Blue-winged Teals, Wattled Jacanas, and so on...
Others species typical of this habitat were both Yellow-headed and Crested Caracaras, distant White-winged Doves, Plain-breasted and Ruddy Ground-Doves, Groove-billed Anis, Pearl Kite, and a Common Black-Hawk that left me take this series of photographies showing him perched on a telephone pole, taking off and then landing on the wires.

You can see the rufous-colored flight feathers that supposedly separates this form (known as the Mangrove Hawk) of the Pacific coast from the "real" Common Black-Hawk of the Caribbean coast (in Panama I mean). Nice way to end a day full of contrasts and birds!

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