Monday, November 26, 2012

That's why we call it "rainforest"!

Two days ago, I went with Osvaldo Quintero to the foothills of eastern Panama province, along the El Llano-Cartí road that eventually reaches the Caribbean coast of the Guna Yala reservation.  We wanted specifically to bird the Ibe Igar trail, which we are not sure if it is in Panama province or in the Guna Yala reservation, in Nusagandi (probably along both).  The sun raise that we saw earlier in Panama City above the Pacific ocean didn't have nothing to do with what was waiting for us!  (ATTENTION: NO BIRDS PHOTOS IN THIS ENTRY... you still have time to read another thing).
Our first stop was at the kilometer 8 of the road, inside Panama province.  It was cloudy, and soon began to rain, so we didn't stay long... only enough to see a group of Brown-hooded Parrots, a Long-billed Hermit and a flock of 15 or more Tawny-crested Tanagers crossing the road.
El Llano-Cartí road at km 8
When we reached the entrance of the Ibe Igar trail, it was cloudy, but not raining... so we began to walk along the -VERY- muddy trail.  The first bird we saw was a noisy wren checking some tangles.  I was able to watch it for 5 seconds, enough to see it general brown coloration with marked wings and black-and-white face and throat: an Stripe-throated Wren... a lifer for me!!!  Then, the things started to go wrong.  We reached the first creek, only seeing a Chestnut-backed Antbird and a female Red-capped Manakin and started to hike in order to reach the second creek... but the slope was to slippery and muddy and we were having problems to keep the pace... Osvaldo broke his walking stick and slipped several times, I grabbed firmly an spiny trunk, and so on... then, a rainstorm struck us... and the former muddy trail became a creek... we were worried about this and started the return... no more birds in this trip.
The rain didn't stop... and we waited... instead, a dense fog covered the forest...and it was time to leave!
Well, not every time you get those 100+ species lists... but seeing the things in another way, 33% of live birds is not bad at all!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Holidays in El Caño

Most of the next photos already have been posted elsewhere (Facebook) by me or Gloriela; however, there is a story behind them.  November is Panama's month.  We celebrates our independence(s) day(s), flag day and other regional festivities concerning revolutionary exploits.  And my dad was honored by the 4th of November Committee in his natal town of El Caño (Coclé province in central Panamá) with the designation of standard-bearer for the festivities.  Notice that he appeared at the official sign announcing the festivities (yes, as "The Popular Cubilla").
All started the night of november 3rd (our separation of Colombia day) when he received the committee banner, accompanied by many members of the community along the streets of El Caño.
The next day (november 4th, our Flag day), he headed the parade, carrying proudly our tricolored flag delivered by the maximum authorities of the district.
Mom and Dad
The Flag day is the suitable occasion to dress with our typical suits.
My niece Analia, Gloriela and Gabrielle
Great day in El Caño, with "El Popular Cubilla"!!!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

At the feeders!

As promised in my last entry, this post is about my birding day, last sunday, at the foothills of Cerro Azul, to the east of Panama City, with Osvaldo Quintero, Osvaldo Quintero Jr and the Cerro Azul's residents Leslie and Cindy Lieurance (The Petrels in Panama) and Claudia Ahrens.  Our intention was to look after a local speciality, the Black-eared Wood-Quail which Leslie videotaped at close range in the Calle Maipo trail entrance one week ago or so.
We walked all the trail, watching some forest interior birds and hearing at least two or three different coveys of wood-quails, but they were reluctant to show off for us... instead, we had a great time birding at the more open areas at the entrance of the trail and the main road, where mixed flocks with tanagers and warblers were the main stars.  The Fulvous-vented Euphonia offered a nice show... two adult males  were engaged in full courtship display.  The one I pictured above perched vertically with wings dropped making lots of noise!  Notice its fulvous vent... the female was more interested in eating juicy berries... she is so different to the male, but still distinctive!
After doing some exercise at the trail, we did what every smart birder would do: sit in front of feeders!  Both the Ahrens and the Lieurance keep feeders at their houses, and the diversity is awesome.  At the Ahrens, we checked a banana feeder where the first visitor was this male Hepatic Tanager.
Notice its dark lores and beak, which separates him of the similar looking Summer Tanager, which is a common winter visitor to Panama... this male was waiting its chance to grab a piece of banana.  Also note that the Summer Tanager is lighter red in general, compared with the Hepatic Tanager.
Soon, the action at the feeder became insane, with Bay-headed, Palm and Plain-colored Tanagers fighting for a space on it against Black-cheeked Woodpeckers, this female Green Honeycreeper and this young male Thick-billed Euphonia.
But the most aggressive bird at the feeder was the Clay-colored Thrush; however, in spite of the size difference, this male Red-legged Honeycreeper was not intimidated and took its part of the prize.  Notice that this male is in non-breeding plumage.
Curiously, at the Lieurance feeders, there were males Red-legged Honeycreepers in full or almost-full breeding plumage... they glow!
The Lieurance also have banana feeders, we checked the hanging feeder during the couple of minutes that we stayed, enjoying their hospitality... it is quite curious to see migrants Tennessee Warblers eating banana in the tropics... though it is not the first time!
Well, perhaps we didn't see the wood-quails... but what a great day we got!  Thank you Claudia, Leslie and Cindy! 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Today's hummingbirds of Cerro Azul

This post is an excuse to show you the nice collection of hummingbirds that visit he feeders at Cerro Azul, a gated community in the foothills east of Panama City.  Osvaldo Quintero, Osvaldo Quintero Jr., and myself visited the Ahrens' house, invited by Leslie and Cindy Lieurance (The Petrels in Panama), where Claudia received us for a while before we headed to a nearby trail to birdwatch (that story in another post).  I will show the hummingbirds in, more or less, taxonomic order.  All the photos were taken today at the Ahrens or Lieurance feeders (except for one, you'll see).
And the taxonomic list starts with a VERY beautiful hummingbird: the White-necked Jacobin is simply spectacular... and the most common hummingbird in both houses.
The hermits are not exactly colorful hummingbirds, but impressive in their own way.  This Stripe-throated Hermit is the smallest of the hummingbirds seen today, and this one in particular preferred the semi-hidden feeder below the table!
In the other extreme, the Green Hermit was the largest hummingbird we saw... it will fly right in front of you just for curiosity!
The stars at the Ahrens' feeders were the two (probably three) Brown Violetears present since some time ago.  This species is particularly rare and erratic in Panama, so having them visiting feeders is simply good news!
In the other hand, the star at the Lieurance's feeders was the single Long-billed Starthroat that waited patiently to drink among the numerous jacobins.  The shiny red throat is hard to see, and to photograph of course.
Among the panamanians hummingbirds, the Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer is unique due to those conspicuous red feet!
Usually, the male Violet-crowned Woodnymph looks quite dark, almost black, under normal light conditions... but this bird really glows with the adequate angle.
The Amazilias hummingbirds are a very distinctive group present in almost every feeder... and the most ubiquitous is the Rufous-tailed Hummingbird... this one was singing! (can you see the "rufous"?).
The Blue-chested Hummingbird only showed itself for two seconds... this photo is from Cerro Azul, but of a different trip.
In spite of the bad light, the Snowy-bellied Hummingbird is unmistakable due to its sharply demarcated white belly and metallic call.
And last, but not less important, the tiny Violet-capped Hummingbird is almost endemic to Panama, barely reaching Colombia and the single member of it genus Goldmania (named in honor of Mr. E. A. Goldman, who collected the type specimen in Cerro Azul, back in march of 1911).  Cerro Azul is certainly the easiest place in the world to see this bird.  This is a female, the glorious male didn't want photos!
Eleven species!  Not bad for a single day just sitting in front of well-kept feeders!