Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Birding the marshes. Part I

Last saturday, I joined Osvado Quintero early in the morning to explore some marshes to the east of Panama City where someone told us that he was seeing "clouds" of duck every morning since a while. Intrigued, we followed the directions and eventually found the site, surprisingly next to a huge urban development and a neighborhood.  Our first sight: CLOUDS of Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks darkening the sky... amazing!
If you have the time (and patience) to count the dots, no less than 1500 birds are present in that photo... and this was only part of one of the flocks!  Eventually, we saw and photographed eight (8) ducks species that morning, definitively a record for Panama (but more about that in another post).  Quantity and quality, everything was exaggerated.  For example, we saw tons of American Coots, just the next photo shows more than 20!
Or the absurd numbers of Cocoi Herons and Wood Storks all over the place, but specially in a big pond where I took the next photo (just half of the pond in this photo).
We also recorded Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets and Striated Herons, among many others as you can see in the next photo (although I accept comments about the Striated Heron).
Of course, the Pied Water-Tyrant could not be absent.  We were so impressed by the immense flocks of other species that we saw only two of this smart flycatcher.
However, one of the highlights were two (YES, TWO!) Long-winged Harriers.  We saw first a dark bird with the characteristic profile and facial pattern, pale panels in the primaries, white rump band and many white tail bands.  We even managed to take some photos of this individual.  Then, we saw another individual, a brown one with creamy underparts and dark chest, surely a female.
With just a handful of reports, this was exceptionally good... rethinking it, I have been quite lucky with this species, and that day in general will be hard to forget!

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