Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Long weekend. Part I

My family and I decided to spent this long weekend at our house in Penonomé (Coclé province, central Panamá), in order to enjoy some fresh air and to share with our relatives.  Of course, I also took advantage of these free days to do some birding... and accompanied by Osvaldo Quintero and Rafael Luck, we visited some localities along the Panamerican highway, starting at El Chirú.  Most of the former savanna habitat was turned into a corn field, but still we managed to find some common birds, like Brown-throated Parakeets and even a White-winged Dove, but perhaps the change was too much for the Grassland Yellow-Finches that we used to find there regularly.
We moved closer to the coast, to Juan Hombrón, passing first by the extensive rice fields where we saw last year a Long-winged Harrier... this time we saw plenty of egrets and herons, and a flock of more than fifty Glossy Ibises, that weren't completely unexpected... but a good sight away of Las Macanas marshes, specially in such numbers.
The secondary growths along the road produced many species typical of these dry areas, like Lance-tailed Manakins, Blue-black Grassquits, Streaked Flycatcher (the only one allowing photos), Yellow-crowned Euphonias and many more.
At the beach, we saw the usual suspects: Brown Pelican, Neotropic Cormorant and Laughing Gulls... but it was an Osprey that allowed the best views and photographic opportunities.  This is an impressive eagle and, thanks God, a common one!
We left Juan Hombrón with a huge day-list of birds... but we wanted more, so we visited Punta Chame (to the east, coming closer to Panamá City), a well-known site for waders, and many more aquatic and marine birds.  Also, we enjoyed a nice fried fish as lunch after checking the beach.  It was only after reviewing my photos of a flock of gulls and terns resting in the sand that I realized that we didn't see the two Common Terns among the numerous Sandwich and Royal Terns and the Laughing Gulls!  Can you identify them in the next pic?
But the real surprise came in the way out.  We did a routine stop to check a section of beach by the road, noticing a group of ducks in the far shore... it took me a while, but eventually I recognized the huge beaks and the unmistakable plumage of an adult male Northern Shoveler with four female-plumaged birds!  These ducks are rare in Panama... and we were seeing five of them!  They were quite distant... but you can notice the beak shape in my cropped photo (OK, I recognized it, this is an awful photo).
That was a nice way to call it a day.  Rafael and Osvaldo left me at the Panamerican highway... they were going to Panama City and I was going back to Penonomé... the weekend was just starting!

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