Thursday, April 11, 2013

To the highlands!

After a year without visiting Panamá's westernmost province, Chiriquí, I was finally on my way last month, accompanied by Osvaldo Quintero.  We left Panamá City late in the morning, so we were expecting to reach the highlands late that afternoon (a 6-hours drive).  We were supposed to meet Rafael Luck and Ito Santamaría above Cerro Punta, in the town of Guadalupe, but realizing that we were not going to make it until dark, we decided to stop at the Macho de Monte Canyon, to take advantage of the last lights.  The "beware of dog" sign is simply not enough for the Chiricans.
"WARNING: possible presence of snakes"
The main reason why I like to visit this spot in march is the flowering Inga tree by the gate of the hydro plant.  The first hummingbird species I noted was a Brown Violetear, first time I see that species outside central Panamá (and erratic everywhere in our country).  Another new for this site (for me) was the Charming Hummingbird.  Several individuals were trying to feed, harassed by the abundant Snowy-bellied Hummingbirds.
You'll have to trust me on this one.  Notice the straight, long bill with reddish base to the lower mandible, dark tail with square tip and greenish rump.  However, I was expecting to find the star of the western hummingbirds: the White-crested Coquette... and like other times, a female appeared to take advantage of the flowering tree.  She stayed in the canopy... to far away for photos... so, again, you'll have to trust me!
The hummingbirds are not the only highlight at this site.  We saw a pair of Buff-rumped Warblers feeding at a small short-grass field.  These smarts birds are very active, always fanning the tails, showing the conspicuous buff coloration.  They were a life photo for both of us.
Almost by the time we were leaving, I heard the characteristic call of a regional endemic.  After a while, we located a pair of Spot-crowned Euphonias working the moss-covered trees.
As you can see, the spots of the male's crown are very inconspicuous... the female is similar to the extralimital Tawny-crowned Euphonia.
Almost at dark, we left the site, heading to Guadalupe and joining Rafael and Ito at Los Quetzales lodge to plan the next day.  It was a heavy itinerary... but you'll see that in my next post!

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