Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Misty day in Cerro Azul

Last saturday's forecast was clear: cloudy and raining the very first hours of the morning, then sunny all the day... so Osvaldo Quintero, Itzel Fong and your blogger host took our cameras and binoculars and headed to the gated community of Cerro Azul, in the foothills to the east of Panama City, just one hour away at slow pace.  In fact, the site was pretty cloudy, with a light drizzle accompanying us all the way... we waited for the rain to stop... and waited... and waited.
Luckily for us, we were waiting at Birders' View and, in spite of the fog and the rain, the birds were quite active, including the hummingbirds visiting the feeders, like the Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer pictured above.  This is just one of nine species that we saw that day, including beauties like Purple-crowned Fairies and rarities like Brown Violetear... but for me, the most special hummer was the Violet-capped Hummingbird.
The reason is simple: this bird is almost completely restricted to Panama, barely reaching northwestern Colombia (to add this species to your Colombian list would be an almost impossible task), and also the only member of the genus Goldmania.  Its green shine is special, the same as its chestnut tail.
The light was awful to photograph hummingbirds, so we used flash.  Depending of the angle, the final result can vary, as you can see in these photos... anyway, what a beautiful jewel this hummer is!
The Violet-capped Hummingbird is near-endemic to Panamá, but the Stripe-cheeked Woodpecker is a national endemic... and we saw a female close to (but not with) a mixed flock of tanagers.  First, obscure, distant views.
Minutes later, the bird appeared much closer to us, and with better light, so I got at least a decent shot showing most of the distinctive features: the pale stripe through the cheek, pale blue eyes, rufous primaries, and so on...
Hey, not every day you see a Panamá endemic!  However, the foggy day still had surprises to us.  In the way out we checked the Altos del Frente circuit, finding nothing more than Clay-colored Thrushes and Mealy Amazons under the drizzle.  Then Osvaldo spotted a raptor perched on a pine tree.  Evidently, the day was not good enough to have this Swallow-tailed Kite furrowing the skies!  To see one perched is quite unusual.
The last bird we enjoyed appeared like a ghost in the middle of a rushing stream.  A rare Fasciated Tiger-Heron barely stayed enough to get this marginal photo.
Curiously, this is only the second time I see this bird in Panama.  The first time was exactly in the same site and under similar weather conditions!  It seems that this bird likes the misty days... as I do now!

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