Saturday, August 17, 2013

Birding the Tabasará range. Part II

In my previous post, I talked about the last trip we made to the mountains of the Tabasará range in western Panamá.  In company of William Adsett, Dan Wade and Charles Davies, we explored some forest patches at both the Pacific and Caribbean slopes, finding interesting species.  In this post, I'll show you some of those special (aka endemics) forms and species that we found.
Continental Divide
Ok, probably not all the endemics, since I'll be discussing the status of the Selasphorus hummingbirds we saw up there in another post.  But we also saw the other national endemic living in these mountains: Yellow-green Finch.  It was quite common, we found them several times in three different sites, although in small numbers, usually two or three individuals each time.  This species is pretty similar to the Yellow-thighed Finch, both physical and vocally.
Of the endemic subspecies, the most common (by voice) was the chiriquensis race of Silvery-fronted Tapaculo.  In spite of great looks (for a tapaculo!), obviously we were not able to snap a shot!  The bush-tanagers were also pretty common.  We found several groups of Common Bush-Tanagers in both slopes, sometimes with mixed flocks.  The subspecies found there, punctulatus, spreads along the highlands and foothills all the way to central Panamá, including El Valle de Antón and Altos del María.
I know is not the best photo, but at least you can see the very dark head and the characteristic drop-like postocular spot.
But we also saw Sooty-capped Bush-Tanagers, both along the road to Ratón as well in the Continental Divide trail up to 1750 meters above sea level.  The form present there was once described as a valid subspecies, diversus, supposedly with yellower underparts.  They looked quite similar to the birds found around the Barú volcano in western Panamá, except for the white lateral crownstripe... its looked thinner in those birds.  My photo doesn't shows this, but this photo by William (of a previous visit) shows well what I mean.
We didn't know this, but the Ruddy Treerunners that we saw in both slopes were also represented by endemic subspecies, boultoni.  This form is redder in the under and upperparts.
However, the most interesting endemic subspecies (for me), was the bensoni race of Black-cheeked Warbler.  Reported as rare, it is seldom reported at all from the area, and surely not from the most accessible areas  along the paved road.  We saw them three different days in two sites, only one or two birds, as you can see in the excellent photo by Charles.
copyright Charles Davies, used with permission
I was unable to remember the differences with other races back then, but we all were convinced that they looked different.  Notice the slaty-gray back (with no olive tones).  Also, the lack of yellow tones to the underparts was quite obvious in the field.
Not bad at all... what you think?

1 comment:

  1. That Black-cheecked Warbler looks soooo diferent than the others! Any DNA testing on that one?