Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Shorebirding for the CBC

It is December and, as usual, I'm participating in the Panama Audubon Society's CBC (Christmas Birds Count), starting with the Pacific side of central Panama.  For a good number of years in a row now, my counting area consists of riverine habitats, coast, lagoons, open fields and patches of secondary forests around the localities of Farfan and Veracruz in the west side of the Panama Canal.  Both Osvaldo Quintero and Rafael Luck accompanied me this year.  After many years participating in the counts now, I know that most of the targets birds for my area are raptors, waterbirds and shorebirds, specially those found primarily in rocky and sandy beaches (not in mudflats, as in Panama Viejo).
At our first stop, in the dike area of Farfan, we checked all the ducks swimming in the lagoon looking for the vagrant Cinnamon Teals reported some weeks ago, but all seemed to be Blue-winged Teals due to their contrasting pattern in the flanks and small bills.  There were huge flocks of waders in the lagoon as well, mostly Black-necked Stilts and, specially, Semipalmated Plovers, but also many Least Sandpipers.  We saw again the Least Sandpipers in an unexpected habitat in Veracruz beach, in rocks.
Notice the small size and the diagnostic yellow legs.  We checked this habitat through Rafael's scope, finding our targets.  In the next picture you will see at least three Surfbirds and some Ruddy Turnstones, plus others shorebirds like Willets, a Whimbrel and even a resting Sanderling.
We searched the sandy part of the beach looking for more Sanderlings.  Instead, we found a flock of 18  Collared Plovers running from one side to another, looking so similar to the sand that they were actually hard to pick up.  These plovers are delicate and beautiful!
We dipped on two targets: Wison's Plover and American Oystercatcher.  However, we ended with a very nice list of 120 species, 1926 individual, 35 kms and 7 eBird checklists for the morning!  We found our last shorebird away of the coast, a Solitary Sandpiper nervously inspecting a rain pool by the side of a road leading to a patch of forest.
See you in the next CBC!

1 comment:

  1. Wish I could have been with you! Still mostly immobile with the back disk problem, not sure about the Central. But I'm hoping go be back in business for the Atlantic--will be staying at Shelter Bay Marina to cut down on driving.