Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Raptors at sunset

During a short visit to Penonome (Cocle province, central Panama) last weekend, I took advantage of the last rays of light at sunset and drove the road to El Gago, hoping to see some typical savanna birds.  The warm light is nice for birding... but for this amateur photographer is not exactly the best condition.  Soon I was trying to change the camera settings... but most of my photos were too dark or to overexposed... I had to edit all the photos in this post.
Like the above shot of a pair of Aplomado Falcons enjoying the sunset.  This species is very attractive and always nice to watch... and only frequently encountered in this part of Panama.  Shortly after this, a young Common Black-Hawk landed in a field after flying in front of the car.
Formerly known as the "Mangrove" Black-Hawk and restricted to the Pacific slope, now it is clear that this form belongs to the broad Common Black-Hawk... both forms are almost indistinguishable, specially the immatures.  After a while, I found a Crested Caracara by the road.
This powerful bird landed right in the middle of the road.  I was able to approach it with the car, and noticed that the bird caught a huge grasshopper and was devouring it!
However, it was so distracted, that never noticed the smaller Yellow-headed Caracara that swooped over it.  In matter of seconds, the Yellow-headed ran the Crested and took the grasshopper... I guess that the Crested Caracara was puzzled!
By the end of the day, my last bird was a gorgeous Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture perched atop a pole. It was VERY dark, but somehow I managed some photos.
For just a short trip to the savannas, it was a nice set of raptors!

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