Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Herons at the bay

Some days ago, I stopped at the Panama Viejo mudflats to check the migrant shorebirds and gulls that spent the winter in the site.  However, I was impressed by the number of resident birds present in the area... particularly herons.  The most common were Great and Snowy Egrets.
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Both species breed in Panama... in fact, notice the bright colors of the bare parts and the elongated plumes in the back of the Snowy Egret pictured above.  However, there are relatively few nesting colonies identified in Panama (heronries).  Another species that breeds in Panama is the Tricolored Heron.
Tricolored Heron (immature)
This individual is an immature due to the rufous tones in its plumage.  I usually see only few individuals of this species in these mudflats.  In the other hand, the Little Blue Heron was very common, both immature and adult birds.
Little Blue Heron (immature) 
Little Blue Heron (adult) 
Curiously, this species is considered a rare breeder in Panama; however, as mentioned earlier, this species is very common and present year-round in our country.  Also present in the mudflats were both Yellow-crowned and Black-crowned Night-Herons.
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron
Black-crowned Night-Heron (subadult)
These birds are more active at night, when those specialized eyes are really useful, but they seemed to be comfortable during daylight as well.  Nice collection of species... add the Green Heron present at the river and the other resident waterbirds like pelicans, cormorants and White Ibises and you get a colorful collage for the site.
White Ibis
In the adequate season, you can also see Cocoi and Great Blue Herons in these mudflats.  In fact, I took the next photo some months ago.
Great Blue Heron
Two or three Cocoi Herons were feeding close to this Great Blue Heron that day.  So, in a good day, you can get nine different species of herons in this site... and you only need to move farther east to get up to four more species (Cattle Egrets, Capped and Striated Heron plus Bare-throated Tiger-Herons are present in the marshes around Tocumen for example)... hmmm, sounds like a challenge!

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