Monday, May 19, 2014

Last days of migration

At least in Panama, the migration season is almost done.  Most of the migratory species are already in their breeding grounds in the north, or passing swiftly through Panama.  As mentioned in my previous post, I went to Panama Viejo searching for migrants (although I ended photographing herons instead).  By far, the most common migrant were the Laughing Gulls.  This is the most common gull in Panama, but it does not breeds here.  However, big flocks of this species (mainly immatures) can be seen during the summer.  By this time is not rare to see beautiful adults in alternate plumage among the immatures and basic-plumaged adult birds!
Laughing Gulls
In the other hand, the Franklin's Gulls are only passage migrants in Panama, with only few spending the winter in our coasts.
Franklin's Gull
Notice the dark half-hood and broad eye crescents.  Also notice the black-and-white tips on primaries.  The Franklin's Gulls are also smaller and stockier than the Laughings, field marks that helped me to identify the few Franklins among the hundreds Laughings resting in the sand.  And the thin, long and orange bills of these two terns helped me to identify them as Elegant Terns.
Elegant Terns
Like the Franklin's Gulls, the Elegant Tern is an uncommon passage migrant through Panama... and only in the Pacific coast.  As you can see, the bright orange bill added some color to the monotonous shades of white and gray typical of the gulls and terns.  But if we talk about color, then another migrant win the prize:
Ruddy Turnstones
Yes!  This pair of Ruddy Turnstones almost acquired its full alternate plumage... so colorful!  They are always fun to watch.  So what are you waiting for... there is still some time to catch some late migrants!


  1. Great migrants! Today we saw Wilson's Phalaropes and a Pectoral Sandpiper at Finca Bayano. That seems exceptionally late, what do you think?

  2. Not that late for Pectoral Sandpipers..., but Wilson's Phalarope? WOW! They are EXTREMELY rare in Panama during the spring passage!

    1. Sent a report to George Angehr or to Darien (or sent it to me... I can forward it to them).