Sunday, July 20, 2014

An unusual sighting

At this point, you may know that several Whistling Herons have been observed in Panama in an unprecedented.  Yesterday, I joined Osvaldo Quintero and Rafael Luck in a search of the most recent record of these species (a pair near Gorgona beach by Euclides Campos).  At the site, we met Venicio Wilson and Ezequiel Jakub who where after the heron too.
Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture
We did not find the heron, but found some goodies instead.  I only got photos of the Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture, but we also heard a couple of Gray-breasted Crakes, saw some Purple Martins migrating with other migrant swallows and a pair of American Kestrel of southern subspecies.  The pond after the Malibu development was full of Least Grebes and other aquatic birds... but no Whistling Herons.  In one extreme of the pond, both Venicio and Zeke found an unusual duck.
Masked Duck
The distant shot with my DSLR camera shows an adult male Masked Duck!  Why so excited?  Despite being considered frequent by Ridgely & Gwynne, this species is rare and local, as best described by Angehr & Dean.  Retiring and shy, this species is mainly crepuscular (even thought it was nocturnal!).  This was only my third sight, and the first male with its alternate plumage.  Through Venicio's scope we were able to see the beautiful patterned back... I even managed a nice digiscoped picture of this bird.
Masked Duck
The chick close to the Masked Duck is a Black-bellied Whistling-Duck one of five chicks that approached the duck each time it resurfaced from its dives.  Mommy was close however.  I spite of not seeing the heron, this duck worth the effort!
P.D.: that same day, a Whistling Heron was spotted by members of the Panama Audubon Society in the rice fields of Santa Maria in the Azuero Peninsula... this is an invasion!

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