Saturday, July 26, 2014

Trying again eastern Panama province for THE heron

Officially, we are experiencing an invasion of South American species into Panama.  The most remarkable example so far is the influx of Whistling Herons, the last ones seen in Gorgona (West Panama province) and another close to the town of Santa María in the Azuero Peninsula, both 100 and 200 km to the east of the first report close to Chepo! (see this eBird map).  In a random afternoon, I went to the original site close to Chepo with Osvaldo Quintero, who still needs the heron for his life list.  When we arrived, the place was very dry and hot.  We decided to explore the surroundings because the Whistling Heron was not in the original site.
Great Egret
Cattle Egret
We saw other herons species, like Little Blue Heron and both Great and Cattle Egrets.  The last two breed very close to the site; however, these were not the heron we were looking for!  Back in the site, we decided to wait.  Some common species started to show up as the afternoon wore on and the temperature descended.  We noticed a pair of active Pied Water-Tyrants picking insects from the ground and flying to some low bushes at the banks of a pond.
Pied Water-Tyrant 
Pied Water-Tyrant's nest
As you can see, they were carrying food into a globular nest... probably for some hungry chicks.  The minutes passed and the heron did not appear.  To protect me from the sun, I waited under the shade of a tree... and I was accompanied!  This little friend was also taking advantage of the shade to capture some ants.
Yellow-headed Gecko
Yellow-headed Gecko
This is a male Yellow-headed Gecko.  In the field, its body looks all dark... but a closer look reveals an intricate pattern of silver lines all over the body, except the lower belly and the tail, that has a white tip.  Also notice the blue spangles under the eye... sublime.  According to my grandparents, the introduced (and now abundant) House Geckos replaced this species in and around the houses... but this is prettier!
Buff-breasted Wren
After five hours, we saw no signs of the heron.  This Buff-breasted Wren said goodbye with several phrases of its sonorous song.  The bars in the closed wing were more evident in the field, just like those in the tail, separating it from the similar Plain Wren that is also present in the same habitat.  After all, it was a nice day in eastern Panama province!

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