Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Owls, wine and cheese night

Every year, the Panama Audubon Society organizes the "Owls, wine and cheese night" for its members (and non-members as well) with the intention of spending a pleasant time with friends and, incidentally, find some owls.  The 16th annual meeting was held last saturday in the facilities of the Parque Municipal Summit, on the Gaillard road in the way to Gamboa.  For those who arrived early, the event started birding the Summit Ponds, that are very close to the park.  We saw several common species (personally recorded 37 different species); however, this American Crocodile was a highlight (at least for me).
American Crocodile
This was the second "Owls, wine and cheese night" for Gloriela and me.... and the first one for Gabrielle.  As usual, we started with the wine and cheese part of the event.  Ten persons attended the meeting, and we enjoyed a nice selection of cheeses, desserts and ceviche... as well as some fine wines (coke for the drivers like me).
After a while, we went out in search of some owls.  Rosabel Miró and Karl Kaufmann took the lead handling the spotlight and the recorded calls to attract the birds.  Edgar Arauz, park director and with whom we are very grateful for all the support offered, joined us while we drove slowly the paved circuit crossing clearings, shrubs, forest patches and borders.  The first night creature to appear was a Four-eyed Opossum for some of the group, but we missed it; however, we had another nice marsupial in the spotlight: a handsome Central American Woolly Opossum (Caluromys derbianus - also known as Derby's Woolly Opossum) that allowed some photos!
Central American Woolly Opossum
It was a lifer for me and for most of the participants... simply great!  And what about the owls?  Well, the only species to respond to our recorded calls was the Mottled Owl; however, while looking for the responsive owl, incidentally one of the participants found a young Spectacled Owl high in a tree!
Spectacled Owl
Why so excited?  Because my highly edited photo shows an owl that we actually SAW during the "Owls, wine and cheese night".  Traditionally no owls are seen in these events (although many are heard).  Gloriela thinks this is due to our "wine first, owls later" methodology... I think it is just luck.  In any case, it is not easy to see owls in Panama... most of them are forest dwellers that, although attracted by our recordings, usually remain just out of sight.  Even Gabrielle was excited by seeing this owl!
I also saw a Pauraque to complete the bird list for the night.  I hope to see you in the next Panama Audubon Society's "Owls, wine and cheese night"!

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