Saturday, September 13, 2014

World Shorebirds Day. Part II

Due to technical problems, I was unable to post this story before (as many others as well).  Last weekend, many countries celebrated the World Shorebirds Day, and Panama was not the exception.  Many official institutions and NGOs, organized by the Panama Audubon Society (PAS), gathered in Costa del Este (Panama City) at high tide last september 6th to participate in the Shorebirds Challenge.  After the event, some PAS members stayed to count shorebirds... I joined them the next day.
Shorebirds in Costa del Este
After last sunday's coastal cleanup event in Costa del Este, I joined Rosabel Miró, Michele Caballero and others at shore in the mouth of the Matías Hernández river... the impressive diversity of shorebirds species amazed us... just the photo above shows seven shorebirds species plus Laughing Gulls and a Great Egret... can you ID these species?  Little after I took the above photo, we started to see the flocks of peeps approaching.
Mostly Western Sandpipers
Western Sandpipers
Thousands of peeps, mostly Western Sandpipers, started to appear in the exposed mudflats and in the mangroves.  These birds use the Upper Bay of Panama as feeding station during their passages or as winter grounds.  In an effort to better understand these movements, many of these birds have been ringed with flags of specific colors for each country (more about it in this post).  Earlier that day, Yenifer Díaz and Michele saw briefly one of these birds for short time but they were not able to read the characters in the flag.  Then, through the scopes, we managed to find three different birds with rings and flags.  Rosabel got this distant photo:
Banded Western Sandpiper.  Photo by Rosabel Miró
This particular bird had a muddy flag.  The other two birds had legible flags.  Both were banded almost in the same site last season earlier this year.  Simply amazing!  Only some 200 birds were banded... and we saw three of them!  However, more strange was this little guy:
Semipalmated Sandpiper
As you can see, this is a Semipalmated Sandpiper (notice the short bill)... a leucistic individual (a condition characterized by reduced pigmentation).  Is the first one I ever see... but the web is full of galleries showing these aberrant beauties.  In total, we saw 16 shorebirds species (plus another species seen the previous day)... and three banded ones!


  1. The species in the first photo are: Willet, Whimbrel, Short-billed Dowitchers, one Marbled Godwit, three Black-necked Stints, two Black-bellied Plovers (one flying, one in the lower right corner) and one Greater Yellowlegs (flying).

    1. Oh, oh.... they are Black-necked STILTS... I want to see a STINT in Panama!