Monday, November 17, 2014

At the highlands with family and warblers!

Taking advantage of one of these long weekends, I went with my extended family to spent some time relaxing in the highland town of Paso Ancho, close to Volcán, in Chiriquí province.  Although not a birding trip, I still enjoyed some resident and migrant warblers that call the highlands their home.  We spent most of the days at a comfortable cabin watching the children playing in the garden, grilling on the barbecue or just chatting.
Gabrielle and her cousins, Ana, Givellis and Kevin
Right at the garden, some common species showed up, including Blue-gray and Flame-colored Tanagers, Yellow-billed Siskins and Rufous-collared Sparrows.  However, I was interested in some common migrant warblers.  The first one spotted was the Wilson's Warbler.
A very bad shot of an adult male Flame-colored Tanager... this bird is well-named!
Adult male Wilson's Warbler
This is the most common warbler wintering in the highlands, found essentially everywhere!  The black cap is characteristic of the adult males... but the bright overall yellow coloration is enough to ID this species.  Then, I spied two other migrant species.  These were working the non-native pine trees next to the property.
Black-throated Green Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler 
As you can see, both the Black-throated Green and the Black-and-white Warblers (both females) were close enough to snap a shot... something quite hard with these restless birds.  We call the latter species the "Creeper Warbler" due to its unique habit of climbing trunks, sometimes upside down, very creeper-like.  The Black-and-white Warbler is very common during the winter through all Panama.  At the other side, the Black-throated Green Warbler is also common during the winter, but only at the highlands; however, it is a frequent passage migrant in the rest of the country.  Both these species are, in fact, more common and widespread than some resident species.  One morning, I went with Gloriela to the Macho de Monte canyon, at the foothills below Volcan... there, we saw one of these resident warblers... the smart Buff-rumped Warbler.
Buff-rumped Warbler
Buff-rumped Warbler
In comparison with the typical and familiar warblers, this species exhibit a different behavior.  It is terrestrial, always found close to water... usually rushing streams, flicking its expressive tail from side to side.  Certainly the Macho de Monte canyon is a great place to find this species... and a nice touristic attraction too!
Macho de Monte canyon
The Buff-rumped Warbler was not the only river-dweller bird we saw that morning.  A Spotted Sandpiper and a pair of Black Phoebes were present too.  In previous visits we had seen Torrent Tyrannulets and American Dippers as well!
Spotted Sandpiper and Black Phoebe
Black Phoebe
Well, a trip to the highlands is always a nice trip.  Of course, we ended it with the traditional stop at the dessert shop to enjoy some sweet strawberries with cream!
Gabrielle, Gloriela and... strawberries!

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