Friday, November 28, 2014

Quick stop at the salinas

After our successful pelagic trip off Pedasi in the Azuero Peninsula of central Panama, I decided to stay for the night in town with my family.  The next morning, we enjoyed a typical breakfast at the lovely hostal, enjoying the soft calls of the resident White-winged Doves and other common species in the backyard.
White-winged Dove
We planned a relaxed and paused return journey to Panama City.  We did several stops on route, including one at the Agallito beach and the shooping mall in Chitre (Herrera province), where we had lunch.  Then, we did a short visit to the Aguadulce Salinas (saltflats) in Cocle province.  It was already hot (around 1:00 pm), but we knew in advance that the visit would be worth the effort... other two participants of the pelagic trip (Howard and George) visited earlier the place and they texted me the highlights, including a Reddish Egret.
Reddish Egret (immature)
Shortly after entering the saltflats, I spotted a white phase immature Reddish Egret right were it was supposed to be... it was the only heron at the pond, but it was a little bit far away for good photos.  For some reason I was expecting a dark phase bird... so it was a surprise.
Reddish Egret (immature)
The Reddish Egret is a vagrant to Panama; however, it seems to be regular in this site.  By far, the dark phase is more frequently seen... this is only the second white phase bird I have ever seen (the first one was several years ago in this same place).  We continue along the road looking for another species previously found by our friends... a flock with more than 30 Lesser Scaups.
Lesser Scaups in the distance
We did find the ducks... but the flock was smaller... we only counted 18 birds, including at least two drakes.  In the way back, the flock was already gone.  Will this be a good year for migrant ducks in Panama?  So far, many rare species have been reported in central Panama (for example, check this Xenornis report and my own post on Gamboa's ducks).  Apart of these species, we only saw some common shorebirds like Willets, Whimbrels, Western Sandpipers, Short-billed Dowitchers and Black-necked Stilts.  A Caspian Tern at the beach was a highlight too.  Notice the heavy-looking bill and the head pattern showing more black than the Royal Terns.
Caspian Tern
After some other stops on route, we finally arrived home safely and with several avian highlights in the bag!

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