Sunday, February 1, 2015

Five gulls species in Panama Viejo!

If you already read my last entry about gulling in Panama Viejo, then this entry will remind it a lot... except for one thing: yesterday, I saw five (5) instead of four different gulls species in Panama Viejo!  Yes, I went to Panama Viejo after receiving reports of a huge flock of Sandwich Terns resting in the area.  As soon as I get there, I noticed the huge flock... simply amazing.
Most of these birds were Sandwich Terns and Laughing Gulls in many different ages of course.  There were some Royal and Gull-billed Terns mixed in as well.  The Gull-billed Terns are very elegant... picking up food from the water surface... not plunge-diving as many other terns species.
Laughing Gull... any guess about its age?
Gull-billed Tern
Soon I found some Franklin's Gulls among the Laughings... only three of them... all were first-winter birds recognized by its smaller size, stocky look, half black hood with prominent broad eye crescents and white outer tail feathers (conspicuous at flight).
Franklin's Gull, 1st-winter
The third and fourth species were a first-winter Herring Gull and an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull... both continuing birds in these mudflats.  Both were far away for good photos... these are only record shots.  Notice the pale inner primaries of the Herring Gull and the bright yellow legs of the sleeping Lesser Black-backed Gull.
Herring Gull, 1st-winter
Lesser Black-backed Gull, adult
At this point, I was happy with my four gulls... certainly, I was not expecting another species.  So, when I saw this gull among the Laughing by the creek I got excited:
Ring-billed Gull, 1st-winter
Ring-billed Gull, 1st-winter
The Ring-billed Gull is regular in low (very low) numbers along central Panama's coasts, specially in the Pacific side.  Panama Viejo is a regular site, but my last bird there was many years ago.  Five gulls for the day!  Trust me or not, that was not the only highlight of my visit to Panama Viejo... the other was to meet Kevin Zimmer who was leading a VENT tour at the place.  I know him as a member of the South American Classification Committee (SACC), which I follow avidly, but who has not heard about this celebrity of the Neotropical birding?  Even with his experience birding in our country, that day Kevin got a new species for his Panama list: the American White Pelican that decided to winter  on our shores this season!  Great day in Panama Viejo!
American White Pelican

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