Monday, March 9, 2015

Looking for lifers in Darien province. Part I

Inspired by the recent reports of rarities showing up in eastern Panama, I decided to drive more than 250 km last weekend through pot-holed roads into central Darien province with my family.  After literally "escaping" Panama City's traffic jam, we drove all the way non-stop except in the little town of Tortí to have dinner.  Our surprise was that the restaurant we chose had hummingbird feeders!
Scaly-breasted Hummingbird
It was late and the light was fading; however, we saw six different species of hummingbirds attending the feeders, including the Scaly-breasted Hummingbird pictured above.  It was my first for the year.  After our tasty dinner, we reached the town of Metetí at night.  After checking in at our modest hotel, we went to sleep without setbacks.  Early the next day, we ate our breakfast preparing for the long drive to the town of Yaviza.  I only recorded common species in Metetí, with this leucistic House Sparrow as the highlight.
leucistic House Sparrow
The deteriorated road made the drive to Yaviza a 1-hour trip.  At this town is where the PanAmerican Highway ends... literally (the only gap along this route from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego!), and is the entrance gate to emblematic towns in eastern Darien (like El Real, Pirre, Boca de Cupe, Paya, Pucuru, etc...) and to Darien National Park through pangas and little canoes, using the mighty Chucunaque and Tuira rivers.
Following some published reports, we walked directly to the cemetery at the entrance of the town.  It was quite hot and sunny and I wondered if I had enough information to find my goal.  However, it only took a moment before we noticed a movement halfway up a Corotú tree (Enterolobium cyclocarpum) near the entrance of the place... somehow, Gloriela managed to took a photo of that moment:
Wait!... is that a....
Yes!  I was seeing a Bicolored Wren working the medium level of that tree!  Why so excited?  The Bicolored Wren is a recent colonizer of eastern Panama from Colombia... and Yaviza is, so far, the extreme western part of its expanded range... and a lifer for me and Gloriela!  I got some photos too!
Bicolored Wren
The bird searched carefully every loose piece of bark and each epiphyte quietly, resting just for a couple of seconds before resuming its task.  We only saw this individual... previously,  a pair with a begging young was recorded in that same site.
Bicolored Wren
Bicolored Wren
With our main target in the bag, we drove back to Metetí in order to prepare for our next adventure.  However, we stopped at a forest patch near Yaviza for a while.  Almost immediately we noticed some kettles of Broad-winged and Swainson's Hawks plus many Mississippi Kites migrating.  Then, I heard a familiar call... a little bit of search produced this magnificent Rufous-tailed Jacamar by the road.
Rufous-tailed Jacamar, female
Not only that... some other eastern Panama specialties showed up as well, like Black Antshrike, Double-banded Graytail and Yellow-breasted Flycatchers.  What a great day... but was not over.  After collecting our stuff in the room, we left Metetí and headed to the renowned Canopy Camp, where we booked one night with the intention of observing another rarity... so stay tuned!

1 comment:

  1. We're going to Canopy Camp next month so can't wait to hear about your visit. Thanks for the great posts!