Sunday, April 26, 2015

Gulls and Terns by the Beltway

Coastal Beltway
Panama City's waterfront, with its manicured gardens, wide sidewalks and cycleways, sport fields and courts and several other facilities, is a very popular site to spent some time during the weekends.  Today, like every sunday, four lanes of the Coastal Beltway became a huge cycleway (38 kilometers long!) throughout the morning.  I don't bike, but took advantage of the empty sidewalks to take some pictures of the gulls and terns (and other birds) along the route.  The inshore waters were full of pelicans, cormorants and frigatebirds.  I checked a tiny beach close to the Yatch Club, where several gulls and terns (and feral Rock Pigeons) were resting.
Laughing Gull
As you can see, some Laughing Gulls are in complete alternate plumage... it is seen just for a short period of time in Panama... the same applies for alternate Sandwich Terns.
Sandwich Tern
Both species are common year-round in Panamanian coasts, but during the passage period, they become locally abundant.  I really like the light pink tones to the breast of these two species when they are in high breeding plumage... which is seldom seen in Panama of course.  After a while, I noticed another tern species mixed in with the Sandwich Terns.  Structurally very similar, both in shape and size, this individual had a yellow-orange bill:
Sandwich and Elegant Terns
An Elegant Tern!  Notice how similar it is to the Sandwich Tern next to it (thus, quite different to the Royal Tern, also present in the site).  The Elegant Tern is an uncommon and irregular passage migrant in the Pacific coasts of central Panama, with no peak of abundance... but I'm pretty sure that by this time, most of them are farther north on route to their breeding grounds... finding one of them during such a short walk along Panama City's waterfront made my day!
Elegant Tern

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