Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Look for the flags!

Last week, I went to Costa del Este (Panama City), taking advantage of a short gap in my daily duties to see what can I find at the mudflats.  The skyline of Panama City, as seen from the mouth of the Matías Hernández river in Costa del Este, is outstanding!
Panama City
As soon as I got there, the birds started to show up.  The upper Panama Bay is a very important shorebird conservation area of the western hemisphere... literally thousands of peeps and other shorebirds were feeding at the extensive mudflats or resting at the mangroves.  I recorded 11 shorebird species, plus many other aquatic birds, like herons, pelicans, cormorants, frigatebirds and gulls.  Most of them were exhibiting traces of their alternate plumage, like this Short-billed Dowitcher:
Short-billed Dowitcher
... or these Western Sandpipers (in fact, they have most of their alternate plumage):
Western Sandpipers
These two species were close enough to shore in order to obtain these photos... and in order to notice that at least one of the Western Sandpipers was banded!
Western Sandpipers
Probably is hard to tell from these photos, but the bird had a yellow band in the right leg and a gray engraved flag in the left leg.  After many photos and field observations, I was able to read the code XAV at the flag.  This cropped picture shows the code:
Western Sandpiper
Of course, I reported this sighting at .  I know this bird was banded in Panama due to the combination of colors... and because I saw when they were banded (although not this same individual) in Costa del Este some weeks ago in a joint effort of Panama Audubon Society and The Center for Conservation Biology (sponsored by Environment Canada, National Audubon Society, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation and the US Fish and Wildlife Service).
Banding a Western Sandpiper
So, keep an eye for these banded bird while birding at the Upper Bay of Panama!

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