The news spread like fire on summer dry grassland in Coclé (OK, I know it only makes sense to the Panamanians, sorry about that)... a country first-record was twitchable in the town of Gamboa, in central Panama, mere 30 minutes from Panama City. A group of visiting birders photographed a Plegadis ibis right at the one-lane bridge over the Chagres river but it was not until they review the pictures back at the lodge they were staying that realized that it was a White-faced Ibis, a species ever recorded in Panama.
The next day, many local and foreign birders re-found the bird in the same spot early in the morning. It stayed most of the day feeding in the muddy banks of the river. Certainly is the most photographed and documented first-record for Panama! My duties prevented me to be part of the crowd admiring that day, so I coordinated with Itzel (who also failed to attend the event) to go get it early the next day. We where at the bridge at first light, and I even managed to see the White-faced Ibis from the car while crossing it.
The bird was feeding right where we were told, but the light was awful for photos... it took a while before it got close enough for decent shots at least. As I mentioned before, the occurrence has been extensively documented, and some impressive photographs of this particular bird are available, so I consider my photos just mere record shots. No matter that, it still shows the red iris and bronzy-green sheen to the back.
It is always a treat finding or relocating a rarity. It was not a lifer for me, this species breeds in temperate zones of both North and South America, where I saw one a couple of years ago (in central Argentina). The North American population is partially migratory, reaching northern Central America with an old record from Costa Rica, so this sighting is a big deal for us. Officially, the Panama list of birds includes 1002 species, a HUGE number for such a tiny country... and I'm pretty sure it will continue to grow!
|White-faced Ibis spot, with the Gamboa bridge in the background|
|Great Kiskadee (and yes, THE ibis is in the background)|