At this point, most of you are aware of the vagrant Painted Bunting that showed up in Brooklyn, NY and all the media frenzy it has generated... but you know that the same is happening down here in central Panama? The report of several Painted Buntings, including a stunning male, at the Summit Ponds passed unnoticed for some days... after all, it is not the first time the species is reported for the place and usually are seen only once. But then, the colorful male was reported repeatedly from the same spot several days in a row... and some awesome pictures by my friend Rafael Lau simply attracted attention to the rare migrant (see this eBird checklist and you'll see what I'm talking about).
|"Just for tourists"|
So, I went to the Summit Ponds in order to find the little bird. The "Just for tourists" sign didn't intimidate me and I jumped the fence to reach the exact place where it has been hanging around (just joking... the sign is at the entrance of the Summit Ponds trail, but it refers to a portable bathroom that is long gone and the place is open to the general public). The Summit Ponds are a favorite birding hotspot, so I started to find some nice species... including the local Jet Antbird, a specialty for this place.
|This is how you usually see Jet Antbirds|
My friends Osvaldo (Code Name: Green Kingfisher), Rafael Luck (CN: Crested Caracara) and Itzel (CN: Green Heron) where already waiting for the bird (just in case you're wondering, my code name is Cinnamon Woodpecker). It was close to 3:00 pm and I decided to walk a little more into the trail, since the bird had been religiously seen around 4:00 pm. I found several common residents and it was quite entertaining... a male Purple-crowned Fairy and three different species of euphonias were the highlights... but it soon was time to check for the bunting.
A little bit before 4:00 pm, I noticed a little bird flying low behind my pals. A quick glimpse with my binoculars confirmed my suspicion: the expected male Painted Bunting! I hurried to call my friends who were able to watch the shy bird... it was a life bird for all of them.
My pictures are just for record purposes, of course... the bird was a little far for my lenses and didn't allow us to approach (it was very shy as I mentioned before), so we decided to left him alone. What a magnificent little bird... so deliberately colored! We didn't see the females reported before, but I'm sure there were at least two adult males because the next day I was able to see them just seconds apart.
It was not a lifer for me... but trust me that this is a species don't you want to miss in Panama if you got the chance!