Friday, December 23, 2016

More surprises at Finca Bayano

I guess that, at this point, you already know that Finca Bayano (the rice farm to the east of Panama City) is a terrific place for birdwatching.  Not only quantities, but also quality is present at this site... so far, many rare and very rare species have been recorded... including a new species for Panama!  I thought that the rarity season ended with the fall migration, and had not visited the site in a few weeks... until my friend Euclides "Kilo" Campos reported a VERY rare (for Panama) Northern Pintail... so I decided to pay a visit.
We have been so many times in Finca Bayano this year that it was easy for Kilo to give me the exact location of the observation ... he just had to tell me "the Roseate Spoonbill's spot" and that's it!  So, I drove directly to the site last December 11th , finding the pond pictured above.  At first glance, no ducks were on the water, but eventually I realized that there were scattered groups hiding in the rice at the farther edge of the pond.  I walked along a dry dike in order to get closer to take some photographs... but as usual, the ducks became very nervous when I approached them.
Blue-winged Teals, Stilt Sandpipers and Long-billed Dowitchers
I approached them enough to take the above shots... As you can see, those Blue-winged Teals were mixed with Stilt Sandpipers and two Long-billed Dowitchers.  Then, I noticed other ducks well hidden in the rice.  These birds were larger than the teals, with obvious bigger bills: Northern Shovelers.  The shovelers are scarce, but regular, winter visitor to our country.
Northern Shoveler
I checked them carefully looking for the pintail, but I just found more teals and shovelers instead.  When I started my way back, a huge flock of teals took off from the rice fields.  I was not aware they were hidden in such numbers in the rice... dozens of bird suddenly started to fly from one side to another.  For my surprise, one of the teals looked suspiciously pale in the underside... when I found it with my binoculars I watched the bright green speculum and the lack of pale blue wing coverts... I barely trusted my eyes!
Blue-winged and Green-winged Teals
Blue-winged and Green-winged Teals
Not one, but two Green-winged Teals were present within the flock... GREEN-WINGED TEALS!!!!  Why so excited?  That was just the third record for Panama... and the first photos of the species for the country!  Ohh... and a life bird for me as well!!!  What a HUGE surprise for the site.  Thanks God the photos show well the birds... they are fast flyers, with sudden shifts and turns, and hard to follow with the lens.  Four days later, I went back to the site... this time with my friend Kilo.  His careful scrutiny with the scope resulted in finding both birds at the edge of the same pond... they were life birds for him as well!
Digiscoped Green-winged Teal
After much searching, we were not able to find the pintail... but who is complaining?  Finca Bayano is still full of surprises.  Interestingly, we have not yet found the rare rallids we expected to find when we started visiting the rice farm... we thought at first that Finca Bayano would be full of rails and crakes... but so far, only common species have been recorded... and not so often.  However, as a nice bonus, this Sora decided to show up attracted by our recorded calls... it is a common species seldom seen this well.
So, what are you waiting for? You may be the next discoverer of a mega rarity, or even a new species for Panama, at Finca Bayano!

1 comment:

  1. Is it possible for 3 american birders to visit this area? plese send contact information. thanks.