Friday, February 8, 2019

A Visit to Finca Los Lagos (aka Ibis-Land)

The news spread like fire!  A Bare-faced Ibis returned to the same area where it was seen for the first time in Panama last year.  As you heard it, the Bare-faced Ibis found in Darien province (eastern Panama) by Pepe Castiblanco and Erasmo De Leon was the last addition to our national list of birds, but after the first few sightings, it disappeared... until now.  It reappeared in the same general area last month, and since then, several twitchers have found it with the help of Erasmo.
Finca Los Lagos, Darien
So, last Sunday I decided to try for it.  Erasmo's nephew, Jean, showed me the way through pasture land and dry riverbeds until we reached Finca Los Lagos, property of Erasmo's parents, at first light.  It was evident why it attracted so many birds... the surroundings were extremely dry due to the harsh dry season, but the place holds a lake with marshy vegetation and other wetlands that attracts tons of life.  Also, the property borders an extensive forest too... a nice combination.  We did the first try before breakfast... and I'm going to kill the suspense right away because the very first ibis we saw mere 100 meters from the house was THE ibis!
Bare-faced Ibis with Blue-winged Teals and a Black-bellied Whistling-Duck
The ibis was not a lifer for me to be honest... but it was the first time ever I see one in Panama!  With its growing number in South America, I wonder why this species have not yet "invaded" our country. It was quite shy and I only managed distant shots... but hey, I got my target and I was just starting!  With the ibis in the bag, we decided to bird along the forest border in direction to a nearby wetland.  As you can imagine, we found several other species... but as suggested by the title, I was impressed with the diversity of ibises species.  In quick succession we saw Glossy, Green and White Ibises feeding on the wetlands!
Glossy Ibis
Green Ibises
White Ibises (immatures)
I don't recall any other site in Panama where you can see four different species of ibises at the same time (the Panama list of birds have seven species of ibises, with the other three extremely rare, just as the Bare-faced), indicating the quality of the habitat at the site.  The ibises were not the only one attracted to these wetlands, the ducks were well represented with large numbers of Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks and Blue-winged Teals, plus at least 150 Muscovy Ducks, which are hunted in other sites.  Even a beautiful drake American Wigeon posed for photos!
Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks
Muscovy Ducks
American Wigeon with Blue-winged Teals
We saw hundred of herons, egrets, jacanas and other aquatic birds... but there were other specialties too.  The flycatchers were well represented with several species, including Cattle Tyrant (in spite of its preferred habitat, it is still scarce and erratic in Panama), Pied Water-Tyrant, Rusty-margined Flycatcher, Great and Lesser Kiskadees, Tropical and Gray Kingbirds, Fork-tailed Flycatcher, Long-tailed Tyrant, and many more!  A female Golden-green Woodpecker also showed well, specially considering how difficult to find usually they are, and by the river, the nominate subspecies of Boat-billed Heron (with white-ish- breast and face) was resting in the open.
Cattle Tyrant
Long-tailed Tyrant
Golden-green Woodpecker (female)
Boat-billed Heron
In the way back, Jean took me to a little marsh where he thought the Bare-faced Ibis liked to wander.  Using some bushes as hides, we managed to approach very close to the marsh.  Effectively, the ibis was there... and this time I managed some great shots and even tape-recorded it guttural vocalization, which you can heard from this eBird checklist.
Bare-faced Ibis
What a great way to end a twitch!  My four-and-a-half-hours drive back to Panama City was definitely more bearable with the feeling of mission accomplished!  I greatly recommend contact Erasmo for a visit to this private property in eastern Panama... write him at or through his page at EcoTourDarien.  Happy Birding!

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