Sunday, February 21, 2010

Birding Mar 1, 2008

1 March 2008
Today was my last day of birding in Panama, not counting the few hours tomorrow where I will mostly be in transit to, and sitting around, the airport. Decidedly, Metropolitan Park was my destination of choice. This would be my fifth trip and although I wasn't expecting to see many new species, I was determined to exercise my new-found skills of birding in the tropics. I awoke at 5:30am, had a quick breakfast, caught a cab, and was at the park by 6:30am. This process had almost become routine and I was now feeling much more confident about getting around in Panama City.

Upon arrival, I paid the usual $2 fee and began birding behind the visitor centre. My plan was to hike the big loop (El Roble, Mono Titi, and La Cienaguita), as this seemed to cover the greatest variety of habitats and included the Mirador from which an excellent opportunity to scan for raptors is afforded. The usual suspects were in the open fields and forest margins behind the buildings: Tropical Kingbird, Social Flycatcher, House Wren, Clay-colored Robin, and Orange-chinned Parakeet. One new species, seen foraging on grass seeds, was a male Lesser Seed-Finch, and another new species, seen perched in one of the isolated trees in the middle of the field, was a Lesser Elaenia. Once into the forest some of the more typical forest species were prevalent, such as Blue-gray Tanager, Plain-colored Tanager, Rufous-tailed Hummingbird, Red-legged Honeycreeper, and White-bellied Antwren. I continued making great efforts to scan the entire forest, from the lowest and darkest undergrowth to the highest of tree tops, and it paid off when I spotted four Scaled Doves perched high in the canopy feeding on berries - another new species.

Beyond the turtle pond and nursery I found a small flock of Rosy Thrush-Tanagers foraging in the leaf litter, and a pair of Red-crowned Ant-Tanagers mixed in with a larger flock of raucus Red-throated Ant-Tanagers. Once I reached the semi-open forest just past the information kiosk I located Rufous-and-White Wren, Dusky Antbird, Red-crowned Woodpecker, Great Kiskadee, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Bay-breasted Warbler, Tennessee Warbler, and Golden-cheeked Warbler all busily foraging. I also had a great view of a Black-tailed Flycatcher and Thick-billed Euphonia, of which both were lifers. The climb to the Mirador was largely uneventful, but once there I began systematically searching the sky for raptors in hopes of seeing something new. After about 20 minutes I thought I was going to be skunked, when suddenly a large white raptor effortlessly soared into view just overhead. I had no idea which species I was looking at so I quickly began jotting down various field marks, all the while trying to maximize my viewing time: all white body, long narrow tail, short broad wings but not buteo-like, barring on underwing at primaries, yellow legs, tail black with white bars, black vertical stripe on face. After viewing the bird for about 2 minutes against a solid deep blue sky, it didn't take long to search through the field guide to confirm the identification as an adult Collared Forest-Falcon. This was definitely the highlight for the day, and a great way to wind down the trip.

I descended from the Mirador and continued the loop trail back to the visitor centre. Highlights during the return included Dot-winged Antwren, Blue-black Grosbeak, and Geoffery's Tamarin, a wonderfully long-tailed primate primate with a rich chestnut back, black face, and white underparts. I arrived back at the visitor centre at 10:30am and as it turned out the Collared Forest-Falcon was the last lifer I would see for the trip.

Later that afternoon I visited the Miraflores visitor centre as the "visitor" section wasn't actually open during the banquet dinner. The facility has a very nice display of the history, construction, and operations of the Panama Canal, as well as an entire section devoted to the biodiversity of Panama. After picking up a few souveniers I returned to the hotel at 5:00pm and compiled my daily field notes while having supper in the hotel restaurant. Later that evening I packed my belongings for tomorrow's long trip home.

Total number of species seen today = 56
Total number of lifers seen today = 10
Total cumulative species seen for trip = 167
Total cumulative lifers seen for trip = 131
Total number of species seen at Metropolitan Park today = 51
Total cumulative species seen at Metropolitan Park = 90

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