Monday 25 January 2016

Panama - Day 15 (March 14, 2014)


We continued working our way back west down the main east-west highway, La Carretera Pamamericana, towards Panama City. Our plan was to once again go birding in the dry forest near Lago Bayano, hopefully picking up the few species we were still missing in this habitat type. Our first stop was a single track that disappeared into the forest off of the main highway. We drove down the track for a few minutes, before exiting the car and walking along, looking for birds. The last time we were in this habitat type it was mid-day and the birds were tough to come by. 

In a couple of hours of walking we ended up with close to 50 species, including a few new ones (Golden-fronted Greenlet, Forest Elaenia). Dave also found an Olivaceous Woodcreeper which I missed.

As we were getting ready to leave, we realized that a local taxi driver had parked in front of our vehicle, blocking us in. Luckily Steve had brought a machete, and with a few minutes of work we were able to clear a path beside the taxi so we could leave!

Our next stop was at a bridge overlooking the Rio Mono, a well known birding spot. Often, small flocks of birds gravitate towards watercourses and the Rio Mono was no different. Somewhat regular vehicle traffic complicated things, but the birding was excellent with birds everywhere! Some were species we were well-acquainted with, such as this Chestnut-sided Warbler (a common breeding species in Ontario).

Chestnut-sided Warbler - Rio Mono, Panama

A Cinerous Becard was a new species for me, while this Cinnamon Becard perched out in the open for a few moments.

Cinnamon Becard - Rio Mono, Panama

Woodpeckers are well represented in central America and many species are quite colorful or with unique patterns. The Cinnamon Woodpecker is one of my favorites; one was working some of the trees below the bridge.

Cinnamon Woodpecker - Rio Mono, Panama

Often one of the most difficult aspects of bird photography is obtaining a good angle to photograph the bird. This wasn't much of an issue at the Rio Mono since most of the birds were at eye-level or lower. I took the opportunity to grab some shots of a few common species, such as Streaked Flycatcher and Dusky-capped Flycatcher.

Streaked Flycatcher - Rio Mono, Panama

Dusky-capped Flycatcher - Rio Mono, Panama

Here are a few other photos of some of the birds from the Rio Mono bridge.

Plain-colored Tanager - Rio Mono, Panama

Red-legged Honeycreeper - Rio Mono, Panama

A quick stop at Lago Bayano produced another Pied Water-Tyrant and a nice assortment of wading birds. This Tropical Kingbird provided a rare eye-level photo opportunity.

Tropical Kingbird - Lago Bayano, Panama

An hour and a half later we arrived at our destination of Nusagandi, an area of humid forest protected by the Kuna people near the west corner of the Kuna Yala reservation. Nusagandi is home to many of Panama's specialty bird species, though we had seen quite a few of them by this point (Black Antshrike, Tody Motmot, Sapayoa, Black-crowned Antpitta, Black-eared Wood-Quail, etc).

Our main target here was Spiny-faced Antshrike (also known as Speckled Antshrike), a species found primarily in eastern Panama with Nusagandi one of the better places to look for it. Spiny-faced Antshrike is listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN, as habitat loss has led to a declining population.

Swallow-tailed Kite - Nusagandi, Kuna Yala, Panama

We birded the Iber Igar and Iber Nusagandi trails, the latter which was overgrown. Birding was generally slow since it was early afternoon, and we worked hard to find 35 species in the afternoon. Our target antshrike eluded us unfortunately, but we did have a few nice birds such as Black-and-yellow Tanager, Northern Schiffornis, Scale-crested Pygmy-Tyrant, etc. Sapayoas eluded us as well; luckily we had seen one in the Darién a few days earlier!

Our time in Panama was quickly coming to a close and we only had one more full day. Tomorrow's plan was to check out Cerro Azul for a few remaining target species before dropping Dave off at the airport.

Roadside pet spider monkey - Nusagandi, Kuna Yala, Panama

Total bird species so far: 479

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