Thursday 21 January 2016

Panama - Day 13 (March 12, 2014)


Morning couldn't come soon enough for me, and it felt good to dry out slightly over the course of the morning. After packing up camp and birding from the ridge (adding heard-only Black-eared Wood-Quail and Rufous-winged Antwren), we retraced our steps back to Rancho Frio (the ranger's station). birding along the way. It was another hot sunny day and bird activity slowed by mid-morning. All Quail-doves are difficult to see, but Ruddy is one of the more widespread species. We paused to photograph this one alongside the trail that Isaac had again picked out with his keen vision.

Ruddy Quail-Dove - Parque Nacional Darién, Panama

We spent some time searching for Crimson-bellied Woodpecker, a large, showy Campephilus species. This particular population, considered by some to be its own species called Splendid Woodpecker, is found mostly in the Chocó region from eastern Panama to northwest Ecuador. Isaac knew some good areas for this difficult species on our walk, but unfortunately it wasn't to be. Several Crimson-crested Woodpeckers, a different Campephilus, were nice to see even though our main target remained out of sight.

Crimson-crested Woodpecker - Parque Nacional Darién, Panama

A calling Plumbeous Hawk was a new bird for us, one of only two lifers I added during the walk. The other was a Gray-cheeked Nunlet; a type of puffbird with a small global range from eastern Panama to north-central Colombia. This species can be difficult to find and the Darién is one of the best places in the world to find it.

Gray-cheeked Nunlet - Parque Nacional Darién, Panama

We paused at Rancho Frio for about 3 hours, taking the time to organize another Crested Eagle mission. Again, there was no sign of the birds at the nest, though we did pick up our first Rufous-breasted Hermit of the trip, along with another Choco Sirystes (we had seen this tough Chocó species several days earlier on our walk towards Rancho Frio).

Several hours of hiking later we emerged from the forest near the outskirts of El Real, and Isaac arranged for a ride to drive us the remaining few miles back to town. We made sure that Isaac mentioned to the driver that a case of beer be in the truck, which we would pay him back for.

After three days of hiking up a mountain and back, covering over 50 km by foot, it felt pretty good to sit in the truck while it drove us back to town! The cold beer didn't hurt either.

With several hours of light remaining, we decided to get our driver to take us over to the El Real airport where a number of specialty birds could be found, including Spot-breasted Woodpecker, Yellow-hooded Blackbird, Spectacled Parrotlet and Large-billed Seed-Finch.

El Real airstrip, Darién, Panama

A Spot-breasted Woodpecker was easily found, providing excellent looks and decent photo opportunities in the evening lighting. Isaac then took us to a spot where he had seen Spectacled Parrotlets in the past and sure enough some flew over, landing in the nearby trees and providing great looks. An awesome end to another great day in the Darién!! That evening we hit up the same restaurant in El Real that we had been to several days ago, and each of us killed two large plates of beans, rice and chicken along with several more beers. We had been highly successful on our trek, seeing nearly all of our target species while experiencing a beautiful, remote part of central America.

Spot-breasted Woodpecker - El Real, Darién, Panama

Spot-breasted Woodpecker - El Real, Darién, Panama

Spot-breasted Woodpecker - El Real, Darién, Panama

Total bird species so far: 463

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