Wednesday, August 30, 2000

More from Costa del Este


Rosabel Miró, Bill Porteous and Darién Montañez spent the afternoon at Costa del Este hoping the 17 feet tide brought some interesting species. The pond by the Escuela Interamericana (A) had two each of Wilson's Phalarope and Stilt Sandpiper mixed in with a few hundred Dowitchers and Willets. One of the Stilt Sandpipers was still moulting into its winter plumage, as its undertail coverts had traces of black and white barring.
Then we went to the other pond on the plot of land between the main road and the ditch by the mangroves (B), which was full of gulls and sandpipers. The Gray-hooded Gull was here, with its hard-to-miss red bill and legs. Its back is also lighter than that of the average Laughing Gull, turning lighter gray on the nape and off-white on the crown. All of this gives the bird a very pale appearance. The same flock had two Ring-billed Gulls and an Elegant Tern. The tern had black on the nape extending up to its crown, and just the forehead was white, and its thin curved bill was red, and not orange like the one of the nearby Royal Terns.
We followed the main road to the boulevard along the shoreline and stopped briefly to check the mudflats, but the tide had covered them long ago. Just as we were getting back on the car Rosabel spotted a booby flying above us. Turns out it was a Nazca Booby, the orange billed form of Masked Booby recently promoted to a full species. It flew a few times back and forth along the shore and above us at very low altitude, so we had great views of it from all angles and for a long time. The orange bill was clearly visible at all times. Maybe it was blown in to shore by last night's storm, which would explain its untidy plumage.
Our last stop was the so-called Parque Ecológico. This time the gate was padlocked and displayed a sign announcing its status as private property for the exclusive use by the residents of Costa del Este. After asking in the main offices we were allowed into the park and found a juvenile Baird's Sandpiper among the everpresent Whimbrels.

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