Wednesday, December 20, 2000

Ducks at Las Macanas

The following report from Dodge Engleman was also received deviously:

Karl and Rosabel took Lorna and I to Las Macanas 19th and 20th. We picked up the ANAM girl, Marina Gómez, and went out to the lake. The north end, where the tower is, yielded +/- 100 Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks, with at least 5 Fulvous Whistling-Ducks being seen at one time. Seemed like more, but most seen at once was the 5. The thick-leaved shallow water vegetation was pretty obscurring and most good sights were of flying birds: all fulvous with black wings and white rump patch. a couple seen standing revealed the white scalloping on the sides. Bills and feet dark gray, but with all the immature Black-bellieds around, this wasn't a good field mark.
In the south branch there was a strung out raft of 250-300 ducks viewed from less than 100 yds with the light at a 90 degree angle. I say less than 100 yds because I could have flown a wedge into them. All were Lesser Scaup with females out-numbering males about 6-1. Females with concolorous brown heads with the white circum-beak patch and with varying amounts of whitish in back of the ears. Both sexes with some eclipse plumage persisting!
Of interest was a female Green-winged Teal (classical teal plumage with green speculum when she'd long out her wing, and the buffy patch at the side of the tail).
Also of interest was a single female Ring-necked Duck. She stood out quite well from the mass of Scaups, having definite lighter gray side of face (below eye), and reduced white peri-beak patch. Convincing was the white eye-lids, which when she opened her eyes persisted as a marked eye-ring. This eye-ring was angulated posteriorly/superiorly.
Next day (20th) we went back in the morning to the Scaup site. There were fewer, only about 150-200; the sun was directly behind us; they were further out (I probably would have needed a 4 iron to reach them...170 yds?). This time a male Blue-winged Teal was with them along with two females I couldn't identify to species as they never extended wing and I couldn't get a good look at the side of the tail. A female Ring-necked was still with them, same field marks as before. Might have been a different individual as the breast looked darker and more chestnut than the previous day, but that might have been artifactual. We pretty much needed the Kowa to make the ID's, but once we could pick her out with the scope, we could find her again with the binocs. Scope gave a good image at x60, but colors were much clearer at x20-x40 and the field marks were certainly visible with the x20
Only other spp of interest were 2 adult winter plumage Plegadis Ibis on the north side of lake on 19th and a Gray Kingbird at Sta. Mónica, Coclé, on the 20th. There were also 5 (count 'em) Killdeer in a swale to the right of the driveway going in to the finca. We dipped on the Grassland Finches but got Rosabel the pipits. If I recall any others, I'll send the reports along separately.
As far as I know this is the first report of Ring-necked Duck and Green-winged Teal from the central provinces. Las Macanas is in NE Herrera province (I think).

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