Friday, July 20, 2001

A week of birding in Fortuna and Palo Seco

Delicia and Darién Montañez acompannied Bill Porteous on a productive, week-long expedition to the Fortuna area. On Tuesday, July 17th, after a slow day on the Continental Divide and Río Hornito Trails we spent the later part of the afternoon at La Verrugosa Trail, where two Black-headed Nightingale-Thrushes were seen, one in response to a tape of its song and the second one as we climbed up to the cars, singing from the railing on one side of the trail. Also, we saw a female White-crowned Manakin.
On the 18th, after being rained on on many different locations, we also spent the late afternoon at La Verrugosa, where we finally had a flock of 3 or 4 Ashy-throated Bush-Tanagers near (but not with) a mixed flock: olive crwons and backs, gray cheeks and throats and lighter gray vents separated by a yellow-olive chest, olive flanks. I managed to catch a glimpse of a Chiriquí Quail-Dove as it walked into the undergrowth and away from the trail.
Rosabel and Karl Kaufmann joined us on Thursday the 19th, and after another slow day at the Continental Divide Trail and an unproductive stop at the Kilómetro 28 of the Punta Peña-Almirante road we walked the road to the garbage dump below the 'Crudo' (the two crude oil tanks before Chiriquí Grande), where we had most of the Bocas lowland specialties such as Black-throated and Band-backed Wrens and Olive-backed Euphonias. Rosabel found a male Pacific Antwren, but it was Delicia who found the bird of the day, a male Chestnut-colored Woodpecker at eye level on the left side of the road. We had seen a Cinnamon Woodpecker or two on our way in, and this was as different as it looks in the book: bigger and with a bushier crest, buffy (golden?) on the head and rich chestnut from the neck down.
On the 20th we started by climbing up the Quebrada Alemán Trail to look for the Ochre-breasted Antpitta Rosabel and Delicia saw there five years ago, but instead Rosabel found a Scaled Antpitta that hopped downhill and out of sight faster than you can say Grallaria guatimalensis. Then we climbed down the Hydrologic Station Trail to look for the Dipper that Rosabel and Delicia saw there five years ago. About halfway down a huge woodcreeper flew across the trail and landed on a tree trunk in plain view. It had a dark bill, boldly streaked crown and face (with a noticeable line extending back from the eye) and a clear buffy throat that extended down into the chest as vertical buffy streaks. It was not until we got back to our cars (and our books) that we discovered we had been, indeed, seeing a Black-banded Woodcreeper (even though not one of us saw any black bands on it). It was with a bunch of Plain-brown Woodcreepers and a Ruddy Woodcreeper (seen by Rosabel only) apparently associated with a small swarm of army ants. At the river at the bottom of the trail we did see an American Dipper, exactly the same way that Rosabel and Delicia saw it five years ago: very briefly, calling as it flew downriver.

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