Friday, July 8, 2005

A week in Jaqué, Darién

Delicia and Darién Montañez spent a week looking for Darién lowland specialties in Jaqué. Good forest was a two-hour hike away from town, but there were enough nice orchards and shrubby areas along the way to keep one distracted. The one day we hired a boat to go upriver (to the better forest) we had torrential rain which pretty much ruined any shot at real birding. Still, we scored some nice sightings, the highlight being a pair of Chapman's Swifts seen flying over the airstrip on the morning of July 5th: large, very dark swifts with long tails, shaped like Chimney Swifts. Every now and then one would fly against a dark background, showing the chin and chest to be only slightly paler than the rest of the underparts. The undertail coverts were not noticeably lighter than the breast. We never got a look at their rumps, but feel pretty confident about the ID. Total observation time was about a minute. All the other swifts seen were Band-rumpeds. Noticeably smaller, with the easily-seen white stripe across the rump.
Green-crowned Woodnymph was rather common in shrubbery and orchards, and a total of four Humboldt's (née Blue-headed) Sapphires were seen on the mornings of the 5th and 7th in (or at the edge of) the mangroves near town. Also at the mangrove edge was a female Black-tipped Cotinga. We had many Yellow-backed Tanagers and a small flock of Scarlet-broweds near town, and a single male Swallow Tanager with a mixed flock in the forest. Finally, we saw a pair of Slate-colored Seedeaters in a scrubby orchard en route to the forest.

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