Rosabel Miró and I spent seven days (April 13-19) exploring Changuinola and environs thoroughly, scouting locations for the Birding Spots in Panama book and doing a little hunting for lifers on the side. Justo Camargo and Dinora López, two Univeristy of Panama students, tagged along, and Karl Kaufmann joined us for the second half of the trip. Highlighs follow:
Green Ibis: Two pairs seen on the 19th, perched on trees at Chiriquí Grande's Two Tank Road, just before the road out to the dump.
Crested Caracara: First Bocas record. A raggedy-looking adult seen on the old ricefields on the morning of the 16th.
Gray-breasted Crake: Heard only. One on the 14th in a dry grassy field across from the banana plantation on the road to he Camino Ecológico through San San, about 500 m before the end. Another one heard on the old rice fields on the 15th and two heard at the same place on the 16. Rosabel mentioned hearing its characteristic tinkling call two weeks ago on the Ruddy Crake spot near the Camino Ecológico.
Uniform Crake: 2 seen at dusk on the 13th in the ditch through swampy brush on the right side of the road out to the dump in Chiriquí Grande. A third bird was calling from across the road. This is across from the trail through the old cocoa plantation about 500 m before the garbage starts.
2 were heard at the entrance to the Camino Ecológico in San San on the 14th, also at dusk, and one more at the same place early on the morning of the 17th.
On the 18, also at dusk, we tried the Chiriquí Grande spot again. This time we managed to see one bird, at the same spot, while three others called from different spots. They were pretty responsive to tapes, calling back almost immediately. Alas, they didn't come out to the open, and lost interest pretty fast. We tried for them on the mornings of the 14th and 19th, but couldn't coax a peep out of them. Must be they don't do mornings.
Snowy Cotinga: A distant male seen from Km 28 of the Punta Peña-Almirante road on the 14th.
Grayish Saltator: Common all over Changuinola. First heard on the 14th, on the fields by the Camino Ecológico. Then on the 15th, one heard and two seen feeding on a fruiting vine on the fields by the Camino Ecológico, and one heard at El Silencio, and one heard on a road through pastures near the San San River, and one heard at the old ricefields. Then on the 16th, one heard and one seen at the old ricefields, and one heard on the road to Guabito just before the bridge over the San San River, and one heard near Patsy's Cafe near el muelle de la 60, and two heard at finca 31 in western Changuinola, and one more heard at the old ricefields. Then on the 17th, one heard on the fields by the Camino Ecológico, and one heard near Patsy's Cafe, and one heard at the old ricefields. Then on the 18th, one heard at El Silencio, and one heard near Patsy's Cafe.
We also 'found' the spot where I heard the Saltator in 2003: the banks of the San San River, by the road to Guabito.
Nicaraguan Seed-Finch: A whole bunch, all ages and genders, seen at the old ricefields on the 15th, 16th and 17th.
We found the old Paint-billed Crake ricefields on the West side of Changuinola, but did not see any Paint-billeds. No Ruddy Crakes, either. Also, we took a boat out to Swan Key on the 17th. Saw lots of Red-billed Tropicbirds, some suspiciously sitting in holes, and lots of Brown Boobies, including eggs and chicks in all stages of development.