Friday, September 26, 2008

The third record of Gray-breasted Crake for Panama (1976)

As part of its two-month program, the Panama Art Biennial is showing Frederick Wiseman's Canal Zone, a three-hour documentary about normal life in the zone during the U.S. bicentennial. The ornithological highlight of the film is the audio documentation of the presence of Gray-breasted Crake, fide its characteristic three-note twinkling call, during a parachute landing practice that takes place at the Gatún drop zone, which is today probably the best place in the country to at least hear this rare rail. The film being shot in 1976, this is effectively the third record of the species for Panama: there's the Wetmore specimens from 1956 (Coiba) and 1963 (Puerto Obaldía), then comes the Wiseman recording, which is followed by a 1977 sighting from Fort Sherman (about 10 km north of the drop zone) and then the 1983 records from Tocumen Marsh.

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