Sunday, August 2, 2009

Birding Culebra Trail, a report by Dan Wade


We are getting some nice weather here in the montañas. Kay and I went up above Boquete yesterday, to the Culebra Trail, and FINALLY got some good pics of the Green-fronted Lancebill. We've seen this hummer a number of times on the river there for the past 2 yrs or so. And though we almost got some pics on 2 different occasions, had never gotten any good ones. As always, luck played a big part yesterday. Of course, digiscoping and hummers are not exactly a winning combo.


BUT........I got even luckier. After our cooperative Lancebill flew downriver, I left Kay by the rio for a coupl'a hrs. She wanted to see if the Lancebill returned, hoping for more/ better digiscope pics. (It never returned). I walked up the trail. Since I had my mud boots on, I decided to walk up some of the little quebradas that spill out of the steep forest, crossing the trail. On one of them I saw a little crab in about 4" of water. Since I was standing in the shallow water, I knew that the least amount of foot movement would probably spook it under a rock, ruining my chances of catching it for a few pics. So I was moving very slowly, when I flushed a bird that was almost under my feet. It flew only a few feet, landing maybe three meters from me. I froze, slowly raised my binos, and watched it for 2-3 minutes as it slowly walked up the steep quebrada wall and out of sight. I've never seen a Quail-dove nearly as well as I saw that one. It was the Buff-fronted Quail-dove, a truly gorgeous bird. The green nape and upper back, and the reddish-brown back are very bright and rich when seen at such close range. And the 'buff' front looked more like a muted golden-orange color. It was exciting!!
I think Dana G's CR illustration is much closer than the more muted colors in the Panama book. But then, these guys are always seen in such dark forest conditions, maybe the muted colors depict what one usually sees more accurately..?
Because I had been so close to it when I startled it, and then it flew only a few feet, I next tried to estimate where it had flown out of the thick underbrush, thinking it might have been sitting on a nest. Though I looked for maybe 10 minutes, I could not find anything.

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