Birding El Copé
Rosabel & Karl Kaufmann, Björn Anderson, and Delicia and Darién Montañez spent the weekend at Parque Nacional General de División Omar Torrijos Herrera (née El Copé), hoping against hope to run into an umbrellabird or three. As luck would have it, we saw none, but we did run into a few interesting species.
Saturday's birding began as soon as we crossed the park boundaries, with a flock of migratory warblers, including the first of many Blackburnians, a couple American Redstarts and a Canada or two. After settling into the very comfortable cabin (which at $10 a night is a steal) we moved to La Rana trail, which produced Chiriquí Quail-Dove (voice only, alas), a small flock of tanagers and warblers and what looked like the remains of a Black Guan (we'd rather not think that this was our umbrellabird). We then continued along Snowcap (née La Rica) Trail, which also proved quiet at the time (near noon). On our way back we had a small flock at the intersection with La Rana that had Tawny-faced Gnatwren, Plain and Spot-crowned Antvireos, Slaty Antwren, and a White-breasted Wood-Wren building a nest. Björn stayed back and saw a Purplish-backed Quail-Dove. Karl and Rosabel had a male Cerulean Warbler foraging around the cabin for about an hour. After lunch we took naps, which a torrential rain extended well into the afternoon. By the time it stopped raining it was too late and foggy to do any real birding, but that didn't keep us from trying. We saw one Bananaquit.
We repeated our routine for Sunday morning, but this time we saw a little more. La Rana had bigger flocks of tanagers, some with Yellow-throated Bush-Tanagers, and one with a pair of White-throated Shrike-Tanagers. Snowcap Trail produced a female Snowcap, Dull-mantled Antbird, Slaty-capped and Olive-striped Flycatchers, and a nice male Yellow-eared Toucanet. Rosabel, Delicia and Karl got to the cabin early enough to try their luck at Los Helechos Trail, which loops from the visitor center back to La Rana, and saw Ruddy Quail-Dove and a mysterious all-slaty, black-capped becard: perhaps a 300-km range extension east for Rose-throated Becard or a 200-km range extension west for One-colored Becard.
The Panama Audubon Society (which published some photos of the trip here) will probably attempt a fieldtrip to El Copé early next year. Would you like to join us on a becard hunt?