Saturday, November 13, 2010

Birding Fortuna and environs

Rosabel & Karl Kaufmann and Darién Montañez spent the better part of the last two weeks chasing after their 600th year birds in Western Panama. First stop on November 3 was the marsh at Las Lajas beach, where the highlight was a calling Gray-breasted Crake. We then headed to the Fortuna area, which we birded out of the ANAM sation in Palo Seco. We got to Chiriquí Grande at dusk, right in time to coax responses from a pair of Uniform Crakes by the Two Tanks Road dump.
November 4 began at Continental Divide Trail, which had the usual big mixed flocks interspersed with long periods of birdless quiet, and produced Black-thighed Grosbeak, Rufous-breasted Antthrush and Rufous-rumped Antwren. The access road beyond the trailhead is now paved [map], and dives into Palo Seco all the way down to a Petroterminales pumping station at 725m. A stop at around 900m got us Black-headed Nightingale-Thrush, White-crowned Manakin, and Blue-and-gold Tanager.
Verrugosa Trail [map] is still there, although the roadwork has madre the entrance (900m beyond the welcome to Bocas signs) look a tad different. On the bright side, it now has ample parking. The bushes with pink flowers at the top had Black-bellied Hummingbird, but most of the trail was quiet, with the notable exeption of a pair of Sooty-faced Finches. All the way in the bottom, desperate pishing attracted Spot-crowned Antvireo, a male Snowcap, Slaty Antwren, and Golden-crowned Warbler.
On the way to Changuinola on November 5 we took the road to Punta Robalo [map], where we had over a dozen of Green Ibis and a giant flock of Giant Cowbirds that included a few hundred Shiny Cowbirds. Fellow recent Bocas arrivals Crested Caracara and Southern Lapwing were also seen, and a plowed field had some Dickcissel and a pair of Killdeer. Grayish Saltator was promptly heard as we entered Changuinola, and the Camino Ecológico area had Canebrake Wren, Ovenbird, Black-cowled Oriole, White-collared Manakin, and a female MacGillivray's Warbler. The railbed to Guabito, which now is driveable and much transited by pedestrians, had Black-throated Wren, Gray Catbird, and Olive-throated Parakeet.
November 6 brought slightly better weather, so we headed up the mountains to try our luck. The stream before the dam had both Louisiana Waterthrush and a pair of dipping American Dippers; a brief stop there on the 4th had gotten us Black Phoebe and Torrent Tyrannulet. The STRI Vivero had White-bellied Mountain-Gem and the usual birds, but Quebrada Alemán Trail [map] was utterly devoid of birds. Ergo, we went to Two Tanks Road again, where we had a flying flock of about 20 Red-fronted Parrotlets, showing their characteristic silhouettes and calling their characteristic calls.

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