|Sandwich and Royal terns at Santa Clara|
We'll begin by traveling down Highway 71 south with numerous stops along the way to find specialties we have not yet viewed in our first 5 days of birding. Our team of the Bakers, Patsches, Fitzpatricks and Anthonys along with our guide John Coons are in for another day of amazing new species which Panama still has in store for us.
|Wedge-tailed grass finch|
The site of the grass-finch also afforded us with a spectacular view of the surrounding landscape. We were traveling through the Central Mountain Range of Panama and around each corner, each vista seemed to be more spectacular than the last.
|Central Mountain Range of Panama|
body, the bird was easily viewed on its open perch.
The Striped cuckoo has a wide range extending all the way from Mexico to Argentina and yet, the bird is notorious for being much easier to hear than to spot. Not so in our case as the bird chose to sit out on an open bare branch affording us very nice looks. Once again, we were blessed to find yet another of Panama's charismatic icons. That being said, the bird is one of those "dreaded" brood parasites, but for some reason he seemed so much more affable than our home-grown Brown-headed cowbirds. Familiarity breeds contempt as the old adage goes.
Our next new species was again found along the roadside by our sharp-eyed and all-knowing guide John. The Rufous-browed Peppershrike can be difficult for new visitors to Central American inasmuch as it has wide geographical variations in plumage. Cornell's Lab of Ornithology description of the Peppershrike's plumage mentions this variation but goes on to say ,"yet most subspecies are to some extent white below, olive above with rufous lores and supercilium". Our subspecies had a bit more extensive yellow on the underside, but the facial features certainly fit the bill.
|Lesser Yellow-headed vulture|
Of course, the hummingbirds were still quite the attraction. With so many varieties, it was hard not to study each new individual to see if it was a repeat or something new for the life or year-list. Among today's newbies were the following......
Among the last of our Panama beauties was the Fork-tailed flycatcher. This flycatcher is migratory in Panama and is a resident only as far south as southern Mexico. It loves to sit on high conspicuous perches from which it makes its sweeping efforts to catch passing insects on the wing. We watched this individual repeatedly lurch from its position, seize an unsuspecting victim from the nearby airspace and return to its perch once again. It made for wonderful entertainment (providing you were not on the menu).
Our luncheon stop was a stunning setting to say the least. The owner of the lodge where we had spent our week owns a beach house on the Pacific in Santa Clara and it was here that we had a "working lunch", birding and dining at the same time. The most predominant bird on the beach was the Sandwich tern as seen in the opening photograph of this blog. Magnificent frigatebirds continually soared overhead and out on the far islands, Brown pelicans and boobies could be observed. Truly a wonderful place to wrap up our journey before heading back to Panama City where we enjoyed yet another wonderful meal in the company of some wonderful friends and fellow-birders. All good things must come to an end, but I hope these last half dozen or so blog entries have allowed those in the group to relive some of our most wonderful memories. And for those not fortunate to have been with us, I hope you had the chance to bird vicariously with our number on our fantastic birding trip to Panama.
|Our final night in Panama|