Panama: Hook-billed Kite, Orioles and a Ringed Kingfisher

October 22, 2011
For the last couple of days, I've walked the road that heads out of Fort Sherman to the Gatun Locks.  It goes through a low, flooded area of the forest.  One side has only a thin band of trees lining the road and beyond them is a cleared grassy marshy area where the airstrip is located.  The other side has streches of grassy areas and stretches of treed forest that is often flooded in the rainy season. I saw the silent Empids, of course, but I got a few other birds as well.  One morning, in the cleared grassy area at my end of the runway, the swallows, martins and swifts were busy dining on their tiny prey.  In the mix were Barn Swallows, Southern Rough-winged Swallows, Gray-breasted Martins and what I think were Band-rumped Swifts.  I should mention that White-collared Swifts have been flying overhead on the San Lorenzo Road this month.  I haven't seen too many this week.
I have seen an American Pygmy Kingfisher a few times on this road and I hoped to see it again and maybe be lucky enough to get a photo. The Yellow-backed Orioles and Yellow-tailed Orioles were out and the sound of the Yellow-backed 'off-key' calls overshadowed everybody.
YELLOW-BACKED ORIOLES
YELLOW-TAILED ORIOLE
When we were in Grenada, I went in search of the critically endangered Hook-billed Kite. I got lost, sunburned so bad I blistered, and attacked by wasps, but after several outings, I found it.  Imagine my surprise today when I found one during a very comfortable morning walk. I knew I had a Kite, but I didn't know which kind until getting back and looking it up.  I went online and found that the Genada Kite is an endemic race; Chondrohierax uncinatus mirus. So I got lifer # 909 with Chondrohierax u. uncinatus.  I had much better views of this bird and got some nice photos.
I picked up lifer #908 today too:  Plain Wren, but the photo is not worth posting. I was thrilled to finally get some good shots of a Ringed Kingfisher. This Kingfisher never lets me get close enough for a shot.  There is one that hangs around Playa Diablo and nearly everytime I walk down the path to the beach, I hear him scold me and he continues to complain as he flys off across the bay. I have seen one several times in the mangroves at the marina, but again, fleeting views.

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