Panama: Playa Diablo

March 2, 2011

The little river that runs to the beach.

It was a beautiful day yesterday and I was out for 6 hours. I walked the San Lorenzo road to Playa Diablo (Devil’s Beach). While I was on the San Lorenzo road, I heard a strange call and stopped to find who was making it. Some warblers flew in overhead, but the call was lower. I finally saw movement and picked up a Southern Bentbill. I’ve only seen this bird twice before, it was a lifer for me last March. As it flew from perch to perch, I saw some movement lower and got the bins on it—Magnolia Warbler-- sorry Dad, I still couldn't get a picture. Just as I was going to check out the higher branches, Glyns rode up on her bike. We talked a bit and when she rode off, the birds had gone. I went on toward the beach.
As soon as I stepped onto the path, I knew I was in for a good day. There was lots of noise. The first sound to greet me was large group of Crested Oropendolas. Their liquid calls echoed in the forest and I caught glimpses of quite a few as they flew on both sides of the path. They seemed to be picking things off the dried leaves in the middle height area of the forest. As I watched one looking for goodies, a Chestnut-mandibled Toucan landed close to it and the Oropendola flew off. The toucan was pretty close and I thought it was my chance to get a really good photo. Unfortunately, my camera refused to focus. I took ten or so shots and not one was good. The bird sat there are cocked his head at me, posing and investigating and the damn camera was worthless. I hate this camera! I never know when or why it will or will not work. Sometimes, the zoom lens gets stuck and the camera won’t do anything. It won’t take a picture in the ‘stuck’ mode, it won’t retract. It won’t even turn off. I just push buttons until it finally goes off and I can turn it back on again. If you are looking for a zoom camera, do yourself a favor and don’t buy a Nikon Coolpix p100.
It is only a short walk to the beach from the San Lorenzo road, but it can offer surprises because the path parallels a small river that empties into the bay. I have seen a caiman in the river and there is a good population of Common Basilisk lizards along the banks. This lizard is also known as the Jesus Christ lizard because it runs on top the water to evade predators. I have startled a few and watched them run for a short spurt to put distance between us. I saw a good sized basilik with most of his tail gone. It looked as though it had been bitten off. Caiman?
There is a resident Kingfisher who always chirrs loudly at me as it flies off. Today for some reason he flew away silently. The path was littered with leaves that seemed too fresh and healthy to have come off naturally. I looked up to see Howlers lazing in to top of the canopy. Some of the trees along the path are very high and the monkeys were hanging out higher than usual.
I heard the soft grating, chirring sound of a Southern Bentbill again and placed myself on the path next to the call. Weird, I haven’t heard it for so long I’d forgotten I’d heard it before and now twice in one day. I need to find out if they move elsewhere during the rainy season, or if I’ve just failed to notice them. I got good views and tried to get a photo. Ha!
A very bad photo of a Bentbill. I sharpened it in Picassa.
I heard manikins snapping their wings in about the same spot they did last year when I finally saw my first. Last year, I heard them multiple times in different areas of the forest, but this walk gave me my first view. Other lifers on this short path are Bi-colored Ant wren and Broad-billed Motmot. Today I added another; Streaked Antwren #853.
Somebody's baby.

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