Boat-billed Herons

December 3, 2011
Boat-billed Heron
Look at those beautiful 'night' eyes.   
We had to go to Cuatros Altos today to get gas and we stopped at a marshy area on the right side of the road as we headed back to the Gatun Locks. Gene does the grocery shopping and I have only been to town twice since returning to Panama at the end of September.  I was shocked to see the devastation of this area. It looks like they've mowed with bulldozers. Many big trees and lots of shrubs are gone, leaving red muddy banks with sparse vegetation.  The bird viewing was good because many birds were concentrated in the areas where trees and shrubs still stood. 
I got Lifer#924 with a Boat-billed Heron; a bird I was convinced I wasn't going to see before leaving Panama.  I was thrilled to see them, but seeing them so exposed took away some of the joy.  I felt sorry for them. They are nocturnal and sort of secretive and now their hiding spot was no longer dense. The place I was looking was like an island of trees and shrubs in the cleared area and it was teeming with easily seen life since so much vegetation around it was gone.  A Coati-mundi ambled around and a two Red-tailed squirrels ran up and down trees as if looking for something. There were two Two-toed sloths.  One was high in a tree and the other was low, caked with mud. It seemed to be hanging strangely on to a limb, but I don't know, the two-toed seem to hang differently from the three-toed which is the one I usually see.  It didn't look like it was doing very well.  I wondered if its tree had been toppled and it had fallen into the muddy water. The wildlife struck me as disaster victims. 
Yellow-crowned Night Heron

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