Western Slaty Antshrikes

January 27, 2012
click photos to enlarge
I hate to think of the research and re-typing I will have to do when I get home and update my life list.  Many of the birds I have listed are now called something else.  The Slaty Antshrike will not have to be updated (well, maybe!) because I have just re-written it. What was Slaty Antshrike (Thamnophilus punctatus atrinucha), is now Western Slaty Antshrike (Thamnophilus atrinucha).  It has been this way since 1997, but my field guide was published 1989.
I found this bit of knowledge when I went online to learn what I could about Western Slaty Antshrikes. They are common here, but I have never noted which months I see them most often or if I have seen them every month of the year.  This is one of the reasons I want to stay another year in this forest, I need to make notes of such things. I see pairs alone, but usually I see them with a mixed flock. They are curious birds quite often come to the edge of the road to check me out.
Most of the time these birds are loud and you can hear their calls and answers echoing in the forest. The first time I heard them, I was reminded of Kookaburra calls; but little, subdued Kookaburra calls. A few days ago, I came across a pair and she was making guinea pig churring sounds.  I got my bins on her and saw her throat vibrating as she made the soft churs.

San Lorenzo Road January 17, 2012


BARRED WOODCREEPER
We had planned to go through the canal this month and finish our circumnavigation this year, but plans change and we have decided to stay in Panama another year. I'm not ready to leave this jungle, and Gene is happy to hang here.
To be able to step from my boat and be in a rainforest like this is too great an opportunity to give up. If we left, I probably would not be back.
I plan to keep a detailed monthly journal on the comings and goings in the Fort Sherman/San Lorenzo area.
Every time I go for a walk, I feel like I am on a treasure hunt and I have been lucky seeing some of the birds I've seen.
I have found two firsts for Panama here:  Variegated Flycatcher and Clay-colored Sparrow; three species not listed on the bird list for this area:  Pale-vented Thrush, Savannah Hawk, White-throated Thrush, and a few rare or uncommon birds for Panama. This just isn't a place a birder wants to hurry through.
click on photos to enlarge
A pair of Lineated Woodpeckers.
Yesterday we returned to Panama after a spontaneous trip home to Southern California. We were gone a month. I picked up a bug on the way back and feel lousy, but I did get out for a few hours today. I came back to Peregrine physically depleted but emotionally very happy to be back in the forest.
I am not a big fan of spiders; frankly, they give me the creeps. I really hate it when I'm walking on a path and get a spider web in the face and have to wonder what might be crawling in my hair or back. Still, they are part of the natural world and some are interesting. This guy was on the path to Playa Diablo and was a biggy; I put my glasses down to give an idea of size.
On one of the off-the-road trails, I came upon a massive swarm of army ants and found a Barred Woodcreeper and three Gray-headed Tanagers feasting on the bugs which fled the ants. I saw a very large beetle-thing scrambling over the ants, but I couldn't get close enough to see it.  I had to back off when the ants covered my boots and pant legs. Giant cockroach?  As I watched it run, the Barred Woodcreeper came down and swooped it up.  He took it up to a tree and banged it ferociously against the bark, tried to eat it, banged it again, repositioned it and banged it again before finally swallowing it. 
The Gray-headed Tanagers were noisy and aggressive with each other.  Several times, flying into each other in a flurry of wings before separating.  I'm not sure if the displays were over food or pecking order or what.  At least one of them appeared to be young because I could see yellow feathers on it;s head. I didn't get as good of views of the other two.
Spotted Sandpiper in the creek that runs into Playa Diablo.