April Species List for Ft. Sherman/San Lorenzo

I come to the end of another month in paradise. Have I ever told you how much I love this place?  Ok, I could do without the ticks and mozzies, but nothing's perfect.

Lifers this month:
Short-billed Pigeon
Rufescent Tiger-heron
Red-breasted Blackbird
Black-faced Antthrush
White Wiskered Puffbird
Spot-crowned Antvireo (Plantation Trail Soberania National Park--across the canal)
Great Potoo--This has been a target bird for what seems like forever! They are night birds, so sorry about the image. I would have gone back in daylight hours, but I got the bird at the Chagres Dam which is too far too walk. I had a rental car and the night I found this bird was my last night with it. I had a Dentist appointment in the morning and had to turn the car in, so had no time to check things out the morning after finding the bird. 
April Species List for Ft. Sherman/San Lorenzo:
Brown Pelican
Anhinga
Magnificent Frigatebird
Rufescent Tiger-heron
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Little Blue Heron
Tri-colored Heron
Cattle Egret

Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture

Osprey
American Swallow-tailed Kite
Hook-billed Kite
Common Black-hawk
Yellow-headed Caracara
American Kestrel
Merlin
Peregrine Falcon
Broad-winged Hawk

Spotted Sandpiper

Ruddy Pigeon
White-tipped Dove

Orange-chinned Parakeet
Mealy Amazon

Greater Ani
Smooth-billed Ani
Squirrel Cuckoo

Common Pauraque
Great Potoo

Short-tailed Swift

Sapphire-throated Hummingbird
Violet-bellied Hummingbird
Long-billed Hermit

White-tailed Trogon
Slaty-tailed Trogon
Violaceous Trogon

Broad-billed Motmot

Ringed Kingfisher
Green Kingfisher

White-whiskered Puffbird

Keel-billed Toucan
Collared Aracari
Chestnut Mandibled Toucan

Black-cheeked Woodpecker
Red-crowned Woodpecker
Lineated Woodpecker
Crimson-crested Woodpecker

Plain Xenops
Plain Brown Woodcreeper
Barred Woodcreeper
Cocoa Woodcreeper

Western Slaty Antshrike
Dot-winged Antwren
Fasciated Antshrike
Bi-colored Antbird
Black-faced Antthrush

Yellow-crowned Tyrannulet
Southern Beardless Tyrannulet
Yellow-bellied Elaenia
Lesser Elaenia
Southern Bentbill
Common Tody-flycatcher
Eastern Wood-pewee
Dusky-capped Flycatcher
Panama Flycatcher
Great Crested Flycatcher
Great Kiskadee
Social Flycatcher
Rusty Margined Flycatcher
Streaked Flycatcher
Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher
Tropical Kingbird
Eastern Kingbird
Fork-tailed Flycatcher
Masked Tityra

Golden Collared Manakin

Barn Swallow
Southern Rough-winged Swallow
Gray-breasted Martin
Mangrove Swallow

Black-chested Jay

Bay Wren
House Wren

Tropical Gnatcatcher

Swainson’s Thrush
Clay-colored Thrush

Tropical Mockingbird

Red-eyed Vireo
Yellow-green Vireo

Lesser Greenlet

Bay-breasted Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Canada Warbler
Tennessee Warbler
American Redstart
Yellow Warbler
Northern Waterthrush

Plain-colored Tanager
Red-legged Honeycreepers
Thick-billed Euphonia
Fulvous-vented Euphonia
Blue-gray Tanager
Palm Tanager
White-shouldered Tanager
Red-throated Ant Tanager
Summer Tanager
Crimson-backed Tanager
Gray-headed Tanager

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Indigo Bunting
Black-striped Sparrow
Variable Seedeater
Ruddy Breasted Seedeater
Yellow-bellied Seedeater

Red-breasted Blackbird
Great-tailed Grackle
Baltimore Oriole
Yellow-backed Oriole
Scarlet-rumped Cacique
Yellow-rumped Cacique
Crested Oropendola
Chestnut-headed Oropendola

The Last of the Empids?

Yellow-olive Flycatcher
May 9
Went out at 7:20 a.m. Sunny with 30% cloud cover--fluffy white cumulus. My rain gauge from the previous night was empty and there was no breeze.  The flags on the boats in the marina hung straight down and the water of the bay was like a mirror.

I didn't see or hear any empids or Wood-Pewees today.  Have they all gone?

I found one yesterday and I got good views and heard it well.  It had an almost squeaky type 'whit' and I decided I had a Willow.  I was able to get  a very short video of the bird with a few whits on it.  I put it on the net, but didn't get a response.  I may try a few other sites and see what happens.  The video may not be good enough for ID.

So the confusing, confounding Empids are probably gone for the season.  I feel lucky to have identified both Alder and Willow.

I found a lifer today and I wasn't sure enough of my call to put it on my life list without confirmation. I thought I had a Yellow-olive Flycatcher, but there is a Yellow-margined Flycatcher that is very similar.
Yellow-olive Flycatcher
I post this terrible photo to illustrate one of the main points to consider in indentifying a Yellow-olive over a Yellow-margined.  The YM has a conspicuous white or pale patch at the base of the primaries and this bird does not show that. I will post a link to the Birdforum discussion because Chris Benesh put up a good photo and explains some of the differences.
I posted on Surfbirds first and after a few hours of no response, posted it on Whatbird.  When I didn't get anything there, I went to Birdforum.  Birdforum is where I usually go, but I am trying to spend time on Whatbird because it is a more North American site than BF is and I am on my way home (maybe). Even on Birdforum, I waited a few hours for a response. Usually within minutes an ID will be had. Bird forum and Surfbirds are really a great sites and there are many knowledgeable people on them willing to take time to help.  I recommend the site to anyone who has an ID question.  On BF, I got a private message agreeing with my choice and I had one of the members who has always been very helpful to me say he thought I was right.  About seven hours after posting,  Chris Benesh came on and confirmed.  Chris is a zoologist and professional bird guide who has spent a lot of time in Central and South America (among other places around the world). He has helped me with difficult IDs in the past and I was happy to see him appear this time.  Once again, thank-you, Chris!  Lifer #939:  Yellow-olive Flycatcher.

Link to Bird Forum discussion:
http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=229802

A link to Field Guides and a little about Chris:
http://fieldguides.com/guides/chris-benesh

Other birding sites that can be helpful:
http://www.surfbirds.com/forum/index.php

http://www.whatbird.com/forum/
I think I've seen the Yellow-margined twice in my wanderings here, but I was unable to get good enough views or a photo to list it.  I should be better prepared if I see it now!

Willow Flycatcher ? Calling on Video

May 8, 2012
I found an Empid today and I got good views and heard it well. It had an almost squeaky quality to the  'whit' and I decided I had a Willow. I was able to get a very short video of the bird with a few whits on it. I put it on the net, but didn't get a response. I may try a few other sites and see what happens. The video may not be good enough for ID.  You have to turn up the volumn to hear it call.

http://youtu.be/kiwaLJDfbCI

That was the only Empid or Wood-pewee I saw today, and I was surprised to find it.  We've had light southerlies for two mornings in a row and I thought they would have used that and the light from the super moon to have a few fairly easy red-eye flights.

Other migrants today included a warbler and several Red-eyed Vireos.  The warbler was high in dense foliage and I only got a grey head and yellow undertail coverts before it took off.

Rainy Season Starts With a Bang

Blue Land Crab  Cardisoma guanhumi
April is over and so is the dry season. May is the start of the rainy season and the rythmn of the jungle by the sea is obviously in step with Mother Nature.  She has flipped the switch from dry to wet, and seemingly overnight, the forest has changed.  I had forgotten how loud the thunder can get here.  A few nights ago, Peregrine shivered under thunder that rolled low over the marina after cracks that sounded like the fabric of the firmament had been rent.

It is the season of on again off again electricity, a leaky boat, beautiful light shows, new growth and earthy scents from the forest and birding days cut short.

This morning, I got out at 7:45 and was back in less that an hour; and that hour wasn't too good.  A couple of fellow sailors got on the Kennedy loop before me, so I decided to walk San Lorenzo Road.  I didn't walk San L yesterday because it was Sunday and the road is usually busy with weekend drivers.  It was not only Sunday, it was Crab Sunday.  It's Crab season and the natives are crabbing! 
The crabbing seems sort of like grunion runs in California. Whole families come out to collect the crabs and have a good time. I thought today would be fine, but when I got to the road, there were a dozen men with machetes yelling to each other from different spots. I could hear some deep in the giant cane and others up the road and out of sight. I'd forgotten today was a holiday. I decided birding wouldn't be too good and turned to go back to Kennedy Loop. It started to rain before I got the the loop road, so I went back to Peregrine. Not exactly a stellar birding day. 
I am aboard typing now, and, of course, the sun has come out.  I am not going to put my damp clothes back on and go out again.  I will stay in and get some writing done.  I have April to condense, and photos to organize and shrink for posting.  Speaking of photos!  The videos I made of the Alder Flycatcher have been posted on an Indian e-newspaper without giving me credit.  Oh, my name comes up if you hit the 'youtube' symbol, but if you just hit the play button, it plays the video and no where does it say the video is by Twitching Sailor. Hmmm. Why would the video even be there?  I'm relatively new to the youtube thing; I've only done a few for my blog and ID purposes, and never had a video open to 'public', so maybe this is normal? In any case, I decided to monetize the video.  That means there will be advertisments on and next to the video, that should discourage 'firstpost.com'.

Okay, I'm going to make my third cuppa and work on an 'April Condensed' post.

Finally Identified an Alder Flycatcher in Panama

I encountered my first Willow and/or Alder Flycatchers last fall and tried to ID them.  I got all kinds of great views and some pretty good photos and spent hours looking for them and watching them but was not able to ID them.  I never heard a call and it is considered essential to hear the call for a reliable ID.  A few things I read suggested that they might not call on the fall migration but could be heard on the Northward trip, so I really put in the effort to find and hear them this spring. I have listened to bird calls on xeno canto and Cornell's site until I have so many whits, peps, tu-wees, bree-bos, pee-wees in my head that I hear them in my dreams--and I still can't tell which bird is making which wrep. I am covered in tick welts, mozzie bumps and chigger rashes and have slathered on gallons of anti-itch cream and swallowed enough Benedryl to keep the company afloat. I have been out for hours everyday and come back with throbbing feet and a throbbing head from being par-broiled. Getting up early combined with my habitual insomia has left me exhausted, but, finally, I have identified an Alder Flycatcher.  I can now give up birding and good riddance to an unhealthy and aggravating pastime.
Two short videos; the first one of the Alder calling, the second video doesn't have a call, but the image of the bird is better.

http://youtu.be/fplrTDxSaoQ

http://youtu.be/bYcUJqBHk_0

Thanks to BirdForum for ID confirmation.
http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?p=2430698#post2430698

Butterflies of St. Lucia

Nick Morgan, an butterfly enthusiast that is a member of bird forum asked me about butterflies on St. Lucia because he is going there later in the year. I had posted an ID question and written something on bird forum about the butterflies there.  Of course, it can't compete with Panama, but I do remember a lot of fluttering. Nick, I'm sorry I don't have much; I didn't put in the hours photographing and identifying them like I have done since arriving in Panama. I have a few from many places we've gone through simply because they are beautiful and part of nature, but my main focus is birds.I do remember seeing many in St. Lucia I couldn't  get shots of. There were swallowtails and lots of little blues.  I hope you have a great time there.
I don't know where you're staying or if you are going to risk life an limb renting a car, but two places you might want to visit are the Mamiku Gardens and the Diamond Botanical Gardens. Nick's blog:
http://nickmorgan-butterflypictures.blogspot.com/
A few butterflies from the island of St. Lucia, in the Caribbean (thanks for the IDs Nick):
Cloudless Sulfur  Phoebis sennae
Stinky Leaf Wing  Historis odius
The butterfly above was high up on a palm and too distant for a good shot, but I tried.  It was a very large butterfly.
White-tipped Black Moth  Melanchroia chephise
Little Yellow  Eurema lisa
Julia Heliconia  Dryas julia
Gulf Fritillary Agraulis vanilla
Common Long-tailed Skipper  Urbanus proteus
Caribbean Buckeye Junonia evarete
Crimson Spectacled Moth  Utetheisa pulchella
Baracoa or Fiery Skipper
Diamond Falls in the Diamond Botanical Gardens
The Pitons on a hazy day.
The Pitons from the sea.
A view from Mamiku Gardens
View from Pigeon Island