July 2012 Wrap-up and Monthly Bird List

I was compelled to post part of an email from fellow naturalist/sailor, Glyn, aboard Dignity:
Hi Sue
.....................Remember those ants, well my foot is swollen.....now attacked by mosquitoes, wasp, ticks and ants and a close encounter with a spider!!!! This is dangerous hard work................
See ya
Glyn
I don't want you to think I'm a sadist, but I couldn't help but laugh when I got this; it's sooo true.  I have 12 years worth of scars from mozzies bites. My legs are covered with little white polka dots that won't tan. I did warn her about the ants, but she blew me off as though I were an overbearing mother.  OK, even though she was being funny (I think) when she wrote her email, I shouldn't have laughed out loud.  I should have gone over immediately (2:00 a.m.) and given her my anti-itch cream. 
Pay back is a bitch...
A few days later, I was out and heard something in the understory. I  went to the side of the path and was peering into the darkness when I felt a spider web on my face. I backed up immediately and starting wiping my face and body down.  Now I feel a big glob of sticky web on my hand.  I look down and see a GIANT SPIDER on my chest!  I went to brush him off and when I moved my hand, he came off with the clump of webbing.  I shook my hand to get the web off, but it is stuck like glue.  I finally calmed down enough to hold my hand at arms length and drag the web with the spider climbing up it across a big dried leaf on the path.  The spider catches on the leaf and my heart starts to beat normally. I really don't like spiders!! This one was a Golden Orb.  They can get about 7 inches across and are creepy looking.
My attacker fleeing the scene. Look at the palm of your hand and you will get an idea of his size.
Just so you know, I sent Glyn an email of my attack and she admitted she laughed.
During our email exchanges, she sent a link that describes our backyard pretty well:
I've seen a few creepy, slithering things this month:
I had two people respond to my request to ID this snake. One is a BirdForum member with an obvious knowledge of snakes and the other, John Murphy, is a snake specialist who was in the field when I emailed. He was without his library and needed to make a scale count, but off the cuff he said the same thing the BF member did:
Liophis epinephalus (not venomous)
I am providing a link to John Muphy's excellent 'Serpent Research' blog ( I don't know what the snake on his blog header is, but it doesn't look like the kind I want to run into!):

click photo to enlarge
Micrathena sp.
 Orb Weaver Spider
Another Spiny Orb Weaver
And Another
(can't have enough varieties, can we?)
You can see by my glasses how big this guy is. Fortunately, this one doesn't have a face height web to walk through.
Not everything out here is creepy:
Blue Morpho Butterfly
Juvenile Green Iguana
Iguana iguana
July's Bird List for Fort Sherman/San Lorenzo National Park:
Snowy Egret
Great Blue Heron
Little Blue Heron
Great Egret (Not at Ft. Sherman--Across canal at Galeta Island)
Neotropic Cormorant
Brown Pelican
Magnificent Frigatebird
Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture
American Kestrel
Yellow-headed Caracara
Common Black-hawk
Double-toothed Kite
Pale-vented Pigeon
White-tipped Dove
Mealy Parrots
Orange-chinned Parakeets
Greater Ani
Smooth-billed Ani
Common Pauraque
Short-tailed Swifts
Long-billed Hermit
Sapphire-throated Hummingbird
White-tailed Trogon
Slaty-tailed Trogon
Ringed Kingfisher
Chesnut-mandibled Toucan
Keel-billed Toucan
Collared Aracari
Black-cheeked Woodpecker
Red-crowned Woodpecker
Lineated Woodpecker
Cocoa Woodcreeper
Straight-billed Woodcreeper (Across canal at Galeta Island)
Plain Xenops
Fasciated Antshrike
Western Slaty Antshrike
Checker-throated Antwren
White-flanked Antwren
Dot-winged Antwren
Spotted Antbird
Bi-colored Antbird
Panama Flycatcher
Rusty-margined Flycatcher
Common Tody-flycatcher
Great Kiskadee
Boat-billed Flycatcher
Social Flycatcher
Streaked Flycatcher
Tropical Kingbird
Yellow-bellied Eleania
Southern Bentbill
Southern Beardless Tyrannulet
Yellow-crowned Tyrannulet (heard)
Golden Collared Manakin
Gray-breasted Martin
Barn Swallow
Southern Rough-winged Swallow
Black-chested Jay
Bay Wren
Clay-colored Thrush
Lesser Greenlet
Tropical Mockingbird
Green Honey-creeper
Blue Dacnis
Red-legged Honey-creeper
Shining Honey-creeper
Thick-billed Euphonia
Fulvous-vented Euphonia
Plain-colored Tanager
Blue-gray Tanager
Palm Tanager
Crimson-backed Tanager
White-shouldered Tanager
Variable Seedeater
Yellow-backed Oriole
Chestnut-headed Oropendola
Crested Oropendola
Great-tailed Grackle

The Lure of Butterflies

There are days when the birds aren't out.  I'm not sure what happens on those days. Something happening somewhere else in the jungle? A day of rest? At any rate, sometimes it just seems dead.   On those days, butterflies become a bigger focus than usual and I find myself looking at and photographing even the tiny bland things. Some of the butterflies here are amazingly beautiful and when I got a good shot, I posted them on a blog post I called,  'Butterflies of Fort Sherman/San Lorenzo Panama'.  Pretty soon, the amount of photos began to get unwieldy. A fellow sailor here who has become addicted to digitally collecting butterflies finally separated hers into families and posted them as 'pages'. I checked things out and found I could have 'pages' too and followed her excellent idea. I can't tell you how many nights I was up putting butterflies into albums, but I can tell you the time was nothing compared to identifying them. Today, I decided I won't bother with the species anymore. They're driving me crazy and  I'm afraid most of what I've done is wrong. I'm simply going to post genus or even family and leave it at that.
 
The 'Sisters' did me in. A year or so ago I found and identified my first sister: Band-celled Sister, Adelpha fessonia . Everything was good and I was proud of myself for finding her in the 10,000 photographs of  butterflies in Central America. I didn't know a Hesperiidae from a Pieridae and I prevailed! At least I duped myself into believing that.  This week I saw the sister again. This time, I looked more carefully because while I was home I found a California Sister, Adelpha californica, and I realized there were a whole lot of 'sisters' out there.  So, I spend an hour trying to get a photograph of the Sister and download it with the other butterflies, bugs, birds, plants and whatever I collected on my Sony. I crop and shrink and sharpen the photo and have it on my screen when I go online to one of the butterfly sites. One of the butterflies that comes up looks like today's sister; Band-celled Sister.  I compare it to my photo--not it--the Band-celled's white stripe goes all the way to the top of the wing and mine doesn't. I continue to google and find her--Pointer Sister. Are you kidding me? Pointer Sister? I resist the urge to google and find out if the Pointer Sisters named themselves after a butterfly or the butterfly was named after them or they both just happen to be called Pointer Sisters. I have too much to analyze without looking at a portfolio of the Pointer Sisters.
 
Now I go back to post it on my new compartmentalized Brushfoot Album and see that my Band-celled Sister is actually a Pointer Sister; the white on my older sister doesn't go all the way to the edge of the wing. How did I miss that? Maybe I'm wrong again.

I go back to the net and find a list of Sisters; Gaudy Sister, Erotia Sister, Cloistered, Lost.  By now it's 3:00 in the morning and I can't think, but before I turn off the computer, I check out my friend's blog to see how she made out with photos and ID's. She's got what looks like my Pointer Sister listed as a Spot Cell Sister.

I went back to my Brushfoot Album and wrote a disclaimer advising anyone looking to ignore all the names. I would have gone back on line to find if what I had was a Spot Cell after all, but I was beyond tired and I was afraid I' find that what we both had was a Twisted Sister.

Spotted Antbird, Various Butterflies

July 20, 2012
It's really nice having a car; no wonder they're so popular. I can get into the San Lorenzo National Park and Chagres River so quickly now. The Chagres is 9K away, and it is just too far to walk and get back before dark (or rain).  I have walked to it and ridden a bike a few times, but if you're birding it can hours to go a few miles because of the constant stops and long waits. Most of my walks the past few years have been in the area just my side of the entrance to San Lorenzo National Park. There's a lot to see without going into the park proper, but the park has some wilder areas and it's nice to explore.
This map shows my usual stomping grounds. The yellow star indicates the beginning of the Park. With the car, I have time to walk several roads and paths in the park. 
Map is most definitely NOT to scale. :)
Close up of San Lorenzo Road where it splits to go to the dock or to the Fort.

Today, Glyn from Dignity and I walked the Dock Road and the Road to Nowhere (second map posted). The Road to Nowhere is my name for an overgrown track that can be interesting. It was a beautiful day today and both roads offered more activity than we've had for awhile. July hasn't exactly been a stellar month far as birding goes; been kinda dead around here. I got a lifer today with a Spotted Antbird, and we got quite a few butterflies. Glyn probably had most of them already, but I addded some new species.
Click on the photos to enlarge them.
Male Dot-winged Antwren
Female Spotted Antbird
Skipper
Two-barred Flasher!  I love the name!
It was a glorious day and we got back just as the rain began to fall. We both commented on the fact we would have gotten a soaking if we hadn't had the car. Thanks again, Jedi!

Spotted Antbird and Howler Monkey Videos

  While I was trying to hear and see Lifer#943--Spotted Antbird, the Howlers were carrying on big time.  I heard a car stop on San Lorenzo Road and heard voices echoing in the jungle and I guess that's why the monkeys were so pissed off.  The only thing they seem to like less than cars are motorcycles. The road is about two hundred meters from the dirt track where we were and still the monkeys were bugged.
  I'm posting a couple of very short videos to illustrate my day.
  I took the video of the Howler when I heard him start grunting.  I knew what was coming and thought it would be a perfect opportunity to show off one of my noisy neighbors.  Twenty minutes later and down the road a bit I heard soft calls in the understory that I had never heard before.  I was trying to locate the birds and the damn Howler wouldn't shut up.  I don't know if there were still people on the road or what the problem was.  I bird around Howlers all the time and they are usually quiet unless a car goes by.  The Capuchin Monkeys always get irritated when I bird near them.  They aren't too noisy, but they stand in the trees and glare and shake the branches or break off pieces and throw them down.
  The first video posted is of the Howler when he first start to howl.  I took the second because I thought it might be nice to get a video of a female Spotted Antbird calling and hanging out near a swarm of Army ants.  The birds wait for bugs to flee the ants and then they snag them up.  Both videos are short--less than a minute I think, which is good because you'd get seasick if they were longer. I apologize for the zooming and the noise it makes.  I don't video much and I was trying to get the image to sharpen.



San Lorenzo National Park Panama July 7, 2012

The day started with full cloud cover and threatening rain, but as the morning went on the sun came out.  Glyn (from s/v Dignity, South Africa) and I left the marina at 11:45 and birded and butterflied until 3:00. It started to rain when we got back to the marina. We went into the National Park. We were going to walk the road to the fishing dock (near the Fort) and also Tortuga Road to the beach, but we spent the whole time on the Dock Road.  It was very busy and it was hard to focus on one bird with calls and movement happening everywhere.  I don't think I missed much, but you never know in a bird boil. Sometimes, when out birding you can suddenly stumble into an area that has multiple species jumping and flitting and calling and you don't know where to look first.  I call that phenomenon a bird boil because at sea, when multitudes of fish show up and leap and thrash Gene calls it a fish boil.  I have been told by a birder on Bird Forum that it's called a bird wave, but I have called it a boil for so long that I still think of it as that.  When I have the opportunity to spend time with other birders, I suppose I'll have to learn the lingo.  Right now, I still have a few hundred unfamiliar bird species to learn about as I make my way home.
I heard an owl and a beautiful flute call that I need to ID. What I did see:
Fasciated Antshrikes, White-flanked Antwrens, White-shouldered Tanagers, Dot-winged Antwrens, Western Slaty Antshrike, Plain Xenops, Woodcreeper (same one I saw on the 4th--I just don't think it's a Cocoa--it stayed low and deep in the forest and I can't decide what I'm seeing.  It's also got such a different call than the usual long explosive one--it's probably a Cocoa in mating mode call but I think it could be a Streak-headed), Checker-throated Antwren and a Hummer--Violet Bellied?
Birds seen on the walk but not in the boil were Chestnut-headed Oropendola, a flock of Caciques that I didn't see well--probably Scarlet-rumped, Bay Wrens, Brown Pelicans, Green Kingfisher.  We drove so I didn't get the usual common birds around the marina except those seen on the way to the car:  Gray-breasted Martins, Great-tailed Grackle, Black Vulture, Mangrove Swallow, Great Kiskadee and Tropical Mockingbird.
Female Fasciated Antshrike
Female Dot-winged Antwren
We saw some familiar butterflies and few new butterflies but were unable to get photos or ID all of them.
I think I found a female Giant Sicklewing. I recently ID'd the male after having the photo for about a year and a half!
Female Giant Sicklewing??

A Trip to the Chagres, July 4, 2012

Turkey Vulture hanging out at the Chagres.
July 4
Big rain and wind and lightening last night. This morning the rain gauge read 1.5 inches; hard to believe it wasn't 5.  10:00 75.2 degrees  Full Clould Cover  0 wind

I drove to Fort San Lorenzo and then walked the road to the dock on the river.  I was a bit nervous about the walk because about a month ago (while I was in California), a sailor/photographer was stabbed and robbed there.  Apparently, the assailants came from the river in a dinghy. The sailor was anchored in the river and had taken his dinghy ashore.  He was with another guy, but told him to run for it.  I don't think anybody was arrested or questioned so I assume the bad guys are still doing business. The sailor's boat is now in the marina, but he is not here right now.  I don't know how bad the wounds were, but they weren't life threatening.  As usual, the most dangerous thing in the jungle (and anywhere else) is man. Several cars passed me, people on their way to the dock to fish.  One mini-van with an open sunroof sprouted three kid's heads.  They stopped and talked for a bit and the passenger asked in perfect English if I was looking for birds.  He was a guide, but the monument type, not avian; very nice guy named Eddie.
My birding day was short.  After the meander at the Fort and the dock road walk,  I drove behind the old, abandonded Sea Breeze Complex and got the usual suspects. I also stopped to see the White-tailed Trogon family I saw yesterday.  I don't think they have nestlings after all.  I think the 'cute' talking was to each other and I think they are excavating the termite nest to create their nest. The male had termite mound dirt on his bill.  I will not bug them so that they continue at that site and I will be able to observe them through a clutch.  They are so beautiful.  The guide book says they are 10-11 inches, but when you get close, they seem so small and delicate.  I will have to get a short video of them talking and post it so you can hear them. They are enchanting birds and I will miss not seeing them when I leave.  Sure wish we had Sulfur-crested Cockies, Trogons and Blue Tits in California.  Speaking of Cockatoos makes me think of OZ and a weird conversation I had with a Tasmanian sailor at the Friday Night Yacht Luck and BBQ.  He claims the government has told them to shoot Kookaburras because they are not native.  I asked, "In Tasmania?" He said all of Australia.  He claims they are Papua New Guinea birds and the government has instructed shootings.  I said I found it hard to believe that Kookaburras aren't natives as I thought they and Budgies are the quintessential Aussie birds. I knew the guys was nuts, but I looked in one of my Aussies guides anyway and found that only the Laughing Kookaburra is in Tasmania and both the Blue-winged and Laughing are on the mainland.  There are three races of Blue-winged and two of Laughing. I hope to see him again and ask that he please check with birding authorities in Oz before he shoots such treasures or advises others to do so.
Eurybia sp.
Glasswing moth?
As always, click on the photo to enlarge.
Got two new butterflies and saw another I've seen before but still haven't identified.
Goodnight,
Sue

Bird List for Today:
Brown Pelican
Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture
Common Black-hawk
American Kestrel
Long-tailed Hermit
White-tailed Trogon
Collared Aracari
Woodcreeper  Must have been Cocoas?  There was a pair. Call was not typical; it was a two syllabled chew chew, kids laser gun call
Dot-winged Antbird
White-flanked Antwren
Great Kiskadee
Social Flycatcher
Common Tody-Flycatcher
Yellow-bellied Elaenia
Southern Bentbill
Tropical Kingbird
Bay Wren
Clay-colored Thrush
Tropical Mockingbird
Thick-billed Euphonia
Blue-gray Tanager
Crimson-back Tanager
Variable Seedeater
Chestnut-headed Oropendola

A Little Night Driving


July 2, 2012
I have the use of a car!  The Crew of Jedi left us the keys to their car while they do a road trip in the US.  I'm mobile!  Today I went to Kennedy Loop, up San Lorenzo Road to the Park HDQ. and over to the dam to see if I could find the Great Potoo again. He was not perched on the tree I found him in last April (the last time I had a car).  I came back after dark and had to dodge crabs in the road which could have been the reason the Canal Authority guys pulled me over. I had to answer a few questions and open the car doors to show the inside of the car and they waved me on.  I saw a Common Pauraque in the road and slowly followed it as it flew ahead, landed on the road, and flew ahead again as I came up.  He would sit on the road then fly/jump straight up and come back down.  As I crept up, he would fly ahead and repeat the process. I saw a few frogs and cane toads going across the road.

The White-tailed Trogons had an immature bird with them and I heard the cutetest sounds from the nest, so they have at least one nestling. I will keep an eye on them and see what develops.

Today's Bird List:
Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture
American Kestrel (3)
Yellow-headed Caracara
Pale-vented Pigeon
Mealy Parrots
Greater Ani
Smooth-billed Ani
Common Pauraque
White-tailed Trogon
Ringed Kingfisher
Black-cheeked Woodpecker
Lineated Woodpecker
Common Tody-flycatcher
Great Kiskadee
Social Flycatcher
Streaked Flycatcher
Tropical Kingbird
Gray-breasted Martin
Barn Swallow
Black-chested Jay
Bay Wren
Tropical Mockingbird
Lesser Greenlet
Plain-colored Tanager
Shining Honey-creeper
Blue-gray Tanager
Palm Tanager
Crimson-backed Tanager
Variable Seedeater
Great-tailed Grackle
Yellow-backed Oriole
Crested-Oropendola