Last Birding Day in San Lorenzo National Park

Feb. 8 2013
We are scheduled to go through the canal next Wednesday and I will be shopping, cleaning and organizing for the transit and beyond, so today was my last long birding day here. Frank, the dockmaster, drove Glyn and me to Fort San Lorenzo and we walked the 9K back. We were out from 6:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and came back hot, tired and foot-sore, but it was a great walk and we thoroughly enjoyed it. I'm having an oldtimers moment and I've forgotten; Why are we leaving Panama?
I was able to match a few more birds with their calls.  I got excellent views of a Long-billed Gnatwren and watched while it trilled away. I have only seen quick peeks of this bird and I was thrilled to see it so well.  I also indentified the 'owl' calls I heard once before in the same area;  Rufous Motmot.  He was perched in from the road about 30 feet and it took me awhile to find him through the trees.  He called often and was answered by another bird farther in.  Luckily for me he called long enough for me to locate him.  He was on a bare branch and I tried to video him and the calls, but for some reason the 'hoos' didn't come up on the video.  He was also behind so much stuff, I only got blurry shots of him as he swung his long, raquet-tipped tail back and forth like a metronome, and flipped himself from facing toward me to turning his back. What a great bird this is.

We also got two new butterflies.
Ruddy Daggerwing
Marpesia petreus
Many-banded Daggerwing
Marpesia chiron
I know I saw the Tiny Hawk as it flew into the forest from a perch next to the road, but I didn't see it well enough to put it on my life list.  I saw movement as it left its perch and I locked onto it as flew with open wings into the forest. All I saw was the birds' back and the top of very small gray accipter wings. I am so bummed I didn't see it perched, I was this close and I have been in the area three times looking for it.  I can't think of what else it could have been.  The sighting was at the end of our walk at 3:45.  It's close to the marina and I want to get out today at the same time and see if I can get lucky.
Today's bird list:
Black Vulture
Gray-breasted Martins
Yellow-tailed Oriole
Red-crowned Woodpecker
Short-billed Pigeon
White-shouldered Tanager
A small bat
Mealy Parrots
Scarlett-rumped Caciques
Yellow-headed Caracara
Bright-rumped Attilas (heard)
Common Black-hawk
Bay Wrens
Prothonotary Warbler
Great Kiskadees
Social Flycatchers
Western Slaty Antshrikes
Black-cheeked Woodpeckers
Black-breasted Puffbird
Keelbilled Toucan
Big Woody--either Crimson-crested or Lineated
Brown Pelican
Great Blue Heron
Greater Ani
Tropical Kingbird
Spotted Sandpiper
Chestnut-mandibled Toucan
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Cocoa Woodcreeper
Crested Oropendola
Red-throated Ant-tanager
Rufous Motmot
White-shouldered Tanager
Plain xenops
Checker-throated Antwren
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Lesser Greenlets
Dusky-capped Flycatcher
Sapphire-throated Hummingbird
Shining Honeycreeper
Southern Rough-winged Swallow
Turkey Vultures
Panama Flycatcher
Chestnut-headed Oropendola
Palm Tanager
Yellow-rumped Cacique
Dot-winged Antwren
Plain-brown Woodcreeper
Blues Dacnis
White-tailed Trogon
Tiny Hawk??
Magnificent Frigatebird
White-tipped Dove
Blue-gray Tanager
Thick-billed Euphonia
Tropical Mockingbird
Great-tailed Grackles
Anhinga hanging out on the banks of the Chagres.
Tropical Mockingbird

Black-throated Green Warbler

Feb. 5, 2013

Went birding today from 7:00 a.m. to 12:15.  On a mission from gaad to find Glyn's great rare tick:  A Tiny Hawk. She found it yesterday and sent me a photo to ID for her. She's doing very well--A Northern Parula and now a Tiny Hawk--Tiny Hawk is not listed on the species list for
Ft. Sherman/San Lorenzo.  Congrats Glyns! I keep saying San Lorenzo is every bit as good as Achiote (better in my opinion) and Pipeline. 
I went to the area she saw the hawk on the way to Playa Diablo and again on the way home, but was unable to find it.  However, I did find lifer #955:  Black-throated Green Warbler--a bit of a rarity for Sherman/San Lorenzo. It is a montane/highland bird.

Todays bird list as I saw them:
Black Vultures
Gray-breasted Martins
Great Kiskadees
Great-tailed Grackles
Turkey Vulures
Spotted Sandpiper
Yellow-backed Oriole
Tropical Kingbird
Paalm Tanager
Tropical Mockingbird
Common Black-Hawk
Mealy Parrots
Social Flycatcher
White-tipped Dove
Blue-gray Tanager
Yellow-bellied Elaenia
Crimson-backed Tanager
Common Tody-Flycatcher
Blue-black Grassquit
Bright-rumped Attila (heard)
Magnificent Frigatebirds
Keel-billed Toucan
Violaceous Trogan
White-shouldered Tanager
Cocoa Woodcreeper
Bay Wren
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Yellow-headed Caracara
Black-chested Jay
Golden-collared Manakin
Panama Flycatcher
Variable Seedeater
Blue Dacnis
Chestnut-mandibled Toucan
Slaty-tailed Trogon
Yellow-rumped Cacique
Short-tailed Swifts
Peewee? (heard)
Plain-colored Tanager
Black-throated Green Warbler
Red-crowned Woodpecker
Thick-billed Euphonia
Smooth-billed Anis
Orange-chinned Parakeets

Anteaters are one of the many things I will miss when I leave. Northern Tamandua; Tamandua mexicana.

Mystery Call Finally Solved

Feb. 4, 2013
Last month, nearly every time I walked to Diablo Creek, I heard a bird with a loud, distinctive call. It would call over and over, and there were times it sounded like it was less than twenty feet away.  I had multiple opportunities to see it and I tried different tactics. I froze and scanned with little more than eye movement and slowly brought up my binoculars up when needed. Other times, when I got close, I deliberately made myself obvious thinking that I might flush the bird and be able to follow it. It didn't seem to matter, I couldn't find the caller. It was getting pretty frustrating. I mean, this was loud and there was no excuse for not seeing it! I know it moved because it always seemed to go deeper into the jungle when it knew I was looking for it, and yet I didn't notice it leave.

This morning, I finally saw it move and I didn't lose it. There was another bird moving farther in and I think there was a pair. I was able to identify it;  Bright-rumped Attila.

Not a lifer, but I have only seen it twice and only once for a decent look. It was a lifer for me February 27, 2010.  It was in the same area, only rather than hiding in the leaves at mid-level, it was low and close to the bank of the creek. I saw him as I stood on the bridge and looked down. I didn't hear it call. I might have heard this call before, I don't remember it if I did. It has driven me crazy this month. Mystery solved. I got some photos which was good, my shots of the first sighting were terrible. My first sighting was also in February. I wonder if they are only here in the dry months? Or they only call in the dry months?
In my Ridgely/Gwynne guide, Ridgley says the bird is more often heard than seen and is ventriloquial. My new Howell/Webb Mexico guide says it's hard to locate when singing. Well, I do feel a little less inept!
Here is a link to a recording made by Steiof Klemes and posted on xeno-canto:
I am posting a video I made of the call. There is no bird image in the video, but the recording was pretty good. I think I can hear a return call to the Attila. There is also a Western Slaty Antshrike and a Cocoa Woodcreeper in the background.

Looking Forward to Pelagic Frustrations

February 2, 2013


We have a Canal Transit date of February 13.  I have more than the usual pre-voyage jitters because we have been tied to a dock for so long.  It's like we are just beginning our journey; but worse, because I know what I'm in for.  Some of my high anxiety is being diverted by studying what birds I might see when we go off shore.

While we were in the States last time, I ordered, Steve Howell's, Petrels, Albatrosses & Storm-petrels of North America and his and Sophie Webb's, A Guide To The Birds of Mexico and Northern Central America.

So, in between our Peregrine 'to-do' lists, provisioning lists, lists of requirements for immigration, customs, cruising permits, crew lists and copies out the gazoo of every paper needed to entry and exit countries, I have worked on a Pelagic list. I've got the species list for Inshore California Current, Offshore Cal. Current, Inshore Tropical Pacific and Offshore Tropical Pacific. I need to go over the list again and check the dates for when each species is likely to be where I am. The list should shorten.  Once again, just as I get familiar with birds in an area, it's time to leave and put myself in a new zone.

I know I'm going to have a hard time getting IDs and I hope I can ID at least half of what I see. I haven't studied the identification points of the species I might see in depth yet, but after a cursory look, I thought they all looked alike! Also, a sailboat is not like birding on vessels of the commercial pelagic trip type or cruise ships, sailboats jump and twitch and sails get in the way of views. Many times, I have lost birds before I could even get them in my binoculars.  I wish I knew what I know now when we started this little sailing trip around the world. I didn't pay much attention to pelagics until we crossed the Atlantic and I have lost a good opportunity. I will try to make up for it on this last leg.  I will note GPS points and try to get photos.

I'm nervous and excited about being a Peregrinator again.  Hopefully, I will be so focused on the birds I will be traveling with, I won't spend as much time feeding the sea gods as I usually do.