Sunday, February 28, 2016

Double-toothed Kite story

On January 28th, the day on our own, Lisa, Cookie and I took the hotel van to the start of the Panama Rainforest Discovery trail.  The driver dropped us off at an abandoned painted cinderblock hut with a weathered sign and not a soul in sight.  Nevertheless, the sign was clear so we began our hike to the center.  It was hot so activity was slow.  We came upon a couple of little pockets of bird activity, but mostly the activity seemed to be with plants, butterflies and dragonflies - all of which we enjoyed.

Then we heard some crashing overhead.  Not little crashing - big, loud crashing with trees swaying and things flying through the air.

Capuchin Monkey (Cebus capucinus), just one of a troop of about twenty.     

As we watched the monkeys overhead, all ages and sizes, a raptor flew in and perched.  We all snapped quick photos without really giving much attention to this bird.  Noting the orange barring, I recall commenting "probably a roadside hawk."  The monkeys were so many, so loud and so distracting while running, swinging, jumping from tree to tree across the road and continuing until they were out of sight and only their treetop crashing could still be heard.

Then the raptor flew too, along with them, and we continued on our hike.

Later that night, Lisa was checking her camera and came to her photos of this raptor.  "Do you think this is a roadside hawk?" she asked.  "I don't think it is."  She pulled in to reveal a close-up of the head and face and the bird's large beak was eye-catching - complete with the double-tooth.

Alas, my photo quality is of much poorer quality than Lisa's Nikon images.  Still, the double-tooth can sort of be seen.  

We got out the Panama field guide - truly a limited resource - but in this case clearly revealing a Double-toothed Kite (Harpagus bidentatus) with the following narrative.  "Often soars; frequently follows troops of white-faced monkeys (sometimes other monkeys) to catch the insects and other small animals that their foraging stirs up." (Page 40, 2010 edition.)

I love when things happen this way - that is, a way that won't be forgotten.  Also, my life Double-toothed Kite and meaningful to me to see the kite in a way that typifies one of its behaviors.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Panama's little birds - a lot of birds but a lot of mediocre photos too

I have a lot of little bird photos from my Panama trip.  Some are okay but many are not.  In no particular order except mostly in the order taken on trip, I include some here. 

Take this photo of Cinnamon Woodpecker (Celeus loricatus).  This bird was so beautiful with stunning breast chevrons and I tried and tried to get a decent photo.  I got perhaps a dozen of which half of those were deleted immediately.  I kept the others as my best bad photos of the Cinnamon.

Most of the birds shown below are the best images of multi-image attempts.

Purple-throated Fruitcrow (Querula purpurata

Dusky Antbird (Cercomacra tyrannina)

Dot-winged Antwren (Microrhopias) quixensis) with a gigantic caterpillar

White-shouldered Tanager (Tachyphonus luctuosus)

Above and below:  During our January 30th evening tally we called this bird a Social Flycatcher (Myiozetetes similis), but I now think it's a White-ringed Flycatcher (Conopias albovittatus).  The bill and the eye don't seem right for Social Flycatcher. Unfortunately, I have only these two very similar views so the field marks of white-ringed cannot be fully seen. Nevertheless, so much about this bird seems better for white-ringed flycatcher.  Maybe.  Update:  02/28/16:  I asked Darrin O'Brien his opinion of this ID and he thinks Rusty-margined Flycatcher.  He also checked Matt Hysell's photos. 

Above and below:  Here's another photo of a bird that I called a Rusty-margined Flycatcher (Myiozetetes cayanensis) when I first saw it.  It was taken near the ammo dump on our first day of official birding. Now I am wondering if it's a Lesser Kisskadee (Pitangus lictor).  I liked the rusty colored feathers, but the bill seems too large to be a rusty-margined.  This bird was flycatching from the perch of a chain that blocked the road when most were focused on Black-throated Mango (Anthracothorax nigricollis) and which I saw well.  I knew I had no chance for a photo of the mango so I turned my camera to this more accessible bird.

Bottom line:  These lemon-breasted birds are so attractive and so cooperative and such a pleasure to see that it's also nice to know that for the lemon-breasted novice like me they also offer an ID challenge. If anyone wants to chime in, I would appreciate the feedback.

I can't recall now what we called this bird, too high up and with too much sun on it to really feel comfortable with the field marks.  Any ideas?

Western Slaty-antishrike (Thamnophilus atrinucha)

Blue-crowned Manakin (Pipra coronata)

Above (m) and below (f):  Spotted Antbird (Hylophylax naevioides)

Yellow-backed Oriole (Icterus auricapillus) in Parque Natural Metropolitano.

American Pygmy Kingfisher (Chloroceryl aenea) digiscoped by Rhoda Johnson at Summit ponds.

Lineated Woodpecker (Dryocopus lineatus) at Summit ponds.

Rufous-capped Warbler (Bacileuterus rufifrons) at Cara Iguana.

A female euphonia, but I don't know which one.  This bird was photographed in El Valle de Anton at our Tody Motmot/Cara Iguana location.

Northern Barred-Woodcreeper (Dendrocolaptes sanctithomae)

Spotted Woodcreeper (Xiphorhynchus erythropygius) trails above El Valle de Anton

Cocoa Woodcreeper (Xiphorhynchus susurrans) trails near Achiote Road.   

Green Kingfisher (Chloroceryl americana) over creek along Achiote Road.  If I ever get a green kingfisher in focus, you'll hear me jumping for joy from wherever you are. 

Streaked Flycatcher (Myiodynastes maculatus) - too bad the eye is blurry - along Achiote Road.

Cannot see the vent, but I think this is Fulvous-vented Euphonia (Euphonia fulvicrissa) along Achiote Road.

Above and below:  Black-cheeked Woodpecker (Melanerpes pucherani) along Achiote Road.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Panama big birds

Collared Aracari (Pteroglossus torquatus) - this is a different photo of the same bird that I show in my first Panama post.  We saw the collared aracari several times, but never in situations where I would be able to improve on my hotel garden photos.

Above and below:  Chestnut-mandibled Toucan (Ramphastos swainsonii)

In the Panama field guide this bird is drawn as having an attractive red and white necklace where the yellow throat meets the black breast.  It seems that the photo above would be a good photo to reveal this.  A hint of red seems to show so perhaps the neck is pulled in so that the necklace is mostly hidden.  I found a few Google images where the necklace can be seen.

Above and below:  Daytime perched Common Potoo (Nyctibius griseus) in Pargue Natural Metropolitano.  The photo above was lightened up by in-camera enhancement software; the photo below is without any enhancements or edits except cropping. 

Keel-billed Toucan (Ramphastos sulfuratus).  The video below is of the same bird vocalizing.  The other bird vocalizing, but not seen, in this video is the Chestnut-mandibled Toucan - I was told.  When I tried to confirm this with Xeno canto, I was surprised that it does not have chestnut-mandibled recordings.  Neither does MSU's AVoCet or Cornell's All About Birds sites.  I almost corrupted my computer by clicking on some MP3 recording.  Yikes!  Avoid this and only check reliable sources like Xeno canto.  I finally did confirm with this YouTube video taken in Costa Rica by a young couple who are not identified - so I cannot acknowledge them here - but it's a great video.

Fuzzy as it is, probably my best photo of the Keel-billed Toucan.  We saw them every day but they typically perched high or were seen flying over - quite a sight in itself.  Last year I saw only two keel-billed toucans in Costa Rica perched very high and far away through a spotting scope from the upper deck of Rancho Naturalista.  Panama offered a very different experience with this bird.      

Saturday, February 20, 2016

A few hummingbirds

Hummingbirds are hard for me - so fast that I can rarely get a reasonable photograph.  When perched, of course, it's easier and then sometimes interesting things are captured - like the sunlit puffed out fine feathers in the first white-necked jacobin photo or the long-billed hermit with open beak or flexed wings or the tiny white mites at the base of the beak of the male bronze-tailed plumeleteer. 

White-vented Plumeleteer (Chalybura buffonii)

We called this bird a female White-vented Plumeleteer in the woods of Parque Natural Metropolitano.

Female White-necked Jacobin (Florisuga mellivora)

Above and below:  White-necked Jacobin 

Above and below:  Violet-bellied Hummingbird (Damophila julia)

Above and next three:  The pretty spectacular Long-billed Hermit (Phaethornis longirostris)

White-necked Jacobin

Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer (Chalybura urochrysia) with little mites around its beak.

Female Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer in the forest along Achiote Road.