Sunshine Coast Birds

Birding and other wildlife experiences from the Sunshine Coast and elsewhere in Australia - and from overseas - with scribblings about travel, environmental issues, kayaking, hiking and camping.

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Western Panama & Chiriqui Highlands

Ochraceous Peewee
After our visit to El Valle in Panama (see following post) we continued heading west on a long drive to the village of Las Lajas on the Pacific coast. Here, in tall trees lining a road, after some effort we  connected with one of the Panama endemics – a male Veraguan Mango, spotted by our driver, Francisco.

Veraguan Mango
Birds seen from the beach at Las Lajas included Black Tern, Brown Pelican, Magnificent Frigatebird and Brown Booby. We continued westward, leaving the province of Veraguas and entering the far western province of Chiriqui. At around sunset, we arrived at the delightful Hotel Dos Rios - our accommodation for the next three nights - at an altitude of 1100m in the highlands town of Volcan.

Las Lajas 
Our first morning was occupied not far from the town at a site called Cuesta de Piedra. This place was very birdy and scenic to boot.

Ravine at Cuesta de Piedra
Some of the nice birds here included Eye-ringed Flatbill, Cherrie’s Tanager, Scarlet-thighed Dacnis, Fiery-billed Aracari, Speckled Tanager and Costa Rica Brushfinch.  In a patch of scrub nearby we had a fine male Orange-collared Manakin.

Fiery-billed Aracari
In the afternoon we visited some pasture and secondary scrub on a coffee plantation near Volcan lakes, seeing the distinctive Chiriqui race of Masked Yellowthroat. My camera is stuffed as a consequence of my dropping it into a creek, so apart from some images from my iphone through the scope (thanks to our guide Kilo for helping with that), some of Ketil Knudsen's lovely images appear here. 

Scarlet-thighed Dacnis - pic Ketil Knudsen

Speckled Tanager - pic ketil Knudsen
We spent our next full day walking the Los Quetzales trail from 1700m to 2500m in Volcan Buru National Park. Long-tailed Silky-Flycatcher was one of the first birds of the day at the start of the trail; later we saw Black-and-yellow Silky-Flycatcher. 
Long-tailed Silky-Flycatcher
Black-cheeked Warbler, Flame-throated Warbler and Flame-coloured Tanager were among the birds in the early morning flocks. Scintillant Hummingbird fed in flowering bushes and higher up were plenty of Volcano Hummingbirds. The cloud forest of the surrounding mountains was looking good on a perfect October morning; this is the wet season, but fingers crossed, to date we have lost hardly any birding time to rain.
Volcano Buru National Park
Other hummingbirds included White-throated  Mountain-Gem, Fiery-throated Hummingbird and Magnificent Hummingbird. Townsend’s Warbler was a Panama tick for Kilo. We were soon onto a Zeledonia (Wrenthrush), a much-wanted oddity that is likely to be given its own family; most of us secured satisfactory views of this skulker. Not long after we enjoyed fine views of another skulker – Silvery-fronted Tapaculo. Yellow-thighed Finch and Large-footed Finch were both seen well. A Black Guan was flushed.

Ochraceous Peewee
The track was very birdy. Good birds in the flocks included Buffy Tuftedcheek, Ruddy Treerunner, Yellowish Flycatcher , Black-thighed Grosbeak and Red-faced Spinetail. We were happy to connect with a flock of about 8 Silvery-throated Jays – a difficult species to score within its limited range.
Soon after we found another tricky specialty of the site – an Ochraceous Peewee near the track.

Costa Rica Pygmy-Owl 
We found a juvenile male Resplendent Quetzel early on the walk but some of the group later saw a group of five, including an adult male, When we returned to the vehicle in the afternoon we tracked down - with a good deal of difficulty - a calling Costa Rica Pygmy-Owl.

Resplendent Quetzal - Ketil Knudsen
Our final morning in the Volcan area was occupied in secondary scrub and a patch of rainforest in the Volcan Lakes area.

Volcan Lakes

Nice additions to the list included Ruddy Foliage-gleaner and Violet Sabrewing.

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