Monday, August 17, 2009

Romeo y Julieta

Today (August 17) we took our first walk along the Romeo & Juliet trail. It leads to a waterfall, and I don't think we made it that far. I stopped at the creek crossing where the water would have gone over the tops of my shoes. Les went a little farther, and he doesn't think he was quite to THE waterfall either. The trail is steep and slippery at this season. Going down was treacherous, and coming back up made us huff and puff and sweat.

Although it was not terribly birdy, we came across some great birds. The usuals were present, and we crossed paths with a few fun flocks. We also had some nice looks at little groups of Gray-breasted Wood Wrens and Song Wrens. We were surprised to find 3 more lifers on the walk. First was 2 to 4 Spot-crowned Barbets with a flock of tanagers , honeycreepers and dacnis. Nice-looking birds, and only the second species of barbet we have seen. Short-billed Pigeons were the next lifer - we had to work long and hard to get a decent though distant view of what we thought was such a skittish species. Then on the way back, we got to within 25 feet of one feeding on berries in a nearby tree.

The third was definitely the most exciting find - a young Barred Forest-Falcon. Les spotted it fly down to the side of the trail, where it walked around in the grass for a few seconds, then stood still for a minute or two. Then it flew up to a low branch in a bush, where it sat for several minutes. Les got footage of this beautiful, honey-buff-colored bird inside the bush as it watched a butterfly fluttering nearby.

After a couple minutes of watching the butterfly, the little falcon caught and ate the butterfly, and then flew off into the forest. In the species account in A Guide to the Birds of Panama, Ridgely says the Barred Forest-Falcon "Follows swarms of army ants persistently, then often terrifying the other the small birds in attendance, though it captures mostly large insects, only occasionally going after a bird." Another book we like to use in Panama is The Birds of Costa Rica by Richard Garrigues.

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