Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Pheasant Cuckoo

Pipeline Rd is one of the best places to see Rufous-vented Ground-Cuckoo, a chunky roadrunner class bird of intact tropical forest.  Even so, it's rare there.  Some years a family group will be cooperative, most not.  Its cousin Pheasant Cuckoo isn't much less rare.  Imagine my surprise then when we heard a fairly unearthly charrrrring mechanical growl coming from the underbrush on the final morning not long after our pre-dawn arrival.  I had no idea what it was, and honestly expected it to be a mammal.  I was flabbergasted to see a displaying Pheasant Cuckoo.

The bird would walk about giving a charrrrr call and mechanically rattle its wing and tail feathers, occasionally dashing about to grab an insect.
It was big enough to be hard to fit into the entire frame as I uber-cautiously tried to work my way into lanes where I could (mostly) see through the vegetation.

The bird was still displaying when we left in the early afternoon heat for the airport, a fitting denouement for another last morning in Panama.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Northern shrike ... in greenery???

Yesterday Tim and I were standing at the end of the pier when he announced with just a touch of both incredulity and disgust in his voice, "There's a shrike on top of the overlook tree."  I've looked at that distance before, it's about 600 yards as the falcon flies on GoogleMaps.  The proportions seemed like it was probably a Northern, but I started running down the pier while he tried some long-distance digi-scoping.

A minute, a quarter mile, and two inhaled bugs later it became clear it was a Northern.
I've never seen one with green leaves visible.  The bird took off and flew directly over me south out of sight maybe a minute or two later.

 The narrow mask and long bill rule out Loggerhead unfortunately.  This was the first Northern eBirded at Tiscornia in 15-20 years and by far the earliest I've had one in Berrien.  Interestingly eBird showed this fall's most southerly Northerns to be this bird along with one in Illinois and one in Ontario at about identical latitudes, all appearing yesterday, so clearly they were moving a little.

Moving up a size in the bird of prey chain, merlins are around most mornings in mid-late October.
This is a montage of a single bird, though there were 2 on at least one morning.

A size or two bigger?
I think this was Hannah's life Peregrine Falcon

I'd love to see the next size bigger occupied by a falcon, but just a redtail.
Maybe next time...

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Last morning in Panama

Well, clearly it's been too long since I posted anything.  A long stretch of mostly 7am or overnight shifts coupled with slow or distant migration on the few mornings I have been out have not made for rich photo ops.

I'd forgotten that I never quite finished the Panama posts from last winter, so a few more vacay pics.  On the last day most people's flights left first thing in the morning, but for a couple of us the flights were in the afternoon so I'd arranged for a driver to take us back to Pipeline Road.

We had a pretty exciting bird in the pre-dawn gloom, but I managed better pics on the way out so I'll hold off on that one.  As usual, the little flocks of insectivores did not disappoint.

Chestnut-backed Antbird is one of the more common antbirds, it's not often in nice morning light though.

Checker-throated Antwren is pretty common at Pipeline.  I'm always surprised by how heavy this antwren's bill is.

No such surprises with Fasciated Antshrike.

Flycatchers are the other big class of insectivore.  On our first visit to Pipeline one year earlier Southern Bentbill was my 1000th life bird.  I managed a much better pic on this morning.

Another class of flycatcher we don't have, an Olivaceous Flatbill

There was actually a pair of Yellow-margined Flycatchers interacting.  The best pic was of a singleton though.

Finally another bird that's ridiculously tough to photograph, Long-billed Gnatwren.