Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Birding in Panama, Day 3 - Is it really Tero?

In one of the walls of the Radisson Summit Hotel where we were staying, there is a collage of photographs of wildlife found within its premises. All of the animals shown had English names, except for one - a bird that they labeled as "Tero".  It looked like a Lapwing and skeptical person that I am, I doubted that such species can be found here. Lapwings, because they are related to plovers, I believed were more into habitats that had water in them. Sure, there was a small pond in the area that had Jacanas and a Heron in it, but definitely not big enough (or salty enough?) to host a Lapwing. Perhaps there was one that got here by accident some time ago and would, I am quite certain, be long gone by now.

Our plan for the day was to go birding at the Metropolitan Park a few miles away. However, the hotel shuttle that will take us there doesn't leave until 10:30 am. Since we had a few hours to spare, Cynthia and I decided to explore the area in front of the hotel. You guessed it - that's where the small pond was located. As we were walking near the golf practice range, I noticed a big bird - about the size of a Green Heron (or Striated Heron in Asia). It was standing on the greens (or more accurately - orange brown grass) and greeting the morning. We slowly approached it and I was dumbstruck. After a few moments and recovering from my disbelief, "Tero! I can't believe it's really tero!" I told my wife. This Southern Lapwing was perhaps one of the friendliest birds we had encountered here. Sometimes a guy driving a golf cart would pass by to pick up the balls used by those trying to perfect their golfing strokes and the "tero" would allow the cart to go past it without even blinking an eye. (Note: "Tero" is the Spanish term for the Southern Lapwing, perhaps derived from its call.)

Across the street from the Lapwing, we saw some big birds again. This time whey were perched on some long skinny branches. The Grey-headed Chachalacas were a welcome addition to our lifelist.

As we were returning to the hotel to wait for our ride, we noticed the unmistakeable hovering of a hummingbird. Rufous-tailed was another lifer for us.

From our research we learned that a good birding place in the area is the Metropolitan Park which is quite close to Panama City. Again, skeptic that I am, I wasn't expecting to see much in an "urban" park. Parque Metropolitano, however, still has a lot of pristine forest within. Here we got 16 more lifers, the best being the Gartered Trogon and the Blue-Black Grosbeak.

Gartered Trogon
Blue-black Grosbeak
The starbird of the day, strangely enough, was seen not in the forest but near the parking lot. While Cynthia was negotiating with the taxi driver to take us to the nearby Albrook Mall, I saw a white bird alight on a tree near the gate (and close to the road!) I was curious as to what white bird could be found here. As I ran closer to where the mystery bird was, my mind was going through the list of Panamanian birds that could help me solve this quandary. When I focused my camera on it, then "bingo! Masked Tityra!". And I was thinking: Is this really true? A Tityra right next to a busy road?

That was an awesome icing on an already uber delicious cake.

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