Incidental bird photos from Chiriquí, Panama

I returned to Chiriquí on the following weekend after my expedition covered in the last three post but this time I was there for a social ocassion.

We were staying at Hacienda Los Molinos, which is at the edge of a canyon  formed by Rio Cochea in the vecinity of Potrerillos Abajo in the way to Boquete. I decided to take my gear with me just in case something interesting appeared on the trip.

I started looking above the canyon described above and immediately saw a flock of swifts that were so close that with bare eyes I distinguished the white collars. I ran to my car to get my gear since these guys are really hard to catch on photos, and this was the right opportunity because they were at the right height, they were almost at level to me but was really high in relation to the canyon's bottom, as swift like to soar high to catch flying insects you usually don't have them this close. They were White-collared Swifts, and are massive in comparison to other swifts which helps for the photos. Unfortunately, when I returned the swifts were already on the opposite side of the canyon but I still made some shots just to confirm the species, which was a lifer for me.

A couple of Turkey Vultures were soaring around too but as the saying goes I didn't want to "gastar polvora en gallinazo" (spend gunpowder in a vulture). If you been following this blog, you probably know that's not how I am (I shoot everything) but I was trying to be ready if the swifts returned or if something else appeared suddenly, and precisely that happened. Another lifer appeared soaring and kitting, I was able to pull these shots, and later identified it as a Short-tailed Hawk.


The Short-tailed Hawk (Buteo brachyurus) is an American bird of prey in the family Accipitridae. As a member of the genus Buteo, it is not a true hawk and thus also referred to as a "buteo" or (outside North America) "buzzard". Short-tailed hawks breed in the tropical and subtropical Americas from southeastern Brazil and northern Argentina north through Central America to northern Mexico, as well as in southern Florida, USA. This species is generally found below 4,500 ft (1,400 m) ASL and most common below 2,500 ft (760 m). As far as is known, B. brachyurus is a year-round resident except that most of the Florida population migrates in winter to the southern tip of the state, including the Keys. It is somewhat habitat adaptable but only passes areas with dense human populations when foraging. It is uncommon and local in most of its range. It is quite difficult to detect unless in flight, since it is often concealed while perched by dense canopy or with only the head showing (unlike most Buteo hawks which generally prefer prominent perches). In Panama is also uncommon on both slopes and usually found in open areas, ocassionaly over forest, and often seen soaring. It has two morphs, the individual observed here is an immature pale or light morph, while the dark morph is less common.



White-collared  Swift (Streptoprocne zonaris)
 


The following day I look over the canyon again, there were the regular vultures, I tried to make some shots of them but the windy conditions didn't help. Suddenly, on the other side of the canyon I saw how two raptors were apparently disputing the territory. An intruder White Hawk was spotted by the Short-tailed Hawk, and the later was approaching the White Hawk in an aggressive way, the White Hawk  took off and defended against the attack, both crashed in mid air, and despite his larger size the White Hawk was exiled. All the action was captured on camera but most pictures were not acceptable. The pictures below show when the Short-tailed was escorting the White Hawk out of his zone, and later the White Hawk remained exiled yet at the opposite edge of the canyon. Bear in mind they were very far away, and pictures already have some crop to show more detail but they are not meant to be good pictures in any way.

 Short-tailed Hawk vs White Hawk

 White Hawk (Pseudastur albicollis)

I was with my wife and photographing was not part of our schedule, we went away to Playa La Barqueta to spend the rest of the day there. In the way we found a little pond with lot of birds, especially the third lifer for me on this trip: the Northern Jacana (the one I was looking for at Volcán Lakes some months ago). I had to stop just for the Jacanas and everything else was just gravy. The Jacanas will be the subject of my next "Family feature" so stay tuned for these pictures. In the beach I saw two more lifers (Royal Tern, Sanderling)  but hey, I was beaching so dont expect pictures of them. Here you have a couple of birds I photographed close to La Barqueta. 

 
Immature Wood Stork (Mycteria americana) 

Green Heron (Butorides virescens)