A day at the park making wildlife photography
Urban parks can also be productive spots for wildlife observation and photography. Maybe you won't find the same species you will find in forested areas but that doesn't mean they are not as important. They are awesome places and even more if there's water or wetland near.
With that in mind we had spent some time at our favourite park in Costa del Este, where we encountered a few surprises in the different eco-systems that are found there (wetland, mangrove, wood trees, gardens).
Prothonotary Warbler (Protonotaria citrea) is a small songbird of the New World warbler family. It is the only member of the genus Protonotaria. The preferred foraging habitat is dense, woody streams, where the prothonotary warbler forages actively in low foliage, mainly for insects and snails.
These birds are declining in numbers due to loss of habitat. They are also parasitized by the brown-headed cowbird (Molothrus ater), or outcompeted for nest sites by the house wren (Troglodytes aedon). It is listed as endangered in Canada. In Panama its a fairly common transient and winter resident, occurring in lowlands throughout the country; occasionally foothills and highlands. It's found in lower levels of mangroves and other vegetation near water.
Dwarf Poinciana (Caesalpinia pulcherrima) is a species of flowering plant in the pea family, Fabaceae, that is native to the tropics and subtropics of the Americas. It could be native to the West Indies, but its exact origin is unknown due to widespread cultivation. Other common names for this species include Peacock Flower, Red Bird of Paradise, Mexican Bird of Paradise, Pride of Barbados, and flamboyant-de-jardin. Its flowers resembles those of the Royal Poinciana or Flamboyant Tree (Delonix regia) but with the advantage of a smaller size. This fiery flowering plant is a shrub with multiple trunks and normally grows 8-12 feet tall, it has feathery, fern-like leaves of a soft green color. The flowers are usually a bright orange-red, although they can come in yellows or pinks, depending on the variety. It's used as a shrubby ornamental tree.
Red-crowned Woodpecker (Melanerpes rubricapillus) - male
The first surprise was a Straight-billed Woodcreeper (Dendroplex picus), as a matter of fact the first time we see any woodcreeper in the park but we assume it was due to the proximity of mangrove forest. This is a species found in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Panama, Peru, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and Venezuela. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical dry forests, subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests, subtropical or tropical mangrove forests, and heavily degraded former forest. It's straight whitish or pinkish bill is diagnostic. In Panama it's uncommon on and near the Pacific coast from Los Santos to western Darién, also uncommon on and near the Caribbean cost in Canal Area. Found at all levels in mangroves (sometimes also in adjacent forest and woodland).
Variable Seedeater (Sporophila corvina) - female
The next surprise was a Veery (Catharus fuscescens), this is a small North American thrush species. The breeding habitat is humid deciduous forest across southern Canada and the northern United States. These birds migrate to eastern South America, and are very rare vagrants to western Europe. They forage on the forest floor, flipping leaves to uncover insects; they may fly up to catch insects in flight. They mainly eat insects and berries. In Panama it's as uncommon fall transient and very rare spring transient. Occurring mainly in lowlands of Caribbean slope especially near coast, rare elsewhere.
We also observed a Zone-tailed Hawk (Buteo albonotatus), which was not so surprising since its at least the third time we observe this species around the park, and we have also observed other raptors like Swainson's Hawk and Merlins. Another migrant species that we observed but were not able to photograph was the Northern Waterthrush, while other "common in parks" resident species were observed.