Sunday, 29 July 2012

Hummingbird Profusion and Confusion

July 28
Another breakfast at 5 a.m., away at 5.30 day. Just Pam, David and I led by Alexis and driven by.....someone else.
We drove for almost two hours, the latter part a climb through pine forested hills to Cerro Azul. After a rest stop, the vehicle was parked and, we walked steeply downhill for the next hour and a half. A bit hard on the knees as there was loose gravel and an uneven surface. Good walking conditions, a lovely breeze. Not so good for birds, they were keeping low, plenty of good viewing though. Excellent views of Trogons, which we both love. I wish they wouldn't always sit with their backs to the light.....
Next stop was a surprise. A home amongst the trees -  the whole area is a private estate of houses set on steep, thickly treed and vegetated slopes . We were greeted by the owners, an American couple who had recently re- located from Florida for the perfect climate. We were comfortable all day in the relative cool.

Pam's photo
Taking a walk around the side of the house, we ended up sitting on their back porch, viewing the - at least  - a dozen hummingbird feeders surrounded by 30+ buzzing, quarreling, actively feeding, Hummers of twelve varieties. 

Pam's photo
The profusion and variety led to our confusion. This was all a surprise to me, I hadn't carried my long lens. I could only use my 275mm and no flashgun in the deep shade. I loved the whole experience but trashed most of my photographs. In addition to rhe hummingbirds, the feeders were visited by a Woodpecker, Blue Dacnis, Hepatic Tanager, Clay-coloured Robin and Bananaquit.

Hepatic Tanager - female
 They use pounds of sugar per week to make up the 5-1 sugarwater for the feeders.

Rufous-tailed Hummingbird

Violet-crowned Woodnymph
Thanking them profusely we went on to our lunch stop. This turned out to be another house, an unoccupied holiday home this time, set amongst lovely gardens on the edge of a valley.Comfort birding again, sitting overlooking the feeders, gardens and valley beyond. Whilst our lunch was being prepared by the driver........
Highlights were White Hawk, King Vulture, Black and white Hawk-eagle (Alex only sees it once or twice a year) and a new Hummer, Purple-crowned Fairy. Pam and I were the only ones to see the latter on its first appearance, thank goodness it re-appeared briefly for Alexis to confirm the sighting.The endemic Stripe-cheeked Woodpecker put in an all too brief appearance with some, partially obscured, scope views.

White Hawk

Newly Hatched Cicada

Whip Lizard
After a delicious lunch, during which Alex rescued a Hummer which had crashed into a window, by blowing on it and dipping its tiny beak into water, we left for the journey back.

Both rescue photos taken by Pam
He repeated this survival routine with one I found trying to get out of the house and, again, hitting a window. They are so tiny and vulnerable.

We were due to have a night drive and needed to be back earlier than usual. Then it rained, a lot. The roads were running with flood water. It stopped as we reached Panama City so we had a quick look at where the river estuary meets the sea. The tide was out but Laughing Gulls, Neotropic Cormorants, Willets, Marbled Godwit, Whimbrel, Black-winged Stilt, Western Sandpiper, Semi-palmated Sandplover, Least Sandpiper and Grey Plover were identified. We now take the Brown Pelicans and Magnificent Frigatebirds for granted.
Too much rain, the night drive was cancelled, can't say that we were too disappointed, not a lot is seen.

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