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A bibliography of my published books and stories.
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|My Bird Lists -- My Louisiana State Life List, My Yard List and, tah dah, My World Life List.|
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Panama: Hawks in Migration Part 1
2005-04-03 - 9:09 a.m.
Raptor Migration in Panama
--and a few fiesty hummingbirds too
And every mosquito in the cloud a Broad-Winged Hawk!
All photos © 2005 by Elaine Radford and Roger Williams
all rights reserved
March 19, 2005
We knew it was spring break, but we were greeted by the security line from hell at
6:30 A.M. Yikes! They had to keep calling for people whose flights were leaving
to come to the head of the line. Somehow we braved our way through the crowds to
board our plane without incident. I was upgraded to first class, so Roger
quietly slid over to my "priority" aisle seat and generously left the middle seat
for the lucky stand-by who got the last seat on the plane. I'd heard that Continental
had a poor record for upgrading Northwest elites, so I was pleasantly surprised by
my own upgrade. It just goes to show that you never know.
We had a long layover in Houston so we checked out Continental's so-called
President's Lounge. It was hardly a quiet oasis, but the complimentary bar
made it pretty easy to tolerate the thundering herds of humanity -- even
when some awful child changed the channel in the TV room from the animal planet to
some sports thing. What child doesn't like animals?
I was pre-boarded with the other Elites on the IAH to PTY leg, but there
are no international upgrades for us long-suffering Northwest customers, so
I was in a coach seat. After I'd settled in, a man came over and said I was sitting
in his seat. I showed him my boarding pass -- 10D. He had 10F. He then said,
straight-faced, that 10F was the aisle seat.
Oh please. Does that ever work? Peachfront was not born yesterday, but I'm not
going to get in a wrestling match with some creep twice my size, so I suggested
that we ask the flight attendant. At that point, he grumpily told his wife to
sit in 10F and stomped off in a huff. Eventually, he got some other sucker to swap
into that seat. I hope he asked her more nicely than he "asked" me!
was a Bill Clark "Raptour," so Bill met us at the airport, and Roger also had a chance
to meet a couple of the people who came with me to Kenya.
Our hotel room in Panama City was super-nice, with a patio overlooking the pool where a
Saturday night barbeque was taking place. I was too pooped to take advantage, but Roger
stopped by the bar for a quick nightcap, and he said they gave him a sample of the
barbeque, so I didn't spoil his fun. I'm not entirely clear on why flying makes
me feel so full, but it really does kill my appetite.
March 20, 2005
Before breakfast, Roger and I paid a quick visit to the small
aviary in the hotel where a pair of Great Currasow were copulating lustily away
while a second male watched from a high perch. Afterward, the female cooed and
leaned forward for more attention, but the vain male was too busy preening his
only my hairdresser knows for sure
An agouti that was part of the exhibit came forward and marked me as part of
his territory. How rude.
There was a Keel-Billed Toucan in a tiny round cage that restricted his movement, which
was a little upsetting, but later on I would see that he had a broken leg being set. No doubt
it was the only way to keep him from hurting himself before it can heal properly.
After breakfast, our group went in search of good views of the spring migration,
soon finding countless birds in many kettles surrounding us on all sides. Of
course the majority were Turkey Vultures, Swainson's Hawks, and the ever-popular
Broad-winged Hawks, but we kept a sharp eye out for others. A small kettle of around 12
Mississippi Kites was very well seen.
We didn't overlook the resident birds either. Whether it was a Giant Cowbird sinisterly lurking
around the Chestnut-Headed Oropendula nests or a Tropical Kingbird harassing a Yellow-Headed
Caracara, we had plenty of color and action. One flock of Black Vultures had
an entire dead donkey at their party. I don't even want to ask.
In the afternoon, we visited the Cerro Azul area where we could look down on the mountains in the
distance and also enjoy the beautiful flowering gardens close at hand. There was a White-Vented
Plumeleteer to guard the hummingbird feeders on either side of the house, and
multiple hummer species, including the Rufous-Crested Coquette, using the
many colorful flowers. There was an amusing moment of confusion when Rufous-winged Tanagers
and Bay-Headed Tanagers entered the same tree, but Bill realized that we were looking
at two different species and explained the differences in time so that we could see
it while still looking at these beautiful birds. I spotted the one Speckled Tanager that
we would see on this trip. In front of the house, Golden-Hooded Tanager parents brought
food to their babies in the nest.
And don't forget the raptors. I saw my life Black Hawk-Eagle displaying with his tail up and
my first King Vultures with their handsome white feathers. A pair of Double-Toothed Kites
showed off in a display flight and, later, the female came and perched in a nearby tree
so that we could enjoy a close-up look. It just doesn't get any better than this.
one day all this will be mine, mine, MINE
March 21, 2005
Today we went to a rice farm to see the feeding grounds of the migrating Swainson's Hawks, of
which there were dozens in one area and hundreds in another area. In the afternoon, we searched for
the Pearl Kite but no hay. That's the short version. Highlights of the day include
such events as:
- A Fork-Tailed Flycatcher feeding two big youngsters in the parking lot of the hotel. As I mentioned
my previous trip report, even the parking lots are good in Panama.
- A nice-sized caiman sunning.
- In the rice field we spotted Merlins and Kestrels interacting cautiously -- at one
point a male American Kestrel and a male Merlin perched a short distance from
each other in a sort of macho face-off.
- A Swainson's Hawk dived for a rodent, missed, and a "lucky" Great Egret caught the
rodent instead. I put "lucky" in quotes because the hawk chased the egret and forced it
to relinquish its ill-gotten prize.
- Another rodent-catching GREG wisely flew to the road near the van so that he could
swallow and digest his catch in peace.
- A pair of Short-Tailed Hawks performed a courtship display
- A highly skilled White-Tailed Kite stooped to catch a rodent in one try
- A less skilled White-Tailed Kite stooped many times with no success. This one also
noticed and chased off a Zone-Tailed Hawk.
You have just finished reading part 1 of my 2005 Panama trip report. Part 2 is coming soon.
back - next
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