Juan Hombron Road & Santa Clara
Wednesday, July 24th: By morning, Bob had company among the sick, and it was a diminished group that set out for the Pacific coast this morning. The food or water would be the obvious culprit, but we're all eating the same food and most of us aren't sick. Very mysterious.
We headed out of El Valle and drove down to the Panamerican Highway. We turned west (the northbound direction) until we got to Juan Hombron Road. Then we headed for the coast in full birding mode. New habitat means new birds, and we immediately started finding them. Our first stop yielded Sapphire-throated Hummingbird, Yellow-crowned Amazon (flyovers), Scrub Greenlet, and Mouse-colored Tyrannulet. Groove-billed Ani was soon added, followed by Lesser Elaenia, Brown-throated Parakeet (flyover) and Plain-breasted Ground-Dove. Later on, we found a beautiful Savanna Hawk and the not so beautiful Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture. We got our first spinetail, Pale-breasted Spinetail and noticed the first of several groups of Crested Bobwhite crossing the road. Black-necked Stilts were in a wet area. We found Straight-billed Woodcreeper in a location where Carlos obviously expected it.
A Brown Booby and other waterbirds were visible from the dark sand beach at the end of the road. As we starting to leave, we noticed hawks overhead, including a Pearl Kite, Zone-tailed Hawk, and Common Black-Hawk. We also got good looks at a Rufous-browed Peppershrike. However, there was a problem with the bus. The alternator was failing. This meant we couldn't run the A/C, and that we would soon have other problems.
One nice thing about Canopy is that they handle these things seemlessly. When we got out to the Panamerican Highway, we were met by a replacement bus! We then went to Santa Clara road and returned to the coast, this time to Raul Arias's beach house. We had a late lunch there and spent some time scanning the ocean. Ann and David did some beach cleanup, collecting tangled nets and other debris. On our way out, we tracked down a Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, and also got better looks at previously seen birds such as Rufous-browed Peppershrike.
Before heading back we went to the El Chiru area in search of Veraguan Mango. Unfortunately, the neighboring landowner picked this day to create charcoal (he's clearing a eucalyptus woodlot), and smoke kept us from visiting some of the better areas. We tried elsewhere, adding Eastern Meadowlark, Pale-eyed Pygmy-Tyrant, Garden Emerald (another target bird).
I ended up with 66 species for the day. Twenty-two of them were new for the trip, bringing my trip total to 290. I also got 2 lifers today, bringing my total to 51 for the trip.