The mudflats and mangroves of Panama Viejo (Panama City) are exceptionally good for shorebirds and other water birds. The list of specialties and rarities found in this site is quite extensive... and this season, many have been reported so far. After seeing several reports of rare gulls in the social media, I did a quick visit some days ago. As soon as I get to the site, I checked the huge flock of Laughing Gulls resting in the mud behind the Museum and Visitor center... and this guy immediately caught my attention!
|Herring Gull (1st winter) with Laughing Gulls|
The immense size and brownish plumage of this first-winter Herring Gull made it very conspicuous among the Laughings. It moved occasionally to preen, paying little attention to the surrounding gulls.
|Laughing and Herring Gulls (1st winter)|
Except for one. I noticed that this Herring Gull started to walk towards a sleepy gull in the middle of the flock... I thought it was a random gull, but a closer look revealed its yellow legs and bill.
|Laughing, Lesser Black-backed and Herring Gulls (and two Sandwich Terns)|
Yes, an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull was hanging around too! Both species are rare, but regular, winter visitors to Panama, an any of each can make your day... but both of them in the same frame? Simply great! The Lesser Black-backed Gull was not comfortable with the closeness of the gull, so it walked away from it ... approaching me and allowing some nice shots.
|Lesser Black-backed Gull|
Three gulls species was not bad... so I started to search the flock looking for another different species. Eventually, I saw a distant adult Franklin's Gull flying by the mangrove island. I took some record shots.
|Franklin's Gull (winter adult)|
Four species in a single spot in Panama... that is remarkable. However, my personal record is SIX species in Costa del Este some years ago (all these plus Kelp and Ring-billed Gulls). I don't know if more species have been seen the same day in a single site for Panama, but both Costa del Este and Panama Viejo seems to be very special places for this to happen, specially if you consider that other species have been reported in these sites (Belcher's, Gray, Gray-hooded, Bonaparte's and Sabine's Gulls). So... want to break this record? Check the mudflats at Panama Viejo!
|Brown and American White Pelicans|
P.D.: Bonus American White Pelican still at the rocks behind the mangrove island!
|Brown and American White Pelican|