Silvia and I first visited Panama in late February and early March of 2017.
While based at a B&B in Boquete, we made a number of day trips down to the wonderful beaches on the shores of the Gulf of Chiriqui.
The 12 km long grey sandy beach at Las Lajas was highly recommended to us as we were looking to experience a typical Panamanian beach catering mainly to the locals. When we got to Las Lajas, before hitting the beach we decided to drive along the dirt road running parallel to the beach some 200m from the shoreline, in the hope of seeing some of the abundant bird- and wild-life Las Lajas has to offer.
We were not disappointed. We spotted quite a number of different bird species including the ubiquitous Turkey Vultures and numerous Frigate Birds lazily flying overhead. We enjoyed watching a splendid cinnamon coloured Savanna Hawk in the distance, as it repeatedly swooped down from a small tree to catch insects– we were in heaven even if the action was too far away to take any photos.
Our first opportunity to shoot anything meaningful presented itself when we found an adolescent Great Black Hawk less than successfully trying to forage for prey in tallish grass around 10 meters off the road. After some time, the heat from the direct sun must have gotten too much for the hawk as it flew off and settled on a branch in a nearby shady tree.
I took a few shots of the hawk in the new location, but was not too happy as the lighting in the dense shade was pretty poor despite the sun shining strongly overhead. Not really optimum conditions to get pin-sharp images.
I had started taking the camera away from my face in order to put it on my lap when suddenly all hell broke loose. The Great Black Hawk was under attack from the same Savanna Hawk which we had been observing earlier a few hundred meters back on the opposite side of the road.
After about 5 seconds it was all over. The victorious Savanna Hawk flew off to a nearby coconut palm while the Great Black Hawk disappeared quickly into the dense undergrowth.
I was pretty upset, as I was convinced that I had yet again missed out on a special opportunity to photograph a unique interaction between two different species of raptors – I genuinely had no immediate recollection of actually having taken any shots of the fight.
Silvia assured me that I had in fact shot a rapid sequence of photos of the fight, which we confirmed while reviewing the last sequence of photos on the review monitor. Somehow I must have instinctively returned the camera viewfinder to my eye and simultaneously pressed and held the shutter button down until it was all over.
The final quality of the images was not as good as I would have liked, but at least I had something to show this time.