Archive for Panama La Verde
Thank you to Dale for consulting none other than Fiona Reid to identify our Panamanian rat. It turns out to be a Dusky Rice Rat, Melanomys caliginosus, found in low- to mid-elevation (ca. 1,000m) Caribbean-slope forest.
Thank you, Fiona! (And her new Peterson guide is outstanding, by the way, for which thanks as well.)
This Crimson-crested Woodpecker was the female of a pair we found the first day in the Metropolitan Park. In the course of the trip, we also got to see Lineated and Cinnamon Woodpeckers, along with an Olivaceous Piculet at the Ammo Dump; the most abundant picid, though, with us almost always, was Red-crowned Woodpecker, a diminutive Melanerpes with a loud voice and a boisterous manner.
Blue-and-white Swallows were common at higher elevations, nesting under the eaves at Los Quetzales. Gray-breasted Martin was found just about everywhere, and we got great looks at Southern Rough-winged Swallows a few times. Barn Swallows were a nice surprise at a couple of places, too.
I’ve always loved Tropical Kingbirds, ever since the first one Alison and I ever saw, years ago in Texas. I like this “action shot” because it shows the tail color so well, and because the bird, the palms, and the barbed wire say so much about the relation between humans and nature in the former Canal Zone, where I took this picture.
Roadside Hawk: what can I say? As usual, I found the relative scarcity (or at least the difficulty of finding) raptors in the tropics disconcerting, but we could almost always count on good views of a Roadside Hawk as we moved between sites. They were usually perched on the, uh, roadside.
As were Smooth-billed Anis.
We eventually scored 100% on Crotophaga cuckoos, finding Greater Anis at the Ammo Dump and a couple of Groove-billed Anis on our way to the airport the last morning.
Drop me an e-mail if you want any more information about the sites we visited or the birds we saw. See you in Panama, next time!
Too soon! After a final breakfast at Hostal Casa de Campo, Yenia and Luis took us on a valedictory walk on Cerro Azul. The morning started out clear and calm, but within the hour the clouds rolled in, justifying all too well the name of the area: Las Nubes. It was a great stroll all the same, a chance to solidify our acquaintance with some birds and to get cripplingly good views of others, like the Streaked Flycatchers nesting under the neighbors’ eaves and the Barred Antshrikes singing and posturing in the brushy edges.
We did a little birding on the way to the airport (which is quite close to the Cerro, making Casa de Campo an outstanding layover destination for international travelers). Unfortunately, the rain began just as we approached the area Luis said was most reliable for Savanna Hawk, but we did find a nice assembly of Neotropic Cormorants and Snowy Egrets in a ditch.
And then began the wait, and with it the tense question: Which will be my last Panama bird? By carefully positioning myself at the correct window, and shutting my eyes for long periods, I managed to make it a good one.
Farewell, Gray-breasted Martins!
There are many places in the world where you have to get up early to drive or hike to where you can see some birds. Panama, it seems to me, is the sort of place where you have to get up early and stand around on your front porch to see the sort of birds that will take your breath away! At least that was our experience at the Hostal Casa de Campo, where we spent our last (alas) two nights on the Panama La Verde circuit.
The beginnings of the rainy season turned out to be a perfect time to visit, too. Over breakfast on the terraces, we could watch Crimson-backed Tanagers and Black-striped Sparrows feeding their young, while both Buff-throated and Streaked Saltators were busy singing from the tops of the trees. Rufous-tailed and Snowy-bellied Hummingbirds competed with Bananaquits for nectar, and Golden-hooded and Blue-gray Tanagers were everywhere.
Sooner or later, of course, you have to leave even the birdiest of yards (and the tastiest of breakfasts!) for localities farther afield. Cerro Jefe is a beautiful place, high and commanding, with birds worthy of the setting. A male Black-and-yellow Tanager was a stunner, and an odd popping call turned out to be a lutea-type Hepatic Tanager, sounding nothing like our familiar northern birds.
It defies logic and expectation alike, but each new site was better than the last!Â We fell asleep at Sierra Llorona to the grunting hoots of Mottled Owls, and awoke the next morning to find the feeders covered with hummingbirds and Chestnut-mandibled Toucans in the trees.
Sierra Llorona Lodge has a beautiful series of trails behind it, and we couldn’t resist heading down one of them before breakfast. White-tailed Trogons, which we’d heard along Old Gamboa Road, sang but refused steadfastly to let themselves be seen; suppose I’ll just have to go back someday….
At one point we were watching a Squirrel Cuckoo moving through the foliage, when a feathered form flashed in to land above our heads. A quick look at that median throat-stripe and it was obvious what it was.
The bird was utterly unconcerned at having landed on top of us, and perched long enough for all of us to admire the first juvenile Double-toothed Kite I’d ever seen, and the only member of the species we would see in Panama.
Breakfast called, the delicious spread we’d come to expect on our tour; but still we hurried, wanting to have a little time along the well-wooded entrance road before we had to leave. And I’m glad we did. A Black-breasted Puffbird perched unmoving above us, immediately propelling Sierra Llorona to the top of my world’s-best-driveways list!