Wednesday, February 15, 2012

15 February 2012

Our first day of full birding, and true to the saying, "the early bird gets the worm", we were up at 5:20am, 10 minutes before the alarm was set to go off. After a quick wash and some breakfast, we were on the road by 5:52am and at our destination, Old Gamboa Road, by 6:30am.

For Panama climate, today was very pleasant - somehow the humidity seemed less than usual and the early morning warmth cooler. Right where we parked the car we started the day off with several Blue-headed Parrots, two Golden-hooded Tanagers, a Common Tody-Flycatcher, a Summer Tanager, and several of the commoner species. From the parking lot we headed down the small access road toward Old Gamboa Road. Along the way we heard a trogon, which I successfully imitated as indicated by a male Violaceous Trogon that flew immediately to a branch above where we were standing. Other birds along the access road included Southern Bentbill, Blue Dacnis, Plain Xenops, Streaked Saltator, and Keel-billed Toucan, among others. Now at Old Gamboa Road we headed south toward the ponds. Soon after beginning we spotted a beautiful male Indigo Bunting, my second only sighting ever - the first being from Tucson, Arizona in 1994. In the same general area we also spotted Blue-crowned Motmot, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Scarlet-rumped Cacique, and Blue-black Grassquit. The remainder of the road was relatively quiet to the ponds, although we did have good looks at a Yellow-headed Caracara and a Gray-headed Kite. At the ponds we spotted two Boat-billed Herons on nests, and three species of kingfisher: Ringed, Amazon, and Green.

With much of Old Gamboa Road complete, we headed back toward the car once we finished birding the ponds. On the way back we spotted Piratic Flycatcher, Prothonotary Warbler (my second only since Memphis, Tennessee in 1993), Purple-crowned Fairy, Yellow-green Tyrranulet (first lifer for the trip), and Golden-fronted Greenlet. From Old Gamboa we headed to Plantation Road. Upon arrival it was notably hot and humid, and the cicadas were in full song. We walked about 400m along the trail, and after having not seen or heard a single bird, decided to head to Gamboa Park.

We arrived at Gamboa Park at 10:05am and quickly tallied a number of waterbirds: Great Blue Heron, Common Moorhen, Mangrove Swallow, Tricolored Heron, and Little Blue Heron. We also saw a Caiman (about 6 feet long) and an American Crocodile (about 15 feet long). From Gamboa Park we headed to Ammo Dump Ponds. Here we had an impressive tally of species, including three species of oriole: Yellow-tailed, Orchard, and Baltimore. Other highlights included Yellow-rumped Cacique, Fasciated Antshrike, and Snowy-bellied Hummingbird. From Ammo Dump Ponds we went back to the hotel for a quick clean-up, then went to Albrook Mall for Popeye`s Chicken (mmmmm, tasty treat).

From Albrook Mall we headed west to Playa Bonita and spent some time birding the Panama Canal estuary where we tallied Yellow-crowned Nigh-Heron, White Ibis, Whimbrel, Wood Stork, Black-bellied Plover, and Willet. We then went to Amador Causeway and visited Punta Culebra, the marine interpretive centre hosted by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. In this area we tallied such species as Laughing Gull, Spotted Sandpiper, Yellow-crowned Euphonia, Northern Waterthrush, Garden Emerald, Yellow-bellied Elania, and Plain Wren. We departed the Amador Causeway at 5:05pm and went for dinner at 6:45 at a nice restaurant / bar beside the hotel. Both of us are very tired, and tomorrow's rise at 4:45am means getting to bed early.

Total species seen today: 98
Total cumulative species seen for trip: 98
Total lifers today: 1
Total cumulative lifers for trip: 1

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