Thursday, February 16, 2012

16 February 2012

Today we woke at 4:45am and were on the road by 5:17am. We headed north toward the Centennial Bridge where we crossed the Panama Canal and drove to Cerro Campana National Park. It took a little over an hour to get to the park headquarters where, with great anticipation, I had hoped to find my first Wedge-tailed Grass-Finch. Sadly, the wind was blowing a gale and I knew instantly that most birds would be taking shelter. And, true to my prediction, we could not locate a bird.

From the headquarters we drove along the part paved, part gravel, road toward the Panama trail. Along the way we stopped near some houses and picked up a few birds in the shrubs, including Hepatic Tanager, Keel-billed Toucan, and Chestnut-headed Oropendola. A second stop along the road, near a small stream surrounded by primary forest, we spotted Bay-headed Tanager, White-ruffed Manakin, Green Honeycreeper, Red-crowned Ant-Tanager, Red-crowned Ant-Tanager, and Rufous-capped Warbler. At the trail head the wind was still blowing a gale, but to add insuklt to injury, the cloud had rolled in. We walked about 400m along the trail and spotted only two birds: Gray-breasted Wood-Wren and another Bay-headed Tanager. We walked another 100m and it started to rain - we were doomed. We umm'd and ahh'd for about 10 minutes trying to decide what to do, and reluctantly we made the decision to head back to Panama City and try our luck at Summit Gardens. Sadly, we departed Cerro Campana at 8:30am.

On the way to Summit Gardens we saw very little along the highway. A highlight however was my second ever sighting of a Crested Caracara as it flew across the road. We arrived at Summit Gardens at 10:00am and it was hot! We paid the $2 entrance fee and proceeded to walk the grounds, navigating from one shady patch to another. The birds were quiet, although we did pick up some species we were expecting, including Giant Cowbird and Shiny Cowbird. The only other notable birds were a single Broad-winged Hawk, two Yellow-rumped Caciques, and colony of Chestnut-headed Oropendolas. We departed Summit Gardens at 11:30am and went back to the hotel for a much needed shower. After that we went for lunch at Albrook Mall and mosied through the air conditioned halls for about 30 minutes. From there we went to the Smithsonian bookstore which was about 10 minutes away and took 40 minutes to get to! The road works in Panama City are unbelievable-  major diversions and back-ups everywhere.

By the time we finished at the Smithsonian it was 3:30pm, so once again we headed back to the hotel where I updated my notes and blog, and Dad had an unusually long blink. At 5:15pm we decided to go for dinner at the Amador Causeway, but just before going I checked my e-mail and was pleasantly surprised to learn that we had obtained permission to access Cerro Azul tomorrow. So on that happy note, off to dinner we went, discussing along the way how we hope the wind and cloud will cooperate for tomorrow. During dinner we watched the sun set over the canal and at 7:30pm we headed back to the hotel to turn in for an early night.

Total species seen today: 35
Total cumulative species seen for trip: 112
Total lifers today: 1
Total cumulative lifers for trip: 1

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