Today we woke at 5:00am and departed the hotel at 5:30am to head to Cerro Azul. We expected the drive to take about 45 minutes, but instead, thanks to my GPS guiding me to the land of nowhere, it took nearly 1.5 hours by the time I had back-tracked from obscurity. As it turned out, the maps I downloaded for my GPS did not have roads going to Cerro Azul, so the GPS was trying to get me to the closest possible point, which was nowhere near where I really needed to be.
By the time we did get onto the correct road, our first stop was Los Nubes, a small residential area that is just downhill from Cerro Azul. We had stopped at Los Nubes in March 2010 with Mae from Birding Panama and learned at that time it was quite productive. We started birding at 7:15am, picking up many of the common species first: House Wren, Clay-colored Thrush, and White-tipped Dove. We then spotted a few other interesting species including Bananaquit, Streaked Saltator, Yellow-faced Grassquit, Blue-black Grassquit, and a nice male Rose-breasted Grosbeak. Overhead there were several American Swallow-tailed Kites flying, and my first lifer of the day, a Plumbeous Kite.
From Los Nubes we drove to the Rio Mono trail in Cerro Azul and set off down the very steep trail. It didn't take long to realize that bird activity was absent. We could hear very little, and saw even less. Of note however were two lifers, Tacarcuna Bush-Tanager and Long-tailed Woodcreeper. After spending about 1.5 hours on the trail and having found only 10 species, we returned to the car. The only other birds of note we saw were Stripe-throated Hermit and Green Honeycreeper.
From the Rio Mono trail we drove to Cerro Jefe Cloud Forest Reserve where we spent another hour walking in strong wind and direct sun. That trail yielded only two species: Plumbeous Kite and Black Vulture. By now it was just after 11:30am, and so we decided that today was a bust and headed back to town. We arrived back at the hotel at 2:30pm, had a shower and a drink, and went to the Ammo Dump ponds at 4:00pm and birded for about 1.5 hours.
At Ammo Dump ponds we spotted may of the regular species, but in the short time we were there, tallied an impressive 26 species and saw Capybara and White-faced Capuchin. The highlight was a King Vulture (lifer) flying overhead. Other notable birds included Rufescent Tiger-Heron, Green Heron, and Yellow-tailed Oriole. While at the ponds we met a nice birding chap from London, Simon. He had been birding in the area for several days and was mentioning his good fortunes on Pipeline Road, our destination for tomorrow. Turns out he was also going back there, and so there was a chance we may do some birding together. He had an incredibly sharp eye.
Dad and I returned to the hotel by 6:15am, went straight for dinner at the restaurant next door, and went to bed by 9:00pm. Tomorrow, as we are going to bird locally, means that we get to sleep in until 5:15am! Until then, happy birding.
Total species today = 53
Total cumulative species for trip = 125
Total lifers today = 4
Total cumulative lifers for trip = 5