Sunday, February 26, 2012

21 February 2012

Our last day in Panama, and as we only had half a day to go birding, we stayed local and went to Metropolitan National Park. We woke at 5:25am, departed at 6:05am, and arrived at the park at 6:30am. As with all previous trips, the entry fee was $2. We began birding immediately behind the visitor centre, which surprisingly was not as busy as with previous trips; the forest edge adjacent to the field was relatively inactive bird-wise. We did however spot 10 Keel-billed Toucans flying over, as well as Palm Tanager, Lesser Elania, and Panama Flycatcher in the scattered palm trees.

From the open field we headed into the forest and onto the small lagoon located near the nursery. Here there was a lot of activity, and we spent about 30-45 minutes working the flock of birds. Among the group was Blue-crowned Motmot, Yellow-backed Oriole, Prothonotary Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Rufous-and-White Wren, Purple-crowned Fairy, Ruddy-tailed Flycatcher, and Blue Dacnis.

From the nursery we slowly walked the trail that parallels the main road. Near the second park entrance, just south of the guard station, we encountered another flock of birds. Within it were Black-tailed Flycatcher, Olivaceous Woodcreeper, Cocoa Woodcreeper, Black-bellied Wren, Orange-billed Sparrow (2), Dusky Antbird, Red-throated Ant-Tanager, Rufous-breasted Wren, Greenish Elania, and Rosy-thrush Tanager. After presumably exhausting all of the species in this flock, we continued along the main trail and headed up toward the mirador. Along the way the wind began to pick up considerably, and in doing so the bird activity diminished. Amidst the gusts of wind and swaying tree branches we did manage to spot Slate-colored Grosbeak, Dusky-capped Flycatcher, and Yellow-rumped Cacique, but that was it. At the mirador a lone Yellow-headed Caracara sat on a fence railing, and in the air a few Black and Turkey vultures soared overhead.

It was now 10:30am, and so we began our slow decent through the forest, this time taking a trail that we though would be more sheltered from the wind. It was not to be, as we did not see a single bird from the mirador to the main trail back at the road. As we made our way past the guard station we ran into what we believed was the same flock we had earlier. Interestingly, however, we spotted several species that were not there upon first inspection. These included Long-billed Gnatwren, Dot-winged Antbird, Spotted Antbird, White-winged Becard, and Squirrel Cuckoo. Along the rest of the trail we did not find anything new; we arrived back at the hotel at 12:15pm.

While at the hotel we both had a shower and pack our bags for the long trip home. At 1:45pm we went to the Mira Flores locks where we spent some time exploring the visitor centre and watching a ship pass through the locks. The visitor centre was currently undergoing renovations, no doubt in preparation for the new locks that are currently being constructed and which are scheduled to open in 2014. At 3:15pm we left the centre and headed to the Tocumen airport. We arrived at a little after 4:00pm, and with little difficulty we returned the car, checked in, and passed through security. To pass the time to departure we had some lunch and browsed the very over-priced electronics stores.

At 6:45pm it was time to board our flight, and just prior to doing so we spotted our last new trip species, a Peregrine Falcon. The flight departed on time at 7:15pm EST, and after a sleepless 8-hour flight, we were back on home turf a little before midnight PST. From there we headed to our hotel and hit the hay. Our final trip leg was a ferry ride tomorrow morning.

Overall the trip was very successful. We saw some great birds, and 18 new species was nothing to scoff at. I don't know when my next trip to Panama will be, but it will be a long time from now as I set my sights on other parts of the world. So, until next time, happy birding wherever you may be.

Total species seen today = 63
Total cumulative species seen for trip = 210
Total lifers seen today = 0
Total cumulative lifers seen for trip = 17

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