Monday, February 13, 2012

The Adventure Begins

The past few days have been very busy with wrapping up various tasks at work and planning the final details of the trip. Yesterday Joanna and I participated in a couple’s only birdathon, lasting from 6 am to noon, in the Victoria area. It was a great day, and really got me psyched up for today’s departure for Panama. Joanna and I won the friendly competition with 82 species!

Last night I completed my packing, printed all the trip confirmation details, and hit the hay early – six hours of birding can really take it out of a guy! This morning it was off to work, first dropping Amelia off at daycare, then rendezvousing with Joanna at my parent’s place so that we could coordinate transport and vehicles. Work was hectic, but productive, and before I knew it was 3:30pm and I was being paged – my Dad had arrived at the office. Joanna drove us to the ferry and dropped us off. We had an hour to kill before the ferry departed, but that hour felt like 2 as some guy decided he would play his banjo in the waiting area and sing. It’s one thing to be just generally rude, but another thing entirely when both the banjo and singing are off key. I’m always surprised to see people staring and shaking their heads in dismay, but no one ever has the nerve to say anything – myself included.

Once onboard, Dad and I bought our bus tickets for the ride to the hotel in Vancouver. We then went to the Pacific Buffet – oh, wait – we’re on the crappy retrofit BC Ferry, there is no buffet. Ah well, I really had my heart set on the deep fried chicken parts with sugar sauce available from the cafeteria anyway.

By the time the ferry ride was half over, it was dark. We saw a few birds along the way: American Coot, Mallard, Great Blue Heron, Pelagic Cormorant, Belted Kingfisher, Pigeon Guillemot, to name a few.

Tomorrow our flight departs at 7:35am PST. We land in Panama at 5:55pm EST. Unlike previous trips we don’t have a firm plan, despite my best efforts to make one. We will be visiting Cerro Campana National Park and the Nusagandi and Bayano regions, both of which are new destinations for us. We will also be visiting some familiar locations, including Old Gamboa Road, El Valle, Metropolitan Park, and Pipeline Road. We may also visit Cerro Azul if I can arrange permission to enter the private residence. Another area we had hoped to visit was Tocumen Marsh, but I learned just yesterday that it is no longer accessible to birders. Apparently the site had some of the best wetland birding in the region – I guess I’ll never get to find out.

It is now time to get on the bus. The ferry ride is just about over. So, until tomorrow, happy birding wherever you may be.

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