Today I felt guilty for what seemed like sleeping in...we departed the hotel at 6:00am and headed toward Old Gamboa Road and Summit Ponds. We arrived at about 6:20am, and parked in the small parking area opposite the Summit Gardens Botanical Zoo. Here we had Social Flycatcher, Yellow-headed Caracara, Pale-vented Pigeon, Short-tailed Swift, and Clay-colored Thrush. From the parking area we headed down the short paved road toward the canal. Along the way, birding was relatively quiet...we spotted a few Scarlet-rumped Caciques, but things didn't really pick up until we got to the Summit Ponds. Here we had Green Kingfisher, Green Heron, Boat-billed Heron, Capped Heron, Amazon Kingfisher, and Great-tailed Grackle. From the pond we walked along the older portion of Old Gamboa Road, which since my last visit seems to have been left to regrow somewhat...the road was poorly maintained now, and several plants were growing along the surface and fallen trees across the road had not been moved. Birding was very slow, with a handful of common species that we had already seen and the addition of Dusky Antbird and a few Red-lored Amazons flying overhead. At the end of the road we joined another at a T-junction. This road was patrolled by the canal authority, but nobody was around and the birding suddenly picked up. At this opening we had Plain-colored Tanager, Gray-headed Chachalaca, Fulvous-vented Euphonia, Buff-throated Saltator, Ruddy Ground-Dove, Red-throated Ant-Tanager, Fasciated Antshrike, Golden-collared Manakin, Jet Antbird, and Black-tailed Flycatcher.
At the point we decided to turn around and walk back along the not-so-productive Old Gamboa Road, we also added Plain Xenops, Whooping Motmot, and Yellow-backed Oriole to the day list. On the walk back the birding picked up a bit from when we first passed. Highlights included White-vented Plumeleteer, Lineated Woodpecker, White-bellied Antbird (very stubborn and difficult to see), and White-shouldered Tanager. Just before returning to the car we added Dot-winged Antwren and a Squirrel Cuckoo, the latter which sat on a branch clobbering a large insect to remove parts of the exoskeleton...I tried for a photo, but no luck.
Somewhat disappointed by the action on Old Gamboa Road we decided to head to back to the hotel...but not without a quick stop at Ammo Dump Ponds. Here we added a few good birds for the day: Yellow-bellied Seedeater, Collared Aracari, Southern Rough-winged Swallow, Rufescent Tiger-Heron, Black-mandibled Toucan (formerly Chestnut-mandibled...turns out the mandible wasn't dark brown after all...go figure). Just as we turned around to leave, eagle-eye Simon spotted a hawk...or should that be hawk-eye spotted a hawk? At long last, it was a lifer that escaped me for years...a nice adult Short-tailed Hawk (light morph) perched in a tree...great looks.
Back at the hotel it was birding poolside...a new endeavour for me as those who know me well know I hate hanging out at the pool. Of course, the sun was blistering, so shade was of the essence...at least the pool was cooling for a while. Typical poolside birds weren't much different from typical birds elsewhere, funny enough. Resident birds at the grounds included Great Kiskadee, Tropical Kingbird, Black Vulture, Wattled Jacana, Blue-gray Tanager, Green Heron, Common Tody-Flycatcher, Orange-chinned Parakeet, Red-crowned Woodpecker, and several others. Highlights today however included Black Hawk-Eagle (spotted by hawk-eagle-eye), Southern Lapwing, Keel-billed Toucan, Flame-rumped Tanager, Gartered (formerly Violaceous) Trogon, and Black-cheeked Woodpecker. We also saw several species of lizard (including some huge green iguanas), a Coatamundi, and Red-tailed Squirrel (a momma with three babies).
All things considered, given the slow-going birding along Old Gamboa Road, we had some decent species today and a fairly good total. We all turned in to bed early, as Simon, Howard and I were off to Achiote Road tomorrow, on the Caribbean side of the Panama Canal.
2014 Panama Birding Summary
Total species today: 77
Total cumulative species for the trip: 120
Total lifers today: 1
Total cumulative lifers for the trip: 4