Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Panama - Metropolitan Nature Park

I arrived in Panama late on Friday night, January 8th. At the Riande Airport Hotel, I was greeted by my good birding friend Lainie Epstein. She led the way to our second floor room and informed me there was no elevator as we lugged my bags up the stairs.

Lainie at the Riande Airport Hotel

The next morning, I was up early and looked out the balcony. The first bird call I heard sounded like a robin. It was, in fact, a Clay-colored Thrush - close relative of the robin.

After breakfast at the hotel, I was thrilled to get to see a Panamanian friend. Darien Montanez spent a year in Savannah in 2005 getting his Master's in Architecture at SCAD. He is also an avid birder and I used to pick him up at his dorm for Ogeechee Audubon field trips. Darien now lives in Panama City, teaches some architecture classes, does architecture, and has a new full-time job at Panama's new BioMuseo.

Darien and his brother Camilo came to the hotel and took 8 of our group across town to the Metropolitan Nature Park for our first Panama birding experience.

Lainie, Dot Bambach, Darien Montanez, Martha Vaughn & John Kricher birding at Metropolitan Nature Park
The Park is a 265 hectare forested park with several trails and was created in 1985 to preserve some natural habitat near the Panama Canal. Here are a few of the birds we saw during our visit. Darien was calling out names of birds that he heard, and I felt like a new birder all over again.

Social Flycatcher

Ruddy Ground Doves - abundant everywhere we went

Two-toed Sloth - our first mammal sighting
Red-throated Ant-Tanager Female
Variable Seedeater
Sign describing the Slaty-tailed Trogon
The Slaty-tailed Trogon herself!
Southern Bentbill - one of many flycatchers we saw
Geoffroy's Tamarind - another mammal
At one checkpoint, a guard checked our tickets and then led us over to a nearby tree and pointed up.
There snoozing like an extension of the branch was one of two species of Potoos that are found in
Panama. They are nocturnal, like our whip-poor-wills and chuck-will's widows. This one is the Common Potoo.

Common Potoo
We saw two species of Euphonia - Thick-billed and White-vented. Darien was excited about the White-vented as that one is seen less frequently. Euphonias are small and colorful.
White-vented Euphonia

Thick-billed Euphonia
As we walked back to the cars in the now sweltering heat as it got close to noon, Darien spied an American Pygmy Kingfisher perched in the shadows on a branch low over the water of a small pond.
American Pygmy Kingfisher
It was a very satisfying as well as frustrating morning. I re-discovered the challenge of photographing birds in shady forest, and the challenge of hearing and seeing lots of unfamiliar birds.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Ms. Churchill,

    I loved reading about your first day in Panama! I am glad you got the Common Potoo and the American Pygmy Kingfisher. They are some of my favorite tropical birds! I look forward to seeing you this weekend at the GOS meeting and hearing more about your trip. Thanks for sharing.