Blue-winged Warbler

Birding Panama

One of the times I went birding on Snyder´s Canal last year I was lucky enough to have Jan Axel Cubilla as a birding partner.  We birded under intermittent rain through the morning and we reached the Changuinola river mouth, trying to see the shorebirds that cross this area during migration.

After enjoying some Black-bellied Plover, Ruddy Turnstones, collared plovers, sanderlings, and many more we were heading back to the boat when, suddenly, a movement in the bushes that cover the upper part of the beach, caught our attention. The second I focused my binoculars on the bird that was causing that movement I heard Jan Axel saying excitedly, “It is a Blue-winged Warbler.”  There it was, the bright yellow, the white wing bars and the unmistakable black line over the eye.   A very handsome male was showing himself while searching around the bushes for his next meal.

Jan Axel was surprised by this observation of the Blue-winged Warbler because every time that he has found the bird it was in the canopy of a closed forest. This time it was in an open space, one meter (three feet) over the ground working some bushes. I guess after a while, we all know that the “strange” seems to be the norm if we talk about birds’ behaviour. We probably should just thank this beauty for being there, enjoy the moment, and, if possible, take a picture.

We shared a great birding day at the canal. This lifer, for me, made it even greater.

How to: SNORKELING

Snorkeling PanamaIf we are planning on discovering Bocas del Toro’s underwater treasures, there is one important thing that has to be always on our minds … All the crazy shapes with strange textures and designs, in the brightest colors surrounding us while snorkeling, are life forms that belong to one of the most intricate and fragile ecosystems over the face of the Earth …. So, we have to be absolutely careful in our movements, and avoid touching anything while we are in the water.

If you haven’t ever experienced snorkeling, first of all … do not worry.  It is a very exciting experience and you can make it even smoother, by using some tricks.   At Tranquilo Bay our solution to make it easier is using a neoprene life jacket, as it will help to keep you afloat comfortably.  By not having to struggle to keep yourself afloat it allows you to calmly focus on enjoying the colorful fishes and coral in front of your mask.

Bocas del Toro Snorkeling

On top of using jackets, we also have the best grounds upon which to practice.   Tranquilo Bay’s dock is located in waters where the coral is deep enough so that beginners can enter the amazing world of snorkeling in a safe and instantly rewarding way.

Bocas del Toro reefs are often shallow. At a “flipper distance” from the surface of the water where we are floating may be home to the reef, but there will be always an edge where we can safely enjoy the underwater world. So, search for your comfortable depth on the edge of the shallow reef.

Biodiversity Temple SnorkelingTo fully enjoy the reef systems, I would like to suggest that snorkeling is a stress less pleasure.  It requires very gentle movements, very soft fin strokes, open eyes, and a lot of curiosity and patience to search with your eyes in the cracks and holes where many creatures hide.   If you move like a sloth, your chances of finding the most amazing creatures that inhabit the reef will increase immensely.   You might have a chance encounter between the different actors that inhabit these biodiversity temples (otherwise known as the Bocatoranian Reefs).

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Tranquilo Bay Partners with Global Rescue

GR_logo_horiz_blackTranquilo Bay is excited to announce its partnership with Global Rescue, the leading provider of medical field rescue, advisory, and evacuation services.

“As part of our longstanding commitment to guest safety, we have identified Global Rescue as the best company to provide our guest with the protection they need in the event of a medical or security emergency. Fortunately incidents are rare, but getting injured or becoming ill in a secluded location can be both a serious and costly matter. Global Rescue’s unique ability to conduct a field rescue and to evacuate a member to their home hospital, make them an obvious choice. I highly recommend that our guests consider purchasing a membership.”      Renée H. Kimball

ABOUT GLOBAL RESCUE

Global Rescue provides worldwide field rescue, advisory, and evacuation services. Members can choose to be protected against both medical and security emergencies.

In addition, Global Rescue’s team of paramedics and physicians, supported by Johns Hopkins Medicine, the top-ranked hospital in the U.S., are on hand to provide 24-hour medical advice wherever you are in the world.

In complex cases requiring hospitalization overseas, Global Rescue paramedics are often deployed to provide bedside medical assistance for our members.

From memberships starting at just $119, Global Rescue will arrange and pay for a field rescue from the member’s point of illness or injury and evacuate them to their home hospital of choice.

TRAVEL INSURANCE

Global Rescue and IMG have created one of the industry’s most complete travel insurance products exclusively for Global Rescue members. When combined with a Global Rescue Membership, this product provides members with travel protection features that are unique in quality and price. Travel Insurance is available for US residents at this time.

To purchase Global Rescue please visit: www.globalrescue.com/TranquiloBay/

www.globalrescue.com

+1 617 459 4200

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Do you know what bird parasitism is?

Birdwatching Panama

Bird parasitism is when one bird lays her eggs in the nest of a different bird species, with the intent that this other bird, the host, will take care of the laying bird’s offspring.  This is  definitely a very smart strategy for the parasite birds, because thanks to this behavior, the parasite birds, do not have to spend all the time and energy raising their chicks.  This allows parasitic layers them to produce more eggs per year.

Around Tranquilo Bay, is one specie of bird that is a parasitic layer of eggs in the nests of other birds.  I´m talking about the Giant Cowbird (Molothrus oryzivorus) who lays her eggs in the Montezuma Oropendola’s (Psacolius montezuma) nest.  In other areas, cowbirds parasite lay in the nests of several other species of oropendolas and caciques.  All those species nest colonially (several nest in one single tree) and build long hanging nests.

Birding Panama

Cowbirds are calm and quiet birds that like to spend time on grassland, looking for insects which is their main diet. The distribution range of the species goes from southern Mexico to northern Argentina.

Another example of parasitic nesting birds is the Common Cuckoo (Cuculus canorus), that lay its eggs in other species nest, and when the chicks hatch they pull out of the nest the eggs and/or chicks of the host.  In the case of the Giant Cowbird, the offspring do not destroy the eggs or chicks of the host specie (the photo at the top shows a Wren (left) feeding a chick of Common Cuckoo), source:
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/sciencenow/0407/03-moth-06.html )

The tower is perfect place to see the oropendolas flying by, and sometimes is possible to see a few cowbirds flying with them. I took this picture of a Giant Cowbird a while back, when a group of Montezuma Oropendolas stop on the balsa tree near the observation tower, and this cowbird was with them.

Parasitic bird nesting in Bocas del Toro

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La Bomba Recipe

Afro Caribbean SpiceYears ago, I began experimenting with Habanero peppers and came up with a nice and fresh hot sauce.  Around here they named it “La Bomba.”  This name is not because it is really hot, but because it adds a lot of flavor to anything you eat it with.

To continue with the chile saga (months ago, I wrote some blog posts about the chile, if you have not read them, and want to know a bit more about one of the most important spices in the world) here are the links:

A bit of history: http://blog.tranquilobay.com/chili-1/

A bit if science: http://blog.tranquilobay.com/chili-2/

La bomba: http://blog.tranquilobay.com/chili-3-la-bomba/ 

Today I´m going to tell you how to make this salsa, but I must say, I do not have an exact recipe I follow every time.  I always make little changes.  Some times I use more of one of the ingredients or it varies a bit based on vegetable availability.  But I think after you make it the first time, you can start playing with the amounts and the ingredients to make it the way you like it. It is important that everything needs to be fresh.

Home-made Hot Sauce

Ingredients:
2 carrots
3 tomatoes
2 onions,
Cilantro (as much as you want, some people love it, some people…)
Any kind of hot peppers
1 bell pepper
2 or 3 cloves of garlic
Olive oil
Vinegar (If you used jarred jalapeños: you do not have to add vinegar to the preparation)
Lime juice
Dijon mustard

Clean, peel and cut into medium size pieces all the big vegetables, then add all the ingredients to the food processor, and process until smooth.  Keep it refrigerated and enjoy it when you want!

The importance of the word “almost”

Birding PanamaWhen arriving at Tranquilo Bay, each person has their own expectations on what kind of wildlife they can find here – which species of mammals, birds, reptiles.  And, as you know, anything is guaranteed when we are talking about wildlife viewing, but there are some particular species that you can find all year round, no matter if a certain plant is fruiting or flowering, if we are in a dry or a rainy pattern, … they are “almost” always (you never say always with wildlife) here.

Hummingbird Watching Panama

Panama BirdwatchingOne such species is the Crowned Woodnymph (formerly known as Violet-crowned Woodnymph, Thalurania colombica) which can be found “almost” anywhere on Tranquilo Bay’s grounds, but there is one particular area that they really seem to like and you can find them “almost” daily.

Baths of Tranquilo BayIf you have ever been to Tranquilo Bay, you probably have already figured out the place.  The “hummingbirds’ creek,” a portion of a creek in the forest that they like to use to cool down by bathing in it.  It is only a little stretch of the creek that they use, which allows us to sit on benches, waiting comfortably for their explosions of activity.

Hummingbirds PanamaMale and female Crowned Woodnymph, Purple-crowned Fairy and Striped-throated Hermit bathe throughout the year in those waters.  Other visitors will show up from time to time like White-necked Jacobin, Band-tailed Barbthroat and the omnipresent Rufous-tailed Hummingbird and many other birds out of the Hummingbird group. “Almost” every person that witness this behavior, never forgets how graceful they are suspended over the water, submerging their whole body in a glimpse, repeatedly, dipping themselves in the calm water of this section of what we call the ” The Baths of Tranquilo Bay.”