This Monday, we have a birding video for you. We get a quick glimpse of the number of birds one might see at Bird Island and then a few longer clips of Magnificent Frigatebirds and Royal Terns. We hope you enjoy it.
Due to Tranquilo Bay’s location in a nearly untouched forest area within the Bocas del Toro archipelago, and the fact that it is surrounded by protected waters that hold an incredible collection of coral and sponges, we have almost an unlimited range of things to do and discover right off of the dock.
One of things we can do is take a kayak into the Caribbean Sea. We often do this directly from Tranquilo Bay’s dock. It is an excellent summary of Bocas del Toro’s many possibilities.
We start early to avoid paddling under the harshest sun. We glide over calm waters into a mangrove channel. It is here that we can see some interesting wildlife: from cushion starfishes under our kayaks to the beautiful Snowy Cotinga flirting with the top of the trees; or a Keel- billed or Yellow-throated Toucans flying over our heads in the wider areas of the canal; or the Yellow Mangrove Warbler calling at the dense mangrove edge.
If we feel like it, we stop at Isla Popa and check for different color morphs of the famous Strawberry poison dart frog, with their green and orange tones, to the light blue legged ones.
After experiencing the richness of our “over the water” world, on the way back we discover what the underwater world has to offer.
Endless platforms of coral reef covered in life and color, playful shining fishes, countless brittle stars, mysterious feather-dusters, sponges, crustaceans, ascidians are all visible under the ocean. Each of these animals lets you witness their daily life. Textures and shapes curving underwater are a colorful live work of art.
On the end of our kayak trip, it is a good time to compile and archive our memories of all the amazing things we saw within a kayak distance from Tranquilo Bay.
It’s Monday, so its time for a video. Panama Eco Adventure Episode 8 highlights the bat cave near Bahia, Honda on Isla Bastimentos. This cave is an amazing formation in itself and then you add several bat species, an awesome kayak (not shown in this video) and a short hike through an indigenous owned farm and it makes for a very unique excursion. Enjoy.
The species of Basilisk lizard that we have in the Tranquilo Bay gardens and sidewalks is the Basiliscus vittatus, a large lizard that we usually find sunbathing while perched on a branch or laying over a rock or a sidewalk. The males of this brown/grayish/olive coloration lizard, are unmistakable because they “wear” a single cephalic crest with a triangular outline. Juveniles and females may be distinguished from their relatives because of the dark cross bands and longitudinal light stripes.
This lizard is much more terrestrial that Congeners B. basiliscus and B. plumifrons and is strictly diurnal, at night it sleeps under leaf litter near the ground or in vegetation up to ten feet above the ground.
During the main reproductive season, from mid February through October they will lay 4-5 clutches with 2 to 18 eggs per clutch. Incubation time ranges from 50 to 70 days depending on weather and nest location conditions (full sun/shade …) Then, young basilisks (32 – 50 mm) will feed on insects and spiders. At around six month’s old they will reach their sexual maturity and change their diet to include a considerable amount of seeds, grasses, fruits, stems, in addition to the insects and spiders.
Basilisk lizards are large lizards so they are also a valuable prey for many predators like White Hawks, Boas and juvenile vine snakes. Campbell’s Amphibians & Reptiles of Northern Guatemala, the Yucatán & Belize reports that only about 2% of hatchlings survive for two years.
Daniel Dickinson prepared an episode of Panama Wildlife for us focusing this week on butterflies and moths. All of these spectacular winged creatures are found on site at Tranquilo Bay. Many of our guests enjoy combing the grounds for the multitude of species that may be found here. Take a look.
The beautiful bird I am talking about today, often catches the attention of the observer, because of its attractive color. It has a purplish blue plumage accompanied by the bright colors of its beak. When someone sees this bird’s feet for the first time the feet immediately take all the attention. Their very long claws help them to walk on top of the floating vegetation.
The juveniles’ coloration is somewhere between pale brown and green and it helps them hide camouflaged in the vegetation.
Purple Gallinules (Porphyrio martinicus) are omnivores. Their diet includes invertebrates, plants, and sometimes small frogs and fish that they catch in floating plants and shrubby areas.
This species has a large distribution range. It is found from the south-east of United States to the north of Argentina and Chile. This species breeds during spring and summer in North America and may breed almost year round in the tropics (from May until November). The habitat of this species is swamps and wetlands. Habitat loss is the main threat for this species, but it isn’t in endangered at this time.
This week’s video is an episode of Birding Panama. The hummingbirds are fun to watch directly from the balcony at the main building among many other locations. The Rufous-tailed Hummingbirds have claimed these feeders as their territory and fight pretty hard for it.
In Panama extraordinary biodiversity is not a secret. It´s a privileged location on the Earth. It is in a tropical area, joining two formidable masses of land (North and South America) and separating the Atlantic and Pacific oceans at the same time.
But these facts are not the only reason, its topography, result of the dramatic geological events that lead to its formation, created so many micro-habitats.
From the Pacific and Atlantic shore to the summit of Volcan Baru at 11,398 feet above sea level (3374 meters) many micro-climates occur. They all hold many different forms of life for such a small area of the world.
So, what do you think it happens to the most numerous family in the Plantae Kingdom … the orchids? Well, of the more than 20,000 species that exist in the world, Panama hosts 1,200 of them. Bocas del Toro as a province holds it´s share!
Here are some pictures of common orchids that surround us:
As we get back to our regular posting schedule following a bit of a break over the summer, I want to share another one of Daniel Dickinson’s wildlife compilations. The footage was shot by Ramon, Natalia and Jim over time. We hope this sloth gets your week off to a good start. Enjoy!
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.