Beauty in Purple

purplegallinulendgThe 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.

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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.

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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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.”

 

Mobile Friendly Website

Panama Eco Lodge Website

We quietly released a new mobile friendly website last week.  We are still working out a few kinks, but all in all it is an improvement.  Regardless of the size screen one uses to look for an upcoming vacation spot in Panama, we have you covered.  The site has been fine tuned to make sure you get the content you need to make your vacation decision.  Come check us out and send your friends!

Guest Blogger : Ryan & Lara’s Honeymoon Video

Ryan and Lara were here earlier this month on their honeymoon which was given to them by their friends.  It was a generous gift and after having spent time with both Ryan and Lara I understand why friends would put together such a unique gift.  Ryan and Lara enjoy life and they share it with everyone around them.  They put together this video of their time here at Tranquilo Bay so that they might share it with you.  Enjoy!

How to put on a mask

How to Put on a MaskIt’s a few simple steps to put a mask on the correct way.  To have a successful snorkeling experience it is important choose the right mask and adjust it properly.  Today I am setting  together some simple tips to help you with mask selection and a proper handling.

Choosing the right mask

  1. Put the mask on your face and press slightly, don’t put the strap behind your head.
  2. Inhale a small amount of air through your nose and release your hands.
  3. The mask should stay on your face.

If it does, that means the seal of the mask is good, and you are using the right type of mask for your face shape. You can also try this when you put the snorkel in your mouth, move some face muscles to help to see how well mask seals.

It is very important to push your hair away from your face. If you are already in the water, and is water leaking in to your mask, a little bit of hair can easily be the reason why is water getting in to your mask.

The strap

  1. A common mistake is to put the strap directly on your ears; the proper place is behind/around your head. What holds the mask is a good seal, not how tight you put the strap behind/around your head.
  2. Masks have different adjustment mechanisms, check, when you have it in your hand how it works, to know, in case you need to adjust the strap, how to release it or tighten it.

Keeping the mask from fogging

  1. Spit into the inside face of the mask when the mask is dry.
  2. Move it around your fingers a bit.
  3. Rinse it in the ocean and you ready to go!

Snorkeling PanamaWell, I hope some of those simple tricks are useful for your next snorkeling experience. I hope you get your snorkeling gear on and get in the water to enjoy the underwater world soon!

Well hidden animal

Wildlife Panama

One of my favorite reptiles, besides turtles, is the Smooth Helmeted Iguana or Helmeted Lizard (Corytophanes cristatus). This lizard can reach about 11 cm in length, and usually has a light brown color, but can change color pretty quickly going from light brown, to olive or dark brown, allowing him to be very well camouflaged.  His habitat, dense forest, near dead branches and leaves, also hides him so people frequently miss this beautiful creatures.

This specie is found from the east of Mexico to the south of Colombia. The animals are usually found in trees from 2 to 5 meters above the ground, and are found close to the ground during breeding season. A common behavior of this animal is to “perch” in a branch, with its head up, and stay still, and when an insect walks close the insect is ambushed by the lizard.

Not much information about this secretive creature.  The status of the specie is unknown, but clearly, habitat loss could be a reason for reduction of the population of this peculiar animal.

Jan Axel’s Review of Tranquilo Bay

Family Birding Bocas del ToroJan Axel and his lovely family came for a quick trip in October.  We enjoyed having them here and watching them discover the birds of Bocas del Toro.  Jan and Gloriela had been to Bocas to see birds before, but it had been some years and they did not get to Bastimentos Island on their first trip.  Please click-through to the different blog posts Jan wrote to learn more about what they enjoyed during their stay with us – the birds, but also so much more.

Part One:  Escape to Bocas

Part Two:  Escape to Bocas

Part Three:  Escape to Bocas

Three-wattled Bellbird and Stub-tailed Spadebill

Two of the most interesting species of birds that inhabit Tranquilo Bay´s trails, have been very active lately, during the past month almost every time I go to the trail, I got to see them or, at least, I heard them calling. I am talking about the Three-wattled Bellbird (Procnias tricarunculata) and the Stub-tailed Spadebill (Platyrinchus cancrominus).

Birding Panama

The unmistakable sound of the Three-wattled Bellbird surrounding you, almost “hitting” you, happens only part of the year because during the breeding season (March- mid August) they are on higher ground (2300 -7000 feet). L.S. Crandall gives this explanation of the calling behavior, which I consider very precise (Zoologica, 1948, pp.113-114,pl.1) “The mouth is open widely, until the lower mandible approximates a right angle to the upper … the body is then pumped rapidly up and down for about five seconds. This movement then ceases and with the body, legs and wings rigid, as violent convulsion of the throat and neck is followed by the sharp metallic bell.”

Three-wattled Bellbird Once you hear the sound, it is unforgettable, and the first thought is always the same … How does it make it? followed by .. Where is it? Because they like to be in open perches in the canopy so they are normally under cover of leaves if you look up from the bottom of the trees. Now it is a very good time to get delighted by their call and their beauty.

Panama Birdwatching In the case of the Stub-tailed Spadebill, it is a year round neighbor in the forested islands of Bocas del Toro Archipelago, and only here … because this species is subplanted by the Golden-crowned Spadebill in Bocas del Toro mainland.

Even living here within the Tranquilo Bay forest all year-long, he is a very secretive bird, you can hear them but the call doesn’t always repeat, it is not the case now because they are very active, calling and playing around. You can see these “little balls” hopping around one after the other, providing also a great opportunity to make some good photographic shots.

Birding at Tranquilo Bay