Mainland Birding – Chiriqui Grande

ChiriquiGrandeBirding1

We had a long day full of birds in nice weather while we were hiking the low lands and enjoying great sea views.

At noon we had a really nice surprise when we found the Boat-billed Heron. We saw two in different perches by the naked eye, but when we looked with our binoculars we saw a third one, behind one of the other two. It was great. We stayed there watching those calm and quiet birds for a while. Then in flew another one, then another, then another… and like that over 10 of them landed. They were perching in the tree behind the one we were watching and then flew to another tree where we could see most of the group “disperse” in two trees next to one another.

In the afternoon we had a perfect view of a couple of King Vultures flying in circles over us. We wondered if we were smelling bad, but the truth is at that point we had been exploring a lot and maybe we were attractive to a vulture. Anyway, it was great for us to have an opportunity to see those majestic birds for a while.

The highlights for the day:

White-crowned Parrots
Laughing Falcon
Green-breasted Mango
Pied Puffbird
Boat-billed Heron
King Vulture
Bat Falcon

ChiriquiGrandeBirding2

FAMILY & COMMON NAME

Cracidae: Gray-headed Chachalaca

Fregatidae: Magnificent Frigatebird

Phalacrocoracidae: Neotropic Cormorant

Ardeidae: Great Egret, Boat-billed Heron

Threskiornithidae: Green Ibis

Cathartidae: Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, King Vulture

Accipitridae: Roadside Hawk

Falconidae: Laughing Falcon, Bat Falcon, Crested Caracara

Rallidae: White-throated Crake, Gray-necked Wood-rail, Common Moorhen

Jacanidae: Northern Jacana

Scolopacidae: Solitary Sandpiper

Columbidae: Pale-vented Pigeon

Psittacidae: Blue-headed Parrot, White-crowned Parrot, Red-lored Parrot

Cuculidae: Squirrel cuckoo, Groove-billed Ani

Apodidae: White-collared Swift

Trochilidae: Purple-crowned Fairy, Green-breasted Mango, Rufous-tailed Hummingbird

Alcedinidae: Green Kingfisher

Bucconidae: Pied Puffbird

Ramphastidae: Collared Aracari, Keel-billed Toucan

Picidae: Black-cheeked Woodpecker, Lineated Wookpecker

Furnariidae: Streak-headed Woodcreeper

Thamnophilidae: Western Slaty-Antshrike

Tyrannidae: Black-capped Pygmy-Tyrant, Common Tody-Flycatcher, Acadian or Willow Flycatcher, Panama Flycatcher, Great Kiskadee, Tropical Kingbird

Tityridae: Masked Tityra, Cinnamon Becard

Vireonidae: Lesser Greenlet

Corvidae: Black-chested Jay, Brown Jay

Troglodytidae: Band-backed Wren, House Wren

Polioptilidae: Tropical Gnatcatcher

Turdidae: Clay-colored Thrush

Coerebidae: Bananaquit

Thraupidae: White-lined Tanager, Passerini´s Tanager, Blue-gray Tanager, Palm Tanager, Plain-colored Tanager, Golden-hooded Tanager, Buff-throated Saltator, Black-headed Saltator

Emberizidae: Thick-billed Seed-Finch, Black-striped Sparrow

Icteridae: Orchard Oriole, Red-Breasted Blackbird, Great-tailed Grackle, Montezuma Oropendola

Fringillidae: Yellow-crowned Euphonia, Olive-backed Euphonia

Mainland Birding – Around Palo Seco

PaloSeco1

We spent the most of the day walking trails in the forest. There were creeks with big rocks and fresh clear water, surrounded by great vegetation around and within Palo Seco National Forest. In one of those amazing creeks we saw the Sunbittern which was a most spectacular experience. The abundance of hummingbirds was rather remarkable. We saw a whole exhibition of colors, shapes and birds humming around us.

Some of the highlights of the day:
Sunbittern
Green Hermit
Violet Sabrewing
Buff-rumped Warbler
Double-tooth Kite
Ornate Hawk-Eagle

PaloSeco2

PaloSeco3

PaloSeco4

FAMILY & COMMON NAME

Cracidae: Gray-headed Chachalaca

Accipitridae: Double-toothed Kite, Ornate Hawk-Eagle

Rallidae: White-throated Crake

Eurypygidae: Sunbittern

Columbidae: Pale-vented Pigeon

Apodidae: White-collared Swift

Trochilidae: White-necked Jacobin, Green Hermit, Stripe-throated Hermit, Purple-crowned Fairy, Violet Sabrewing, Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer, Violet-crowned Woodnymph, Rufous-tailed Hummingbird

Trogonidae: Slaty-tailed Trogon

Ramphastidae: Collared Aracari, Chestnut-mandibled Toucan, Keel-billed Toucan

Picidae: Black-cheeked Woodpecker, Lineated Wookpecker, Pale-billed Woodpecker

Furnariidae: Spotted Woodcreeper

Tyrannidae: Mountain Elaenia, Torrent Tyrannulet, Tropical Kingbird, Long-tailed Tyrant

Vireonidae: Lesser Greenlet

Troglodytidae: Bay Wren, House Wren

Turdidae: Mountain Thrush

Parulidae: Buff-rumped Warbler

Thraupidae: Tawny-crested Tanager, Crimson-collared Tanager, Passerini´s Tanager, Blue-gray Tanager, Palm Tanager, Plain-colored Tanager, Emerald Tanager, Silver-throated Tanager, Green Honeycreeper, Buff-throated Saltator

Emberizidae: Thick-billed Seed-Finch, Black-striped Sparrow

Fringillidae: Tawny-capped Euphonia, Olive-backed Euphonia

Print Friendly and PDF

Mainland Birding – Tower Road

TowerRoad1

Ramon and Natalia got an early start, walking on a road near the border between the provinces of Bocas del Toro and Chiriquí. This road is one of the limits of the Palo Seco National Forest. The road is in very good condition. It is asphalt with some nice shoulders to stop and enjoy the incredible view of the mountains and the canopy of the magnificent trees. Some of the side trails are clean to walk but are very steep. The morning was great, very clear and sunny, we found and observed a couple of Tawny-capped Euphonias making a nest.

The afternoon was cloudy with some rain and mist, but the birds were especially active when the mist was thick. We observed, before and during the rain, several mixed flocks of Emerald Tanagers, Silver-throated Tanagers and Tropical Parulas.

Some of the highlights today were:

Blue-throated Toucanet
White-throated Mountain-gem
Crimson-collared Tanager
Blue-and-gold Tanager (Look at the comments for more information)
Emerald Tanager
Silver-throated Tanager
Spangle-cheeked Tanager

TowerRoad2

Birds Seen by Family and Common Name

Cathartidae: Black Vulture

Rallidae: White-throated Crake

Psittacidae: Sulphur-winged Parakeet

Apodidae: White-collared Swift

Trochilidae: Stripe-throated Hermit, Violet Sabrewing, White-throated Mountain-gem

Ramphastidae: Blue-throated Toucanet, Collared Aracari, Chestnut-mandibled Toucan, Keel-billed Toucan

Picidae: Black-cheeked Woodpecker

Thamnophilidae: Immaculate Antbird

Tyrannidae: Tufted Flycatcher, Long-tailed Tyrant

Hirundinidae: Blue-and-white Swallow

Troglodytidae: House Wren

Turdidae: Mountain Thrush, Black-faced Solitaire

Parulidae: Tropical Parula, Slate-throated Redstart, Buff-rumped Warbler

Coerebidae: Bananaquit

Thraupidae: Black-and-yellow Tanager, White-lined Tanager, Crimson-collared Tanager, Passerini´s Tanager, Blue-and-gold Tanager, Emerald Tanager, Silver-throated Tanager, Spangle-cheeked Tanager, Buff-throated Saltator

Emberizidae: Thick-billed Seed-Finch, Black-striped Sparrow, Common Bush-Tanager

Cardinalidae: Black-faced Grosbeak

Fringillidae: Tawny-capped Euphonia

Print Friendly and PDF

Mainland Birding – Cauchero Road

AlmiranteBirding1

We (Natalia and her friend Clara) took a beautiful morning walk along a quiet country road on the mainland between Almirante and Cauchero.

Here are some of the highlight species we observed:

Crimson-fronted Parakeet
Common Black-Hawk
Great Antshike
Black-cowled Oriole
Black-crowned Tityra Yellow-crowned Euphonia.

AlmiranteBirding2

Birds Seen by Family and Common Name

Cracidae: Gray-headed Chachalaca

Fregatidae: Magnificent Frigatebird

Cathartidae: Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture

Accipitridae: Common Black-Hawk, Roadside Hawk, Black Hawk-Eagle

Falconidae: Yellow-headed Caracara, Laughing Falcon

Rallidae: White-throated Crake

Columbidae: Pale-vented Pigeon, Short-billed Pigeon, Ruddy Ground-Dove, Blue Ground-Dove

Psittacidae: Crimson-fronted Parakeet, Olive-throated Parakeet, Blue-headed Parrot, Red-lored Parrot

Cuculidae: Groove-billed Ani

Nyctibiidae: Common Potoo

Apodidae: Gray-rumped Swift

Trochilidae: Stripe-throated Hermit

Trogonidae: Violaceous Trogon

Alcedinidae: Green Kingfisher

Ramphastidae: Keel-billed Toucan

Picidae: Black-cheeked Woodpecker, Lineated Wookpecker

Furnariidae: Slaty Spinetail, Plain Xenops, Streak-headed Woodcreeper, Long-tailed Woodcreeper

Thamnophilidae: Western Slaty-Antshrike, Chestnut-backed Antbird, Pacific Antwren

Tyrannidae: Yellow-bellied Elaenia, Ochre-bellied Flycatcher, Common Tody-Flycatcher, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Tropical Pewee, Dusky-caped Flycatcher, Panama Flycatcher, Great
Kiskadee, Boat-billed Flycatcher, Social Flycatcher, Gray-capped Flycatcher, Tropical Kingbird

Cotingidae: Purple-throated Fruitcrow

Tityridae: Black-crowned Tityra, Masked Tityra

Corvidae: Black-chested Jay

Hirundinidae: Purple Martin

Troglodytidae: Bay Wren, House Wren

Polioptilidae: Tropical Gnatcatcher, Long-billed Gnatwren

Turdidae: Clay-colored Thrush

Coerebidae: Bananaquit

Thraupidae: White-lined Tanager, Passerini´s Tanager, Blue-gray Tanager, Palm Tanager, Plain-colored Tanager, Golden-hooded Tanager, Buff-throated Saltator

Emberizidae: Variable Seedeater, Thick-billed Seed-Finch, Yellow-faced Grassquit, Black-striped Sparrow

Cardinalidae: Black-faced Grosbeak

Icteridae: Black-cowled Oriole, Montezuma Oropendola

Fringillidae: Yellow-crowned Euphonia

Print Friendly and PDF

Wise Words

We had several groups of wonderful families here over the holidays and right into the New Year. Each of the families were truly spending time together. They went on excursions together, they ate meals together, and the spent time together in close proximity for their time here. Some of the families were traveling with older children and had more than one cabana. Others were traveling with younger children and all fit into one cabana. We had couples here amongst it all as well. Just because you don’t have children doesn’t mean that you aren’t a family. Two things come to mind when I think about how our little piece of paradise affects people.

First, a loose quote from one of our guests.

She said that even though all five of them were in one cabana and it was a bit tight, this vacation allowed them all to pull together again. At home, her husband travels and works long hours. The two older girls are in school all day. The baby has her moments to do her own things. Mom manages the house and the family. Here they were just together. No other responsibilities to manage. We took care of their meals, their transportation, and their lodging. The only thing they had to do was be together. They truly reveled in being together.

The second is a portion of a dialogue by George Carlin.

Remember to give a warm hug to the one next to you because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn’t cost a cent.
Remember, to say,

“I love you”
to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all mean it. A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you. Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment for someday that person will not be there again. Give time to love, give time to speak and give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.
We all live busy lives. It is difficult to remember to just “be” with our family in our crazy every day lives. Sometimes a vacation is a great time to reground your family, whether it be you alone, you and your spouse or partner, or your entire family unit. Happy Saturday!

mangroves in the rain

Area: Close to Tranquilo Bay
Activity: Kayaking & Snorkeling
Weather: Rainy

A great excursion close to Tranquilo Bay is kayaking your way through a series of canals naturally etched in the mangrove forests. When the weather is less than cooperative, this is a nice way to get out and still be within reach of the creature comforts. We paddled a short distance from the dock in an arsenal of sit-on-top kayaks and soaked up a little tropical rain along with the flora and fauna. To me, the rain just enhances the experience and it also reminds you that it is not called the rainforest for nothing. In these enchanted canals you get to see a plethora of wildlife, who don’t take shelter because of the rain but rather go about their daily business. One can see animals such as white faced capuchins, an assortment of birds ranging from Osprey to Kingfishers, upside down jellyfish and of course all types of tropical fish. We donned snorkel and mask and took to the water since we were already wet and swam the edges of the mangrove lagoons. They are rich and diverse, teaming with life and allow for vast amounts of time to be spent searching their marvels. Mangroves in the rain shed a little light on what could be just a rainy day.

all to ourselves

Area: Bocas del Toro Archipelago
Activity: Surfing
Weather: Beautiful sunshine…too much sunshine

Even on small days you can find a nice wave in this part of the Caribbean. I was amazed at what we found today. After feeling a bit disappointed by the surf report, we stumbled onto a gem in the rough. This just instilled in me that even when things look bleak, a little perseverance can have the deepest rewards. This is how the day played out. The surf had gone down considerably from previous days so we shot out to the spots that had a chance of holding up under the current conditions. Repeatedly we found nothing that looked like any fun and then the one spot that was a sure thing had ten guys out in the lineup. On our last shot we found a wave that was

uninhabited
, pealing and very clean. Just one problem existed, if you did not make the wave you were in about six inches of water on top of the reef. I was a little upset because everyone else in the group was on body boards and I was the lone stand up surfer. After paddling out and realizing there was no way I was going to chance hurting myself or my board I made my way back to the boat, grabbed a sponge (aka body board) and got back in the lineup. We took turns between the three of us at late drops and fast rides for

almost five hours
with a short break for lunch. The wave was short, committing but a tone of fun and the best part was we never thought it would be there, and of course we had it all to ourselves.

another day in paradise

The swell has dropped around the islands it was decided this day would be about cruising in search of more spots for future surf missions. Equipped with a depth finder, GPS, and charts of the area we fired up the boat and took off. There were squalls on the horizon but the sun was beating down upon us. The winds were howling and the day already had the makings of an epic adventure. First destination, an island named Cayo Agua because of its proximity to open ocean swell and shelter from wind. This island has some wonderful possibility with point and beach breaks. Due to the small swell on this day we only got a taste of what it could be like. However we did witness a few nice sets roll through and peal down the line. This got our bodies quivering with anticipation of what could be when things picked up. Everyone was ready to jump in but the consistency was just not there, another foot quite possibly could have made the difference. Guess we should have been there yesterday. To quell our thirst we shot out to the Zapatilla Cayes in hopes that the outside breaks would be a bit larger and allow us some rides. It was a good decision; we rode a few and went home smiling, another day in paradise.

banana boat

Making our way through the archipelago this morning I pondered the mosaic past of the islands of Bocas del Toro. The boat ride to our destination for the day took us past the many islands and tiny villages that encompass this diverse area. Rich with history and beauty, they have a mystique that hangs over them like the clouds over Volcan Baru. Christopher Columbus sailed through here on his fourth voyage and yet for the next three hundred years the islands did not see much growth. During the late 1800s and early 1900s better known as the colonial era, the area began booming with economic opportunity. Products such as bananas, cocoa, coconut oil, sugar cane and turtle eggs started boosting the local economy. Such growth brought progress to the area, so much so, that the town of Bocas (on Isla Colon) hosted consulates from countries such as Germany, France, England and the United States. As with a lot of Caribbean islands there is an ebb and flow of economic growth and this place has been no different. The islands have laid rather dormant for the last 60 years but lately things have certainly picked up and there is once again a lot happening. One lingering export from the past that can still be seen today is bananas. If you find yourself in the right place, at the right time, you will see one of the gigantic Chiquita banana boats making its way through the channel next to town. It is quite the spectacle – as to the naked eye; one would presume there is not enough water to sustain such a ship.

bb1

in search of a clean wave

Area: Carenero Island
Activities: Surfing
Weather: Beautiful, but windy 🙂

First thing in the morning, after some coffee of course, we looked at the surf report. A nice swell was pushing, 6 to 8 feet with 10-second intervals. Beautiful, the sun is out with those light, fluffy Caribbean clouds lining the horizon but one thing was amiss, the wind. We set out with high hopes of finding some waves on the front side of Bastimentos Island but as we rounded Old Point we were greeted with a strong west wind that had us guessing about our destination. Pushing on in hopes that the break we were headed to might have just enough cover to hold the waves from being blown out. Upon our arrival it was apparent that the choppy water was just not going to serve for a day of surfing. Bobbing in the water like a coconut headed to some remote outpost, we all sat down to make a decision. It was decided to make a run for Carenero, a nice spot close to Isla Colon that we knew for sure was sheltered from the wind. The ride was worth it, stunning views of the front side of Bastimentos and a clean wave to enjoy the day on.

sfg1