Posted February 14th, 2014, 03:41 PM
Birding through the Panama Canal – Azamara Quest, Jan 5-17, 2014. Miami to San Jose, CR
Stayed overnight at the Hampton Inn a couple miles from the airport, and up early for the vultures, kestrel ,starlings, Blue Jay, grackle, Mourning Dv, Ring Billed Gull in the field behind the hotel. Laughing/Ringbill/Herringl gulls off the ship, Royal Tern, Double crested and Neotropic Cormorants both, soaring Black Vultures.
Nothing across the water, until we got about 30 miles offshore from Cartagena, when the Brown and Masked Boobies started riding the air currents around the ship and diving on injured /stunned fish.
Cartagena: hook a ride on one of the shuttles to the visitor center behind the Duty Free at the end of the dock, or walk it – a good quarter mile on the hot concrete. There is a couple of acres of woods behind, a beer stand out front for when you get dehydrated birding, and internet access – 5 bucks for 2 hours. The woods had 3kinds of parrots, grackles, some kind of chicken sized Tinnamou?, brown throated parakeet flock, keel-billed toucans, Macaws, some kind of sparrow sized bird I never got a good look at, a flock of flamingos with a Double Stripe Thickknee hanging around. Last time I had a spotted Woodpecker pair to watch. There’s a cage of off limits birds – this time a Ring necked Pheasant, a few Black bellied Whistling Ducks, more thickknees, and a great orange bird that I forget…. Bring a couple of rolls from breakfast to use for bait – they put out some fruit for the toucans and parrots. Peer under the bushes. Develop a rhythm – go through the woods slowly, have a 2 dollar beer in a shady chair facing your bait, then repeat. A couple of hours of this, and you’ll be good. Down by the water, you’ll generally see mangrove swallows and some swifts.
Panama Canal: both vultures and Frigate Birds, Brown Pelicans, some parakeets, Great tail grackles, half a dozen swallows (Mangrove, Purple Martins, Gray, Rough winged). Snowy Egret, great blue heron, Black crowned night heron, little blue heron, 8 white pelicans soaring over Gatun Lake, some kind of medium hawk hovering, a yellow head Caracara, and a lot of pigeons with not one single dove in there. Saw all of these hanging over the rail (veranda room). In Panama City: another Yell Caracara, social flycatcher, boat bill flycatcher, tropical kingbird, reddish egret, both pelicans, frigates soaring, both vultures, grackles, Laughing Gulls. Had some King Vultures last time….
Golfrito: not bad birding. Up early and got flycatchers and swallows off the balcony, a couple of egrets, one lonely flyby of a big Ringed Kingfisher, and the usual grackles and doves. Walked down to the end of the pier, through the fence, and up the road a hundred yards to a two tracks going to the left down to a creek. The creek had Black Vultures and another Yell Caracara picking up scraps. I scared up a Bare necked Tiger Heron next to the road at a distance of 15 feet, had a variated Seedeater perched on the fence, and was passed several times by Cherie’s Tanagers flying around. Heard several birds in the bushes, but no luck pishing, etc.
Quepos: tour of Manuel Antonio Park with knowledgeable guides. Saw the camo frogs, a hummingbird nest with 2 young, a Buff-Throated Saltator, a Pygmy Kingfisher near the pond, then when we were having a little snack, I looked up and a Hoffman’s Woodpecker landed on a dead palm stump. Not bad…. All the official guides are college grads and pretty good – the official tours will bring a spotting scope.