Monday, April 11, 2016

Birding in Panama, Day 1 - This could be the start of something big.

It was a red-eye flight from Los Angeles. We arrived at Panama airport around 7 am and was at our hotel at almost 8 am. Inasmuch as the check-in time wasn't until 3 pm, we had no choice but to leave our luggage with the concierge and explore the premises of Radisson Summit Hotel. We told the lady at the counter that we are bird watchers so we wanted to look around for birds until the time we would be able to get our room. She told us that there are some forest trails at the back near the pool. That was the beginning of our awesome birding adventures in Panama.

Even while we were being driven to our hotel from the airport, I already noticed birds along the way, the most common of which was the Great-tailed Grackle. This was their "trash bird" so to speak. I even saw what I presumed to be a Black Hawk perched by the roadside. Not knowing the traffic rules, I dared not ask the driver to stop so I can take some photos. We learned much later that Panamanian drivers don't really obey the local traffic laws, so much like in the Philippines.

Going back to the our birding at the hotel grounds - the very first bird we saw was a Tropical Kingbird. Ok, that was not a lifer. It was followed by what turned out to be the most common species in the area - the Plain-colored Tanager and our first official lifer in Panama. 

Next to the swimming pool was a flowering shrub. There a pair of Red-legged Honeycreepers were frolicking.

the more colorful male
For about three hours we birded the tiny patch of forest behind the hotel and we racked up lifer after lifer. By the time we were able to finally check-in to our room at 11:30 in the morning (thanks to the hotel management we didn't have to wait for the 3 pm official check-in) we already had 21 new species in our life list. A short afternoon sortie at the front of the hotel added 7 more.

Here are some of the highlights.

Crimson-backed Tanager
Buff-throated Saltator
Red-crowned Woodpecker
In the afternoon we had these:

Black-striped Sparrow
Variable Seedeater
Wattled Jacana
The star bird for the day. We were surprised to find this beautiful bird so close to the hotel building. Not only that, it was so trusting that it just perched only a few feet away from us.

Whooping Motmot
We didn't expect to encounter this many lifers on our first day. Somehow Panama does not flaunt itself as a birding destination so our initial expectations were a bit on the low side. Who knew that our first day would be such a great start to our birding in this Central American country.

1 comment:

maiabird said...

WOW! That Honeycreeper looks awesome! =)