Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Meeting Place

I've been in Gamboa just over a week now, and its been a great week to say the least.  I got settled in Gamboa as soon as I arrived, living right beside the tienda in town and only a short walk from one of central America's greatest birding destinations, Pipeline Road.   In fact, I couldn't wait to head out to Pipeline Road the next morning, to re-familiarize myself with the birds of the area and their songs & calls.  
Fasciated Antshrike
Fasciated Antshrike (Cymbilaimus lineatus), Gamboa Rainforest Resort
While out on Pipeline Road Saturday morning, I enjoyed great looks at Chestnut-backed Antbird, Spotted Antbird, Broad-billed Motmot, Slaty-tailed Trogon and so much more while showing a couple nice Dutch ladies the wildlife in the area.  I also spotted some familiar faces - my hawk-banding mentors Dorothy and Gary Balkwill, whom I met years and years ago while visiting Holiday Beach Conservation area back at home during my childhood.  We were so surprised and happy to see each other, we quickly made plans to meet up later as they were staying at the Gamboa Rainforest Resort in town for a couple weeks.  
Tawny-capped Euphonia
A Tawny-capped Euphonia (Euphonia anneae), gulping down a large berry in El Valle de Anton
Over the last couple days, Dorothy, Gary and I visited some great places outside of Gamboa.  Eager to see something new yet never anticipated it happening on this vacation, we decided to go to El Valle de Anton, a picturesque town located in the crater of an extinct volcano 2 hours west of Panama City.  We rented a car and we were off!  We spent our morning in El Valle birding along the road up to La Mesa and Cerro Gaital, and even though it was later in the morning, we had great views of Tawny-capped Euphonia, Silver-throated Tanager, Black-faced Grosbeak, Tawny-crested Tanager and much more.  The rest of the day was more laid-back, we ate at Ty's Canadian Bar & Grill in El Valle (owned by a couple from Chatham, Ontario!) and drove around the area before heading back to Gamboa for the night.  

The next day we birded Metropolitan Park in Panama City, a great location for dry forest specialists and a great diversity of species right in the city.  We walked the Roble trail and were delighted to see mixed flocks and a nice abundance of birds, despite a late start because of a flat tire that needed to be changed.  While on the trail in Metro Park, we met up with fellow birder and friend of mine Adam Timpf, who had just arrived in Panama City the previous day and will be around for the next 6 weeks or so.  You can check out Adam's blog here, I'm sure he'll be making updates from Panama and his birding adventures as well.  After our morning of birding, the four of us enjoyed a delicious lunch at my favourite Panamanian restaurant, El Trapiche, which now has a new location in Albrook Mall!  So convenient... 

In my first week here I have met up with a lot of friends, old and new, some expected and some surprises, and many more to come, as well as re-acquainting myself with the resident (and migratory) birds, Gamboa seems like the place to be!  This coming week I am off to El Real and Rancho Frio in the Darien with my good friend Jose Perez!  Cerro Pirre specialties, Black Oropendola, and .... fingers & toes crossed... Harpy Eagle!  

Much more to come from Panama!  

~ Jenn 

P.S. Gamboa has beautiful sunsets, I took this photo at dusk the other night while on one of my walks through town.   

Gamboa Sunset

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