Friday, June 26, 2009

It's Mostly About the Birds

The wildlife of Panama is one of the most enticing reasons for our relocation. Adding to that the climate and the Panamanian people make it an unbeatable combination.

Birds have been our first love and the focus of much of our lives for the past 24 years. A few of our most unusual sightings are documented on our website, PETRELS. Pelagic birds (seabirds) hold a special fascination for us and videos of some of them have documented first North American records. We have been on a few hundred pelagic trips off the coast of Northern California. These trips have mostly been with Shearwater Journeys, which has been in business for over 30 years, organizing trips specifically for people who want to get offshore to see pelagic birds and mammals. Spending the day with albatrosses, shearwaters, whales, dolphins and other pelagic creatures is one type of heaven.

Panama doesn't have a regularly organized pelagic birding scene, but there are occasional sea ventures.

So, although Panama will not offer us our customary 8 to 12 pelagic trips each year, we know it will not be too difficult to adapt. We are ready to get to know the mind-blowing birds the country has on-shore. Neo-tropical rainforest birding is a relatively new and exciting aspect of our birding explorations.

For many, Pipeline Road is the highlight of birding in Panama. This area has had the highest number of bird species in many past Christmas Bird Counts. During our first birding trip to Panama (December 2008) we visited Pipeline Road with Carlos Bethancourt of Canopy Tower. Carlos is the Top Guide at the Canopy Tower, one of the most awesome birders in the country, a really cool and energetic guy, and we are delighted to include him among our friends. We will be birding with him again at the Tower next month - we can hardly wait. Play the movie below for a few seconds at an ant swarm during our last visit to Pipeline Road:

We plan to spend more happy hours on this road in between times spent looking at houses, comparison shopping and getting to know the country better.

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