Sunday, July 19, 2009

A Walk Around Gamboa

When we first began researching places to live in Panama, we were high on the idea of living in Gamboa because of its proximity to Pipeline Road. (As we noted in a previous post, it is only a 20 minute walk from Gamboa to the start of Pipeline.) Then we searched online for houses and realized right away that Gamboa would not be an option for us. This reverted area was "discovered" about 5 years ago. At that time, bargains could still be found and affordable properties were available. That is no longer the case. Now that we've "lived here" for 4 whole days, we realize that the lowlands is not likely where we would want to live for much of the year. But it is a great place to visit.

Today we had no appointments and didn't need to do any shopping, so we took a long, slow walk around Gamboa getting acquainted with the local birds.

Sharon has 2 hummingbird feeders in the yard, dominated most of the time by the resident Rufous-tailed Hummingbird. But other Rufous-taileds regularly sneak in, along with a few Sapphire-throated Hummingbirds. We have also seen a White-necked Jacobin and one or two Long-billed Hermits at the feeders.

In the nearby residential area, we find the regulars to be Orange-chinned Parakeets, Tropical Kingbirds, Streaked Flycatchers, Great Kiskadees, Social Flycatchers, Blue-gray Tanagers, Palm Tanagers, Crimson-backed Tanagers, Red-crowned Woodpeckers, Ruddy Ground-Doves, White-tipped Doves, Pale-vented Pigeons, Clay-colored Thrushes, House Wrens, Tropical Mockingbirds, Thick-billed Euphonias, Variable Seedeaters, Great-tailed Grackles, Black Vultures.

At Carmen's place, a residence that is a regular stop on the Canopy Tower birding route through Gamboa and just a couple blocks from Sharon's place, are several large tray feeders and some hummingbird feeders. Carmen and her staff must be the ones who keep the hummer feeders stocked, and they also put fruit out on the tray feeders, but the Tower guides always take some bananas along to put out when they go there with a group of birders. Today, sliced fresh papaya was on the menu, and the birds eating it included the usual tanagers plus Lemon-rumped Tanagers, also Green and Red-legged Honeycreepers, C-c Thrushes, and the Agoutis were below the feeders snacking on scraps.

Species we see in Gamboa in lower numbers, but they also seem to us like regulars, are Common Tody-Flycatcher (fabulous little birds), Yellow-bellied Elaenia, Fork-tailed Flycatcher (this one had a short, thrashed tail), Tropical Gnatcatcher, Streaked Saltator, Buff-throated Saltator, Bat Falcon.

Today we also saw a few birds that we hadn't seen before in Gamboa, although we are not claiming that they are particularly unusual. First was a Cinnamon Woodpecker - beautiful bird with a jaunty crest and crisp black barring & scalloping on the breast and belly. Next was a Blue-crowned Motmot, followed by Yellow-rumped Cacique, and two quarreling Violaceous Trogons (imagine having those as yardbirds!)

After we walked along the canal for a short distance we birded the entrance road of the Gamboa Resort, where we saw a small party of Gray-headed Chachalacas perched low in the trees above a marshy ditch. Two Spotted Sandpipers were bobbing along on a boom on Lake Gatun, and a Green Heron and some Common Moorhens were on another boom. Les got some video of a Snail Kite.

As we walked uphill to the resort grounds, we saw a few different birds: female Barred Antshrike, many Cocoa Woodcreepers, a vociferous pair of Dusky Antbirds (and we heard several others that we did not see), a pair of White-shouldered Tanagers, a Rufous-capped Warbler, a Ringed Kingfisher and what we believe were 2 Yellow-olive Flycatchers, but we could probably be talked out of it. Maybe they were Yellow-margined - unfortunately, they were quite active, straight overhead, and high in the trees, so no photo-doc was obtained.

We also heard some Manakins snapping on the resort grounds. We never did see them, although I had a glimpse of a lime-green female, but could not see her legs or throat, so we'll have to let that go.

Another fun sighting was a wailing juvenile Yellow-headed Caracara perched high in a pine tree. One of his parents eventually came in and perched nearby but did not feed the kid - see Les's photo below of the adult.

We had planned to have lunch at Los Lagartos, a restaurant at the resort. But on Sundays, we discovered, they serve only a fixed-price brunch - $28 per person! We said no thanks, walked back to Sharon's, and fixed our own lunch. We did notice that there were no customers in the restaurant.

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