Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Our First Host

We spent our first night at the Cerro Azul house on September 24th, and a Rufous-capped Warbler was the first bird we saw the next morning. We heard and/or saw it every day until we left, and consider it our first host at the property.

We had precious little time for birding during the 5 full days we were in Panama on this trip.

Sunday morning I heard a little flock coming through the trees, so I went outside and a young female Canada Warbler popped out from behind a leaf. I called to Les, and he rushed out to check the action. Among the other species were at least 2 Black-and-white Warblers, a Red-eyed Vireo, a Tropical Gnatcatcher, several Golden-hooded Tanagers, a family group of Bay-headed Tanagers, a few Blue-gray Tanagers. It was a fun 15-minute break for us.

Other regulars in the yard this week are Red-crowned Woodpecker, Hepatic Tanagers and Yellow-faced Grassquits. Heard-only birds include Keel-billed Toucans and Western Slaty Antshrikes daily, and a Tropical Screech-Owl nightly - right outside the bedroom window. And we saw an American Redstart a couple days ago. We looked at several other houses that had far better habitat than this one has, and we felt a little sorry for ourselves that those houses did not work out for us. So we are heartened that the yard here is turning out to be productive for the birds and for us.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Another Step

We signed a contract and made a down payment for the house in Cerro Azul, so we feel more confident that we will actually be able to buy this house.

We arrived on Wednesday night, September 23rd, and spent most of Thursday and Friday meeting with the lawyer, the seller, the facilitator, the bank, and waiting for the Dollar guy who met us at the bank to replace the battery in the rental vehicle. A lot of our time was also spent shopping for items such as broom, mop, tools, groceries and other day-to-day essentials for living in a house. Since Thursday night we have been living in the Cerro Azul house.

Being back and actually being in the house has been great, although hectic is a mild description of our 5 full days here during this trip. So much needs to be done. The missionary family (who lived here most recently) vacated the premises sometime in August, and without regular attention, houses in the tropics are quickly claimed by geckos, termites, mildew, mold, musty aromas of various types, plus other insects and arachnids. We have been busy.

On the 29th we head back to SFO.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Panama Viejo

One August day we took some time to visit the arts and handicrafts market in Panama Viejo. There are so many little booths and shops that it's overwhelming - we ended up not buying anything from any of them, although they were all full of beautiful things. Numerous sewing machines were humming away that morning as the women made more molas. Les did buy a little Panama flag to display in our rental vehicle.

We also walked around the grounds of the old fort and up as high as we could go in the tower. The day in Panama City was sunny, blisteringly hot and muggy, but the upper levels in the tower put us into a rousing breezeway, where we cooled off while watching the Magnificent Frigatebirds and Black Vultures at eye level.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Casco Viejo

One day before the end of our trip in August Les wandered the streets of Casco Viejo. This is the section of Panama City built up after the sacking of the original location in Panama Viejo by pirate Henry Morgan. Les was waiting for a phone call to make an appointment with a Cerro Azul property owner. The call never came.

Casco Viejo is a great place to wait for something that doesn't come. The area is undergoing a revitalization which affects some aspects and not others. There are a lot of historic buildings, some restored and others in a state of extreme disrepair. There were a few birds.

Most captivating were the Blue Cranes on the grounds of the Presidential Palace. They wander around within the gates of the Palace, guarded by the National Police.

Overhead the Black Vultures, Turkey Vultures and Swallow-tailed Kites soar with Magnificent Frigatebirds and Brown Pelicans.

The Great-tailed Grackles patrol the streets for handouts.