Sunday, November 8, 2009

Pipeline +

Today, November 8th, we ventured again to Pipeline Road. We were caught in a lengthy downpour around 9:30 AM, but our umbrellas kept us dry from the knees up.

We enjoyed more fine views of Chestnut-backed Antbird and many other regulars. Les got excellent video of some Scarlet-rumped Caciques on the road to the Discovery Center.

On our way down from Pipeline Road, I spotted an owl on a telephone wire near the Soberania National Park headquarters. At first, I thought it was a plastic owl (in the U.S.A., people sometimes place plastic owls on rooftops in an unsuccessful effort to deter pigeons or starlings), but then I noticed that a couple of feathers were blowing in the breeze, and then I saw the owl turn its head. Les screeched to a halt at the side of the road, but the owl flew off the wire toward a tree. At my insistence, we pulled into the parking lot of the headquarters, and after a short search, I relocated the owl in a tree near the car. Les's video of the Striped Owl shows how cute it is, with the black outline to the facial disk and the prominent "ears". I have a new favorite owl.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Rehab in Panama


Finding good, qualified workers here in Cerro Azul can be difficult, apparently. It is some distance from Panama City. The workmanship doesn't compare with U.S. standards and neither does the work ethic. Don't try encouragement with money, I've been told; it doesn't work. With information from other residents I went in search of a couple who just went through a major construction project and who who might have some good contacts for workmen.

At the end of a long downhill drive on the edge of the Chagras National Park there is a formidable stone wall and iron gate. Answering the intercom was Conchita Mueller. She and her husband, Bernd, have transformed an existing home and lots into an animal rehab center...and soon to be birders' retreat. Bernd gave me a tour of both.

They were not encouraging about local workman. Even when something is agreed upon, something else will be the ultimate reality. One should be onsite continually to supervise the work. It can't be done remotely to achieve your expected results. But the Muellers, in only a year, have transformed their property into a warm, welcoming place. This gives us encouragement to make a few small changes to our Casa Naranja.


Working with ANAM (Panama National Environmental Authority) they have taken in and cared for animals that have been abused or abandoned. We saw a young tamarin, coatis, night monkeys, and a spider monkey named Suzie Q.


Along with this helpful work, the Muellers are building a birders' retreat bordering the park and a flowing stream.

The two beautiful houses looking onto the park which promise to be a favored spot for birds and birders. When the grounds are open for rental we will post another notice.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Pipeline Road Again

To celebrate Panama's November 5th Independence Day (from Spain), we went to Pipeline Road. November 4th was mostly rainy and cool in Cerro Azul, so we were happy to be in the warmer lowlands, and it did not rain all morning on the 5th, although it was very cloudy until almost noon.

We had a slow start, but as the morning wore on, we racked up a lot of great birds and left wishing we had more time and expertise to discover what else was there.

Below is Les's video of some of our highlights.

Some other great birds, who managed to avoid the gaze of the camera lens, included Slaty-tailed Trogon, Broad-billed Motmot, Collared Aracari, Keel-billed Toucan, Chestnut-mandibled Toucan, Black-cheeked Woodpecker, Plain Xenops, Western Slaty Antshrike, Checker-throated Antwren, White-flanked Antwren, Chestnut-backed Antbird, Spotted Antbird, Ruddy-tailed Flycatcher, Blue-crowned Manakin, White-breasted Wood-Wren, Canada Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Fulvous-vented Euphonia, Scarlet-rumped Cacique, Yellow-rumped Cacique, Chestnut-headed Oropendula.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

They Found Us

The Geoffroy's Tamarins (Saguinus geoffroyi) discovered the bananas in our yard this morning. We heard from the gardener that the former tenants fed them, and we actually saw several of them during our first tour of the house back in August. But the house was vacant during all of August and until the end of September, so the tamarins stopped making this a regular stop.

Les got some great video of them. After they devoured the 2 banana halves on the table, they sat around (in the pines) waiting for more, but we offered no further servings. We don't think our budget can't support a tamarin feeder.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Trouble Has Arrived

Trouble, in the fuzzy form of a Snookum Bear, has arrived in our Cerro Azul yard. He made his first appearance (to us) a little before 7:00 AM on November 2nd. We feel he's been here before, during the nighttime, since any banana chunks left by the birds at the end of the day do disappear by morning. It was foggy and not at all bright this morning, so maybe it was his last stop before retiring for the day.

He was undisturbed by our presence, casual, curious, and probably would have walked into the house if we hadn't been blocking the doorway. He patrolled the southeast side of the yard for about 15 or 20 minutes, often down the slope a bit, where his body was out of sight but we could still see his tail waving merrily along. Les finally banished him (temporarily, no doubt) by banging a shovel against a tree.

We like Coatis fine, but really do want the bananas to go to the birds (and maybe some to the Geoffrey's Tamarins, if they find us.)

Les got some video of the little bandit before chasing him off.

Note the coati's highly developed sense of smell. They can move their snouts around very expressively. This is a large, healthy-looking male. He's solitary, so at least two years old, since the females in the troop shoo them away outside of the breeding season. He holds his non-prehensile tail high showing his rights to the territory. But, that may not work for us in the house.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

First Sign of the Season

Things in Cerro Azul have changed since our departure a month ago. It is still tropical and green everywhere we look, but different trees are flowering and fruiting, and it has been a lot rainier.

One thing Cindy exclaimed about on the way up the hill was several poinsettia bushes in the beginning stages of being red and Christmasy. We like seeing them "in the wild"; she once tried keeping a potted one alive throughout the year in WY, and had no luck.

We're not trying to rush the season with this post - we saw a fully decorated Christmas tree in a pharmacy a couple days ago and did not care for it at all. It's just that even the wild plants are making preparations for the season.

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