Monday, December 28, 2009

Marching Music at the Mall

On Sunday, December 27th, after participating in our second CBC in the Republic of Panama, we went shopping at the Albrook Mall. The mall situation in Panama seems the same to us as it did in the U.S.A. - they are everywhere, more are being constructed, and they are huge.

Albrook is one of the larger indoor malls, and it was crowded on this particular Sunday afternoon. As we were heading toward the exit near where our vehicle was parked, I mentioned to Les that the lower level was a sea of people. We heard marching band music, and it became louder and louder. It soon became apparent why there was a sea of people - all the shoppers on the lower level had moved to one side to make way for the Colegio Moisés Castillo Ocaña Marching Band that filled the aisle on the other side. The band was marching along as they played a rousing number, heavy on the brass. It was truly deafening - I was covering my ears - but also quite a spectacle to see and hear. Les used his Flip camera to get some footage - turn up your volume to max and then try to imagine it being 50x louder.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Honeycreepers

It was only a few days ago that we observed our first Red-legged Honeycreeper in the yard, a gorgeous adult male. Then a female appeared, then another adult male. Within a couple of days we observed 6. For Christmas Day we got 8 of them.

Ridgely says they are "The most widespread and familiar honeycreeper in Panama; comes to feeding trays." OK - but they are so cute and so beautiful - it's still breathtaking to see them at close range. Notice the bright yellow underwing coverts of the male in Les's shot above. As long we can afford to buy bananas, we will keep feeding the honeycreepers.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Type of Squirrel We Love

A Squirrel Cuckoo came through the yard this morning! We are very excited. Just yesterday when I saw one alongside the road as we were driving down the hill, I asked Les how long it would be before we saw one in the yard.

This one foraged its way through the trees for a few minutes before going deep and away, and Les captured some video of it:

Olivaceous Woodcreeper

An Olivaceous Woodcreeper has been a semi-regular in our yard. It comes to the pines near the feeders, always between 7:00 AM and 8:00 AM so far, and climbs up a few trees before moving back into the forest. The only other woodcreeper we have observed in our yard has been the Cocoa Woodcreeper, a far more common and widespread species in Panama. It is surprising to us that the Olivaceous has made more appearances than the Cocoa.

This video is in slow motion.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Now that the two feeders have been claimed by one of the three (maybe more?) regular Rufous-tailed Hummingbirds, we have not seen much of this cute Stripe-throated Hermit. (See Les's video below) It came to the Impatiens late one afternoon, and when it was immediately attacked by the bully hummer, it flew into the kitchen through the open doorway. The bully followed, but they both exited the house within a few seconds. Our ceilings are very high and it would have been impossible to catch them in a net or even try to herd them if they stayed near the top.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Snowy-bellied Nest

Early this morning (December 14, 2009) Les spotted another yard bird: Snowy-bellied Hummingbird. Later in the day, I spotted her on a nest. We determined that she is in the process of building the nest, and Les got some good video of it and her through my scope. (See below.)

Hummers have been in short supply in this yard so far. During our previous stays (a week in late September and 2 weeks from late October through November 11), we had only sporadic sightings of a female Crowned Woodnymph and a Rufous-tailed Hummingbird. In November, Les even hung a feeder out, but nobody cared.

The Rufous-tailed is still around this month, as is the female Crowned Woodnymph. Les put up a feeder up again this time, a couple feet above some orange Impatiens flowers that both species favor. They both ignored it. Then he tied a long rope to the feeder so it could hang right amidst the flowers. It worked - the Rufous-tailed took to it immediately. About a day later, we saw a first-for-the-yard Stripe-throated Hermit fly directly in and start sipping from the feeder. Les took the rope off the feeder the next morning and both the Stripe-throated Hermit and the Rufous-tailed are now regulars at the feeder.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Why Having Your Washer & Dryer Outdoors Can Be A Good Thing

On Friday, December 11th, we were expecting a plumber and a cable guy to call on us, so we stayed home all day to wait. Neither of them could (or would) commit to a 2-hour or 4-hour time frame, as is common in the U.S.A. Here in Panama, we feel lucky if the person shows up on the scheduled day. The plumber showed up late in the afternoon. He brought 3 sizes of the part he knew he would need, but none of them would fit. So he had to return the following morning with the correct size.

The cable guy, who we hoped would be restoring our internet service (we had none since our return on the afternoon of December 9th), had not arrived by 3 PM, so Les gave him a call to see if he was still planning to come that day. Yes, he confirmed that he would be here. Five o'clock rolled around and Les and I began to have serious doubts. Six o'clock arrived but the cable guy did not. We gave up all hope for that day, and also figured he would probably not be there on Saturday, so we would go another few days without internet. About 8:15 PM, a truck drove up out front - the cable guy! After a quick check of cables and connectors inside the house, he roared off to locate the amplifier, and within 15 minutes he was back and our internet service had been restored.

So anyway, we were working around the house all day, and for me, that included several loads of laundry. Our washer and dryer are located outside, next to the house near the kitchen door and the laundry sinks, a common arrangement in Panama. While heading out to move a load from the washer to the dryer, I saw a large black woodpecker with a bright red head fly in to a nearby pine. It landed out of sight, but within a few seconds, another of the same type flew in and landed in plain view - a male Lineated Woodpecker! It was a yard bird, and I was able to run inside and interrupt Les from his vacuuming, so he got to see it too. Lineated Woodpecker is a common species in Panama, but we were excited to see a pair in our yard.

A few hours later, Les was watching the birds at the feeder, and he spotted a primo male Red-legged Honeycreeper going for the bananas. Another common and wide-spread species in Panama, but a fun new yard/feeder bird for us.