Saturday, February 27, 2010

Flocks & Rocks

It has finally happened. We closed up our apartment in San Francisco, CA (where we had lived for the past 28 years - our landlord must be dancing in the streets, since the place was under rent control) and took a one-way flight to Panama City, Republic of Panama. We feel unbelievably fortunate on so many levels - we had the means and the perseverance to make the move, we had each other for help and support, we had friends and family who encouraged us (both in the U.S.A. and in the Republic of Panama), we did not have a house to sell in this difficult economy, we found a great lawyer to guide us through the purchase of our house in Cerro Azul. And on top of all that, our good friend Gail, who lived upstairs from us in our S.F. apartment since before we even moved in, decided to move downstairs into our apartment. Her willingness to buy several of our appliances and items of furniture made our last few weeks in S.F. so much more comfortable than they might have been. Right through the day of our flight, we had a full kitchen, chairs to sit in, lamps, and most of the other comforts of home.

So here we are - we and all our bags made it on time and with nothing missing, and our friends Bill & Claudia collected the lot of us (the bags filled the whole bed of their truck) at the airport and even took us shopping for some groceries before delivering us to our casita.

Unpacking and getting organized has occupied much of our time since our arrival on Wednesday February 18th, but we have spent some time observing the birds in the yard and elsewhere. Today we added two new yard birds. First was a Prothonotary Warbler who made a pass through the yard with a small, fast-moving flock that included several Tennessee Warblers, 2 Black and White Warblers, 2 Bay-breasted Warblers and a few small tanagers. Later, while hauling some supplies to the back yard, Les noticed a White-necked Jacobin at one of the feeders. We have no idea why it took so long for this species to show up. We hope for many more of his kind, and have budgeted for the sugar it will require.

This afternoon we drove up to a ridge in Cerro Azul for the purpose of collecting some rocks for our yard. It was foggy and misty and occasionally rainy up there, as it often is, making for an abundance of epiphytes on the tree trunks and water droplets on our eyelashes.

We got out of the truck hoping for a roving flock, and were happy when a small band of Black-and-Yellow Tanagers came along. Accompanying them was a smashing Emerald Tanager and a brilliant Rufous-winged Tanager. None of the printing in the field guides manages to do them justice.

We got good and muddy up there gathering rocks, and we know we will have to return for more. Arturo always uses them as fast as we can supply them.


  1. Hi Cindy & Les! Just returned from Panama and I can really see the pull it had for you. On Thursday as up at Cerro Azul, probably went right by your house. I have been enjoying your posting. The whole experience was awesome! Even had a chance to visit a Harpy Eagle nest in the Darien. The 15mo old youngster was still waiting for the parents to return and feed it. Next time I visit Panama I will be sure to look you up. And if you get a chance to know Guido Berguido, owner/guide of Advantange Panama you will enjoy him.......Frances Oliver

  2. Hi Frances -
    Glad to hear you enjoyed Panama; it would be difficult not to, though. We have been so busy with getting here and dealing with the house that we haven't traveled around the Republic much. We hope to do some exploring later this year. -Cindy