Birding Panama and the Great Raptor Migration: Part 3

Birding Panama and the Great Raptor Migration: Part 3

Nov 3, 2012|Birding| by administrator

El Valle-Coclé Grassands-Aguadulce Salt Pans

We left Gamboa in order to discover the Panama countryside. Before our road trip we made a brief stop at the Summit Gardens, a former American scientific facility transformed into a Municipal Park. We visited the Harpy Eagle Educational Center where we learned about Panama's National Bird. Birding in the area turned out to be very productive, we found: Lineated Woodpecker, Gartered Trogon, and a very cooperative couple of Great Black-Hawks!

We crossed the Centennial Bridge over the Panama Canal and took on the Pan-American highway out to the countryside. We did a short stopover at Campana National Park and Punta Chame. We continued to El Valle (The Valley) located at Coclé Province, approximately 2000 ft above sea-level inside a dormant volcano crater! The cloud forest at El Valle was a total delight - after spending the first days at the humid and hot rainforest, cool weather made a big difference.

Our first day started with an early morning at Cerro Gaital National Forest, one the several hills forming the crater's rim. We spotted: Bay-headed Tanager, Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer, Silvery-throated Tanager, Tawny-capped Euphonia, Olive-striped Flycatcher, and Plain Antvireo.

In the afternoon we visited the hot springs, a place with evidence of the volcanic activity, and had lunch at El Valle town where we had the chance to interact with locals at the market. Then we went birding on Cara Iguana Trail, where we saw White-bellied Antbird, Rufous-capped Warbler, Dusky-capped Flycatcher, and the colorful Golden-hooded Tanager. It was a great way to end a good birding experience at Panama Western foothills.

The next morning after birding at the hotel, we left El Valle, this time to explore other areas inside Coclé Province on our way to the program next stage: Azuero Peninsula. We returned to  sea-level and took the Pan-American highway again to bird the area known by local birders as the Coclé Grasslands, an ensemble of rice fields, pasture lands, and savannas. We pulled over in several small towns where we birded streams, rice, sugar cane, and corn plantations. We saw birds such as Savanna Hawk, Pearl Kite, Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture, and Lance-tailed Manakin. We had lunch at Penonomé, located at Panama geographical center,  where we had time to stroll around the main square and have a picture taken at a small obelisk indicating the nation's heart coordinates.

In the late afternoon we made our way to Natá's Santiago Apostol Church, the oldest colonial church on the America's Pacific Coast, followed by a visit at Aguadulce Salt Pans, located at the Parita Bay that harbors the second largest shorebird concentration in Panama. A pleasant ocean breeze and an unusual drop in the temperature made our visit very nice. There were lots of shorebirds, and we saw Least, Semipalmated, and Western Sandpipers, Short-billed Dowitcher, Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs, Sanderling, Roseate Spoonbill, and Blue-winged Teal.

In the evening we arrived to Chitré town, our base to explore Azuero Peninsula.