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Advice on birding week in Panama, late November (1 Viewer)

cranefan

Well-known member
Hi all,

I've found myself heading to Panama City in November for a work trip, and am adding on a week of holiday at the end of the month, to hopefully fit in some birding. This will be my first time ever in Latin America, and I know nothing whatsoever about birding in Panama, so I'd really appreciate some advice!

I'll have seven days in total, and would ideally like to spend a few days in two sites, getting to know the birds there. All Latin American species will be new to me so I'm likely to be overwhelmed and very slow with ID – meaning a several-nights stay in one place, where I can explore the nearby area and learn gradually, appeals more than a whistle-stop tour through multiple sites for a maximum trip list.

I also don't want to be losing too much time on the road, so I'm hoping to find 1-2 places within a few hours of Panama City, ideally with public transport. Does anyone have any recommendations for sites? And perhaps for good lodges, not too expensive, which offer great birding in the immediate vicinity?

Finally, recommendations for field guides would be really helpful too!

Many thanks in advance
 

Andrew Whitehouse

Professor of Listening
Staff member
Supporter
Scotland
You should see a lot just being in Panama City. The Metropolitan Park is excellent. Nearby is Gamboa, which has some of the best birding in Central America along Pipeline Road. Somewhere like El Valle de Anton might be good as another option. It's easy to get to by public transport and has different, higher altitude birds than Panama City.
 

Mysticete

Well-known member
United States
Hi all,

I've found myself heading to Panama City in November for a work trip, and am adding on a week of holiday at the end of the month, to hopefully fit in some birding. This will be my first time ever in Latin America, and I know nothing whatsoever about birding in Panama, so I'd really appreciate some advice!

I'll have seven days in total, and would ideally like to spend a few days in two sites, getting to know the birds there. All Latin American species will be new to me so I'm likely to be overwhelmed and very slow with ID – meaning a several-nights stay in one place, where I can explore the nearby area and learn gradually, appeals more than a whistle-stop tour through multiple sites for a maximum trip list.

I also don't want to be losing too much time on the road, so I'm hoping to find 1-2 places within a few hours of Panama City, ideally with public transport. Does anyone have any recommendations for sites? And perhaps for good lodges, not too expensive, which offer great birding in the immediate vicinity?

Finally, recommendations for field guides would be really helpful too!

Many thanks in advance
Panama is a great country to choose for your first neotropical visit. All of the major neotropical groups are present, but the diversity of those groups isn't so extreme you become overwhelmed.

I don't know your budget or preferred birding mode. I spent something like 10 days in panama birding, 3 days at the Canopy Lodge, and 7 days at the Canopy Tower. They had a reasonable package deal that included guiding and transfers, and both areas get some different birds not present at the other. I also got a guide for a day at Metropolitan Park...I can try to look up that information if you are interested.
 

cranefan

Well-known member
Panama is a great country to choose for your first neotropical visit. All of the major neotropical groups are present, but the diversity of those groups isn't so extreme you become overwhelmed.

I don't know your budget or preferred birding mode. I spent something like 10 days in panama birding, 3 days at the Canopy Lodge, and 7 days at the Canopy Tower. They had a reasonable package deal that included guiding and transfers, and both areas get some different birds not present at the other. I also got a guide for a day at Metropolitan Park...I can try to look up that information if you are interested.
Thank you so much (both of you) for these tips, that's really helpful.

I'd be interested in looking at guiding for at least some of the time, so if you do have any info to share on that package deal, and guiding in Metropolitan Park, that would be really helpful!
 

simmojunior

Well-known member
I am rarely a fan of using guides but my recommendation would be to hire Domiciano Alveo or Jose Perez. They are fantastic.

Staying at an Air BnB in Gamboa would be my recommendation. You can walk from there to the Pipeline Road. I was in Panama in January so do get in touch if you want to know more.
 

Mysticete

Well-known member
United States
I also used Jose Perez (for Metropolitan Park), and he is a fantastic guide. His contact is: ([email protected]). He doesn't just do Metropolitan Park, but can guide for variety of places.

If you want more specifics about Panama, I did a trip report including my day in Metropolitan Park, which can be found in the vacational trip report subforum...just search for Panamania.
 

njlarsen

Gallery Moderator
Opus Editor
Supporter
Barbados
At the very least, hire a guide for the first full day of birding in the country. Getting some basics down in that way makes it easier to do the rest on your own. You could easily use a week based in Gamboa but including a day in Parque Metropolitano, or you could combine with El Valle de Anton as already mentioned. These two areas are reasonably located relative to Panama City. The country has a lot more to offer for when you return because you got hooked, but most of the rest is further away from the city.

Domiciano Alveo was mentioned. I have birded with him on a couple of occasions and he gets my full recommendation. Send me a PM for his email address.

There is a little bit about my last trip to Panama here: Panama in the green season, August 2022

Niels
 

cranefan

Well-known member
Thank you much everyone for your tips and suggestions, really very helpful.

I'm overdue getting started on my revision – if anyone has a suggestion for the best field guide (book) to be using in Panama, that would be much appreciated!
 

THE_FERN

Well-known member
Thank you much everyone for your tips and suggestions, really very helpful.

I'm overdue getting started on my revision – if anyone has a suggestion for the best field guide (book) to be using in Panama, that would be much appreciated!
I used Vallely and Dyer which I got as a legitimately free pdf from project Muse (probably still available). I also had a scanned copy of the old Ridgeley guide but I found I didn't use that much. V & D covers Central America but that's not a massive disadvantage.

Merlin probably covers P- now too. It's worth getting for the calls alone although I wouldn't rely on it as my only id aid (used in "explore the birds" mode cf AI, of course)
 

THE_FERN

Well-known member
Thank you much everyone for your tips and suggestions, really very helpful.

I'm overdue getting started on my revision – if anyone has a suggestion for the best field guide (book) to be using in Panama, that would be much appreciated!
If you're already reasonably confident, it's worth doing ebird quizzes for the area you're going to. I say reasonably confident because my experience is that c5% of test images were misidentified when I did it recently. But figuring this out is part of the fun! It's super annoying that you have to rate each image (why?) but still.
 

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