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Panama February 2017 (1 Viewer)


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I had always wanted to visit Central America, and was planning to visit Costa Rica initially. But I wanted to do it independently and was quite surprised just how few reports there were on doing it this way. I also didn’t fancy driving that much. The bird tour companies appeared to have a bit of a monopoly on the reports available. So it was Panama by default as it appeared to be fairly easy to get around by bus, safe, had a good number of independent trip reports and a similar range of birds. After months of research on the internet, reading Lonely Planet and studying a good field guide, I was ready to go (when I say I, I mean we as my wife who is not a birder was accompanying me). An Air Lufthansa flight from Manchester east to Frankfurt and then west to Panama City was weirdly one of the cheapest and quickest ways there. We had booked in May 2016 to go in February 2017– it soon came around.


There have been a lot of changes in species limits since Angehr and Dean (2010) wrote their book. Mainly eastern and western splits, but there are also lowland and highland splits, like Scarlet-rumped Cacique (lowlands) and Subtropical Cacique (highlands). Take a note of everything, it might be a different species from what you’re expecting!
The weather was great, just right, most of the time we were there. The only rain we had was an unseasonal tropical downpour one afternoon in Alto Boquete, and it was a bit windy there as well, which is not unusual. We didn’t hire a car, but relied on public transport, and taxis as a last resort. Panama can be as cheap or expensive as you wish, depending on what levels of accommodation and meals you want. I think next time we could do it far cheaper now knowing our way around a bit (but perhaps not as comfortably…...)
Regarding mosquitoes, we sprayed Jungle Formula (50% DEET) on ourselves regularly, and were not bothered. We stayed away from chigger habitat (long grass, etc). The aim was to see 300 species and of course Resplendent Quetzal. Did I succeed? Read on…..

Panama City February 5th (4) (The number in parentheses is the running total of new species during the trip).

We arrived on a Sunday evening and were met at the airport by our driver from the Hotel Marparaiso. I had booked two nights at this hotel, as part of the deal was that they would pick you up from the airport as well. Panama City is renowned for its traffic and they aren’t kidding – don’t drive a car here is my advice. Black and Turkey Vultures were our first birds, quickly followed by the ubiquitous Great-tailed Grackles. We were also amazed at the super trendy skyscrapers – obviously a lot of money in some of the country. Surprisingly tourism is the biggest earner, outweighing income from the Canal. Hotel Marparaiso was fine for the money, and it was there we had our first taste of how friendly and helpful the Panamanians are, helping us to work out how the local simcards functioned.

Bayano 6th (69)

I had thought about how best to see the country and get to grips with the birds, given we only had two weeks, so had decided a bird guide for a day and two mornings would be a good investment, and so it proved. We hired Gonzalo Horta initially for a day’s birding east to Bayano, and he picked us up at 6am from the hotel on Monday morning. We drove 100km to a side road out east where we walked and saw Pale-breasted Spinetail, Bare-throated Tiger Heron, Wood Stork, Grey-lined Hawk, Squirrel Cuckoo, Yellow-bellied Elaenia and Cocoi Heron amongst commoner birds. We then had a quick coffee before driving to Lake Bayano itself. On the way we saw Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture, Crested Caracara and Red-breasted Blackbird. At Lake Bayano Gonzalo had a roadside stop which produced Jet Antbird and Pied Water-Tyrant. We then continued on to a restaurant well east of Bayano, and on the way we saw a White Hawk gliding along the hillsides. We had a really nice local chicken dish ($4) and watched the hummingbirds at the feeders. On the way back we stopped at a couple of road bridges spanning the jungle which were at canopy height, quite useful. We were back by 4pm, having had a great introduction to the birdlife. Many of these eastern species we didn’t see again as well.

Gamboa/Pipeline 7th (122)

Another early start. My wife wanted to have a rest day (already) so we dropped her off early at Mateos’ B&B in Gamboa, where Agoutis and Grey-headed Chacalacas were frolicking on the lawn. Gonzalo had another birder along, James, so there were the two of us doing the morning Pipeline tour. First stop was a large flowering tree in Gamboa, where tanagers, seedeaters and Keel-billed Toucans were in evidence. Then onto the Ammo Dumps, where an American Pygmy Kingfisher and Rufescent Tiger Heron were showing well. We also managed to see tiny White-throated Crakes in the swamp. The Pipeline was finally reached, and a good time was had by all. Various trogons, motmots, tanagers, Fruitcrows, antwrens and woodcreepers all showed eventually. Howler monkeys, capuchins and helicopter damselflys completed the wildlife display. We walked as far as the Rainforest Discovery Centre (RDC), before we turned back (a handy toilet-stop as well).
In the afternoon we were taken to the Gamboa Marina by Mateo (who will take you on surprise drives), and viewed the American Crocodile and terrapins by the restaurant.

In Gamboa food is limited, and the choices are evening meals at your B&B (which we opted for - $10 each, homemade by Beatrice), lunch only at the Marina (soup looked nice; the place was full of rich Americans; good luck to them), lunch at a couple of shacks by the Canal (closed by 1pm), evening meals ($20++) at the very swish Gamboa Rainforest Resort, and a very limited food range at a small shop. The shop itself is hidden away down a narrow road. Go west of the old Post Office on the Canalside road, to the next block where there is a large red house on the corner, then turn right onto the adjoining road and left down the narrow road behind the houses. Simples. It took us a while to find it – the shop is also closed between 2 -3. In the evening I was surprise tripped to the Gamboa Marina again with Mateo, and on a little island just north there was a large heron roost, mainly Snowy Egrets, but also several Tricoloured Herons and incongruously a Common Black-Hawk perched on the outer edge of the roost tree.

Plantation Road/Summit Ponds 8th (148)

Our last morning with Gonzalo, and we were at Plantation Road for an early start. Various antwrens, antshrikes and wrens were seen, along with Olivaceous Flatbill and Plain Xenops. A Coati was a nice find. At the famous Summit Ponds Gonzalo made sure we got onto a roosting Boat-billed Heron. Then to a stake-out for Spectacled Owl, which was surreal. In the afternoon we walked to the Gamboa Marina, where a couple of Capybara came out to the riverside. Relaxing at Mateo’s later watching the birds go back and forth from the feeders was very restful. An Armadillo at night added to the list of house mammals.

Pipeline Road/Rainforest Discovery Centre (RDC) 9th (170)

The plan today was to walk the Pipeline, so after Mateo had dropped us off at 630, we began. The first bird was a Little Tinamou walking casually across the road. It was a bit dark and gloomy however, so after some thought we decided we’d pay $30 each to go up the very high RDC tower; and also walk their reserve. Money well spent, and far cheaper than other tower options. We were above the trees with other friendly birders and their guides, and saw Blue Cotinga and Green Shrike-Babbler, along with a threetoed sloth. At Lake Calamito the hoped-for Snail Kite eventually flew past. At the Visitor Centre Feeders Long-billed Hermit and the cute Rufous-crested Coquette were stars. By now it was mid-day and time to head back. It was fairly quiet until we emerged from Pipeline Road, where a mixed flock kept us busy for a long time. Too many birds to keep track of by two people! Walking along the road back to Gamboa was slow going, always something new to look at. A movement in some undergrowth alerted me to a Grey-necked Wood Rail strutting quietly along. After a rest at Mateo’s I went for a stroll to Los Senderos trail, opposite the Rainforest Resort, where a Long-billed Gnatwren was a nice find. Three days in Gamboa is nowhere enough to thoroughly explore it. The same is probably true for most places in Panama!

Allbrook Terminal to Alto Boquete via David 10th (176)

We had thought about catching a local bus to the Allbrook Terminal early in the morning, but got the impression it wasn’t a good idea, for whatever reason. A friend of Mateo’s drove us down for a stipend, and it saved us hassle. We bought tickets to David inside the modern Terminal. To access the waiting area we had to buy a Tarjeta for $3, which you used at the barrier to go through. It’s also valid for use on the local buses. We were given the top deck front seats, as we also were on the way back from David. It seems tourists get special treatment sometimes. The air-conditioned bus journey was fine, with a lunch-stop halfway, and we were in David before 4pm.

A friendly taxi driver pointed out the Boquete bus departure slot out the back of the terminal, and we were on our way to Alto Boquete. We had opted to stay at “Spanish by the River” which is mainly for self-catering back-packers. We had an ensuite room, and our host Charlie was a very friendly and helpful guy. As we got to the hostel the heavens opened and we had a proper tropical downpour which lasted for some time. The wind was quite strong as well, but it appears that wind is quite prevalent up in Boquete during a lot of the year. One retired American we met had had enough after two years and was moving to Panama City!

We later went for a stroll to Wilsons Bridge across the river 1km to the east of the highway, where we saw Black Phoebe, Least Grebe, and a cute Bat Falcon perched on a telegraph pole. Dining options are limited in Alto; we went to the Garden in the Plaza, a nice café but it closes by 530pm and is not open on Sundays. We also bought food for self-catering from the little supermarket in the Plaza.

Boquete 11th (211)

Our bird guide Jason Lara picked us up early and we were off to a site north of Boquete. The target bird was Resplendent Quetzal, so Jason’s efforts were focused on that. After a brief stop to see Elegant Euphonia, and an unexpected Western Tanager, we got to a riverside stop, where we crossed a bridge to do some jungle walking. Jason pointed out loads of birds in the unexpectedly chilly and windy conditions. We were glad we had bought light rainproof cagoules. American Dipper, Green-crowned Brilliant, Long-tailed Silky-Flycatcher Dark Pewee, Ruddy Treerunner, Collared Whitestart…. there are some marvellous birds in the jungle. But the star of the show was proving uncooperative. We walked out after several hours, and Jason met some friends, who told him of the great photos they had been taking of Quetzals not too far away!

So after a coffee stop at Finca Lerida, where the sun came out and Scintillant Hummingbird and Magnificent Hummingbird frequented the shrubbery, we went off Quetzaling. Up on a high hillside, on the edge of a coffee plantation, Jason’s friend pointed out eight (!) Quetzals sat quietly in the treetops, preening and occasionally flying from perch to perch. Wonderful birds. Jason is a great birder, truly enthusiastic and he certainly won’t rest until you’ve seen that special bird. I look forward to going out with him again.

Boquete 12th (219)

Today was what passed for a rest day, with us catching a taxi (0.60c) into Boquete and walking around the shops and restaurants. I went for a walk in the evening again to Wilsons Bridge, and was surprised to find a White-winged Dove perched on wires and then in flight along the road. Way out of its range, so a bit of a mystery.

Boquete – El Valle 13th (232)

We caught a local bus in the early morning dark to David, then the Panama City bus to Las Uvas, near San Carlos. The driver forgot we wanted to get off there, we had to quickly remind him! This is the drop-off point on the Interamericana Highway where you can catch a bus up to El Valle. We arrived in the town mid-afternoon, and then walked the short distance to our stay at Cabana Villa Victoria. This was a very nice separate unit where we spent three nights, and Victoria was a great hostess. Breakfast was served in the garden where we could watch the birds going back and forth. We later went for a walk around the town (Avenue of the Millionaires – they’re not wrong), and it is surely one of the most birdy places ever. I could happily retire here, it’s lovely. I saw Rufous-capped Warbler, Yellow-faced Grassquit and Black-chested Jay amongst many other birds.

Cerro Gaital 14th (253)

We thought we’d try Cerro Gaital this morning, the cloud cover looked okay so we flagged down a taxi to take us up for $10. The taxidriver said to catch a local bus (La Mesa) back as he wasn’t keen to come up the bumpy road again! The entrance hut was deserted as we made our way in. The first thing we saw was a threetoed sloth! Whilst a guide would have dug out more birds I was happy with my efforts, with Orange-bellied Trogon, Plain Antvireo and Slaty Antwren showing. On the way down the road we came across a mixed flock crossing over, with quite a few new species. A Great Black-Hawk immature perched on a tree, but this was surpassed for me by a dream bird in my eyes – Swallow-tailed Kite drifting over the countryside. There were quite a few Bananaquits as well, which are supposedly not that common. A Golden-winged Warbler was very pretty.

After waiting at a bus-stop two kms down the road, we got a ride down to the El Macho Waterfalls, where we paid the $5 to have a looksee, and then continued walking into town. In the evening on an abortive walk to the La Casa de Lourdes restaurant (now closed) we saw Lineated Woodpecker and the third Bat Falcon I had come across in Panama (Gamboa and Alto Boquete previously).

El Valle 15th (262)

Today we walked to Las Mozas waterfall, and also went to the very pleasant thermal baths for the second time. Yellow-crowned Parrot and a Semiplumbeous Hawk soaring over were nice, as was a Golden-hooded Tanager. At the waterfalls there were many dragonflies and a pair of Grey-chested Doves on the riverbed. In the afternoon I found my first Panama Flycatcher down one of the back streets. El Valle is a great place to explore, with loads of roads leading out into the hills. We were sad to leave.

El Valle to Radisson Summit 16th (266)

This morning I went for a walk around the back streets and found a Lesson’s Motmot (western split of Blue-crowned) calling in some trees. We caught a late morning bus to Panama City, and this was the most crowded bus we had yet been on. However for $4 each we couldn’t complain and we did have seats. At Allbrook Terminal the only option appeared to be a taxi to the Radisson Summit, which we bargained down to $20. The Radisson Summit on the outskirts of Panama City was very luxurious, and has great grounds for exploring (jungle trails and a golf course with ponds as well). We had a room on the 4th floor at the back overlooking the treetops, and this confirmed just how much bird activity there is at this height. We went around with Carlos, a hotel employee, in a golf caddy for half an hour in the evening ($10 tip). My impression was he’s more geared for the tourists who don’t know much about wildlife, but he was pleasant enough and we got our bearings which was useful. Saffron Finches were very common on the course, and there was a family party of Capybara by one pond. Evening meals here were great, inexpensive and a very wide choice. The Pina Colada is also awesome.

Isla Taboga 17th (275)

As the Radisson is quite a way from the city we had decided to use a driver to get around, rather than taxis or buses. A nice lady at the hotel (a concierge) had arranged for us to be taken around and picked up at prearranged times. This we hoped would save hassle and time when trying to get places. Today we went to Isla Taboga, on the 0930 ferry, to have a swim and soak up the sun. At the Balboa Marina a raft full of Cabot’s Terns, some Royal Terns and a few Elegant Terns drew my attention. On the way across there were loads of Brown Pelicans, Neotropical Cormorants and Magnificent Frigatebirds. The island itself was very pleasant, but it was too hot for much birding when we were there. A Garden Emerald was the best bird. We had to catch the 2pm ferry back, as the 430pm had already been fully booked before we got our ferry. The tide was just beginning to fall when we got back, and there were Willets and Western Sandpipers on the tideline. A walk around the golf course in the evening revealed Giant and Shiny Cowbirds on the greens, a Scaled Pigeon (which looks nothing like the Angehr illustration to my eyes, but the red bill is a giveaway) and a Caiman by one of the ponds.

Metropolitan Park/ Costa del Este 18th (295)

Our driver picked us up at 7am and we had a very pleasant couple of hours in the Metropolitan Park from 8am, and I even managed to find a Yellow-green Tyrannulet in a mixed flock at the Summit. There were also a good range of other birds, and on our return to the entrance we found a group of people watching a twotoed sloth. Our driver was waiting for us and he then took us to the Costa del Este tidal flats, by the Artisans Market, at mid-day. In retrospect we were too early for the high tide (at 3pm), and a scope would have been useful. There were a lot of waders, and Yellow-backed Night Heron and White Ibis showed well. In the distance an American White Pelican was unexpected. The view from the western shore would have been good as well, but it was very difficult and a bit of a trek to get there.

Our driver then took us to a very modern shopping mall, where we had lunch at a Taco Bells, our new favourite fast food. In the late afternoon I watched the canopy birds from our balcony and was pleasantly surprised to see a pair of Masked Tityras fly in. In the evening we went for a walk along the Plantation Trail, which ends in a dead end at the railway line. We came across a pair of Rosy Thrush-Tanagers foraging quietly by the trail; these had eluded me in the Metropolitan Park.

Radisson Summit – England 19th (300)

Our last day – I went for a walk on the golf course in the early morning but was redirected off the course by a friendly hotel worker, who said it could be dangerous on weekends (!) The walk I did do on the eastern side of the grounds was fine in any case, with Bran-coloured Flycatcher and Ruddy-tailed Flycatcher being new. On the path through the jungle at the back of the hotel I disturbed a large eagle, which perched nicely after a short flight and proved to be a rather spectacular Black Hawk-Eagle, and my last lifer. Our friendly usual driver took us to the airport mid-afternoon and we caught our flight back to England (via a five hour stopover in Frankfurt).

A great bird-watching experience, 300 species in a fortnight without it being hard-core in any way, and 261 of those “lifers”. Loads of mammals, reptiles, butterflies and dragonflies too. I’d go back in a heartbeat, still lots of the country to explore, and one of the friendliest easiest overseas trips we’ve had – thoroughly good value.

The trip list:

(*Boquete refers to a jungle site north of Boquete)

Great Tinamou: Plantation Road
Little Tinamou: Pipeline
Black-bellied Whistling Duck: Ammo Dump ponds
Grey-headed Chacalaca: Gamboa, Alto Boquete
Least Grebe: Wilsons Bridge (Alto Boquete)
Pied-billed Grebe: Lake Calamito
Wood Stork: Bayano
White Ibis: Costa del Este
Great Blue Heron: Costa del Este
Cocoi Heron: Bayano
Great Egret: Ubiquitous
Tricolored Heron: Gamboa Marina.
Little Blue Heron: Bayano, Costa del Este.
Snowy Egret: Gamboa Marina; Costa del Este
Cattle Egret: common in livestock areas
Green Heron: Bayano, Radisson Summit
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron: Costa del Este
Boat-billed Heron: Summit Ponds
Bare-throated Tiger-Heron: Bayano
Rufescent Tiger-Heron: Ammo Dump Ponds
Brown Pelican: Panama City, Balboa Marina, Isla Taboga.
Magnificent Frigatebird: Panama City, Balboa Marina, Gamboa Marina, Canal Zone, Isla Taboga
Neotropic Cormorant: Panama City, Balboa Marina, Lake Bayano, Isla Taboga
Anhinga: Lake Bayano, Ammo Dump ponds
Black Vulture: Ubiquitous.
Turkey Vulture: Ubiquitous.
Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture: Bayano
Osprey: Bayano, Canal
White-tailed Kite: Bayano, Panama City near Allbrook Terminal.
Mississippi Kite: Bayano
Double-toothed Kite: Gamboa
White Hawk: east of Bayano.
Common Black-Hawk: Gamboa Marina.
Great Black-Hawk: Rainforest Discovery Centre tower; Cerro Gaital
Roadside Hawk: near Penonome; El Valle
Broad-winged Hawk: Boquete
Grey-lined Hawk: Bayano.
Semiplumbeous Hawk: El Valle
Black Hawk-Eagle: Radisson Summit
Gray-necked Wood-Rail: near Ammo Dump
White-throated Crake: Ammo Dump ponds
Purple Gallinule: Ammo Dump ponds
Common Gallinule: Lake Calamito
Southern Lapwing: Bayano, Alto Boquete, El Valle, Radisson Summit
Grey Plover: Costa del Este
Wattled Jacana: Ammo Dump ponds
Short-billed Dowitcher: Costa del Este
Hudsonian Whimbrel: Costa del Este
Solitary Sandpiper: Bayano
Spotted Sandpiper: Radisson Summit; Costa del Este
Greater Yellowlegs: Radisson Summit
Willet: Balboa Marina; Costa del Este
Semipalmated Sandpiper: Costa del Este
Western Sandpiper: Costa del Este
Laughing Gull: Panama City
Cabot’s Tern: Balboa marina
Royal Tern: Balboa marina
Elegant Tern: Balboa marina
Rock Pigeon: Panama City and other urban areas.
Pale-vented Pigeon: Gamboa Ammo dump ponds
Short-billed Pigeon: Rainforest Discovery Centre tower
White-winged Dove: Alto Boquete
Ruddy Ground-Dove: ubiquitous
White-tipped Dove: Gamboa, El Valle, Radisson Summit
Grey-chested Dove: El Valle
Squirrel Cuckoo: Bayano; Metropolitan Park
Greater Ani: Summit Ponds
Smooth-billed Ani: Bayano
Groove-billed Ani: Gamboa
Spectacled Owl: Plantation Road
Pauraque: Gamboa
Band-rumped Swift: Gamboa
Short-tailed Swift: Gamboa
Chimney Swift: Radisson Summit
Long-billed Hermit: Rainforest Discovery Centre
Stripe-throated Hermit: El Valle
Green Hermit: Cerro Gaital
Pale-bellied Hermit: Bayano
Rufous-crested Coquette: Rainforest Discovery Centre
Band-tailed Barbthroat: Cerro Gaital
Scaly-breasted Hummingbird: Bayano
White-necked Jacobin: Rainforest Discovery Centre
Lesser Violet-ear: Boquete - Finca Lerida
Black-throated Mango: Bayano, Radisson Summit
Crowned Woodnymph: Plantation Road
Garden Emerald: Isla Taboga
Violet-bellied Hummingbird: Metropolitan Park
Rufous-tailed Hummingbird: very common
Blue-chested Hummingbird: Plantation Road
Snowy-bellied Hummingbird: common, from Bayano to Boquete; a possible east-west split
Green-crowned Brilliant: Boquete
White-throated Mountain Gem: Boquete
Magnificent Hummingbird: Boquete - Finca Lerida
Scintillant Hummingbird: Boquete - Finca Lerida
Gartered Trogon: Pipeline
Orange-bellied Trogon: Cerro Gaital
Black-tailed Trogon: Bayano, Pipeline
Slaty-tailed Trogon: Gamboa; Metropolitan Park
Collared Trogon: Boquete
Resplendent Quetzal: Boquete
Belted Kingfisher: near Summit Ponds
Ringed Kingfisher: Bayano,
Amazon Kingfisher: Summit Ponds
American Pygmy Kingfisher: Ammo Dump ponds
Rufous Motmot: Pipeline; Cerro Gaital
Broad-billed Motmot: Pipeline Road
Whooping Motmot: Pipeline, Gamboa
Lesson’s Motmot: El Valle
White-whiskered Puffbird: Plantation Road
Blue-throated Toucanet: Boquete.
Keel-billed Toucan: Gamboa; El Valle, Radisson Summit
Chestnut-mandibled Toucan: Pipeline
Black-cheeked Woodpecker: Rainforest Discovery Centre
Red-crowned Woodpecker: very common, Bayano to Boquete
Crimson-crested Woodpecker: Plantation Road; Metropolitan Park
Lineated Woodpecker: El Valle
Crested Caracara: Bayano
Yellow-headed Caracara: common
Laughing Falcon: east of David
Bat Falcon: Gamboa, Alto Boquete, El Valle
Peregrine Falcon: Radisson Summit
Brown-throated Parakeet: near David
Sulphur-winged Parakeet: Alto Boquete
Crimson-fronted Parakeet: Alto Boquete
Orange-chinned Parakeet: Gamboa, El Valle
Blue-headed Parrot: Plantation Road; Rainforest Discovery Centre tower
Red-lored Parrot: Bayano
Yellow-crowned Parrot: El Valle, Radisson Summit
Southern Mealy Amazon: Rainforest Discovery Centre tower
Pale-breasted Spinetail: good views at a site west of Bayano were a first for Gonzalo; most often only heard
Ruddy Treerunner: Boquete
Plain Xenops: Plantation Road; Metropolitan Park
Plain-brown Woodcreeper: Plantation Road
Northern Barred-Woodcreeper: Pipeline Road
Cocoa Woodcreeper: Gamboa; Mateo’s; Metropolitan Park
Spotted Woodcreeper: El Valle
Wedge-billed Woodcreeper: Cerro Gaital
Fasciated Antshrike: Pipeline
Barred Antshrike: Rainforest Discovery Centre; Pipeline; Gamboa; El Valle
Black-crowned Antshrike (Western Slaty-Antshrike): Plantation Road
Plain Antvireo: Cerro Gaital
Checker-throated Antwren: Plantation Road; Pipeline; Cerro Gaital
White-flanked Antwren: Metropolitan Park
Dot-winged Antwren: Pipeline
Slaty Antwren: Cerro Gaital
Dusky Antbird: Pipeline
Jet Antbird: Lake Bayano
Chestnut-backed Antbird: Cerro Gaital
Bicolored Antbird: Pipeline
Silvery-fronted Tapaculo: Boquete (heard only unfortunately)
Yellow Tyrannulet: Cerro Gaital
Yellow-crowned Tyrannulet: Gamboa
Forest Elaenia: Bayano, Gamboa
Yellow-bellied Elaenia: Bayano, Alto Boquete; El Valle
Lesser Elaenia: El Valle
Brown-capped Tyrannulet: Rainforest Discovery Centre
Southern Beardless-Tyrannulet: Rainforest Discovery Centre
Yellow-green Tyrannulet: Metropolitan Park
Olive-striped Flycatcher: Cerro Gaital
Ochre-bellied Flycatcher: Metropolitan Park
Scale-crested Pygmy-Tyrant: Cerro Gaital
Black-capped Pygmy-Tyrant: Pipeline
Common Tody-Flycatcher: Pipeline, Gamboa, El Valle, Radisson Summit
Olivaceous Flatbill: Plantation Road
Yellow-margined Flycatcher: El Valle
Yellowish Flycatcher: Boquete
Tropical Pewee: Bayano
Dark Pewee: Boquete
Black Phoebe: Alto Boquete
Bran-coloured Flycatcher: Radisson Summit
Bright-rumped Attila: Pipeline
Pied Water-Tyrant: Lake Bayano
Rusty-margined Flycatcher: Bayano; Radisson Summit
Social Flycatcher: Bayano, El Valle, Radisson Summit
Great Kiskadee: Summit Ponds, Gamboa Marina, El Valle, Radisson Summit
Lesser Kiskadee: Bayano, Gamboa
Piratic Flycatcher: Pipeline
Streaked Flycatcher: Gamboa; Radisson Summit
Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher: Pipeline
Tropical Kingbird: Ubiquitous
Fork-tailed Flycatcher: Bayano, Radisson Summit
Rufous Mourner: El Valle
Dusky-capped Flycatcher: Pipeline
Slaty-capped Flycatcher: Cerro Gaital
Panama Flycatcher: El Valle
Ruddy-tailed Flycatcher: Radisson Summit
Bran-coloured Flycatcher: Radisson Summit
Blue Cotinga: Rainforest Discovery Centre tower
Purple-throated Fruitcrow: Pipeline
Red-capped Manakin: Plantation Road
Blue-crowned Manakin: Pipeline
Masked Tityra: Radisson Summit
Brown-capped Vireo: Boquete
Yellow-green Vireo; Bayano
Golden-fronted Greenlet: Metropolitan Park
Lesser Greenlet; Alto Boquete; : Metropolitan Park
Tawny-crowned Greenlet: Pipeline
Green Shrike-babbler: Rainforest Discovery Centre
Black-chested Jay: El Valle
Long-tailed Silky-flycatcher: Boquete
Mangrove Swallow: Gamboa Canal
Blue-and-white Swallow: Boquete
Brown-chested Martin: Gamboa
Gray-breasted Martin: Common
Southern Rough-winged Swallow Gamboa; Alto Boquete
Barn Swallow: Gamboa
Black-bellied Wren: Metropolitan Park
Bay Wren: El Valle,
Rufous-and-white Wren: Plantation Road, Cerro Gaital
Isthmian (Plain) Wren: Bayano;
Buff-breasted Wren: Bayano, Plantation Road
House Wren: Gamboa; El Valle
White-breasted Wood-Wren: Plantation Road
Gray-breasted Wood-Wren: Boquete
Long-billed Gnatwren: Los Senderos (Gamboa); Radisson Summit
Tropical Gnatcatcher: Bayano, Pipeline
Tropical Mockingbird: Bayano, Gamboa, Boquete
Black-faced Solitaire: Boquete
Swainson's Thrush: Boquete
Mountain Thrush: Boquete
Clay-colored Thrush: Ubiquitous
American Dipper: Boquete
Thick-billed Euphonia: Gamboa
Elegant Euphonia: Boquete
Tawny-capped Euphonia: El Valle, Cerro Gaital
White-vented Euphonia: Cerro Gaital
Yellow-crowned Euphonia; Pipeline, Radisson Summit
Golden-browed Chlorophonia: Boquete
Lesser Goldfinch: Alto Boquete, El Valle
Golden-winged Warbler: Cerro Gaital; Metropolitan Park
Tennessee Warbler: Boquete, El Valle, Radisson Summit
Yellow Warbler: El Valle, Radisson Summit
Chestnut-sided Warbler: El Valle, Radisson Summit; Metropolitan Park
Blackburnian Warbler: Boquete
Bay-breasted Warbler: Metropolitan Park
Black-and-white Warbler: Boquete, El Valle
Prothonotary Warbler: Bayano, Gamboa
Wilson's Warbler: Boquete
Slate-throated Whitestart: Boquete
Collared Whitestart: Boquete
Rufous-capped Warbler: El Valle
Black-striped Warbler: Boquete
Northern Waterthrush: Boquete, El Valle, Radisson Summit
Red-breasted Blackbird: Bayano
Great-tailed Grackle: Ubiquitous.
Giant Cowbird: Radisson Summit
Shiny Cowbird: Radisson Summit
Yellow-backed Oriole: Pipeline; Radisson Summit
Yellow-tailed Oriole: Bayano, Gamboa
Baltimore Oriole: Bayano to Boquete
Yellow-rumped Cacique: Summit Ponds, El Valle, Radisson Summit
Yellow-billed Cacique: El Valle; Metropolitan Park
Scarlet-rumped Cacique: Pipeline, Radisson Summit
Chestnut-headed Oropendola: El Valle, Radisson Summit
Yellow-tailed Oropendola: Summit Ponds
Bananaquit: Bayano, Cerro Gaital; El Valle
Rufous-collared Sparrow: Alto Boquete, Boquete
Yellow-thighed Finch: Boquete
Common Bush-Tanager: Boquete
Blue-black Grassquit: Ammo Dump; Plantation Road, Boquete
Variable Seedeater: Bayano, El Valle, Radisson Summit
Yellow-bellied Seedeater: Gamboa
Ruddy-breasted Seedeater: Bayano
Thick-billed Seed-Finch: El Valle
Yellow-faced Grassquit: El Valle
Slaty Flowerpiercer: Boquete
Saffron Finch: Radisson Summit
Dusky-faced Tanager: Cerro Gaital
Gray-headed Tanager: Pipeline
White-shouldered Tanager: Pipeline Road; Metropolitan Park
Tawny-crested Tanager: Cerro Gaital
White-lined Tanager: El Valle
Crimson-backed Tanager: Gamboa; Radisson Summit
Blue-gray Tanager: Ubiquitous
Palm Tanager: Ubiquitous
Plain-colored Tanager: Gamboa
Rosy Thrush-Tanager: Radisson Summit
Black-and-Yellow Tanager: Cerro Gaital
Silver-throated Tanager: Boquete
Golden-hooded Tanager: Pipeline, El Valle, Radisson Summit
Blue Dacnis: Pipeline, Rainforest Discovery Centre; Radisson Summit
Green Honeycreeper: Gamboa; Radisson Summit
Red-legged Honeycreeper: Pipeline
Streaked Saltator: El Valle
Buff-throated Saltator: Pipeline, Alto Boquete, El Valle
Indigo Bunting: Boquete, El Valle
Red-crowned Ant-Tanager: Metropolitan Park
Red-throated Ant-Tanager: Gamboa
Carmiol’s Tanager: Cerro Gaital
Flame-colored Tanager: Boquete; Alto Boquete
Summer Tanager: Alto Boquete
Western Tanager: Boquete
Thanks for posting

Nice report.

I was thinking of going back to Costa Rica next year but may look at Panama. I have a few questions

Outside of Panama City did self drive look like an easy option?
What was the average day rate for a guide? was it necessary?
How is your Spanish - we aren't great but though phrase book / google translate can normally just get by - did you need fluent Spanish.

thanks for any advise
Hi David & Sarah

Self-drive looked to be ok outside Panama City, its a small country and the roads were good that we saw. You're looking at $90 pp for a half-day bird-trip usually. Depends how confident you are about identifying the birds. Some birds you probably do need a guide to find (eg Quetzal), but the country is so bird-rich that just going to a site is usually sufficient. I do recommend Gonzalo and Jason if you're thinking of one for a day or two. We had guides for a couple of days just to get up to speed (1000 species after all). A lot of people speak English, and our Lonely Planet got us by otherwise. We loved Panama - great people, wonderful wildlife; thoroughly recommended :)

Hi David & Sarah

Self-drive looked to be ok outside Panama City, its a small country and the roads were good that we saw. You're looking at $90 pp for a half-day bird-trip usually. Depends how confident you are about identifying the birds. Some birds you probably do need a guide to find (eg Quetzal), but the country is so bird-rich that just going to a site is usually sufficient. I do recommend Gonzalo and Jason if you're thinking of one for a day or two. We had guides for a couple of days just to get up to speed (1000 species after all). A lot of people speak English, and our Lonely Planet got us by otherwise. We loved Panama - great people, wonderful wildlife; thoroughly recommended :)

Thanks for the useful info
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