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Panama: Panama City to Azeuro Peninsula
October 2012


It was back to Panama for me. Our work wasn't done, so 6 months after our first visit to Panama, we had to pack up our gear and return. I knew this time we'd be visiting during the wet season, but still didn't know what exactly to expect. The drive out to the Azeuro Peninsula from the city was the same. However when we got closer to the more rural areas we noticed the pastures that were once brown with dried grass and cracked dirt was now lush with knee high grasses. The bare trees had leafed out and created a dense canopy. The wet season was a lot greener and of course wetter.

During our stay it rained almost every day, usually in the afternoons. The rain varied from sprinkles to a steady drip to a downpour, usually only lasting for a few hours at most. The downpours made me glad to have a roof and air conditioned room to hide in. There were a few thunderstorm. One particular one was so close the thunder clap rattled the windows. It was still hot and especially humid during the wet season. When you walk into an air conditioned room that is set at 25C and say "burr" you know it's hot outside. It was mostly overcast during the wet season, but if the sun should break through it quickly heated up even more.

Aside from the difference in greenery and weather, there was also a noticeable difference in the wildlife. In the dry season, the hermit and land crabs would come out in mass, now they seemed scarce instead the cane toads were more numerous at night. I also didn't see as many reptiles, likely due to the mostly cloudy and sometimes rainy days. As for birdlife, I wasn't too disappointed. Mixed flocks popped around and teased me with glimpses behind the leafed out trees. It was easier to see the birds in the dry season when I only had to look through the bare branches to find the unfamiliar caller. Now in the wet season many birds went unidentified, giving me only a brief view or only movement and a call note. It was definitely more challenging. I did see many more migrants this time. Each day the sky was swarming with swallows and a few swifts. Just outside of Panama City, I saw a huge kettle of about 1000 vultures circling then streaming off in one direction. In the forest near the lab, I saw migrating warblers, vireos, tanagers, and cuckoos. A nice addition to the typical flycatchers and tityras.

Despite the challenges of birding, I did see some interesting birds, including a wider variety of hummingbirds. Well there weren't drastically that many more hummingbird species, but there seemed to be more hummers perhaps because the plants were flowering and there was more food to support them. Often I saw the hummers chasing each other around. I saw one hummingbird taking a bath in the rain that had collected on a leaf. I watched a male Snowy-bellied Hummingbird flap its wings and wag its tail while giving a chirp call - probably a display. I was surprised to see a small group of Brown Noddies just off shore one day. The ocean air is usual void of bird life except for Magnificent Frigatebirds and Brown Pelicans, so it was surprising to see the noddies and a few Common Terns patrolling low over the waters surface.

It was a treat to see the same place during the two season. The differences were drastic in some aspects and in some it remained steady. I do however hope that my next visit to Panama will be to an entirely different region.


Pictures (click on thumbnail)

Bird List
Gray-headed Chachalaca Ortalis cinereiceps Azeuro Pen
Crested Bobwhite Colinus cristatus Pedasi, Azeuro Pen
Magnificent Frigatebird Fregata magnificens Panama City,
Neotropic Cormorant Phalacrocorax brasilianus Azeuro Pen
Brown Pelican Pelecanus occidentalis Panama City
Bare-throated Tiger-Heron Tigrisoma mexicanum Azeuro Pen
Great Egret Ardea alba roadside
Snowy Egret Egretta thula roadside, Herrera
Tricolored Heron Egretta tricolor roadside, Herrera
Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis roadside
Green Heron Butorides virescens Azeuro Pen
White Ibis Eudocimus albus Azeuro Pen
Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus roadside, Herrera
Black Vulture Coragyps atratus roadside
Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura roadside
Osprey Pandion haliaetus Azeuro Pen
Common Black-Hawk Buteogallus anthracinus Azeuro Pen
Great Black-Hawk Buteogallus urubitinga Azeuro Pen
Savanna Hawk Buteogallus meridionalis roadside
Roadside Hawk Buteo magnirostris roadside
Broad-winged Hawk Buteo platypterus Azeuro Peninsula
Crested Caracara Caracara cheriway Pedasi, Azeuro Pen
Yellow-headed Caracara Milvago chimachima roadside
American Kestrel Falco sparverius Trans-American highway
Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus Azeuro Pen
Spotted Sandpiper Actitis macularius Azeuro Pen
Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus Playa Venao, Azeuro Pen
Laughing Gull Leucophaeus atricilla Azeuro Pen
Brown Noddy Anous stolidus Azeuro Pen
Common Tern Sterna hirundo Azeuro Pen
Rock Pigeon Columba livia roadside
Pale-vented Pigeon Patagioenas cayennensis Azeuro Pen
Mourning Dove Zenaida macroura roadside
Ruddy Ground-Dove Columbina talpacoti Panama City
White-tipped Dove Leptotila verreauxi Azeuro Pen
Parrot sp. Azeuro Pen, Panama City
Squirrel Cuckoo Piaya cayana Azeuro Pen
Yellow-billed Cuckoo Coccyzus americanus Azeuro Pen
Black-billed Cuckoo Coccyzus erythropthalmus Azeuro Pen
Groove-billed Ani Crotophaga sulcirostris Azureo Pen
Common Pauraque Nyctidromus albicollis Azeuro Pen
Vaux's Swift Chaetura vauxi Azeuro Pen
Veraguan Mango Anthracothorax veraguensis Azeuro Pen
Garden Emerald Chlorostilbon assimilis Azeuro Pen
Violet-crowned Woodnymph Thalurania colombica Azeuro Pen
Snowy-bellied Hummingbird Amazilia edward Azureo Pen
Rufous-tailed Hummingbird Amazilia tzacatl Azureo Pen
Sapphire-throated Hummingbird Lepidopyga coeruleogularis Azureo Pen
Ringed Kingfisher Megaceryle torquata roadside
Red-crowned Woodpecker Melanerpes rubricapillus Azeuro Pen, Panama City
Crimson-crested Woodpecker Campephilus melanoleucos Azeuro Pen
Barred Antshrike Thamnophilus doliatus Azeuro Pen
Black-hooded Antshrike Thamnophilus bridgesi Azeuro Pen
Southern Beardless-Tyrannulet Camptostoma obsoletum Azeuro Pen
Mouse-colored Tyrannulet Phaeomyias murina Azeuro Pen
Yellow Tyrannulet Capsiempis flaveola Azeuro Pen
Yellow-crowned Tyrannulet Tyrannulus elatus Azeuro Pen
Greenish Elaenia Myiopagis viridicata Azeuro Pen
Yellow-bellied Elaenia Elaenia flavogaster Azeuro Pen
Northern Scrub-Flycatcher Sublegatus arenarum Azeuro Pen
Pale-eyed Pygmy-Tyrant Atalotriccus pilaris Azeuro Pen
Yellow-olive Flycatcher Tolmomyias sulphurescens Azeuro Pen
Eastern Wood-Pewee Contopus virens Azeuro Pen
Acadian Flycatcher Empidonax virescens Azeuro Penisula
Panama Flycatcher Myiarchus panamensis Azeuro Pen
Great Crested Flycatcher Myiarchus crinitus Azeuro Pen
Great Kiskadee Pitangus sulphuratus Panama City
Boat-billed Flycatcher Megarynchus pitangua Azeuro Pen
Social Flycatcher Myiozetetes similis Azeuro Pen
Streaked Flycatcher Myiodynastes maculatus Azeuro Pen
Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher Myiodynastes luteiventris Azeuro Pen
Tropical Kingbird Tyrannus melancholicus roadside,
Eastern Kingbird Tyrannus tyrannus Azeuro Pen
Fork-tailed Flycatcher Tyrannus savana Azeuro Pen, roadside
Lance-tailed Manakin Chiroxiphia lanceolata Azeuro Pen
Black-crowned Tityra Tityra inquisitor Azeuro Pen
Masked Tityra Tityra semifasciata Azeuro Pen
Cinnamon Becard Pachyramphus cinnamomeus Azeuro Pen
White-winged Becard Pachyramphus polychopterus Azeuro Pen
Yellow-throated Vireo Vireo flavifrons Azeuro Pen
Red-eyed Vireo Vireo olivaceus Azeuro Pen
Yellow-green Vireo Vireo flavoviridis Azeuro Pen
Scrub Greenlet Hylophilus flavipes Azeuro Pen
Lesser Greenlet Hylophilus decurtatus Azeuro Pen
Black-chested Jay Cyanocorax affinis Azeuro Pen
Southern Rough-winged Swallow Stelgidopteryx ruficollis roadside,
Bank Swallow Riparia riparia Azeuro Pen
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica Azeuro Pen
Rufous-and-white Wren Thryophilus rufalbus Azeuro Pen
House Wren Troglodytes aedon Azeuro Pen
Tropical Gnatcatcher Polioptila plumbea Azeuro Pen
Swainson's Thrush Catharus ustulatus Azeuro Pen
Clay-colored Thrush Turdus grayi Panama City
Tropical Mockingbird Mimus gilvus Panama City
Northern Waterthrush Parkesia noveboracensis Azeuro Pen
Black-and-white Warbler Mniotilta varia Azeuro Pen
Prothonotary Warbler Protonotaria citrea Azeuro Pen
Tennessee Warbler Oreothlypis peregrina Azeuro Pen
Kentucky Warbler Geothlypis formosa Azeuro Pen
Bay-breasted Warbler Setophaga castanea Azeuro Pen
Blackburnian Warbler Setophaga fusca Azeuro Pen
Yellow Warbler Setophaga petechia Azeuro Pen
Canada Warbler Cardellina canadensis Azeuro Pen
Blue-gray Tanager Thraupis episcopus Azeuro Pen
Palm Tanager Thraupis palmarum Azeuro Pen
Red-legged Honeycreeper Cyanerpes cyaneus Azeuro Pen
Blue-black Grassquit Volatinia jacarina Azeuro Pen
Yellow-bellied Seedeater Sporophila nigricollis Azeuro Pen
Summer Tanager Piranga rubra Azeuro Pen
Scarlet Tanager Piranga olivacea Azeuro Pen
Eastern Meadowlark Sturnella magna Trans-American highway
Great-tailed Grackle Quiscalus mexicanus Panama City, roadside
Yellow-backed Oriole Icterus chrysater Azeuro Pen
Baltimore Oriole Icterus galbula Azeuro Pen
Crested Oropendola Psarocolius decumanus Azeuro Pen
Yellow-crowned Euphonia Euphonia luteicapilla Azeuro Pen
Thick-billed Euphonia Euphonia laniirostris Azeuro Pen
Mantled Howler Monkey
White-faced Cappuchin
Common Opossum
Nine-banded Armadillo
Bat sp.
Varrigated Squirrel
American crocodile
Cane Toad
Rana sp.
Tree Boa
House Gecko
Yellow-headed Gecko


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page updated: 10/22/12