Brooklyn Bird Club
Long Pond Greenbelt
|Date: March 10-16, 2010
Reported by: Joe Giunta
Our group consisted of Joe, Debbie, Lana, Al, Gina, Rob, Tracy, Wolfgang and Kathy. Joe, our leader, Debbie and Lana had
been birding in Panama before but for everyone else it was their first time. It was also the first time that Happy Warblers
LLC had ever sponsored a trip outside of the United States. The trip was highly successful with a total of 202 species of birds
being seen by most members of the group. Some of our birders saw over 210 species. At the end of the trip it was wished that
we could have stayed longer and just enjoyed the wildlife, venues, food, and friendships that were made on the trip. A slide
presentation of the trip can be found at
March 10: Our Continental Airways flight, out of Newark/Liberty Airport, took off at the scheduled time of 5:20pm (EST)
and arrived at Tocuman Airport, Panama City at 9:40pm (EST), right on schedule. We were greeted at the airport by our
guide, Jacobo Ortega, who took us to the first of our three hotels, La Estancia B&B, in downtown Panama City. Jacobo
would remain with us for the next seven days.
March 11: We had breakfast at La Estancia and did some birding from the veranda of the hotel. They had many seed and
fruit feeders for birds to come to and for us to watch and enjoy. We started out for our first birding venue, which was
Plantation Road, about five miles from the hotel. As we left the van the first bird seen was a Violaceous Trogon. We walked
about 100 feet to another great bird that Jacobo had spotted. We looked at a branch but in reality it was a Great Potoo.
Walking into the forest we found two Sunbitterns. We had fantastic views. Other great birds seen at this location were
Slaty-tailed Trogon, Great Tinamou and Red-capped Manakin. I particularly liked the White-whiskered Puffbird and
hearing the song of our Acadian Flycatcher. After a few hours of birding we went to Niko’s Café in downtown Panama City
for lunch. After lunch we took a short siesta back at the hotel and then headed out again for an afternoon of birding in
Metropolitan Park, a 500-acre park also in Panama City. Some key birds at this venue included many North American
migrants like Chestnut-sided warbler, several Bay-breasted Warblers and Summer Tanager. Panamanian birds that put on
a show were Green Honeycreeper, Blue Dacnis and Black-crowned Tityra. Dinner was at Mi Ranchito, a lovely spot on a
causeway to an island in the Pacific Ocean.
March 12: After breakfast we left La Estancia and headed for the Caribbean city of Colon. On the way we birded an area
known as Pedro Miguel Town. At this location we saw Purple Gallinule, Wattled Jacana, Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks
and the people’s favorite, a Boat-billed Heron. Back in the van and we were on our way again to Colon. We used the new
highway and saved about one hour in traveling time. We checked into the Colon Radisson, had lunch at a local restaurant,
and then made a visit to the Panama Canal at Gaton Locks. We stayed in the observation area and watched a ship pass
through the canal. After the canal visit it was back to birding and we were on our way to Fort San Lorenzo. On the way
special birds that we spotted were Mealy Parrots, in display, Black-tailed Trogon and Common Black Hawk. Many Howler
Monkeys were seen on the road. The Fort was built in the sixteenth century by the Spanish explorers and is located at the
mouth of the Chagres River and the Caribbean Sea. Special birds seen here were the Chestnut-mandibled Toucan and the
Crested Oropendola. In a tree right next to the fort was a Three-toed Sloth and more Howler Monkeys. We ate dinner at
the Radisson and turned in early because we had a busy day tomorrow.
March 13: After an excellent breakfast at the Radisson, we were on our way to bird Achiote Road, one of the premier birding
spots in Panama. We saw many species along Achiote road, where some of the special birds were: White Hawk, White-
headed Wren, Pied-Puffbird and White-tailed Trogon. Next to the road was an area where shade-grown coffee was grown.
We saw workers harvesting the coffee as we continued to bird. Jacobo picked out a Rufescent Tiger-Heron and put it in the
scope. The bird made for great views. Also very interesting to see was a troop of Geoffrey’s Tamarin Monkeys. They are
squirrel-size monkeys known for their beautiful facial patterns. We stopped at a roadside café for lunch and were treated to
an excellent Panamanian lunch of chicken, rice and beans and a drink for the cost of about $3.50 per person. Near the
restaurant we had excellent views of a Red-breasted Blackbird. We left this area and headed towards Panama City and our
final hotel, the Gamboa Rainforest Resort. The Gamboa is a spectacular hotel with a lobby that must be four stories high
and fantastic views of the Chagres River at Lake Gatun. The hotel is surrounded by 300 acres of its own rainforest. We had
dinner at the Gamboa and prepared for our next day of birding.
March 14: After a 6:30 breakfast at the Gamboa we were on our way to bird one of the best venues in the Americas, Pipeline
Road. This was deep rainforest and we would see different birds. The road gets its name from a pipeline built just before
World War Two to bring oil from one coast of Panama to the other in case the Canal was ever shut down. The road was
actually a service road for this pipeline. Some of the great birds that we saw were White-whiskered Puffbird, Slaty-
Antshrike, Chestnut-backed Antbird, Ocellated Antbird, Black-breasted Puffbird, and Long-billed Gnatwren. Our group left
the road and walked into the jungle a little as Jacobo had spotted an Agami Heron. We had spectacular views of the bird.
Next we saw a Kentucky Warbler, which winters in this area. We walked and birded the road for about four hours. When
lunch time came we returned to the Gamboa and had lunch at their deck restaurant with views of the Panama Canal. It was
very nice to see ships moving by as we had lunch. Many Purple Gallinules and Wattled Jacanas were located right next to
our lunchtime deck. We also picked up a Limpkin, some Royal Terns and a distant Sandwich Tern. After lunch and a short
siesta we were out birding again, this time searching for birds on the grounds of the Gamboa. Some interesting birds that
we spotted were: Keel-billed Toucan, Barred Antshrike, Collared Aracari, Bright-rumped Attila and White-necked Puffbird.
We had great views of two Yellow Green Vireos. The birds blended in so nicely with the foliage that at first it was hard to
spot them. We had dinner at the Gamboa and also spent the night.
March 15: Again we were out early, this time birding first and then having breakfast. We again were birding the grounds of
the Gamboa. We had some urgency in our walk as we had a “date” with the Blue Cotinga. We had to be at the tram stop at
exactly 7:30am to see this bird. During our walk to this location we even passed on seeing a Prothonotary Warbler. At 7:30
to the minute Mr. and Mrs. Blue Cotinga appeared at their favorite fruiting tree and we all had great looks. At this spot we
also picked up other birds like the Cinnamon Woodpecker. We went back to the hotel, had breakfast and then took a
motorized canoe trip to the Embera Indian village. At the village we saw the indigenous people who inhabit the island and
were told about their history in the area and about their family life. Back to the hotel for a short siesta and we were out
again for one more time of birding. In one spot in the forest on the Gamboa property we had all three species of motmots:
Blue-crowned Motmot, Rufous Motmot and Broad-billed Motmot. Then we got really lucky, an ant swarm appeared! Red
Army ants were on the move and with them came four species of antbirds. We saw Black-bellied Antbird, Bicolored Antbird,
White-bellied Antbird and Chestnut-backed Antbird. It was the highlight of the trip for me. We had dinner at the Gamboa
where we were joined by Jacobo. Overnight again at the Gamboa . Tomorrow, we were headed back to New York.
March 16: Jacobo picked us up at 7am and we were on our way back to the airport. We returned on the 10am Continental
flight and touched down at Newark/Liberty airport about 4pm.
Great Blue Heron
Little Blue Heron
Western Long-tailed Hermit
American Pygmy Kingfisher
Species seen - 202