In a tropical city nature penetrates deeply among the anthropized habitats, colonizing each available green corner and even large mammals can be spotted in the gardens and park of Panama City.
The birding sites were described diffusely in the web, so I’m not going to say too much about them, telling mainly what we had of interesting and showing a selection of photos.
Generally the cities are good places for the nature photography, because there is no hunting or poaching pressure, but also, on the other side, animals are used to the human widespread presence, so they are usually much tamer and easier to be photographed at the right distance.
1- Centro Natural Punta Culebra (Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute)
Interesting place with a reptilarium and a small aquarium, but the visit was worth mainly for the presence of some very confident birds, Hoffmann’s Two-toed Sloths (Choloepus hoffmanni) and Green Iguanas (Iguana iguana) in the dry woodland of the island.
Apparently it was a good place for the Common Raccoon (Procyon lotor) as well, but they told us not in the dry season.
2 – Casco Viejo (“Old Quarter”)
The city center of the capital was included in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1997 and is now a nice area to visit, with some well restored historical monuments and attractive squares.
The best birding areas we noticed were the the promenade around the point of Plaza de Francia, with some nice flocks of waders resting there because of the high tide, and the harbour by the Fish Market (Mercado de mariscos).
In the first site, by the shore, the species we had were: Tricolored Heron (Egretta tricolor), Yellow-crowned Night Heron (Nyctanassa violacea), Wilson’s Plover (Charadrius wilsonia), Semipalmated Plover (Charadrius semipalmatus), Least Sandpiper (Calidris minutilla) and Semipalmated Sandpiper (Calidris pusilla)
By the Mercado de Mariscos, instead, good ones were Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis), American White Ibis (Eudocimus albus), Snowy Egret (Egretta thula) and Laughing Gull (Leucophaeus atricilla).
3 – Balboa Inn and surroundings
At this nice hotel found on booking, we spent our second stay in the capital: the surroundings were apparently safe and rich in gardens and nice houses.
Species I noticed were: Central American Agouti (Dasyprocta punctata), Variegated Squirrel (Sciurus variegatoides), Grey-headed Chachalaca (Ortalis cinereiceps), Rufous-tailed Hummingbird (Amazilia tzacatl), Orange-chinned Parakeet (Brotogeris jugularis), Saffron Finch (Sicalis flaveola) and Rose-breasted Grosbeak (Pheucticus ludovicianus).
4 – Cerro Ancón (“Ancon hill”)
This area was the first we visited in Panama, when we slept at the Bodhi Hostel and was described in another post: –> Cerro Ancón.
5 – Parque Natural Metropolitano (“Metropolitan Natural Park”)
The park protects a hilly area covered in seasonal tropical forest particularly accessible because of presence of many different trails.
During a morning around we had 4 species of mammals and about 40 species of birds including: Squirrel Cuckoo (Piaya cayana), Whooping (Momotus subrufescens) and Broad-billed Motmot (Electron platyrhynchum), Keel-billed Toucan (Ramphastos sulfuratus), Lance-tailed Manakin (Chiroxiphia lanceolata), Green Shrike-Vireo (Vireolanius pulchellus) and Blue Dacnis (Dacnis cayana).
Luca Boscain & Michela Ugazzi