Ariel Aguirre is an expert birding guide in Panama, currently leading our Great Raptor Migration program for Road Scholar.
Panama Bay and Ancón Hill Hawkwatch
Our program started with a visit to the Panama Bay Mudflats. We got there a bit before high tide being able to see some shorebirds at a close range: Black Skimmer, Marbled Godwit, Cocoi Heron, Southern Lapwing (lifer for most of the group!).
Later on, we had an interesting lecture at Panama Audubon about raptor migration.
In the afternoon, the rain took over Panama City, due to the presence of a tropical storm in the area. We had scheduled a visit to Panama Audubon Hawkwatch site at Ancón Hill, but unfortunately it was cancelled due to a fallen log on blocking the access road, so we decided to make our way back to the hotel and finished the day birding at a pond nearby. It turned out to be very productive — we saw a Gray-headed Chachalaca, Greater Ani, Anhinga, and several Flycatchers.
The next morning, we went for second try at the pond, for our surprise, our first sighting was flock of 200 Turkey.
Vultures rising from the woodland to start their migratory journey started kettling and streaming. Also, we had our first toucan for the program: Collared Aracari, with it's bright blue back with a mix of red and yellow in the chest, beautiful! Also some migrants such as Muscovy Duck, Blackburnian Warbler, and Eastern Wood-Pewee were seen.
The early start was promising so we went to Ancón Hill for a full day at the Hawkwatch, strong northerly winds were present, remnants of the tropical storm, hence there were few raptors to count, but we had tamed Keel-billed Toucan, White-tipped Dove, Blue-Gray Tanager, Gray Hawk, Peregrine Falcon, a Crimson-backed Tanager, a bird found only in four countries in the world! Plus wonderful views of the Panama Canal and Panama City. Starting tomorrow, We'll be based at Gamboa, a well-known birding destination.