Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Panama Canal Area - Summit Hotel and Botanic Gardens


It's fair to say we found some of the practices at the hotel a bit random, like the chap trying to deliver a coffee machine with a 'do not disturb' on the door and then getting reception to ring to wake us up when we didn't answer.  Grrrrr.

It is however very well located and reasonably sympathetically located with the golf course abutting rain forest as you can see here from this view from our room taken just after dawn on our first morning there:


We started off trying a recommended walk in Soberania National Park, just 1 mile from the hotel,  off the trance to the Canopy Tower resort, which proved pretty pointless.   It's good habitat but it's also frequented by joggers, cyclists and people generally out for the morning. As a consequence the birding was frustrating to say the least.   We finally gave-up after an hour or so and headed back, locating this White-tailed Trogon close to the car park:


We'd contacted the Canopy Tower as a potential stop on our travels.   They are expanding to cover birding across Panama, and you can see why.   Their fees are exceptional, i've never been quoted close to $1,000 a night for 2 people anywhere.  We declined, hence basing ourselves elsewhere.

Next we headed to the Botanic Gardens just up the road on the edge of Soberania National Park, entering shortly after it opened.  It's the kind of place where families and groups go for a day out and this being Saturday lots of people were already arriving with picnics, we looked very much the odd ones out!

The national bird of Costa Rica is also near ever-present in Panama, the renamed Clay-coloured Thrush:


There's an abundance of trees in the park and some ponds, lawn areas, etc:


The trees in particular support a number of the more common 'garden' species including the rather spectacular Crimson-backed Tanager:


Yellow-bellied flycatchers are common across Panama though there are a number of species, this being a Rusty-margined Flycatcher:


We also saw Trogons in the park, that was a surprise, this being the Slaty-tailed Trogon: 


And a small group of Smooth-billed Anis, which always work together as a flock:


A female Summer Tanager was particularly outstanding in fresh breeding plumage ahead of her northward migration:


Flowers and blooms abounded:


As did Variable Seedeaters, wherever there is grass:


We'd pretty much completed our exploration within a couple of hours so headed back to the hotel for a late lunch and some further recuperation.

I did some afternoon birding from our balcony, seeing this settled Black Vulture:


And a beautiful Keel-billed Toucan:


The following day we planned to head a little further afield.

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