Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Birding in Panama - New Observation Tower at famous Pipeline Road offers Spectacular Views

If you're looking for an amazing wildlife experience, visit the new 100-foot observation tower on the border of Soberania National Park in Panama. The tower offers 360-degree views of the rainforest canopy teeming with rare birds, monkeys and sloths.

The view from the new tower (not to be confused with the famous Canopy Tower EcoLodge, the highly regarded yet pricey hotel in a refurbished radio tower overlooking the national park) was the highlight of my recent trip to Panama. From the platform at the top of the new tower, my husband, Paulo, and I saw dozens of beautiful species, including the Blue Dacnis, Red-legged Honeycreeper, Blue Cotinga, Black-breasted Puffbird, toucans, parrots, woodpeckers and many others flitting about the emerald-green treetops. Many of the birds were only yards away from where we stood on the platform.

The new iron tower is part of the Panama Rainforest Discovery Center (tickets are $20) on Pipeline Road, a world-renowned birding destination about 45 minutes from Panama City. It's a great way to get a bird's-eye view of the park's most colorful residents, without having to shell out the big bucks to stay at the Canopy Tower EcoLodge.

Panama is a birdwatcher's paradise. In four days, we saw 260 species, an astonishing amount and diversity of birds! The bird life is rich in the tiny tropical country because it's a land bridge for species from both North American and South America. More than 950 species have been recorded there.

If you're traveling on a tight budget, I highly recommend staying at Ivan's Bed and Breakfast in Gamboa, where we stayed for three nights for $38 per person per night. An extra $15 per person gets you a home-cooked dinner.

If you're looking for bird guides, we recommend the two we used: Mahelis Garcia of Birding Panama, and Gonzalo Horna.

Finally, we are thankful to a fellow birder we met on the trip, David Milsom who operates Ontario-based Flora and Fauna Field Tours and was extremely gracious in offering advice about identifying birds, picking out good camera and scope equipment, and becoming a better birder in general.



Violet-bellied Hummingbird at the Panama Rainforest
Discovery Center on Pipeline Road, Soberania National Park



Blue Cotinga in rainforest, view from canopy tower at Pipeline Road, Soberania National Park. This photo was digiscoped (using a camera and a scope).



Squirrel Cuckoo at Panama Rainforest Discovery Center on Pipeline Road, Soberania National Park



Crimson-backed Tanager near Orchid Gardens at Gamboa Rainforest Resort, Gamboa, Panama



Female Blue Dacnis, view from canopy tower at Pipeline Road, Soberania National Park



White-necked Jacobin at Panama Rainforest Discovery Center on Pipeline Road, Soberania National Park



Violaceous Trogon near Achiote Road, Panama



Chestnut-headed Oropendola, near Orchid Gardens at Gamboa Rainforest Resort



Slaty-tailed Trogon, Achiote Road, Panama



Blue-crowned Motmot, yard at Ivan's Bed and Breakfast, Gamboa, Panma



Long-billed Hermit at the Panama Rainforest Discovery Center on Pipeline Road, Soberania National Park




Slaty-tailed Trogon,Pipeline Road, Soberania National Park








A typical colorful house in the countryside of Panama. This one is near Achiote Road.




View of the Panama Canal at the Gatun Lock.




Paulo and our bird guides at the Rainforest Discovery Center, Soberania National Park, Panama




Our group of birdwatchers with our bird guide, Gonzalo Horna, at a roadside restaurant in Achiote.






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2 comments:

  1. Ana your pictures are beautiful!! you went to a great place for bird-watching!! I specially like the violet- bellied hummingbird and the Motmot pictures. The blue cotinga is beautiful, I have never seen one!!!

    I love your blog, keep posting beautiful pictures and lots of interesting bird stories!!

    Sevi

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