Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Panama Scenes of the Boquete Area Mar. 2016

The following are some pictures that represent our impressions of Boquete, Panama.  They were taken during the month of March 2016.  I wish I had taken my wide angle lens but the suitcases were getting full and as a result the following pictures were taken with a 100-400mm lens.
The town of Boquete lies in a valley between Volcan Baru, Panama's highest mountain, and the Continental Divide.  It is 4000 feet above sea level giving it a most agreeable climate.   The Caldera River runs through it. The hills in the background provided some of the many trails that we hiked and the world's best coffee, according to some, is grown there. 
Some of the butterflies were brilliant.  We saw many beautiful, giant blue Morpho butterflies but they wouldn't sit still for a picture.
Coatis at the visitors center.
A little girl peeks as we hike up Culebra Trail.
We had a great "conversation" with this charming couple although none of us knew each others language.
Praying Mantis at our cottage.
Native ladies wore these dresses in many colors but same basic design.  I didn't notice the charming architecture in the background when I took the picture.
Boquete street scene.
He had a little character in his face and I liked the hat.
We bought our vegetables and fruit at these stands which sold local produce.  12 oranges for $1.00
Cicada-the noisiest bug in the world.
 The rural Panamians love their horses.
These guys insisted I take their picture.

The Boquete town square.  It was always active.
The "new" bridge in town.

Our Cowboy rental car.  Dian sits at the table.  Chicken or pork with rice and beans for $3.50.
Taxis are everywhere as the locals rarely own cars.
Flowers are abundant on the forest trails.
David citizens come to Boquete for the weekend and the town is very busy. Native ladies (below) contrast with the tourists.  Their dresses were always so clean considering they probably had no washing machines.

Most likely city of David tourists.
Dian at Romeros-the local supermarket.  Food prices were about the same as home in Canada.
At Romeros.
This dog always greeted us as we arrived home.  The pile of dirt was cool.
Most of our groceries were bought here.

Banded Orange Heliconian

Swinging bridges were quite common in the area.  Cars and trucks would drive over them but we decided to park on the other side and walk across.

A Postman Butterfly.  

These flowers were photographed at Finca Lerida, a coffee plantation.  Some of the coffee (called Giesha) at this plantation sells for $100 a pound in Japan. 
Different types of coffee are spread out to cool after being roasted at Finca Lerida.

Cangilones swimming hole.
Horses are a source of transportation in the rural areas.
Jesus Lizard runs on top of water.
A young Common Basilisk or Jesus Lizard.
These beetles were common. 
Bill Fox and kids at Pipeline Trail.
Part of the Boquete Hiking Club in the mist called bajareque.  The expats do a lot of activities together. 
Just a fly.
These pictures were some of the many I selected to remind us of our adventure in Boquete, Panama.     The people were very friendly and willing to help. One fellow walked with us until I found a barber and another went looking for lemons for us.  It is good to know a little Spanish if you want to find a bathroom or buy an onion (cebolla) and not end up with a horse (caballo).  Panamanian drivers are very aggressive.  If there are driving rules, no one follows them.  There are about 2000 people from the US, Canada and Europe, who have come to Boquete to retire.  Some come from the Southern States to escape the heat in the summer. They have made an impact on the town with such activities as weekly markets, theatre, library, etc.  We felt safe here-more so than Mexico and would recommend it if one is interested in nature.  If you weren't into nature, I think the novelty of the town would wear off after a week or so.  As mentioned in a previous blog, we found 188 birds in the month.  This was done while staying in one area and hiring a guide for 1 day.  If we would have had a guide for 1 more day I am sure we would have had over 200 birds.  For comparison when we toured the east coast of Australia for a month, we had a pelagic trip, stayed a week in four different locations and had a guide for 3 days.  We saw 218 birds on that trip.  If there weren't different parts of the world to explore we would probably go back.  After all,  there are 800 birds we didn't see.  Thor Manson, who has also visited Boquete,  has added some interesting additions in the comments below.  

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Friday, April 1, 2016

Panama Boquete Birds Mar 27 2016- Oropendola, Keel-billed Toucans, Jason Lara, Purple Gallinule, Motmot, Euphonia, Sloth, Monkey, Cacique, Parakeet, Manakin.

This is the second to last blog on the Boquete, Panama series.  The final blog will consist of pictures that are not birds but general scenes that will remind us of our month in the high country of Chiriqui. Mar. 27, 2016 we hired Jason Lara ( to guide us to a place called Willy Mazu.  It is on the Caribbean side of the Continental Divide.  Willy Mazu was a man with some property and he wanted to turn the land into Panama's first sanctuary for birds.  I am not sure if he was successful in this venture but the area allowed Jason to get us over 80 birds there.  Jason is a great guy with perfect language skills in both Spanish and English and he really knows his birds.  While we were getting tired at the end of the day Jason didn't want to quit.  In 2015 Global Big Day Jason and a group of friends got 218 birds in 18 hours.  Here is some of what we saw.
Jason Lara and Dian
The pin on the map just below Chiriqui Grande is the approximate location of Willy Mazu.
Black-chested Jay 
Blue-headed Parrots (Pionus menstruus-their undertail coverts determined their Latin name) on the way to Willy Mazu.
A type of Glass-winged Butterfly.  Their wings are transparent. 
Golden-hooded Tanager 
Keel-billed Toucans

Keel-billed Toucan.  We also saw 2 Chestnut-mandibled Toucans but too far away for a decent shot.
Montezuma Oropendola.  
While looking for birds around what we thought was Willy Mazu's rundown, abandoned sanctuary headquarters in the middle of nowhere, this gentleman took us by surprise. He has apparently commandeered it for his home. Jason said a few words in Spanish and we left him in peace.  
Fork-tailed Flycatcher was on the way home.
Tawny-capped Euphonia.  I was taking a picture of this bird when the old man appeared.
Tawny-crested Tanager.  Sometimes you gotta get a picture any way you can.
Three-toed Sloth with three toed child (I presume). 
White-faced Capuchin Monkey.  The only ones we saw on the trip.
Jason was quite excited to find this Yellow-billed Cacique.  He had not seen very many before.
After the gruelling Willy Mazu trip we decided to do the less strenuous Pipeline Trail again on the 27th.  Here is the Black-thighed Grosbeak.
This Green Hermit Hummingbird has been in the same spot for the month we have been in Boquete.  Pipeline.
Lesser Goldfinch Pipeline.

The following pictures were mostly taken while driving to Cangilones from Boquete.
Scaled Pigeon Cangilones.
Rufous-capped Warbler, Cangilones.  Quite common here and reminds us of our many trips up Florida Canyon in Arizona (where they are rare) to find one. 
Orange-throated Parakeet.  Cangilones.
Lance-Tailed Manakin at Bill Fox's place
Gary-Lined Hawk. I thought it was a Gray Hawk but ebird editor corrected me.  They were split in 2011.   Cangilones.
Bill Fox knew we were having a hard time finding the Blue-crowned Motmot so he invited us over.  Nice to have them right on your own back yard.  Thanks Bill and Lynne
Blue-crowned Motmot dorsal view.  These birds nest in holes in dirt banks.  It looks like this one has dirt on its back.
Crimson-backed Tanager Cangilones
Purple Gallinule Cangilones
Roadside Hawk Cangilones
Black-faced Warbler Pipeline

Broad-winged Hawk Pipeline

Hairy Woodpecker Pipeline

Silver-throated Tanager Pipeline

Spotted Woodcreeper Pipeline

Yellowish Flycatcher Pipeline

We found 188 species of birds in the Boquete area and photographed about 125 of them.  We were lucky to meet up with Bill and Lynne Fox who showed us the back trails and found us some nice birds.  Guide Jason Lara took us out of town for one day to find birds not common in the Boquete area.  He charged us $120 for a full day.  We rented a car from Cowboy Car Rentals for $750.  They are junkers but get the job done.  Car rentals from known car companies seem cheaper but they charge enormous insurance rates.  Our accommodation was through Airbnb.  It is a cottage about 5 miles out of town that served us well.  Boquete itself is a quite noisy so we welcomed the rural ambiance although one can't escape the barking dogs and crowing roosters.  (They have cock fights here).  Dian, thinking ahead, brought ear plugs with us. The sun shone every day in March and we had no rain the entire time.  It would get warm in the afternoon for a few hours but the breezes would start around 3PM and cool things down.  Bill told us Mar. 28 was warmest day they had witnessed in their 10 years here and that day the temperature hit 93F degrees.  The temperature gets to the mid 60's during the night and we never missed air conditioning. We enjoyed our stay here and we were glad we decided not to tour the country because we got to know the locals and how they carried on their daily lives.  There were certainly enough birds and hiking trails to keep us busy.

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