Each time I visit Panama I think there won't be another visit, but now I've been wrong three times so I may as well admit that the country has a strange attraction for me. The current 2014 trip is planned for August 9 to 22, when I will also be joining good friends Simon Buckingham and Howard Jolliffe whom I accompanied in Ecuador in 2013. My wife Joanna and daughter Amelia will also be travelling to Panama, as will Simon's wife and daughter, and Howard's wife. For most of the trip we will be staying at the gorgeous Gamboa Rainforest Resort, located in Gamboa and about 20 minutes from Panama City. I have birded in the area of Gamboa several times and have never been disappointed...one of my favourite birds, an Ornate Hawk-Eagle, was from Summit Gardens only a few minutes away.
During the trip, Simon, Howard and I will also spend three nights at the Canopy Lodge in El Valle, about 1.5 hours south of Panama City. I've made two trips to El Valle in the past, but persistent strong winds made the birding tough on both occasions. Hopefully, among the three days, there will be some good opportunities to add a few lifers from this unique 'crater' village; I'm hoping for about 20 new species in this area.
On another day, the three of us are planning to take a day trip to the Nusagandi and Bayano Lake with a guide. I made the trip to these areas on my last visit in 2012, but Nusagandi was a total bust as it overlapped with Carnival and the road was fully congested. Bayano Lake was more productive at the time and I added many of the specialities for the area...but there are at least five species that should be reasonably easy to get and would be lifers.
The rest of the trip will no doubt include time at Pipeline Road, Old Gamboa Road, Summit Gardens, Amador Causeway and Metropolitan Park.
Stay tuned for updates and daily reports once we're there.