Friday, January 14, 2011

7 Dolphins, 21 Lucky Boaters and 2 Peregrine Falcons

Seven dolphins! How could we be so lucky? My neighbor John Hahn arranged the trip out to Isla Gomez in the Parque Nacional Marino Golfo de Chiriqui. Twenty-one of us from La Barqueta left Boca Chica via a slow-moving catamaran on January 12 (now don’t be humming the Gilligan’s Island theme song). The weather was absolutely stunning, especially when compared with the day before when I led 3 friends up the Pipeline Trail in Boquete in a constant downpour (it’s the dry season, for God’s sake). Our first stop was Isla Bolena. We didn’t go ashore. Instead we hopped into the warm Pacific Ocean and snorkeled around a small reef. After 20 minutes, we got back onto the boat and headed for Isla Gomez (very close to Isla Parida). Even though this was my fifth time to Isla Gomez, I’ve never grown tired of this lovely island. It’s the perfect island paradise… white sand beaches, palm trees, warm tropical water, calm-clear snorkeling. The last time I was here (with Leslie and her sisters) I saw a huge spotted eagle ray. This time I saw a jewel moray eel hunting in the shallow rocky reef. Tony and Roy saw an octopus… very cool! On the return trip back to Boca Brava and Boca Chica, were thoroughly entertained by 7 bottlenose dolphins that leaped and played in front of the boat for 15 minutes. John took a great video with his camera (I forgot mine). If I get a copy of his video, I’ll add it to this blog.
Today (January 14, 2011) I went on my last (at least for the time being) birding adventure with the Boquete Birders. I’ve never seen such variety. At the first set of ponds, we saw the usual suspects (anhingas, egrets, woodstorks, northern jacanas, purple gallinules) and several very UNUSUAL birds. The most unusual (for me) was the peregrine falcon. I didn’t even know we had peregrines in Panama! In fact we saw 2 different peregrines in 2 different locations. As Ridgely says, they are “uncommon, transient winter residents in coastal areas”. Shari nearly had a heart attack when she spotted a pair of scarlet macaws! Scarlet macaws “now found only on Coiba Island and remote parts of southwestern Azuero Penninsula” (Ridgely) aren’t suppose to be here. It turns out I was the only one who knew there is a group of 15 or so scarlet macaws that were hand-raised nearby and are often seen at a nearby house in the early morning. Hummm. Legally, you can’t put a bird on your “life-list” if the bird is domesticated… which these were. Oh well! We also saw 3 boat-billed herons, 2 roseate spoonbills, black-necked stilts, large groups of flying black-bellied whistling-ducks, huge groups of flying wood storks, Amazon kingfishers and orange-chinned parakeets!
I'm looking forward to Sunday night when I pick up Allan (from Hawaii) and begin the adventure of showing him around Panama.