[Tweeters] Panama trip

lized01 at comcast.net lized01 at comcast.net
Tue Apr 17 12:39:24 PDT 2012

Hi Tweeters: My husband and I got back from a first-ever trip to Panama yesterday. I will post later with a guide recommendation and some other things, but I wanted to share a couple of visions:

While birding Sunday in Sobierno National Park, we saw hundreds upon hundreds of Eastern Kingbirds in migration. Our guide commented that he had never seen so many of this species migrating at once. They were flying low, just above the jungle canopy, and were very easy to identify.

Far harder to identify, but so impressive it gave us chills, while transiting the Panama Canal via boat we saw high in the sky an enormous migration of raptors. Our guide said it was most likely Swainson's hawks, but they were so high it was impossible to tell. All throughout our week-long trip we saw masses of raptors soaring on the afternoon thermals, then headed north, with huge mixed flocks of vultures and hawks. It was amazing and humbling to see the neotropic friends I eagerly anticipate at that stage of their epic and perilous journeys. We have placed so many obstacles in their way, and squeezed them to the smallest margins of their habitats. Their persistence is a reminder of just how tenacious and precious these birds are.

When I see an Eastern Kingbird this year at Wenas, I will wonder if it was among those I saw in Panama, and say a prayer for it and all the other birds I love so very much.
Liz Brown
Pilchuck Audubon
Edmonds, Wash.

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