Birds of Prey Migrating

Raptors migrate annually over Panama, and, thrillingly, every year they pass over our house. This year I managed to run outside and take a little video of them circling above in their hundreds. Not the same as seeing them in real life, but it certainly gives you a small idea of the spectacular display.

What a privilege to see these majestic birds gather and swarm in such numbers!

Dappled sunlight through trees, Plantation Road, Panama

Finally! Spider Monkeys!

We finally got to see Spider Monkeys in the wild this afternoon! Although we have lived here in Panama over two and half years now, and seen most other species of monkey many times, we had never, until this afternoon, seen Spider Monkeys in the wild.

Frequently at Camino de Plantacion – Plantation Road – we have seen the awesomely noisy Howler Monkeys, the awesomely cute and tiny Mono Titi (Geoffroy’s Tamarin) and playful and agile Capuchin. I had always wondered why we had not been lucky enough to see the elegant sinuous Spider Monkeys outside of Summit Zoo. After all, in this bountiful country, these creatures are not at all rare.

We started off by seeing an enormous Spider on an outhouse at the start of the walk – maybe this was a premonition of what was to come?

Spider at Pipeline Road, Panama

As we walked deeper into the forest, past tree roots bigger than full grown humans, we saw many interesting things including Trogons (a bird related to the Quetzal), Mot Mots (an exotic bird with long tail feathers shaped like tennis racquets), not to mention a gazillion leaf-cutter ants, fire flies and lizards.

Enormous Tree Root, Plantation Road, Panama

We turned to go back home after a couple of kilometers – we had our three young children with us, and dusk was approaching. Although I would love to see a wild Jaguar, I don’t want to be silly about it! Anyway, on the way back to the car the Toucans were croaking their frankly, horrible, croak, obviously excited about the approaching night.

I saw a movement high in one of the very tallest trees. Stayed still and watched, just for a couple of minutes, then, saw a large Spider Monkey – immediately identifiable, even from a distance, thanks to its enormously long limbs – so elegant and graceful. Then came a young monkey, followed by another grown up. I called my family back to watch. I got even worse photos than usual, due to the monkey I was photographing being so high up and far away. I could see it looking at me with great curiosity – monkeys are always just as curious about us as we are of them. So, I will spare you yet more fuzzy pics! I did get a reasonable, considering the circumstances, video of it though – you can see it very clearly, eating its evening meal of leaves followed by more leaves. What a privilege to see this graceful creature in its natural habitat.

Spider Monkey eating, Plantation Road, Panama from Panamajama on Vimeo.

As we headed towards our car, the sun was lowering in the sky giving beautiful dappled light through the palm and other exotic leaves.

Dappled Sunlight through Palm leaves, Plantation Road, Panama

Close Encounter with a Spiny Monster

We had the shortest day out at the beach ever a couple of weekends ago. I feel I can write about this now, now that the last spine has been extracted from my husband’s foot. What happened was this. We decided to go a day trip to Santa Clara beach instead of staying overnight due to newish and adorable commitment of Siamese cat. My hubby was kind enough to let me go in for a swim first, which I duly did. The water was perfect and I had a nice little swim with our children.

Then it was his turn to go in. He waded into the water, then came back out almost immediately and sat down clutching his foot. Both feet had blue-black largish dots stippled on the sole and heel. He was super-worried, we knew he had stood on a prickly creature, the question was which. We could rule out the stingrays which have been frequently sighted along this coast…as that would be one large sting, not lots of little ones. 

We heard calls from the sea, I ran down to the water’s edge with the children, only to see a teenage boy bring out this critter:
Sea urchin, Santa Clara beach, Panama Nov 2012

This was definitely the culprit, all the spines, the creepy wiggling around of said spines, yet such beautiful bright colours and markings. This sea urchin seemed to just have one purpose in life – to catch unsuspecting humans and inflict great pain on them. (Yes, I know they are only trying to defend themselves against predators, but really!)

Another cry from the sea, the teenager had found another urchin, which had proceeded to spike him on the hand. (Not entirely unsurprisingly if you ask me, but never mind!)
My daughter with Sea urchin, Santa Clara beach, Panama Nov 2012

When another one then washed up on the beach, we decided our day trip was over… husband hobbled up to the car, and I drove us all home. 

Life is pretty unpredictable, because on the way home, we stopped at this chicken grill place, Chacho’s Grill (awesome, by the way!) we always go to in Coronado, fell in love with a vibrantly coloured painting, met the artist, one Chantal, and bought the painting on the spot! Here he is signing our painting for us:
Chantal signing our new painting at Chacho's Grill, Coronado, Panama

And, to return to urchin-related events, the last prickle in my husband’s foot was removed by the doctor last night and he is now on antibiotics and feeling much better.
Now, should this post be filed under Places to go in and around Panama City or Wildlife and Plants? Hmmmm….

Pelican Crossing

A juvenile pelican wandered onto the road right in front of our car on Amador Causeway this afternoon. Rather daftly, I jumped straight of the car with my camera to snap away at the critter. Setting a bad example to the children! Felt my husband gently brush the car against my backside as I hit the pavement.

Pelican crossing at Amador Causeway, Panama City

Pelican crossing Amador Causeway Panama City

It walked across the road, causing all the cars to stop, in much the same way a sheep would do near Loch Lomond in my home country. It arrived at the moped hire shop, where it soon attracted a crowd.

Pelican surrounded by people, Amador Causeway, Panama City

Pelican at Cycle shop, Amador Causeway, Panama City

Here it is standing under a sign which says ‘Parrot Island’.

Pelican on Isla Perrico, Amador Causeway, Panama City

I think we were all quite worried about the pelican, as it was pretty bewildered.

Pelican on Pavement, Amador Causeway, Panama City

Just as my husband arrived back from the top of the causeway to pick me up, a man got a broom and ushered the big baby back across the road in the direction of the water.

Pelican being ushered onto road, Amador Causeway, Panama City

I had to jump into the car, as the traffic was building up behind us, but managed to see the pelican reaching the right side of the road, the bay side.

Man ushering pelican across road, Amador Causeway, Panama City

And here it is, back where it belongs! Happy ending!

Pelican back where it belongs, Amador Causeway, Panama City

Crazy Crustaceans

I have never seen so many crabs as on our Pedasi vacation. From the blue and orange shiny shelled land crabs, right outside our holiday house (and at point, even inside a kitchen cupboard – yikes!), to the balled up masses of hermit crabs and their babies on the beach, by way of large darting orange crabs which leapt out of holes as we ran along the beach, it was a holiday for the crab aficionado.

This one is so much like Spongebob’s crabby sidekick, it is quite uncanny!

Fiddler Crab at Pedasi, Panama

Orange beach crab, Pedasi, Panama

I spent a long time (too long!) lying down on the sand with my camera, snapping at crabs in the distance. Here is a Hermit Crab making its way along La Playa Bonita, an idyllic cove near Pedasi in the Azuelo Peninsula.

Hermit crab walking, La Playa Bonita, Pedasi, Panama

I watched one orange crab for a long time – it was coming out of its hole and running along the beach with sand, then patting it into a neat pile. I presume it was building a nest or den. It certainly was super-busy. I got a good video of this busy critter:

Fiddler Crab Nest Building on La Playa Bonita, Pedasi, Panama from Panamajama on Vimeo.

I think they were actually a kind of fiddler crab, as one claw was significantly bigger than the other, as you can see in this picture.
Fiddler crab, Pedasi, Panama

Prying Panamanian Primates

Imagine waking up to this guy looking through your window!

Howler monkey looking through window, Playa Bonita, Panama

He seemed to be the leader of the lack of Howler Monkeys we spotted at Playa Bonita in the Azuelo Peninsula of Panama. He was soon joined by a younger member of the troop, and they took it in turns to peek through the window. They were absolutely fascinated by what was within.

Old Howler Monkey and Friend, Playa Bonita, Panama

They then started playing chases around the dormer window. I watched these fearless animals do this for at least twenty minutes. They reminded me so much of King Louie and his troop in the abandoned temple in the Jungle Book. Although these guys were much better behaved!

Howler Monkeys playing chases, Playa Bonita, Panama

Look how high up they were! And, we never did find out just what was so fascinating on the other side of the window!

Howler Monkey at Top Floor Dormer Window, Playa Bonita, Panama

Backyard Beasties

From baby iguanas, through katydids, hummingbirds, even a pit viper! The variety of creatures we can see without even leaving our neighbourhood never ceases to amaze me. My daughter, the nature nut, frequently brings home one or two baby iguanas for us to see, sometimes as many as four at a time! Here she is with her friend from round the corner – his ‘n hers baby iguanas.

His n hers baby iguanas, Panama

And here is a very common sight in our house. A bit fuzzy, but you get the idea.

Baby Iguana, Panama

Luckily for us, this Pit Viper, a member of the rattlesnake family, very possibly the legendarily dangerous Fer de Lance, was not found in our backyard. But it was in our next door neighbour’s but one! Rather foolishly I went out to their yard to take some pictures of this intimidating creature. As you can see, it was coiled in a defensive/aggressive stance and ready to strike. A creature to reckon with for sure. This one ended up dead I’m afraid – sometimes it’s them or us, and if you google Fer de Lance (which I do NOT recommend), you will see that our neighbours could not take the risk of this potentially deadly beast escaping.

Fer de lance, Panama

It is still a novelty for us to see six inch long insects, such as this impressive katydid on the wall of our house, spotted, of course, by our daughter.

Katydid, Panama

If you look closely at this picture, you will see an Amazon parrot camouflaged among the greenery. This illustrates perfectly why so many of the parrots and parakeets are bright emerald green – they are virtually impossible to spot in the trees, unless you happen to see them landing. This tree is right outside our backyard, and these large parrots fly over our house, squawking in pairs, every morning and every evening as they go to and from their roosting place.

Amazon parrot from my backyard, Panama

And, to finish, some nice soothing pictures of a hummingbird at our feeder.

Hummingbird at my Feeder, Panama

Beautiful hummingbird at my feeder, Panama