Tuesday, March 27, 2018

South America, Day 13 - 01 Mar 2018

01 Mar 2018 – Canal de Panama

Happy (Belated) Anniversary, Robin! 26 Years as of 29 (fleeting nanosecond) Feb 2018.

We woke at 7 am and found ourselves surrounded by dozens of cargo ships waiting in line for their passage through the Panama Canal. We continued on past them and queued ourselves for a day-long trip through the engineering marvel.

Magnificent Frigatebirds, Brown Pelicans and scattered Laughing Gulls greeted us, but as we got closer to shore we passed ½-mile long mudflats covered with herons, egrets, White Ibis, Whimbrels, Willets, Yellow-crowned Night Herons, and Black-bellied Plovers. Sandpipers were present, as well, but too far away and too small to ID even with a scope. Flocks of Sandwich Terns followed fishing boats and dove for whatever fish were swimming near the surface.

As we passed through the canal I scoped the shoreline looking for birds. Last trip yielded toucans and parakeets, but this one yielded almost nothing. I was fortunate to see Gray-breasted Martins and Mangrove Swallows, a few Tropical Kingbirds and Great Kiskadees, but otherwise things were quiet.

I then spotted a Ringed Kingfisher atop a tree way out along the shoreline. While scoping it a Blue Dacnis flew in and perched above it!

My highlight of the day would come when I spotted a Fork-tailed Flycatcher atop a fenceline. A female was nearby, and my attempts to digiscope them was a challenge. But, a few seconds later I spotted one flying across the canal and over the ship, and managed to grab photos of a second male following it!

A few minutes later a Yellow-headed Caracara flew near and provided a few flight shots. 

The passage would take almost 8 hours to complete, but would save 3-4 days additional sailing without. The mid-day trip through Lake Gatun was enjoyable, though, even if I didn’t see any birds. I found it fascinating that bridges around here are tall enough to allow the ships to pass under them!.Another amazing feat of engineering!

A flock of Brown Boobies following the ship just out from my balcony was a nice way to end the day. At least 12 birds were soaring over the water and overhead as we headed toward Colombia. Tomorrow we land in Cartegena.

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