Thursday, 9 August 2012

Short Morning, Long Night

August 8/9

August 8 a.m.
Eliecer had forgotten that we were flying home to-day and arranged a 6.30 breakfast and morning walk. That was fine, it helped pass the time. We explored some more areas of La Mesa again, birding forested roadsides and the plain at the top. I told him that I didn’t want to get my boots muddy and Pam asked to be back for 11-11.30 so that we could pack for a 1.00 departure.
We didn’t see any lifers this morning, but had our first trip views of the delightful Bran-coloured Flycatcher, perched on barbed wire – we’d only heard it before. 

Bran-coloured Flycatcher
We also had better, closer overhead and longer, views of both Zone-tailed and Barred Hawk, soaring overhead with dozens of Vultures.
A female Tufted Coquette posed on top of a twig for scope views and the usual Black-faced Antwren called incessantly. We haven't seen Rufous Motmot for a while either, that was a good scope view.
All three of us love butterflies, Eliecer is good at getting them in the scope so that we can photograph. He has a nifty little lightweight Panasonic Lumix point and shoot.

Back to the Lodge for bird log, packing, and lunch. We were again joined by Raoul, there to supervise the removal of branches overhanging the roof. He presented me with a single orchid bloom to take home. It’s the national flower of Panama , waxy white with (he says) what looks like a little bird inside. Pam looked it up and wrote the name down. I only remember that the common name is translated as Holy Ghost. It’s wrapped in tissue paper, we’ll see if it survives.
It's  peristeria elata florde Espirito Santo or Dove Orchid
We left the Lodge soon after 1.00 p.m. in a terrific thunderstorm which continued for over an hour's drive. The deep roadside gutters gushed like rivers. We left early so that we could buy some postcards at the airport - the Lodge had none. That discombobulated us. We bought what they had at the Tower, certain that the remaining would be available at the Lodge. How peculiar. Neither do they sell the obvious birding tourist stuff like hats, just the one design Tshirt, a rather lovely Tody Motmot on a sandy background, which Pam bought.
We’re now sitting in Schipol airport Amsterdam waiting for our Norwich connection after the usual uncomfortable night flight. At least we didn’t have any young children around us this time.
Experiencing departures at Panama Airport ensures that we’ll never return. The luggage and customs bit was good, the problem came afterwards. I enquired at the desk when a queue started to form at our departure gate and was told ‘Yes, we are booking in’, so we joined the then, short queue. One hour later, we got to the desk behind an increasingly irate bunch of people. Groups were being dealt with after gate-crashing the queue, others were at the counter for 10-15 mins and there was a lot of arguing. Meantime, 3 people spent the whole of the rime we were waiting, moving a few tables and those barrier stands and ribbons around. It had to be seen to be believed. We got to the counter and were asked why we were there !! We were  already booked in……That was the same man who'd told me to join. We were cross, as were others on our behalf. Even worse, no postcards for sale. There wasn't even a bookshop. Plenty of designer gear shops selling leather goods etc.
Eventually the boarding time came and went, a loose mob formed, a ribbon was opened and we surged through……to have our bags inspected manually all over again. Incredible.
We had a great two weeks birding, the chaotic end does not alter that. Now looking forward to home comforts and the last few days of the Olympics. I hope that I managed to programme daily recordings of the highlights.

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