A Travellerspoint blog

December 2013

Snowy Owls!

sunny 28 °F

Hi all,

This is an unexpected post, but today I went to Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary near downtown Chicago and saw FOUR SNOWY OWLS!

Here are the photos of one bird which was a very cooperative juvenile male. Enjoy!

Happy birding,


Posted by skwclar 17:09 Archived in USA Comments (1)

Panama Overview and travel plans for next year

snow 10 °F

Hi all,

Sorry I have not posted in a while, but it has been a busy, tiring, and COLD few days back here in Chicagoland. In this post, I will give an overview of the Panama Trip and announce my family's travel plans for next year!

So, on Monday, November 25 we arrived in Panama City and spent three jam-packed days in the area, having the beautiful Radisson Summit Hotel as our home base. There, we learned about the Panama Canal, gave a performance at an orphanage, and did some wonderful birdwatching in various places including the famous Pipeline Road area.

Then, on Thursday, November 28, we took a cab, a plane, and a car to the beautiful town of Boquete nestled in the high western mountains of Panama. We did a number of things there, including zip-lining, watching a fabulous parade, and sampling some of the best coffee in the world. The birdwatching was wondrous there, even though I didn't find the Respledent Quetzal (which can only be found in that region of Panama).

Next, on Tuesday, December 3, we rode on a car to another car to a bus to another bus to a boat to another boat, and FINALLY we arrived at the beautiful, secluded Bastimentos Island near Bocas del Toro in northwestern Panama. The birdwatching was great there also, although the real highlights for that leg of the trip were snorkeling, swimming, and relaxing.

Announcing our travel plans for next year...

In early-mid January, we will fly to New Zealand. After New Zealand, we will travel to Australia, Indonesia, and Singapore, and then in mid March, we will arrive back home in Chicago. It's not over then, though. In mid April, we leave for Turkey and also go to Italy, France, and England, and finally in mid May we arrive back home for the summer, and just in time for the tail end of spring bird migration in Chicago! The trips after Christmas will be a little less focused on birdwatching, but there will definitely be some great birds that I will see, and I will try to take as many photos as I can.

Happy birding,


Posted by skwclar 12:51 Archived in USA Comments (1)

Days 11-13: Last Few Days in Paradise

overcast 80 °F

Hi all,

Sorry I have not posted in a while, but like I said, the wifi is spotty here on the beautiful Bastimentos Island in Panama. Despite that one downside, it is truly paradise here, with an ever-lapping sea, sunny skies, and enjoyable 80-degree temperatures. Yesterday was probably the most exciting day in this entire Panama trip because our family took a tour around the surrounding bay with a knowledgable guide and another fun family. We did a number of wonderful things, like eating at a restaurant above a coral reef, seeing two other coral reefs that were simply outstanding, and bouncing up and down in the boat over big waves! Today we had a huge pot luck party with our new friends to celebrate the end of our Panama trip.

I have seen a few birds, although most of the time spent here was for swimming, studying the intriguing sea creatures, and relaxing.

Here are a few bird photos:

Spotted Sandpiper (nonbreeding plumage)

Montezuma Oropendola (male)

Green Ibis

I have gained three life birds since my latest post:

Gull-billed Tern
Sandwich Tern
Green Ibis

This means that I have now seen 428 species of birds in my life, up from 425 three days ago.

Tomorrow, we go back home to frigid Chicago, but stay tuned for a couple of wrap-up posts on the Panama trip, and in a few days, I will announce our travels for the rest of the year which will start next January.

Happy birding!


Posted by skwclar 16:47 Archived in Panama Comments (0)

Days 9 and 10: Bastimentos Island!

sunny 80 °F

Hi all,

Yesterday we travelled in a car, in another car, in a bus, in another bus, in a boat, in another boat, and FINALLY to the secluded Bastimentos Island near Bocas del Toro. We are renting a wonderful open house right on the beach with the Gulf of Mexico right at our fingertips! NOTE: Wifi is very spotty here so I may not be able to post on this blog every day.

Other than birds, I have seen creatures in the water such as sting rays (!!), lobsters, electric eels (!!), crabs, sea urchins, sea sponges, and starfish.

Now, to the birds. I have seen quite a few birds in these last two days, including the following that are pictured, and then listed. Enjoy!

Orange-billed Nightingale-thrush

Lesser Goldfinch (male)

Flame-colored Tanager (male)

Brown Pelican

Solitary Sandpiper

Yellow-throated Warbler (male)

Bananaquit (isn't that a funny name?!)

American Pygmy Kingfisher

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Montezuma Oropendola

Prothonotary Warbler

Here is the bird list. I am going to list the raptors first because I saw a great amount of them yesterday.

  • **Indicates a life bird

RAPTORS (birds of prey)

  • **Semiplumbeous Hawk

Roadside Hawk
Common Black-hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Bat Falcon
Yellow-headed Caracara

  • **Laughing Falcon

Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture


Great-tailed Grackle
Ringed Kingfisher

  • **American Pygmy Kingfisher
  • **Least Grebe

Tropical Kingbird
Great Kiskadee
White-tipped Dove
Great Egret
Rufous-tailed Hummingbird

  • **Bananaquit

Yellow-throated Warbler
Yellow Warbler
Prothonotary Warbler
House Wren

  • **Gray-breasted Martin

Blue-gray Tanager
Brown Pelican
Magnificent Frigatebird
Franklin's Gull
Laughing Gull

  • **Montezuma Oropendola

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

This means that now I have seen 425 species of birds, up from 418 two days ago.

Stay tuned and happy birding!


Posted by skwclar 04:31 Archived in Panama Comments (0)

Day 8: The Quest for the Quetzal, Part II

sunny 80 °F

Hi all,

Today my dad and I took an intense birding tour with a knowledgable guide in hopes of sighting a Resplendent Quetzal. Here are pictures from the trip, and results from the day can be found at the bottom of this post. Enjoy!

Gray-headed Flycatcher

Baltimore Oriole (male)

Yellow-crowned Euphonia (female)

Blue-gray Tanagers

Blackburnian Warbler (female)

Violet-headed Hummingbird (male)

Tufted Flycatcher

Red-faced Spinetail

Spot-crowned Woodcreeper

Violet-headed Hummingbird (male)

Prong-billed Barbet

Black-and-Yellow Silky-flycatcher

Yellow-thighed Finch

Collared Redstart

So, it was a fabulous day of birdwatching, but the Resplendent Quetzal was a no-show. I will have to come back to Panama again when I'm older.

Here is the bird species list for today.

  • **Indicates a life bird

Cattle Egret
Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture
Red-tailed Hawk

  • **Barred Hawk

Great Black-hawk

  • **Black Hawk-eagle

Ruddy Ground-dove
Green Violet-ear

  • **Violet-headed Hummingbird
  • **Snowy-bellied Hummingbird
  • **Stripe-tailed Hummingbird
  • **Purple-throated Mountain-gem
  • **White-bellied Mountain-gem
  • **Magnificent Hummingbird

Scintillant Hummingbird

  • **Prong-billed Barbet

Red-crowned Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Smoky-brown Woodpecker

  • **Red-faced Spinetail
  • **Spotted Barbtail
  • **Ruddy Treerunner
  • **Streak-breasted Treehunter
  • **Lineated Foliage-gleaner
  • **Spotted Woodcreeper
  • **Streak-headed Woodcreeper
  • **Spot-crowned Woodcreeper
  • **Yellow-bellied Elaenia
  • **Paltry Tyrannulet
  • **Tufted Flycatcher
  • **Dark Pewee
  • **Yellowish Flycatcher

Black Phoebe
Great Kiskadee
Social Flycatcher

  • **Gray-capped Flycatcher

Tropical Kingbird

  • **Brown-capped Vireo
  • **Rufous-browed Peppershrike

Plain Wren
House Wren

  • **Ochraceous Wren
  • **Gray-breasted Wood-wren
  • **Black-faced Solitaire
  • **Ruddy-capped Nightingale-thrush
  • **Mountain Thrush

Clay-colored Thrush
Tropical Mockingbird

  • **Black-and-Yellow Silky-flycatcher

Tennessee Warbler
Flame-throated Warbler
Yellow Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Blackburnian Warbler
Northern Waterthrush
Slate-throated Redstart

  • **Collared Redstart

Wilson's Warbler
Canada Warbler

  • **Black-cheeked Warbler
  • **Common Bush-tanager
  • **Cherrie's Tanager

Blue-gray Tanager
Palm Tanager
Silver-throated Tanager

  • **Spangle-cheeked Tanager

Red-legged Honeycreeper

  • **Slaty Flowerpiercer
  • **Yellow-thighed Finch

Summer Tanager
Flame-colored Tanager
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Baltimore Oriole
Thick-billed Euphonia

  • **Yellow-crowned Euphonia

Elegant Euphonia
Yellow-bellied Siskin

  • **Lesser Goldfinch

81 species, 41 life birds. This means that I have now identified 418 species of birds in my life, up from 377 yesterday.

So, a great day of birding, and now I will list my nemesis-bird-of-the-day and my best birds-of-the-day.

The nemesis bird for today was definitely the Resplendent Quetzal, with Three-wattled Bellbird, Snowcap, and Long-tailed Silky-flycatcher close behind it as conspicuous no-shows. At least I will get a chance to see the Three-wattled Bellbird in Bocas del Toro.

My best birds of the day were Black Hawk-eagle, Purple-throated and White-bellied Mountain-gems, Red-faced Spinetail, Rufous-browed Peppershrike, Black-and-Yellow Silky-flycatcher, Flame-throated Warbler, Collared Redstart, Canada Warbler, Spangle-cheeked Tanager, Yellow-thighed Finch, and Yellow-crowned, Elegant, and Thick-billed Euphonias.

What a wonderful day of birdwatching.

Stay tuned--tomorrow we travel to our beach house near Bocas del Toro.

Happy birding!


Posted by skwclar 18:44 Archived in Panama Comments (5)

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