Once again birdwatchers, hold onto your floppy hats because this is going to be one hell of an all encompassing post. In this post Im going to share all the last little odds and ends before I start blogging from Colombia. There will be Ornate Hawk Eagles! GPS Tracks! And not to be left out one gigantic Chirqui list that really no one will appreciate but myself. Yes. I know this no one gives a fig about this, but I put it undera ‘read more’ tab in case anyone feels like doing some lurking.
From a bird watching perspective I really enjoyed my time in Chriqui. The bird watching, particularly what was accessible by fairly cheap cab rides and public transportation, was really what made it for me. As we all know though, some of the best bird watching does sadly require a car. For this last Panama post (until I visit again!) I wanted to share some photos from a visit to the Fortuna area of Chiriqui. Provided you have your own transport, Fortuna can be easily made into a semi long day trip from Boquete, and I highly recommend it for anyone in the area. All the way back in May I was lucky enough to be invited along to hop in the Big Red Birding Bus (also known as the Birders Chariot for its high level of comfort in rough terrain) for two trips to bird the STRI station and the surrounding Fortuna area. If you are looking for the rare Chirqui birds this is one of the best areas to go to find them, and we ended up turning up gems with every visit. Even people who have been birding Chiriqui for years can scrounge up a new bird when they up this way! Besides straight up new birds, one of the highlights of going to Fortuna is getting to get better acquainted with birds that are seen less back in Boquete.
Both the birds above were seen at the Tower Road, which can turn scorching but can also offer some decent road birding and fun species. Some of the highlights during my time there were Azure Hooded Jay, Green Thorntail and the acrobatic Bat Falcons that can be seen there regularly. We were also lucky enough to get great views at this sleeping Sloth on one of our trips. I hope I look this peaceful when I nap!
One of the undeniable highlights of May’s Forutna’s trips was an Ornate Hawk Eagle seen on another stretch of road birding. The road slightly past STRI (on the right) offers fairly decent birding and on top of that offers a really nice view of the Reservoir down at the bottom. On this day I was lucky enough to get some in flight photos of this badass bird.
In addition to the two road birding areas, the area around the Fortuna Resevoir is also home to the STRI research station. We were fortunate to be their guest on both of our May trips. STRI has a short trail system that is fairly easy and fun to bird, but they also have many beautiful species that walk right up to the cabins. One of the treats for me was seeing a family of Black Breasted Wood Quail out in the open multiple times. I have only caught fleeting glances at Quails in the Boquete area and it was spectacular to see a whole family shuffling around the leaves at such a close distance. Another beautiful surprise was being able to see the White Bellied Mountain Gem visit the feeders there.
Even though the Fortuna area needs to be birded by car, there are tons and tons of Chiriqui birding gems that are accessible by public transport and cab. Three of my favorites were: the Pipeline Trail – also known as the Waterfall Trail, The 3 Waterfalls Trail, and The Quetzales Trail. Before I fully switch to Colombia bird posts I wanted to share a few GPS tracks that I made with the View Ranger App. I have had tons of success with this free App and you dont need to be connected to wifi or data for it to track a perfect trail for you. Please pay no attention to the times connected with these tracks, these are not indicative of how long it would take to walk or even bird the trails. Each of my maps Ive shown includes heavy doses of me sitting and waiting for birds, eating lunch and other variables. I did share these because I feel that these are a pretty accurate gauge of the distance and altitudes found at these spots. If you click the link you can explore the data a bit more in depth.
Pipeline Trail GPS Map
Type of Trail? Walk in and walk out via same path. Terrain has fairly slight uphill slope in parts.
The map shows the distance to walk in to the end of the trail and walk out again.
Quetzales Trail – See Full Post of hiking to Cerro Punta here!
Max Elev . – 8234 – Min Elev. – 6063
Type of Trail- Can be walked through to Cerro Punta or simply walk in as far as your comfortable and return.
Three Waterfalls GPS Trail Map
Min. Altitude – 5454 Feet. – Max. Altitude – 6240 Feet
Type of Trail – Basically hike in hike out. There is one offshoot loop trail to the first waterfall that returns you to the main trail afterwards. Steep and challenging in parts. To avoid these parts you can walk in and head directly to the second waterfall area and then return back. This is still very scenic and less challenging.
This map shows hiking from the 3rd waterfall and returning to the start of the 3 waterfalls property. It does not include the 1st waterfall.
Well. Thank you to the loyal readers who have made it this far though this disjointed ramble of a post. I will always truly value my time birding Chiriqui and I hope I can make it back in the near future to visit friends and tick off a few species!
And for anyone who is curious please click Page 2 (below related posts) to see my Chiriqui list according to Ebird 🙂