PANAMA JOURNAL

March 16 - 30, 2002

Narrative by Martin Selzer and photos by Lynn Jackson

Many thanks go out to our able Field Guide Leaders: John Rowlett and John Coons and to all of our other trip participants: Paula Allred, Jane Brooks, Lynn Gearhart, Richard Irvin, Bill & Naomi Murphy, Charles Osgood, Jan Shaw, Audrey & Ron Watkins and Lloyd & Norma Wygant
Thanks also to the great hosts at Canopy Tower and at Los Quetzales

Bird List

Butterflies

Photo Album

16-Mar-02 - Saturday

My alarm went off at 3AM and I dragged myself into the shower and then got dressed. I picked Lynn up a little before 4 and we headed to Pacifico Ford to leave my car. We got to the airport and had just checked in when Bill and Naomi walked into the terminal. We waited for them to check their bags and then the four of us all went to the gate to wait for our boarding call. It turned out that although our flight stopped in Miami, we would be taking the same plane all the way from Philly to Panama City. That at least would suggest that our luggage would arrive with us and we would not have to wonder if the plane would be there for us in Miami.

Unfortunately, our flights were under 4 hours so there was no food service and the options by the gate in Miami were rather limited. Still both flights were on time and we arrived in Panama City, with all our luggage, without any bother. We all made it through customs and found our ride to the hotel. We checked in around 13:45 and agreed to meet for a walk 45 minutes later. We ended up birding around the hotel grounds from 14:30-16:00.

Some of the other tour members joined us and we had a surprising nice mix of birds including Blue-Gray, Palm and Crimson-backed Tanagers; Clay-colored Robins, Tropical Mockingbird, Great-tailed Grackles, Tropical Kingbirds, Sapphire-breasted Hummingbirds, Orange-chinned Parakeets, Social Flycatchers, and Variable Seedeaters. Overhead Black and Turkey Vultures soared. Those of us with rooms facing the Pacific Ocean could watch Magnificent Frigatebirds, Brown Pelicans and Laughing Gulls from the comfort of our rooms. We all stopped for a cold drink by the pool and eventually had dinner on our own, as the trip didn’t officially start until breakfast on the 17th.

17-Mar-02 - Sunday

We all met for breakfast at 05:20 and then headed off to Metropolitan Park in Panama City at 06:00. The park was barely a 15-minute ride from the hotel at that hour on a Sunday and we immediately started to bird near the entrance gate. One of the first birds we had in the park was a Cocoa Woodcreeper. This is a split of the Buff-throated Woodcreeper. Apparently, quite a few races of birds found in Panama are now being identified as separate species from their counterparts that occur east of the Andes. Good news for serious listers and book authors. Other birds near the entrance were Black-striped Sparrow, Yellow-backed Oriole, Streaked Flycatcher, Red-legged Honeycreeper (or honeyeaters as I first called them before I remembered I wasn’t in Australia anymore!), Red-crowned Woodpecker, Yellow-crowned Euphonia and Palm Tanagers.

A Crane Hawk soared back and forth once across the treeline, which was a good thing because, I missed it going forth but got it on its return trip. As we started up the main trail, we had several Dusky Antbirds; great looks at a pair of White-bellied Antbirds and simply mind dazzling views of a male Rosy Thrush-Tanager. In good light, like we had this beauty, it is a real "WOW" of a bird. We had at least six species of tanagers including: Blue-gray, White-shouldered, Plain-colored, Palm, Summer and Hepatic. The Hepatic Tanager was an individual of the highland race (testacea) which is another potential split some day. Flycatchers we found in this area included: Streaked, Yellow-bellied and Greenish Elaenias and Yellow-crowned Tyrannulet. We continued up the path and found Long-tailed Manakins (male and females), Squirrel Cuckoos, and lots and lots of Tropical Kingbirds. We had another encounter with a Rosy Thrush-Tanager and ended up heading back to the bus after a nice study of a perched Double-toothed Kite, and Collared Aracari. Lunch was back at the hotel and we then left for the domestic airport around noon for our flight to David.

Our flight took off at 13:00 and we got a bird’s eye view of the Canal and the Canopy Tower. We landed about 14:00, checked ino the hotel in David and left about 15:45 to bird the area around the airport. Even though it was very hot and we had little cover from the sun, we had several very nice birds and two fantastic ones.

In the fields near the parking area, we had a Pearl Kite, which is just starting to become somewhat regular in this region of Panama. The other startling find was a pair of Black-hooded Antshrikes. Their preferred habitat is mangrove marshes and this habitat has been slowly eliminated in the David area. Apparently a few of these antshrikes are hanging on in what was described as somewhat less than ideal habitat. This one really got, John and John torqued up (Yip, Yip). Other good birds at the airport ncluded Boat-billed and Fork-tailed Flycatchers, Great Kiskadees, Red-breasted Blackbirds and Plain Wren. Dinner was back at the hotel.

18-Mar-02 - Monday

Breakfast was at 05:15 and we were off at 06:00 for our first trip to the Fortuna Road. Unfortunately it was a rainy day, so armed with our umbrellas; we braved the precipitation and ended up having a great day.

We went up over the Continental Divide down to Bocas Del Toro (about 200’ elevation) in hopes of the weather clearing and birded the marsh there. We picked up some long-legged waders, Great Blue Heron, Green Heron, Little Blue Heron, Great Egret, and Cattle Egret. We also had more Red-breasted Blackbirds, White-collared and Variable Seedeaters, Barn, Bank and Cliff Swallows, Northern Jacanas and a Green-breasted Mango. John R. believed that the mango was of the “Veraguan” type.

We also had a Tropical Pewee perched along the fence which clearly demonstrated its relatively short primary projection and called as it would fly up, feed and then settle back down on the fence. We then drove on to Mali for a pit stop and while we waited, had two young Brown Jays, Montezuma Oropendola and Giant Cowbirds.

We then started back up the mountains (4100’ at the highest point along the Fortuna Road) and birded when the rain lessened. Our first stop was great with Black and Yellow Tanagers, Passerini’s Tanager, Shining Honeycreeper, Scarlet-thighed Dacnis and a Mourning Warbler. Most of the group went up the road from where we stopped while Bill, Naomi, Lynn and I walked down the road. Here we came to an opening that we could look down on and we found a small mixed flock working this area as the rain eased for the time being. The flock consisted of Magnolia, Chestnut-sided and Golden-winged Warblers, Tropical Parula, Slate-throated Redstart, Bay-headed Tanagers, White-shouldered Tanagers and a Russet Antshrike. Actually, the four of us had a bit of trouble putting a name to the antshrike but we were able to get the entire group on the bird so we could put a proper name to it. We also had a Spotted Woodcreeper in this flock. The rain then really started to come down so were climbed back into the bus and ate lunch.


Martin in traditional Chiriqui birding outfit

We had found a fig tree with tons of fruit and even though visibility was less than ideal, we would regularly visit this tree as it always had lots of activity. We found Bay-headed, Silver-throated, and Emerald Tanagers but no Rufous-winged Tanagers. Down the road from this tree, we had several pairs of Crimson-collared Tanagers and two Bay Wrens.

We then headed back to David with a stop at a small creek. We still had the rain with us but we also had an Orange-breasted Trogon, Wedge-billed and Olivaceous Woodcreeper, Rufous-lored Tyrannulat, White-Crowned Manakin and Golden-bellied Flycatcher. The weather showed no signs of breaking but just on the David side of the hydroelectric dam, we stopped to look for Black-bellied Hummingbirds. We dipped out on the black-bellies but got great looks at a Black Guan, Rufous-tailed Hummer, Banaquits and a White-tailed Emerald. The rain and wind really kicked up and we got soaked before we gave up.

A stop along one of the lower slopes allowed us to dry out and we had some Yellow-crowned Euphonias, more Orange-chinned Parakeets, White-collared Swifts and a nice perched Blue-headed Parrot that Lynn found. We got back to the hotel at 17:45 and had dinner at 19:00.

19-Mar-02 - Tuesday

Our plan was to start the day about 15 minutes earlier than we had on the 18th and head back up to the Fortuna Road. We ended up leaving about 05:45 and we made our regular morning pit stop at the Cafe Y Rest Mary at 06:45. While waiting for everyone to finish up, we had a flock of Swallow-tailed Kites overhead. The weather was a bit better but we still had fog and rain bands rolling though. We birded at the Smithsonian Research Center from 07:00-09:45. Here we learned that one inch of rain had fallen the day before which would certainly could attest to.

The birding at the center was great! When the rain started up, we would step under the covered porch and when it stopped, we would step into the yard. The center is very bare bones and rustic but it yielded great birds: Emerald Toucanets, Pale-vented Thrushes, Tawny-capped Euphonia, Black-thighed Grosbeak, White-bellied Mountain-gem, Yellow-throated Brush-finches, fantastic Rufous Mourners, Spangle-cheeked Tanagers, Blue-gray Tanagers and Silver-throated Tanagers. During one of the breaks in the rain, Naomi spotted a Blue and Gold Tanager perched down the hillside. We were all able to see this striking bird before another band of fog and rain rolled in and sent us all back under cover. It turned out to be the only Blue and Gold Tanager of the trip.

As good as all these birds were, the top five species of our visit at the Research Center were Prong-billed Barbets, Red-headed Barbets, Azure-hooded Jays, Slaty-backed Nightingale-thrushes and Black-faced Solitaires. We had started off calling in an immature Slaty-backed Nightingale-thrush while we stood in the light rain. After retreating to the cover of the porch, we had an adult male come out with its nice pale eye and uniform head and back color. The Prong-billed Barbets came in next and responded nicely to the tape, as did the jays. During another lull in the rain, while scanning one of the better fruiting trees in the yard, Naomi was heard to utter, “Holy Shit, Red-headed Barbets!” Sure enough at least two of these barbets, including a brilliant male, were seen eating berries. This was well worth a trip out from the cover of the porch into the mist. A bit later when the Black-thighed Grosbeak returned, we also had a Black-faced Solitaire. It was a great 2 and a half-hours of birding.

We headed back onto Fortuna Road where we had another Black Guan and a Streak-breasted Treehunter. A stop at the White-Crowned Manakin spot resulted in a real rush of birds including Spotted Barbtail, Sulphur-rumped Flycatcher, Three-striped Warbler and Red-faced Spinetail. Unfortunately, between the rain, umbrellas and all of this happening at once, I missed as many of these as I got. The manakin made another appearance and we moved back to the fig tree for lunch.

Since it wasn’t raining too hard when we arrived, we checked the tree before breaking out our picnic. There were two Yellow-eared Toucanets, along with Bay-headed, Silver-throated, Emerald and Crimson-collared Tanagers. Back up the road we had a flock of Dusky-faced Tanagers cross the road along with a Speckled Tanager. After lunch, we went back to the tree and found two Crested Guans eating fruit. We also called in a Black-headed Nightingale-thrush and a Buff-rumped Warbler. It then started to POUR and we pulled the plug. We made another pit stop at the Cafe Y Rest Mary.

In the low lands, it was again not raining and we again began the drying out process. Here we found two female and one male Veraguan Mangos and a Common Tody-flycatcher. A bit further along the road we stopped at a brush pile where we had two Striped Cuckoos, Red-legged Honeycreepers, male and female Barred Antshrike, Variable Seedeaters, Blue-black Grassquits and a surprising Mangrove Cuckoo. It made for a great ending to a wonderful day. It was wet but not as wet as our first day on Fortuna Road.

Today was the start of the festival celebrating the founding of David. We got caught in the “Parade of Horses” and took a scenic route to the hotel. Dinner was at 18:30.

20-Mar-02 - Wednesday

Breakfast was again at 05:15 and we departed at 05:50. The sky was the darkest it had been for these three days on the Fortuna Road and it was another rainy and foggy morning. We made our routine pit stop at Cafe Y Rest Mary at 07:00 and again had about a dozen Swallow-tailed Kites overhead in the early morning sky. We went along the road over the divide and down to about 1800’ before finally starting to bird. The rain was pretty steady and after an abated attempt or two, we finally bit the bullet and opened the umbrellas and braved the wetness. We were rewarded with a Dull-mantled Antbird, Cinnamon Becard and a female Hook-billed Kite. We also came upon a nice mixed flock of warblers (Cerulean, Chestnut-sided, Tennessee, Black & White, Golden-winged, Tropical Parula) and tanagers (Crimson-collared, Speckled and Dusky-faced). We ended up spending from 08:00-10:00 with these birds before making another stop at our favorite fig tree. Once again the usual suspects were there and once again, there was no Rufous-winged Tanager.

We then went to the trailhead of the “Umbrellabird Trail”. Near the trailhead was a pair of Black and Yellow Silky-flycatchers, a few Tawny-capped Euphonias and a female White-bellied Mountain-gem. The trail was very wet and muddy and not very birdy so we headed to the Umbrellabird Road where we had lunch in the bus from 11:45-12:30. Although it was raining rather hard while we ate, it started to lessen and after about 45 minutes walking on the road it stopped.

Once the rain stopped, we started seeing some birds. First we had some Common Bush-tanagers, then a Yellow-throated Brush-finch, some warblers and Black-striped Sparrows. Most everyone was finally able to get on a Spangle-cheeked Tanager and a distant Scarlet-rumped Cacique. We tried a few times for Sooty-faced Finch and Silvery-fronted Tapaculo without any luck although Naomi managed to find some mud, but that's a story unto itself.

{ N.B.: I never touched her...I swear. LCJ }

While looking at a few tanagers, a gorgeous male Black-bellied Hummingbird perched and sat for 30 seconds. It was a group CMF and we then continued along the road with one of our primary targets achieved. It wasn’t long before another great bird caught our collective eyes. Low in a roadside bush there was some movement that was Golden-browed Cholorophonia. Unfortunately, it flew before most people could really see it but it didn’t go far and soon we had a pair responding to JR’s whistles. It was a second group CMF in a matter of minutes. This took some real effort on the leaders part to get everyone on the brilliantly bright yellow and green bird. For a moment it was hard to tell if John was excited, annoyed or both. Finally he persevered and it was a good thing because a male Green Thorntail came out of nowhere to perch roadside for a few seconds before being chased off by a Green Honeycreeper. What great stuff and it wasn’t raining!

We continued forward as John C went back to get the bus. We had been hearing a Three-wattled Bellbird off in the distance and finally found it perched off in the distance. About the time we found it, John and the bus arrived so we got scopes on the bird. Even though it was way on out there, it was a pretty good look. As I was taking one last look, a white blur flew through the field of view and John R starts yelling “Snowy Cotinga, Snowy Cotinga did everyone see that?” Well I confessed to seeing a white blur go by the bellbird and John enthusiastically said, “that was the cotinga”. It may be on the official trip list but it didn’t make it on to my trip list.

We loaded up the bus and slowly started to bird our way out the road with stops a some of the better overlooks. Our first stop produced two Tufted Flycatchers and at our last stop, Naomi spied a raptor perched. By the time we all got out of the bus the raptor had flown but it circled back so we could see that it was a Greater Black Hawk.

We finally pulled back onto Fortuna Road around 17:00 and made one last stop for Sooty-faced Finch near the White-crowned Manakin spot. While the finch was taking its good old time to respond to the tape, a Grey-breasted Wood-wren popped into view. Eventually, the finch proved to be very cooperative. It was now near 18:00 and we had a good hour to drive back to David so we were only going to stop for good birds. Well, a Peregrine Falcon in a tree is a good Panama Bird so we made a quick stop.

As we headed into David with a beautiful sunset ahead of us, 7-10 nighthawks were seen. We reached the hotel at 19:00 and had dinner at 20:00. When we did the checklist, John R identified them as Lesser Nighthawks, so I asked why. He explained that the bend in the wings of Lesser Nighthawks is more subtle than the bend of a Common Nighthawk and combined with differences in primary projection, gives the Lesser Nighthawk a more sickle shape rather than a sharp-angular shape in the Common Nighthawk. This also gives lessers’ a more fluttery, bat-like flight rather than the swallow-like flight of commons. It all made great sense but it is amazing how he saw all that in the few second glimpse we had.

21-Mar-02 - Thursday

Breakfast was at 05:30 with our bags packed and ready to go. We loaded up the bus and set out for Boquette at 06:15. We arrived at 07:00 and made a pit stop at the Hotel Panamonte. We then birded around the hotel for about an hour. There is a small river a few hundred feet from the hotel and there we found a Spotted Sandpiper, a Black Phoebe and a pair of Torrent Tyrannulets. Around the hotel and neighboring property there were lots of birds including Yellow-bellied Siskins, Charming Hummingbirds, Green Violet-ears, Yellow-bellied and Mountain Elaenias, Yellow-throated Euphonia, Cherrie’s Tanager, Chestnut-collared Sparrow, Piratic and Grey-capped Flycatchers and others we had been seeing at previous stops.


Hotel Panamonte in Boquete

We picked up the four-wheel drive vehicles we would need to go onto the Finca Lerida property and continued on our way. We stopped just below the road to the Finca and birded from along the road from 08:00-09:45. There were lots of hummingbirds feeding here including White-throated Mountain-gems and Stripe-tailed Hummingbirds. We found a perched Violet Green-ear but really couldn’t get a good look at a Brown Violet-ear that was feeding in the area. A Dark Pewee was perched high and a few Broad-winged Hawks zipped along the treeline. We had some of the usual tanagers along with White-winged and Flame-colored Tanagers too. We really didn’t see these last two all that well but it sounded like we would have other opportunities to see them later. A pair of Red-headed Barbets added to the excitement of the birding, as did a pair of Elegant (Blue-headed) Euphonias. A few of us got a brief look at a Slaty Flowerpiercer before we loaded up the 4X4s and drove onto the farm proper. Finca Lerida is a coffee and vegetable plantation and we birded the property from 08:30 to 13:00.


lunchtime stop at Finca Lerida

Along the road, we stumbled onto a few warblers including Black-cheeked and Flame-throated as well as Ochraceous Wren and Slate-throated Redstart. There was also a Mountain Thrush and more Black-faced Solitaires. The real target birds here were an up close look at Three-wattled Bellbird and our first possible look at Resplendent Quetzal. The bellbird took some work to find and then it really took some effort to get all the photographers happy. While we were waiting for the photographers to get their shots, a few of us had the first Yellow-thighed Finches of the trip. We then continued along the path to an area near a known, active quetzal nest. A bird called shortly after we arrived and the guides soon whistled in two males. One of these birds had the full tail plumes while the other wasn’t quite as spectacular. This of course led to a discussion on whether or not size matters and while no conclusion could be made here, our next encounter with a quetzal would give lots of support to those who feel that size does matter.

Anyway, we were running late so we made a quick march back to the 4X4s and lunch back at the farmhouse. We left Finca Lerida at 14:00 and headed straight to Los Quetzales Lodge in Cerro Punte. The ride took a little longer than I think John R would have liked and we arrived shortly after 16:00.

After a quick pit stop, we loaded up into the lodge’s 4X4s and took the bumpy ride up to Cabana 2. While we waited for everyone to reconvene, we watched Violet Saberwings, Magnificent and Scintillant hummingbirds feed at the gazebo. We stayed at Cabana 2 from about 17:00 to 18:45 although I think most of the group would have been happy to get out of the rain sooner than we did.

Even though it was raining steadily while we were at the Cabana, we had lots of Magnificent Hummingbirds and several White-throated Mountain Gems. A pair of Ruddy Treerunners, a Barred Becard, 4-6 Sooty Finches, one Chestnut-capped Brush-finch and a few Sooty-capped Bush-Tanagers helped fill out our bird list. There were also a few Yankee migrants (Rose-breasted Grosbeaks and Wilson’s Warblers) and Lynn and I had another Black and Yellow Silky-flycatcher. The lodge staff had carried up snacks including hot chocolate so we had yet another great time in the rain in another great tropical forest.

Our trip back to the main lodge was delayed about 30 minutes because some idiot was trying to move furniture up the road in a truck that had no right to be on this steep, rutted road fully loaded. Necessity is a great motivator and we made it back to a wonderful Mexican buffet at the lodge.

22-Mar-02 - Friday

Breakfast was at 05:00 and we left the hotel at 05:40 to bird the Costa Rica Road and Finca Hartmann. We made a few initial stops including one where we heard several Spotted Wood-quail calling and saw a distant Roadside Hawk but our target was an overlook to search for Magenta-throated Woodstars, Fiery-billed Aracari and Turquoise Cotinga. John made it clear that there would be lots of other birds at the overlook but to ignore them until we had found the three primary target species. It seems that they all are very active that first 30 minutes or so after sunrise and we need to make the most of this time. The other stuff would hang in there so we would have other opportunities to see them.


Double-toothed Kite

One of the first birds we did see was a Yellow-faced Grassquits that hopped into the open before making a hasty retreat back into the grass. John C quickly found a Turquoise Cotinga and we all had multiple scope views of this gaudy bird. Next we had wonderful looks at two male, Magenta-throated Woodstars. Their long tails and deep purple gorgets were perfectly lit. While we kept looking for the aracari, we were distracted by Scaled Pigeons, Masked Tityras, Slaty Spinetails, Silver-Throated, Golden-headed and Cherrie’s Tanagers and Elegant and Thick-billed Euphonias. We also had a very uncooperative Orange-billed Nightingale-thrush. While enjoying a quick snack, a Double-toothed Kite stirred us back into birding mode. Flycatchers in the area included: Piratic, Boat-billed, Sulphur-bellied and Lesser Elaenia.

At 09:15 we head on toward Finca Hartmann with a quick stop at some flowering trees with lots of hummers feeding. We actually stopped because John R thought he had heard parakeets. We never found the parakeets but were rewarded with a beautiful male Garden Emerald, our first Snowy-bellied Hummingbird and a Long-billed Starthroat. The starthroat was perched with its back to us so you could only get glimpses of its gorget but you still could easily see the white, post-ocular stripe, the white facial stripe and the fine white lines down its back. As it bounced around in the wind, you did get flashes of color from its throat and crown.

We arrived at Finca Hartmann and birded among the coffee bushes from 10:00-12:00. Behind the small visitors center we had Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, Rose-throated Becard (although this race shows little or no color in the throat), Streak-headed Woodcreeper, and Philadelphia and Yellow-throated Vireo. Our walk through the coffee turned up Paltry Tyrannulet, Bananaquits, Yellow-bellied Siskins, Flame-colored, Golden-headed and Speckled Tanagers and Blue-crowned Motmots.

A walk down to the river yielded American Redstart and for some a Green Hermit. Lunch was then being served back at the visitor center and we enjoyed some home cooking by our host. Just outside the picnic area, Violet Saberwings, Rufous-Tailed hummers and Banaquits fed in the bushes. While we all enjoyed these birds, a pair of Green Hermits came in to feed. We then killed more time while we waited for coffee and Senior Hartmann to show us his beetle collections. Actually, we killed a lot of tie waiting for the coffee to brew and answering coffee trivia questions posed John C. We left the finca around 14:00 and made a stop or two at overlooks for the aracari without any luck.


Bill & Martin take a break

A stop at a marshy area just outside of Volcan turned up Chiriqui (Masked) Yellowthroat. It was then back to the lodge around 17:00. The plan was to meet at 18:30 to do the checklist and then have dinner. I took a few minutes to watch the hummingbird feeders before going back to the room. Even though it was raining lightly, there was a lot of activity with Violet Saberwings, Violet Green-ears, Magnificent, Snowy-bellied, and Scintillant Hummingbirds and a breathtaking male White-throated Mountain-gem. We also discovered that there was a Black Phoebe nest in the rafter near our rooms.


Room at Los Quetzales - no smoke

After dinner I built a fire in the fireplace. It was cool enough that it added nice ambiance to the room as I wrote up my notes. If I say so myself, it was a pretty good fire and the smoke detector only went off once. My goal tomorrow will be to build a fire and not set off the detector.

23-Mar-02 - Saturday

Breakfast was at 06:00 and then we were off to the Respingo up on Volcan Baru. The park headquarters is at 8200’ and we would get a ride up to the top and then work our way down the road birding as we went. We loaded into two of the 4X4s. Ron had hired a guide to take him on his own so he could photograph and Naomi was feeling rather crappy so she stayed back in the room. It still was a rather tight, bumpy ride although we reached Volcan Baru at 07:00. At the top we were greeted by a Yellow-thighed Finch, some Sooty-faced Bush-tanagers and a pair of Long-tailed Silky-flycatchers. We headed off to the trail into the forest and had several nice looks at Ruddy-capped Nightingale-thrushes and a pair of Large-footed Finches. There was a small flock of warblers that included a Black-throated-green.

We then headed back to the trailhead where Carlos and the vehicles were waiting for us. Our 10:00 snack was broken out at 08:30 and after gaining sustenance, we started off down the road. Very shortly, we heard Resplendent Quetzals calling and John R called in a short-tailed male. We actually had one on each side of the road when a third make joined in and he was a stunner with extensive, tail plumes. WOW! We all gasped in amazement and awe when he flew across the road. Although there still were some who would argue otherwise, this was a case when “Size did matter”. We enjoyed these birds thoroughly and were only slightly distracted by a pair of Black-capped Flycatchers that showed up before we started moving again. Further down the road, we had a pair Black-billed Nightingale Thrushes and a Grey-breasted Wood-wren.

Here and there we kept running into small groups of warblers and vireos including a few more Black-throated Greens, Black-cheeked, Tennessee and Wilson’s, and Collared Redstarts. We did have another pair of Ruddy Treerunners and a Hairy Woodpecker. I missed the woodpecker, which was a bit disappointing, because this is a very dark race, referred to more than once on the trip as a “Dirty Hairy” with no apologises to Clint Eastwood. The vireos included Yellow-winged and Brown-capped. By the time the 4x4s had returned to get us, we had several more Long-tailed Silky-flycatchers and two Acorn Woodpeckers. We called it a morning around 12:30 and went back to the lodge for lunch. It was a beautiful day and while we may not have seen a lot of birds, we had seen high quality ones.

After lunch and about an hour break, we headed off for the town of Volcan and a “local hotspot” that was supposed to be good according to the guide Ron had hired. It was a warm day and we would be hitting it at the absolute wrong time but it was worth a shot. We did find the Crested Oropendola nest tree so it seemed that “local knowledge” was accurate but we weren’t finding much else. The guide then caught up with us and took us to his spot. We had been there arlier and it was dead but that was possibly the time and heat of the day and you could see why at dawn or early morning there would be birds in this area.

Unfortunately, it was still quiet except for a light and dark phase Short-tailed Hawk, a fly-by Green Kingfisher and a Northern Waterthrush. We headed back to Los Quetzales in order to be there at twilight so we could go out for Dusky Nightjar in the hillside opposite the lodge. Right on schedule a bird appeared and then his mate showed up. They were most accommodating as they sat side-by-side on an open limb in the hillside. We all took turns looking through the scopes before stumbling back across the farm fields in the dark to the lodge and dinner. The male has white tail spots while the female has buffy tail spots. We had dinner right away and called it a night but not without another fire. This time I was successful in NOT setting off the smoke detector.


Bedroom at Los Quetzales... also no smoke

24-Mar-02 - Sunday

Breakfast was at 06:00 and at 06:30 we loaded up the 4X4s for the ride up to the observation deck and Cabana 4. John R noticed that the same folks had just about always been cramped in the back of the one vehicle so he suggested that Lynn and I hop in the front of the pick-up. With the window open we had a bit more room and at least we could see where we were going and didn’t bang our heads on the roof. We arrived around 07:00 and it was pretty quiet there except for lots of hummingbird activity. We soon had a Fiery-throated Hummingbird come to the flowers near the deck. It came in repeatedly and I got every field mark but the fiery throat. John R explained that some young males and most females don’t have the bright gorget so I shouldn’t get too upset.

The trees were really quiet except for a few Collared Redstarts and Black-cheeked Warblers. A few Prong-billed Barbets were calling too. We split into two groups around 09:30 to look for Wrenthrush and Silver-fronted Tapaculo. I went downhill with John C and while we had no luck with the Tapaculo some of us did have great looks at a Wrenthrush as it skulked about us. I offered to go get the other half of the group because this is a real target bird and we thought John could keep it interested with the tape. I headed up the road but as we were at 7000+ feet, those few hundred feet I traveled got my heart a pumping. I stopped at the observation platform and delivered the news, caught my breath and trudged on. Somehow I missed the other group coming down but the folks at the platform told them about the Wrenthrush. It didn’t matter, as the bird wasn’t seen by anyone except those of us in the first group. Anyway, I just stayed at the platform at this point and had a female Slaty Flowerpiercer, Yellow-winged Vireo, two Spangle-cheeked Tanagers and a Buffy Tuftedcheek. We then regrouped and all walked down to Cabana 2 where the vehicles were going to meet us. Along the way, we had some more of the usual warblers, Yellow-thighed Finches and Tufted Flycatchers.

We had lunch at Los Quetzales, said our good-byes and drove to David and the airport for our flight back to Panama City. We arrived at the airport, boarded the bus and drove to the Canopy Tower. We arrived at 19:00, checked in, had dinner and called it a night.

25-Mar-02 - Monday

The plan for our first complete day at the Canopy Tower was to meet between 06:15-06:30 on the observation deck for some sunrise birding and coffee and tea. We would then have breakfast at 08:00, take a walk down Semiphore Hill, have lunch at the tower and then go out birding in the afternoon.

Around 05:30, life began to stir around the tower. The Howler Monkeys began to howl and birds and birders showed signs of life. Since there really wasn’t any other option, I got dressed and headed to the deck. It was a little after 06:00 but I soon had company. The sun was just coming up and slowly everyone in the group gathered on top. It was great to look down on the forest canopy instead of up through it. There were White-shouldered, Golden-headed, Plain-colored, Scarlet and Palm Tanagers; Philly and Yellow-throated Vireos and a Brown-capped Tyrannulet. A flock of 7-9 Mississippi Kites rose out of the valley and headed north. The White-necked Jacobins began their day insecting in the trees tops before necturing at the blossoms and feeders. Across the valley we had a Blue Cotinga perched up high advertising for a mate and nearby were Blue Dacnis, Green Honeycreepers and a Green Shrike-vireo.


Keel-billed Toucans

A Western Slaty-Antshrike made a brief appearance and there were swallows and swifts overhead and at eye level. This enabled us to get good looks at the swifts especially and you could comfortably identify Band-rumped and Short-tailed Swifts. Besides having rather short tails (hence the name), the tail is all brown contrasting with its gray body and wings in Short-tails while the band-rumps have a brown rump patch. Typically these field marks are next to impossible to see from below. While all this was going on, coffee and tea had been brought up to the deck. Around 08:00, breakfast was served in the dinning room so we all left the deck.

At 08:30, we met at the gate and started to walk/bird Semaphore Hill Road. As the group gathered, we all enjoyed the hummingbird feeders by the Tower’s door. White-necked Jacobins were everywhere with the occasional Violet-bellied, Blue-chested and Snowy-bellied Hummingbird trying to sneak in. We also had one White-Vented Plumeleteer (black feet and legs) join in the morning feeding frenzy.

We started down the road and had a Black-throated Trogon fly out into the open along with a pair of Fasciated Anthshrikes. We heard and then could see a soaring Black Hawk-eagle and later had a young bird perched in the trees just over the road. Both Broad-billed and Rufous Motmots were calling and we were eventually able to find both species perched in view. As we continued down the road we stumbled on a nice mixed flock of birds and a small group of coatis What first caught Bill’s eye was a White-whiskered Puffbird but we soon realized that there were lots of other birds in the area. We found Dot-winged and White-flanked Antwrens, Plain Antvireos and Olivaceous Flycatcher. A bit further on, we had a Ruddy-tailed Flycatcher and a few Southern Bentbills. When John R was trying to get people on the Ruddy-tailed Flycatcher he directed people to the bush it was in and then told them to look at the brown looking leaf because that was in fact the bird. The bentbills provide a challenge for some of the group but as we would see them over the next few days, I think everyone finally got a good look sometime. We had almost reached the bridge near the bottom of the road when three Slaty-tailed Trogons caught our attention.

At the bridge were a female checkered-throated Antwren, Purple-throated Fruitcrows, Scarlet-rumped Caciques and Black-chested Jays. The Rainfomobile (Rain Forest Mobile) picked us up around noon and we had lunch around 13:00.

We had a siesta until 15:00 when we headed off in the Rainfomobile to Ammo Dump Pond. After crossing the Chagres River we made a brief stop to look for Striated Heron (missed) and Wattled Jacana, and Common Moorhen. We found the jacana and moorhen both with young along with Rusty-margined Flycatcher and Lesser Kiskadee. We also found nesting Yellow-green Vireo and Common Tody-flycatcher. We headed back to the Gamboa Highway and Lynn called out “Southern Lapwing”. There right on the bank of the canal was the lapwing and since traffic was stopped we took a quick look at this bird. The irony of this find was that at lunch Richard had asked John R what the chances of seeing a lapwing were. John replied that they weren’t very good. Once again, good old-fashioned dumb luck pays off. The lapwing would still be there on our return trip this day. We later learned the lapwing was seen the next day by another group but we would not see it again.

At Ammo Dump Pond (which is a pond next to an ammunition dump) we had Mangrove Swallows, more Wattled Jacanas they you could shake a stick at, Purple Gallinules, a few Pale-vented Pigeons and a good assortment of flycatchers (Lesser and Greater Kiskadess, Rusty-margined and Social). After about 90 minutes at the pond, it was White-throated Crake showtime. John R would leave his mini-disk player at the edge of the marsh on repeat and hopefully, the crake would come in to defend its territory.

After a few unsuccessful attempts during which every time John went to retrieve the player the crakes sounded as if they had moved closer we changed locations. He just played the tape at the edge of the marsh and that got a response. Two White-throated Crakes ended up coming in very close but they first had to run a gauntlet of Wattled Jacanas. While this was going on, I saw a Snail Kite flying over the tree line and found myself with a dilemma. If I called out about the kite (which was soon disappearing from sight) I would distract people from the crakes and given the difficulty we had been having with them, I didn’t want to do this. So I didn’t say anything, we all saw the crakes and I don’t think many people would have even caught a glimpse of the kite given how quickly it went out of view.

On the ride back up Semaphore Hill Road, we found a Three-toed Sloth hanging in a tree as only a sloth can hang. It seemed uncomfortable as heck to me but what do I know about being a sloth. Dinner was at 19:30.

26-Mar-02 - Tuesday

Today we were headed to Pipeline Road and that meant we would only have time for an early, quick breakfast at 05:15 in hopes of a 05:30 departure that turned out to be a 05:40 departure. We arrived at the gate to Pipeline at 06:10 and ended up birding along the first few kilometres of the road for the next 6 hours. We got as far as the first bridge.


Slaty-tailed Trogon

Early on we were able to tape in a pair of Spotted Antbirds and a pair of Black-faced Anthrushes. There were lots of Slaty-tailed Trogons around including one group of about 5 individuals. With the aid of the tapes, we were able to call in both White-tailed and Black-tailed Trogons before the morning was over. During one foray from the Rainfomobile, we were able to have a fleeting look at a Cinnamon Woodpecker and we were also fortunate to stumble upon an army ant swarm near the roadside.

At the ant swarm were 6-8 Plain-brown Woodcreepers, several Northern Barred Woodcreepers, a few Gray-headed Tanagers and Oscillated, Bi-colored and Spotted Antbirds. We stayed with the swarm for 45-60 minute and eventually had a female Crimson-crested Woodpecker join us. Around 10:00 we took a break for a drink and as Lynn tried to discretely find some privacy down the road, we all turned and saw a Black-breasted Puffbird above her in the branches over the road. We all looked at the puffbird while Lynn had to walk further down the road than she had probably originally intended.

We then drove onto the first bridge and were able to scare up a pair of Northern Royal Flycatchers. Not everyone was able to get on these birds as they quickly departed up and down stream from the bridge but fortunately Bill did and with getting a true nemesis bird he let out a mighty yelp that let everyone know he had seen it.

While the Johns were trying to get the flycatchers back in view for the rest of the group, Naomi spotted a white-necked Puffbird. This made for a two puffbird morning and a three puffbird trip. We walked further down the road until we came to a Golden-collared Manakin lek. When the sun came back out from the clouds, we were able to watch this little but colorful bird do his mating dance. He was jumping around like a big yellow and black Mexican jumping bean on speed. With each dance he would jump about the display area with a wing clap that sounds like a person snapping their fingers. Again it took some effort to get everyone on this little guy and while we waited Lynn found a pair of Blue Ground-doves. This brought the morning to a close and it was back to the Rainfomobile and Canopy Tower for lunch. When we reached the dining area we saw that we had company for lunch. A Three-toed Sloth was in one of the Cecropia trees just outside the dining room window.


White-necked Puffbird

We took a short break before heading to Summit Garden Pond at 15:00. This pond is the local hangout for Boat-billed Herons and sure enough we were able to find three of these birds. This of course led to comparison with Shoebills by at least one of the tours well-traveled participants. On the road to the pond, we had a Rufous and White Wren and somewhere around 100 Eastern Kingbirds. John R stated that kingbirds migrate in flocks like this one although it was one of the larger ones he had seen. We first saw one or two birds, then maybe 10 or 20 and before you knew it, this huge flock filled the crown of one of the trees. Northbound migration was obviously on.

We walked the trail behind the pond where we had three main target species: Panama Flycatcher, Pale-eyed Pygmy-tyrant and Yellowish Tyrannulet. We thought we had the pygmy-tyrant early on but it turned out to be a Southern Bentbill doing an alternate call. Our attention was then turned to a Rufous-capped Warbler and shortly thereafter, Naomi found the Panama Flycatcher. It was less than 10 feet off of the trail and easily persuaded to call so John C was able to get some good field recordings of it.

While all of this was taking place, a true phenomenon was occurring over our heads. Thousands and Thousands of Swainson’s Hawks, Turkey Vultures and Broad-winged Hawks were migrating north. From time to time, we would look up and see these huge kettles of raptors. We eventually decided to go back to the tower and see if we could witness this at eye level but our progress was slowed by the pygmy-tyrant. It too stayed close for all to see and for John C to do some recording of its call.

At 17:15 we headed back to the tower and I was on the observation deck by 17:30. Although many of the birds had long since passed, there still were plenty of Swainson’s Hawks and Turkey Vultures all around. John R and I stayed up there for 45 minutes just marveling at this spectacle. The majority of the birds were light-morph Swainson’s but we were able to pick out several dark-morph birds. There also was a light-morph Short-tailed Hawk hunting that was fighting for our attention. Finally I knew I had to go and take a shower before dinner but fortunately I could still watch the kettles circling around from the shower window (no I didn’t bring my bins in with me but maybe I should have). Later as John was talking to Raul about this flight, he estimated that 20-30,000 raptors had passed by and we were only aware of this for the last 2-3 hours of the day. Who knows how many went by earlier in the afternoon?

The sloth was still in the tree where we had seen it at lunch but now it was “actively” feeding or at least as actively as a sloth does anything. After dinner and the checklist, a few of the hardier soles went out owling/nightbirding. We loaded up the Rainfomobile and headed down Semaphore Hill at 20:30. We quickly found a family group of Night Monkeys (3 individuals) and a Two-toed Sloth. The next day, John C explained that all sloths have 3 toes on their hind legs but only 2 or 3 on their front legs. It is from their front legs that they get their names. Two-toed sloths are also larger, bulkier animals, paler (white) in color, lack the white face mask and have a noticeable snout. As only John could observe, he suggested that instead of two or three toed, they be called 10 or 12-toed sloths. I didn’t want to let him down but I don’t see that catching on.

In the field near Summit Pond, we found two Common Potoos and a few Pauraques. A Rufous Nightjar was also heard calling once or twice. On our return trip up the hill, a Spectacled Owl called once or twice but he couldn’t be coaxed into view. We got back to the tower at 22:30 and rushed off to bed as we were leaving at 04:30 the next day for Achiote Road.

27-Mar-02 - Wednesday


Blue Cotinga

We were up very early for a quick breakfast and we then loaded up the bus for our trip to Achiote Road. We started to leave around 04:30 when the guys from Canopy Tower noticed we had a flat tire. Manuel and the CT crew set to work changing the tire and within 30 minutes we were on our way to Achiote Road. We arrived around 06:40 and immediately had Flame-rumped Tanagers, Keel-billed and Chestnut-mandibled Toucans, one Gray Hawk and several Spot-crowned Barbets along with many of the other birds we had been seeing around the Tower including two Blue Cotingas.

We headed off on the first of several trails that led into an old shade-grown coffee plantation. On the first trail we had Purple-throated Fruitcrows and for some, Bare-crowned Antbird. Although I didn’t get the antbird, there were three nice consolation prizes: a Western Long-tailed Hermit, a Striped-throated Hermit and a Band-tailed Barbthroat building a nest. By now it was close to 09:30 and we continued on down the road to check out a few other trails. When we got back to Achiote Road, there were two Yellow-tailed Orioles along with a few Yellow-backed Orioles.

The trail with the historic Spectacled Owl roost was both owless and without White-headed Wrens but we did find two Black-breasted Puffbirds. We were now late for our 10:00 snack and therefore headed back to the bus to correct this situation. After all, it was starting to get hot and we had been up for almost 7 hours at this point. Soaring over the road were two White Hawks. While the White Hawk is almost entirely white except for a black tail band in Mexico, the further south you find them the more black they have in their wings and back. After our snack, we tried one more trail and came up with Pacific (streaked) Antwren. There were also Rufous-bellied Hermit and Violet-crowned Woodnymph but sometimes you just can’t get on a hummingbird in time.

We drove on into town to turn around the bus and Jan starts yelling from the back seat, “Stop, stop, Rufescent Tiger-heron... I hope”. We backed up and sure enough there was an adult bird stalking a wet meadow edge. WOW! Jan was also relieved because by now she knew she was in for a great deal of teasing if her tiger-heron was something else. There were also a few Smooth-billed Ani around this meadow.

We tried one more trail for White-headed Wren and this time we were successful. John R went ahead a scouted out the birds before we joined him. They are really big wrens. It was then time for lunch along the Gatun Lake. After lunch, we headed to Fort Sherman with a brief stop at the spillway where we cleaned up on herons and egrets with Snowy, Tricolored, Little Blue and Reddish. The Reddish Egret had first been found in December on the Christmas Bird Count and had not been expected to stick around more than a few days let alone a few months! It wasn’t seen every trip to the spillway but every few groups reported it. There were also two Yellow-bellied Seedeaters at the spillway.

Fort Sherman produced several Common Black Hawks that were all very cooperative. We then made it across the Gatun Locks in just the nick of time as one cruise ship and several large cargo ships were about to make the passage. We made a stop at the visitor center to watch the ships move through this engineering marvel. We stayed for about 45 minutes and I would have been happy to watch a ship go through all three locks that make up this complex but this was a birding trip and not everyone shared my view on this subject. We still did get to see the lock gates open and close and watch as the lock was filled or emptied as necessary.

After dinner, Raul gave us a brief slide presentation on the making of his dream come true at the Canopy Tower. He is rightfully proud of what he has done here. The staff is great, the food wonderful and the facilities most comfortable albeit simple. It is hard to believe that in 1996 this was just an abandoned US radar installation.

28-Mar-02 - Thursday

Breakfast was at 05:00 and we were off to Pipeline Road again. We left about 05:35 which was a few minutes earlier than we had left the day of our first trip to Pipeline. At the turnoff to Pipeline Road, we heard and saw Pauraques and heard Rufous Nightjars. The nightjars have a call similar to a Chuck-wills-widow but it wouldn’t respond to the tape any better this morning than it had during our nighttime adventure. Once we had opened the gate and started on the road itself we soon came upon a large number of Grey-necked Wood-rails calling. Again we tried to coax them into view with a tape and again we struck out although we did manage to get them going. Next we tried to call in a Pheasant Cuckoo and we kept our track record in tact. Although things were answering the tapes, they weren’t coming out into view. Strike three we were out and we were losing light so we headed straight to the end of Pipeline (or as far as the road was open).

The road was closed to vehicles at the 4.6 KM mark at the Rio Frijoles Bridge so we started off on foot. Almost as soon as we had set out, in a bare tree, right off the road was a Plumbeous Hawk. We put all the scopes on it and we all studied this rare forest raptor. It is a bulky buteo, slate-gray in color with red legs and a red cere. It has a single white tail band. It was only the second one that John C had ever seen and “easily the best view” he had ever had. In various tangles and openings we were able to see Black-striped Woodcreeper, Black-bellied Wren, Chestnut-headed Oropendola and in the same tangle (one after the other) Song Wren and Brownish Flycatcher. I think the woodcreeper would be better named “black-scalloped” because the black stripes form a very distinct scalloping on the breast and back rather than stripes. We also had a Buff-throated Foilage-gleaner, Thrush-like Schiffornis and a very busy tangle with Dot-winged and Checkered-throated Antwrens and male and female Western Slaty Antshrikes.

We had a suggestion of a beginning ant swarm but it never materialized, as they were on the march not the hunt. We ended up walking out about 3 to 3.5 km so our round trip was about 7 km. It was getting warm and we were dragging by the time we got back to the Rainfomobile. Little did we know that our return to the vehicle would be an opportunity to enter the "Armas Zone."

We could see that another birding group was at the Rio Frijoles Bridge and all of a sudden, a very familiar face walked out of the Panamanian forest. It was Armas Hill and he had a tour of 5 people. They were headed to the Canopy Tower for the night and it now became apparent that the group we had to vacate our rooms for was his group. There is no justice in the world.

(Actually, there is. We saw Armas at the next DVOC meeting and he asked if any of us had stayed in room 9. It is one of the guide rooms, so none of us had but it turns out that the main drain pipe goes right by the head of the bed in that room. Every time anyone upstairs ran water or flushed, he heard it). It is one thing to see him in the Delaware Valley but a completely different thing to see him along Pipeline Road in Panama. Both groups had lunch and we killed time at the tower until 15:00 when we left for Panama City.

We birded along Chiva Chiva Road. Although the road is within a national park, many spots along it had trash dumped and it really wasn’t a very pleasant birding experience. Additionally it was quiet except for one tree with lots of hummers in it. By now just about everyone in the group was tired and hot but the two Johns were determined to keep birding. Around 17:15 we headed to the hotel in Panama City. We arrived at 18:00 and dinner was at 19:00.

29-Mar-02 - Friday

Breakfast was at 05:00 and we were then off to Cerre Jefe. We arrived there around 07:00 and as promised the weather was less than ideal with light mist, clouds and lots of wind. We started walking the ridgeline in hope of Tacarcuna Bush-Tanager and mixed feeding flocks. It took at least an hour with the occasional break in the mist before we finally found three bush-tanagers. This is one of three ridges that the bush-tanager stretches it range northwest. We had little luck finding any feeding flocks but did stumble upon a Thick-billed Seedfinch.

Things were beginning to drag so we took an oreo break and then had a couple of Blue-fronted Parrolets come streaking over the crest of the ridge never to be seen again. We then went on a Violet-capped Hummingbird hunt. We tried a couple of places out of the wind but there weren’t many (if any) flowers in bloom so our chances were slim. We then hiked up a very steep hill to a spot that the Johns had scouted the day before the tour started. Here we shortly found a female and them we all went into the forest where we found some flowers in bloom and eventually got at least two males. I was at the back of the line when the males came in and perched. I started to get directions, “just right of Bill’s hat to the left of Jan’s ear”. When that brilliant flash of violet hit my eyes, “oh shit, there it is”. I knew I had the bird.

Some of us slowly walked out of the trail so others could get in better position to see the hummer. While we waited, Bill, Naomi, Lynn, Jan and I had a young King Vulture soar overhead. Everyone finally got the hummer and we then went to the Kaufman’s house where we would have lunch.

What a great “weekend” house. They have about 11 acres of wonderful gardens with a view to die for. As we pulled into the drive, Roosevelt told us she had a flock of tanagers in the garden. She went to finish getting lunch together and we went birding. The tanager flock was made up of Olive and Black and Yellow Tanagers. We also had a Scale-crested Pygmy-tyrant and a very, very cooperative Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer (It has red legs and feet). Their garden is tiered with paths through the tiers allowing us to view for multiple angles and heights. Lunch was cold cuts and around 14:30 we headed off to another trail within the preserve.

It was a very steep trail that dropped 600’ in elevation over a short stretch. At the bottom of the hill we found several Red-capped Manakins. On the way back up, we spied a White-tipped Sicklebill feeding on a Heliconia. Unlike the jacobins or saberwings that defend a food source, Sicklebills have a series of food sources that they visit on a trapline schedule. The time between feedings can vary from 15 to 60 minutes. This one was on a twenty-minute schedule but the bird only fed for seconds so I really didn’t see it on its first return and its second was even briefer so this one I never really saw. We finally all climbed back up the trail, loaded the bus and headed back to the motel for dinner.

The buffet at the hotel was its usual outstanding but since it was Good Friday, we couldn’t have any wine with dinner. This meant we had a dry farewell dinner.

30-Mar-02 - Saturday

Today was a travel home day. Our ride to the airport was picking us up at 06:00 so it was another early morning followed by the usual, waiting in line at an airport. Our flight to Miami landed a few minutes early but couldn’t taxi to the gate because at was so early the gate was still occupied. We then had to get on off, hike to the customs area (a good 15 minute walk), wait in the customs line, pick up our luggage and recheck it, go through security again and then board the plane we had just gotten off to finish the trip home. We also had to try to grab something to eat; all of which made for a full 75 minutes in the Miami International Airport. We actually accomplished all this with time to spare but while we were standing in the customs lines, I don’t think any of us thought we were going to make it. We arrived in Philly, got our bags and waited for our cars from Pacifico. When we called we were warned they were running late and since that is the norm for them to be slow when bringing your car, we knew we weren’t going anywhere in a hurry. Still, I was home by 5:30 from a very good trip.

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