Southern California, Baja and Panama - 21 March - 18 April 2016

Published by Kathie Claydon (kandm.claydon AT

Participants: Kathie Claydon, Mick Claydon, Chris Skinner, Jim Glover


The three stages of this trip were booked separately. The first 5 days, in Southern California, were arranged independently, self-drive from San Diego to Anza-Borrego Desert National Park (2 nights), on to Salton Sea Wildlife Refuge (2 nights) and several sites on route back to San Diego and its coastal wetlands. We then boarded the Spirit of Adventure for an 11-night voyage down the Pacific coast of Baja peninsula and into the Sea of Cortez; this was a WildWings tour primarily searching for cetaceans, other marine mammals and seabirds but including island walks and snorkelling with fish, whale sharks and sea lions. We then flew on to Panama for a 10/11 night stay (CS & JG stayed an extra night) spending a week at Canopy Tower in the canal zone and 2 nights (3 for CS&JG) in the hills of El Valle at Canopy Lodge; we would have liked to add on Camp Darien but will have to leave this for another year! The Panama leg of the trip was arranged by Jo Thomas of Wild About Travel. Our aim throughout was to see as many mammals as possible along with birds and other wildlife. It was an extremely varied month, from the deserts of southern California and the Baja islands, the incredibly rich marine environment around the Baja peninsula and the (rain-less) rainforests of Panama. With 470 birds, 42 mammals and 21 reptiles & amphibians and much other wildlife recorded, it was certainly a success trip.

We could easily have spent much more time at the California sites as there is a wealth of birdlife to be found as well as a fascinating flora in the deserts.

The Baja trip was fabulous, far exceeding our already-high expectations; the whale-watching was exceptional, up-close and personal! CS&JG had done the trip before and have already booked for a third time and K&MC have booked for a second trip, it’s that good. The only downside is the tiny, noisy cabins but that’s easily forgotten when you see so many special birds and mammals, walk on beautiful remote islands, enjoy fabulous scenery, good food and good company. Our thanks go to the Spirit of Adventure crew for their part in making it such a memorable trip.

In Panama birding was easy in most areas (295 spp.), even in forest (it had been particularly dry for some time which made it easier to see into the undergrowth). There were plenty of sites close to the accommodation, the canal and the city, often on or near the roadside and at whatever pace we chose; everything was well-organised and flexible. Most people staying at Canopy Tower and Canopy Lodge were birders and everyone was very pleased with what they saw. We were booked on a mammal tour (the Tamarin Tour) and although we did well with 21 species plenty of other wildlife, it didn’t seem to be especially mammal-focused, rather a birding trip with some additional effort to look at mammals. Species like sloths, agouti and some of the monkeys were seen often, others less frequently and we probably didn’t put in enough effort to get more. Nevertheless, it was a very enjoyable trip and we can highly recommend Panama as an easy-birding area for lots of good species without too much effort. We thank Jo Thomas of Wild About Travel for making all the arrangements and the Guides for their efforts to find as many species as possible.



21st March Arrived San Diego 18.00hr. 3-hr drive (+meal stop) to Borrego Springs. Stanlunds Inn, Borrego Springs

22nd Walking Palm Canyon, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Late afternoon-evening Swainson’s Hawk watch in Borrego Valley. Stanlunds Inn, Borrego Springs

23rd Early morning Anza-Borrego Park Visitor Centre, then driving Bow Willow Trail. Late morning drove to Salton Sea. Afternoon birding Sonny Bono Visitor Centre, wet areas and surrounding agricultural stretches. Calipatria Inn, Salton Sea

24th Day birding around Salton Sea. Calipatria Inn, Salton Sea

25th Early a.m. Salton Sea then to San Diego/stops at Julian town, nearby oak woodlands, Lake Hodges(N of San Diego) and Mission Trails, San Diego.

26th Day around coastal wetlands - southern San Diego Bay and Tijuana estuary/shore Early evening boarded Spirit of Adventure and headed southwards to the Pacific coast of Baja peninsula.


27th Bird- and cetacean-watching at sea, passing Todos Santos Island early a.m. at sea (Pacific)

28th a.m. Walking on San Benito Island. p.m. at sea. at sea (Pacific)

29th a.m. arrived at San Ignacio Lagoon. Morning and afternoon Gray Whale watching from pangas (local boats). San Ignacio Lagoon

30th a.m. Gray Whale watching from pangas. p.m. Panga trip around mangroves. Late afternoon left the lagoon and continued southwards. at sea (Pacific)

31st Bird- and cetacean-watching at sea, passing Magdalena Bay. at sea (Pacific)

1st April Morning at sea, south of the Cape and into the Sea of Cortez. Early afternoon snorkelling off Los Frailes island, then walking in desert habitat. at sea (Sea of Cortez)

2nd Early morning passed southern end of San José Island and the volcanic spur of Cayo Reef before snorkelling off San José Island.
p.m. San José Channel and anchored by San Diego Island. at sea (Sea of Cortez)

3rd Early morning walk on Santa Catalina Island then snorkelling in bay. Afternoon at sea, anchoring by San Diego Island. at sea (Sea of Cortez)

4th Punta Colorado at sunrise. Morning walk eastern side San José Island. Skiff (boat) ride along coast and sea cave. Afternoon snorkelling with sea lions and skiff ride around Los Islotes island. Anchored by Espiritu Santu Island. at sea (Sea of Cortez)

5th Morning La Paz Bay/swimming with Whale Shark. Afternoon at sea. at sea (Sea of Cortez)

6th Disembarked Spirit of Adventure at Cabo San Lucas. Collected rental car. Morning birdwatching in grounds of ME Cabo Hotel on edge of town then estuary and river walk in San José del Cabo. Best Western Aeropuerto Hotel, San José del Cabo


7th Flights to Panama via Mexico City. Arrived Panama City 18.00hr Albrook Hotel, Panama City

8th Early morning grounds of Albrook hotel. late morning transfer to Canopy Tower. Afternoon walk by Chagres river. Night drive Semaphore Hill. Canopy Tower

9th Dawn on observation deck Canopy Tower. Morning walk down Semaphore Hill. Afternoon Ammo Ponds. Canopy Tower

10th Early morning to Metropolitan Park. Afternoon Punta Cuelebra. Canopy Tower

11th Dawn observation deck Canopy Tower. Morning boat trip on river, canal and around islands. Afternoon Discovery Centre, trails and lookout tower. Night drive and walk down Semaphore Hill. Canopy Tower

12th Day trip to Barro Colorado Island. Late afternoon short watch at Ammo Ponds. Early evening Canopy Tower observation deck. Night drive down Semaphore Hill and on to Chagres river/Gamboa. Canopy Tower

13th Morning Pipeline Road north of Discovery Centre. Afternoon Summit Gardens. Canopy Tower

14th Day trip to Caribbean side of Canal Zone. Gatun Locks/Achiote Road/Fort Sherman/San Lorenzo National Park/mangroves. Canopy Tower

15th Early morning observation deck Canopy Tower. Transfer to Canopy Lodge, El Valle. Afternoon roadside walk and Chorro El Macho Trail near Lodge. Canopy Lodge

16th Early morning Lodge grounds then on to Cerro Gaital trail and nearby areas. Afternoon K&MC Lodge grounds / CS&JG to Mata Ahogado. Canopy Lodge

17th Early morning Lodge grounds. K&MC transfer to Panama City for homeward flight. CS/JG a.m. to La Mesa and p.m. Lodge grounds. Canopy Lodge / flight

18th CS/JG transfer to Panama City for homeward flight. Flight

LOCATIONS and accommodation


Anza-Borrego Desert State Park with good birds, plants, lizards and insects. Canyon and desert scenery. Raptor migration hotspot (Swainson’s Hawks).

Borrego Springs Small town, near the Park’s Visitor Centre and the many trails.

Stanlunds Inn & Suites Short drive from the “centre” of Borrego Springs, basic, comfortable accommodation with friendly, helpful staff. Buffet breakfast, no restaurant but eating places nearby.

Salton Sea Shallow inland saline lake below sea level on San Andreas Fault in Sonoran Desert. National Wildlife Refuge is at southern end of the lake. Migratory and resident birds. Many access points, Sonny Bono Visitor Centre, trails, marshes, arid agricultural landscape.

Calipatria The town of Calipatria is 55 metres below sea level, the lowest elevation of any western hemisphere city.

Calipatria Inn & Suites Comfortable accommodation, close to the most accessible areas around southern Salton Sea. Reasonable restaurant.

Julian An hour’s drive from San Diego and known as a “mountain get-away”. We spent an hour by the bird feeders in The Birdwatcher store’s car park.

Lake Hodges Reservoir 50kms north of San Diego. Couple of viewpoints.
Mission Trails Regional Park, San Diego. We had only an hour or so by riverine forest beside a car park.

Bay Club Hotel Smart hotel on Shelter Island, North San Diego Bay, facing the beach. Restaurant wasn’t brilliant - we had breakfast at Mitch’s on the seafront.

Mitch’s Seafood Informal eatery by the marina on Shelter Island - superb menu, freshly cooked, huge portions, reasonable prices.

San Diego wetlands Plenty of birdwatching sites all around San Diego Bay; we stopped at several points around the southern end of the bay, mainly just north of Sweetwater Marsh National Wildlife Refuge, overlooking South San Diego National Wildfowl Reserve, and the Tijuana river estuarine habitats and beach. Must negotiate network of motorways to reach most sites.

BAJA CALIFORNIA (Baja Peninsula)

Spirit of Adventure 88ft long/25ft wide. Primarily a long-range sports fishing vessel, but also runs whale watching and natural history trips from February to April each year. Accommodates 28 passengers and 7 crew. Cabins are tiny, with almost no storage space. All cabins experience engine noise and the boat often travels at night. The 4 toilets and 3 freshwater showers are on the main deck. Meals are excellent, all freshly cooked and with ample portions. Snacks/drinks constantly available. Can’t fault the crew, totally competent and professional yet very friendly and “good fun”. Nothing was too much trouble. We had two naturalist leaders with us, David Wimpfheimer (first and foremost a birder) and Scott Anderson (great all-round naturalist freely sharing his knowledge of marine life).

Cabo San Lucas Many birds around the marina. We walked in the gardens of ME Cabo Hotel, accessed from Av. del Pescador. About 15 minutes drive from Cabo San Lucas marina.

San Jose del Cabo / wetlands East along Highway 1 from Cabo San Lucas. We walked to an observation tower overlooking San José estuary (parked near the Holiday Inn Resort west side of river) beside the beach. Further north we parked beside the river and walked the most westerly of the channels that make up the estuary.

Best Western Aeropuerto Hotel, San José del Cabo New hotel with work still in progress on the top floor. Just minutes away from San José del Cabo airport. Nice rooms. Reception staff were very polite. Restaurant staff seemed rather inexperienced but the food was OK and it was fine for a one-night stay.


Albrook Inn In a quiet, rural setting west of the city about half an hour’s drive from the airport. Basic but comfortable rooms, good bathroom. Restaurant proving reasonable meals, nothing fancy. Wooded grounds and a path leading to a marsh and lake. Good birding plus Geoffroy’s Tamarin monkeys.

Canopy Tower Just as described on their website, a quirky experience. Comfortable rooms (we had suites but basic rooms we looked at were nice; some had shared bathrooms). Good food, varied, lots of fresh produce, home-baked cakes and puddings, soft drinks and wine available on honesty system. Great place for birders and wildlife enthusiasts but perhaps not ideal for more casual visitors or non-birding partners. No lush gardens to sit and read or watch the hummingbirds; the observation deck is good early and late in the day but there’s no shade at noon and it can get very windy up there. Maps showing the main sites can be found on the Canopy Family website

Canopy Lodge Very nice setting in the hills of El Valle de Anton. Attractive gardens with bird feeding stations, trails and a lake. Very nice rooms. Food good (not as “special” as at Canopy Tower, but we had been spoilt there!) Drinks were not so readily available here. Maps showing the main sites around El Valle are on the Canopy Family website


At Canopy Tower you don’t get one guide for the whole of your stay, they chop and change according to the number of guests and what each group is scheduled/wants to do. After each morning or afternoon session the guide does the check-list and talks you through your next walk or visit and confirms who will be leading you; it works well. All our guides, at the Tower and Lodge, were very good to excellent with a professional manner and top-class birding and wildlife skills. They were also very friendly, easy to get on with and could adapt readily to individual needs. Those we met were Alexis (Alex) Sanchez, Michael Castro, Eliecer (Eli) Madrid, Faustino (Tino) Sanchez, Domiciano (Domi) Alveo and Jenn Sinasac.


Monday 21 March 2016

Arrived San Diego airport 18.00 (Western Gulls beside the runway) and collected rental car (a huge GMC SUV). Unfortunately our satnav wouldn’t work and we resorted to the old-fashioned map and general sense of direction, which worked fine with only one minor wrong turn. We didn’t see much on the way as it was dark and often misty but a Mule Deer was nice. We stopped at a diner on route for some decent burritos and salad, and eventually arrived at our accommodation, Stanlunds Inn and Suites, in Borrego Springs about 22.30hrs. We’d phoned ahead to say we would be very late and the rooms were unlocked when we arrived. The rooms were comfortable, the shower was good and we had a decent night’s sleep.

Tuesday 22 March

White-winged Doves, a White-throated Swift, a pair of American Kestrels, Northern Ravens, several Turkey Vultures and some White-crowned Sparrows were the first birds on our list. The buffet breakfast of bread, cakes, fresh fruit, yogurt, cereals and boiled eggs was enough to set us up for the morning and we soon headed out towards Palm Canyon. The desert landscape was fascinating and colourful with impressive California Fan Palms, purple flowered Indigo Bushes, scarlet Ocatillos and many flowering cacti. We were soon adding plenty of birds, reptiles, mammals and insects to our list. It got very hot but there was much to see and we didn’t return to the car park until mid-afternoon. We went in search of something to eat and at a very nice place (more burritos, salad and lots of beer) we had a surprise visit from a Greater Roadrunner - right by the window, with a lizard in its bill. We stopped at a local store to stock up on easy snack food for lunches over the coming few days; a mixed group of Brewer’s Blackbirds and Brown-headed Cowbirds was in the car park. Then we were off to watch the raptor migration; Swainson’s Hawks on their northward migration come down to feed on insects, especially large Sphinx (hawkmoth) caterpillars, before roosting in the surrounding date palm plantations. Seeing more than 70 of these raptors circling overhead was fabulous; more and more birds came into view and we got close to some of them feeding on the ground.

Other species today included Anna’s Hummingbird, Prairie Falcon, Phainopepla on nest; Rock Wrens and the constant descending trill of unseen Canyon Wrens. Antelope Squirrel, Chuckwalla Lizard, Felder's Orange-tip, Western Tiger Swallowtail and Tiny Checker-spot Butterflies were also seen.

Wednesday 23 March

Outside our room an American Kestrel clutched a Merriam’s Kangaroo Rat in its talons. We spent a while at the Anza-Borrego Visitor Centre then drove along Bow Willow Trail - fascinating plant life with strange-looking Teddy Bear Cholla Cacti (Cylindropuntia bigelovii), and the vibrant colours of flowering cacti and shrubs adding to the stark beauty of the desert scenery. We saw several Costa’s Hummingbirds, lots of wrens, Lawrence’s Goldfinch, California Towhee and several butterflies.

As the sun got higher we turned on the aircon and drove to Salton Sea, just 1½ hrs away. Roadside pools and edges of the “sea” were very productive, giving us many waders, ducks, grebes, ibis, herons, cormorants, pelicans, gulls, “hawks” (Buteos), warblers and so on. Gambel’s Quail were common around Sonny Bono Visitor Centre and once the heat began to subside, Burrowing Owls appeared along many of the roadside drains. Other species this afternoon included White-faced Ibis, large flocks of Western and Least Sandpipers, many Black-necked Stilts and American Avocets, Killdeer, Bonaparte’s Gull, Greater Roadrunner, Belted Kingfisher, Myrtle and American Yellow Warblers and Red-winged Blackbirds. We checked in to the Calipatria Inn and had a nice evening meal.

Thursday 24 March

At dawn we watched a Great Egret stretching and preening in its roosting tree outside our rooms. Spent the day exploring the many roads, tracks and viewing points around the southern parts of Salton Sea. Most productive were the smaller wet areas on the periphery rather than the sea (lake) itself. We were too late for the thousands of Snow Geese but were pleased to find a small flock of mainly immatures - together with 2 Ross’s Geese. Ducks, waders, grebes, ibises, pelicans, cormorants etc. were in profusion. We saw many more Burrowing Owls today, at least 20 pairs. Mid-afternoon we returned to Sonny Bono Visitor Centre seeking some shade and a bit more birding. Other species today included many Cinnamon Teal, rafts of Black-necked Grebes, Stilt Sandpiper, White-faced Ibis, Northern Harriers, Wilson’s Snipe, many calling but unseen Ridgway’s Rail, tightly packed flocks of Short-billed Dowitchers, American Cliff Swallows nesting under roadside culverts, Marsh Wren, Orange-crowned and Myrtle Warbler, Verdin, Abert’s Towhee, Desert Spiny-tailed Lizard and Cotton-tail Rabbits. Huge flocks of Red-winged Blackbirds were seen late afternoon. Back at Calipatria it was a lovely warm evening and we sat outside to do the check list.

Friday 25 March

We spent a couple of hours birding around Salton again and found some new species. We tried to get a few photos of Gambel’s Quail at the Visitor Centre but the light was tricky. Surprisingly, a Neotropic Cormorant was perched on a tree by Kathy’s Lake where we also found lots of Coyote scats but sadly not the animal itself. A Belted Kingfisher was on the same wires as yesterday morning. Other highlights were a perched Cooper’s Hawk at the Visitor Centre, Western Meadowlarks, flights of White Ibis and American White Pelicans, another Greater Roadrunner and thousands of Violet-green Swallows.

The temperature was rising and we decided to head westwards toward San Diego. The scenery along State Route 78 was varied and interesting, desert to start with, much of it intact but some stretches trashed by various leisure activities. As we climbed higher trees appeared and everywhere looked quite green - at about 1,300m the views were reminiscent of alpine meadows. We arrived at Julian town and headed for the Birdwatcher Store hoping to get some info on local birding. We didn’t get much further than the car park‘s feeders, having our picnic lunch watching a constant stream of birds: Caliope, Allen’s, Costa’s and Anna’s Hummingbirds, Acorn Woodpecker, Red-breasted Nuthatch, House Finch, Lesser Goldfinch and Pine Siskin. On our way out of town a stunning Western Bluebird delayed us for several minutes.

A short drive from Julian brought us into oak woodland and we spent an hour or more walking quietly along the road. One of the first things we saw was, surprisingly, a big male Wild Turkey crossing the road, then a female under the trees. A passing motorist stopped to ask us what we were looking at - he was a local birder and gave us a potted history of the reintroduction of the species from 1993. Other species here included Nuttall’s and Acorn Woodpeckers, California Scrub Jay, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Western Kingbird, Oak Titmouse, Pale Swallowtail and Sara’s Orange-tip butterflies.

Our next stop was at Lake Hodges, north of San Diego city, finding quite a few species, including Ruddy Duck, American White Pelican, Double-crested Cormorant, Pied-billed and Western Grebes and, at last, good views of Clarke’s Grebe. There were some Monarch and Western Tiger Swallowtail butterflies around.

We had a final hour or so by a strip of riverine forest at Mission Trails Regional Park close to San Diego city, south of Highway 52. It was fairly quiet but turned up some nice species, including: White-tailed Kite, Black Phoebe, White-breasted Nuthatch, Orange-crowned, Myrtle and Audubon’s Warblers, Hooded Oriole and California Towhee. We then drove to the Bay Club Hotel on Shelter Island.

Saturday 26 March

Breakfast was on the quayside at Mitch’s seafood restaurant - delicious Crab Cakes Benedict - and we then set off for a day’s birding around San Diego’s coastal wetlands - several points at the southern end of San Diego Bay and the Tijuana river estuarine habitats and the beach. A good list of species included Black Brant, American Wigeon, Redhead, Greater Scaup, Surf Scoter, Bufflehead, Pacific and Great Northern Loons, Pied-billed, Black-necked and Western Grebes, Black-crowned Night-heron, Great Blue Heron, American White and Brown Pelicans, Double-crested Cormorant, Osprey, Northern Harrier, Red-tailed Hawk, countless American Coot and Common Gallinules, Killdeer, Short-billed Dowitcher, Marbled Godwit, Lesser Yellowlegs, Willet, Spotted Sandpiper, Red Knot, Least Sandpiper, Bonaparte’s, Ring-billed, Western and American Herring Gulls, Gull-billed, Elegant and Forster’s Terns, Anna’s and Costa’s Hummingbirds, Black Phoebe, American Bushtit, Orange-crowned and Audubon’s Warblers, Song Sparrow, Belding’s Savannah Sparrow, Cottontail Rabbit and California Ground Squirrel.

We returned to the Bay Club Hotel to meet the leaders, Scot Anderson and David Wimpfheimer, and the rest of the group who were joining the Baja boat trip - we would be 28 in total (plus 7 crew). We boarded the Spirit of Adventure early evening; by the time we’d been allocated our cabins and enjoyed a buffet meal it was dark and we went on deck waiting for the boat to depart. To everyone’s amazement, a Black Skimmer was feeding around the boats - difficult to see unless you caught it passing one of the boat’s lights! Eventually we pulled away from the dock and slowly passed the tanks where fishing bait is stored - quiet surreal with dozens of California Sea Lions resting on the platforms, barking and squabbling, and surrounded by Brandt’s and Double-crested Cormorants, Brown and American White Pelicans, Black-crowned Night Herons, Great Blue Herons, Snowy and Great Egrets. Reeling from this amazing spectacle, we watched the lights of Tijuana twinkling in the distance as the boat picked up speed and headed out into the Pacific ocean. We were ready for bed. The cabins are tiny with very little storage space and small but comfortable bunk beds. The engine noise takes a while to get used to but eventually we drifted off to sleep.

Sunday 27 March

We had slept lightly, getting used to the movement of the boat (although sea conditions were quite good) but felt refreshed and ready-to-go. Breakfast starts early but continues for an hour or more - we were finished and out on deck by 06.00hr, where we stayed all day apart from a break for lunch and occasional refreshments. And what a day it was! First we skirted Todos Santos island where there were plenty of birds, including both Black and American Oystercatchers and a Peregrine. The morning just got better and better - Long-beaked Common Dolphins bow-riding, then two groups of Gray Whales, some so close to the boat we could almost see down their blow-holes! A little later Scot (one of the leaders) pointed out the shorter snout of Short-beaked Common Dolphins. The two forms are currently deemed separate species, although some people believe they are simply races. Either way, it was brilliant to see the two types in one morning for comparison. Then it was a Fin Whale which the captain (Brian) was able to keep close to without causing disturbance and we could see the white colouration on its right jaw. This sighting was quickly followed by the appearance of two Laysan Albatrosses. And so the day went on, a calm sea with many birds and more fabulous whale sightings. Humpbacks, Fin Whales and, best of all, no fewer than four immense Blue Whales, three of them together. We stayed with one for over an hour, waiting for the ship’s sonar to tell us when it would come back up to the surface after diving a hundred or more meters to feed. With so many “Baleen” whales, and individual variation in colour patterns and fin size/shape, there was inevitably much discussion on which species we were seeing but we had close views of most animals and those with experience were able to make a decision on the most likely species. All part of the whale-watching experience.

The boat quickly headed towards a feeding frenzy of birds - there was a huge number of Bonaparte’s Gulls and a few Sabine’s Gulls with a Pomarine Skua harassing them. The species list grew and grew - Black-vented, Pink-footed and Sooty Shearwaters, California and Western Gulls, Royal, Elegant, Common and Forster’s Terns, Red-necked and Grey Phalaropes. And then we started to see auks - Scripps’ and Craveri’s Murrulets and Cassin’s Auklets. An occasional California Sea Lion or Harbour Seal would peer at us as we passed by and we saw a small group of Bottlenose Dolphins.

What a fantastic introduction to this very rich marine environment.

Monday 28 March

There was a lot of thick cloud cover this morning so we didn’t have to worry too much about sunburn as the crew swiftly got us into the small motorised boats (skiffs) and took us over to San Benito Islands by 07.30hrs (several Heerman’s Gulls on the way). The island was very dry but was nevertheless covered in plants, many in flower. With the help of our leaders and one of our group, botanist Ann Howald, we saw three of the island’s six true endemic plants - San Benito Island Bush Mallow, Street Tarweed and one of the Fish-hook Cacti - and several species which occur on just one or two other islands, such as the huge Agave sebastiana found only on Cedros and San Benito islands. We were all very wary of the “Coast Cholla” cactus with its wicked spines that so readily bury themselves into shoes, clothes and flesh, and learnt how wise it is to carry a hair comb for removing the spines without touching them. All around us, between the plants, were seabird burrows, the most common occupants being Cassin’s Auklet and Scripps’ Murrelets with some Petrels and Shearwaters.

One of the main reasons for visiting the island was to see the Northern Elephant Seals. Although the big bulls had already left these breeding grounds we saw hundreds of moulting females and youngsters, all at ridiculously-close range. We were pleased to see a dozen or more Guadalupe Fur Seals and a few Harbour Seals, too. Sadly, we encountered a long-dead Sperm Whale on the shore. Our bird list here included Osprey, Black and American Oystercatchers, Black Turnstone, Brandt’s Cormorant, Glaucous-winged and Heerman’s Gulls, Say’s Phoebe, Northern Raven, Horned Lark, Costa’s Hummingbird and the endemic San Benito race of Savannah Sparrow. Eurasian Collared Dove and House Sparrow were there, too. Rock Wrens could be heard all over the island but we didn’t actually see them. Side-blotched Lizards were common but very fast and difficult to watch!

We spent the remainder of the day at sea continuing southwards. There was quite a swell and it was rather choppy but we still saw plenty including two Blue Whales, Pink-footed, Sooty and 200+ Black-vented Shearwaters, Scripps’ and many Cassin’s Auklets. Another whale defied identification; it was possibly a Sei Whale but we just couldn’t be certain. However, it gave us all a good lesson in Rorqual whale identification.

Tuesday 29 March

Today we will enter San Ignacio Lagoon! In anticipation of a very special day we were up far too early and on deck when it was barely light. Black-necked Grebe, Shearwaters, Heerman’s and California Gulls, Caspian and Royal Terns kept us happy as we pushed on past Punta Abreojos and approached the sandbanks and narrow entrance to the lagoon. Two Magnificent Frigatebirds were seen and just as we got on to them, a Black-footed Albatross appeared - exciting stuff. And so was our slow, careful progress through the narrow, unmarked channel leading into the lagoon and we had our first sightings of the mother-calf pairs of Gray Whales along with Bottlenose Dolphin, Surf Scoter, Pacific and Great Northern Divers and Pomarine Skua.

Once inside the lagoon the water was much calmer and we saw several Gray Whales with calves alongside the boat. The Spirit of Adventure anchored near Rocky Point and the local panga boatmen arrived. With waterproof jackets on we eagerly got into the pangas, full of expectation. We were not disappointed. Getting so close to these magnificent animals in their element is an indescribable experience. The panga boatmen are expert at carefully getting the boat in the right position and, for whatever reason, the whales are not afraid, don’t feel threatened. Some calves are bolder and more inquisitive than others, allowing us to touch them - seeming to want us to touch them. Some mothers appear to “nudge” their offspring close to the pangas and “invite” close contact. Splashing a hand on the water (combined with our excited cries of “Wow” “Look at this” “It’s coming, it’s coming”) draws the calves in, their mothers staying nearby. The calves are 4½ m long at birth and those coming to look at us were a month or two old - that’s big. And mum can be up to 15m. Touching an animal like this seemed wrong at first, but we soon realised that if we didn’t touch them and make a lot of noise, they would move away and seek another boat. They gently nudged our boat, blew masses of bubbles just below the surface, soaked us with their “blow”, put their head right out of the water almost touching the boat, went underneath us, surfaced the other side, lob-tailed, rolled over and over, went to the back of the boat to investigate the idling engine, then back to the side for more contact, often lying on their side, perhaps to get a better look at us?. At one stage there were two females together and both calves came to the side of our panga, vying for the best position for a “scratch”. They certainly seemed to be “playing” but we cannot really know what is happening.

There were two sessions in the morning and another in the afternoon. Not all the whales were “friendly”, some were just sleeping at the surface or moving around slowly quite close to the boat but not approaching us. It had been a truly unique experience.

Back on the Spirit of Adventure we watched four or more Gray Whales that were rolling, spy-hopping, doing “headstands” and splashing around just ahead of the boat. What were they doing? Socialising? Playing? One of the crew said the water depth here is very shallow, just 30 feet and perhaps they are scratching themselves on a rocky or rough area? We watched them for two hours and they were still at it as light faded.

An unforgettable day.

Wednesday 30 March

An overcast sky greeted us first thing but there were several Gray Whales blowing and surfacing around the boat. We were back on the pangas by 08.00 and had four separate encounters with probably just two females and their calves. All too soon we were back on the Spirit (the operation is strictly regulated with very rigid contact time limits and restrictions of the number of pangas in the lagoon at any time). By late morning we could go out again - and there was so much amazing activity. We watched as a huge female nudged her calf towards us, stayed just behind it as it raised its head high out of the water, right beside our boat. Gently rubbing along the calf’s jawline encouraged it to open its mouth and we could see the pale creamy coloured baleen hanging from its jaw. One of the females approached us and allowed a few rubs on her barnacle-encrusted head. We watched calves rolling and “leaping” onto their mother’s back, riding there for a short while. The wind was picking up and it was time to return to the Spirit but not before we’d seen a group of Bottlenose Dolphins and a couple of California Sea Lions.

In the afternoon conditions weren’t so good for whale encounters so the pangas went along the mangrove-lined channels around the north side of the estuary. We saw a few of the coastal Long-beaked Dolphins on the way and three Green Sea Turtles. Both Red and White Mangroves grow here at the northern edge of their range, being tropical species. With a still-strengthening wind it wasn’t easy for the boatmen to negotiate the shallow channels. The tide was dropping and plenty of birds were in the shallows. Our list included Yellow-crowned Night Heron, Little Blue and Tricolored Herons, Reddish Egret, White-faced Ibis, Black Brant, Lesser Scaup, Red-breasted Merganser, Peregrine, Northern Harrier, Greater & Lesser Yellowlegs, Willet, Long-billed Curlew, Marbled Godwit, Short-billed Dowitcher, Western Sandpiper. We had good, if a little distant, views of a Mangrove Warbler and saw the locally-endemic sub-species of Savannah Sparrow.

Back on the Spirit Mexican officials boarded to say that because the wind was so strong all activities were suspended as a safety precaution. Our captain waited a while to see if conditions abated, but they didn’t and he decided to leave the lagoon a little earlier than planned; it was a very choppy exit. We were advised to sit down and keep off the bow as Brian took us across the rough bar and through the dangerous channel with big waves breaking along both sides of us. It was all very spectacular. We passed hundreds of birds resting on the sandbanks - cormorants, herons, pelicans and waders - with huge breakers around them. A large Grey Whale swam alongside us, leaving the lagoon to commence its northward migration. Eventually we were out on the open ocean, turning southwards to continue our own journey. Although very sorry to leave the magic of San Ignacio Lagoon we knew there was much to see ahead of us.

Thursday 31 March

A day at sea. The wind remained fresh and we were on a rolling sea at daybreak as we passed Magdalena Bay. It wasn’t long before we saw distant whale spouts; a Blue Whale. We stayed with it for a long time, being treated to fine views, very close. At least a dozen times it “fluked” which isn’t common for Blue Whale. Another “feeding frenzy” was spotted ahead of us - hundreds of small fish were being driven to the surface by Long-beaked Dolphins and birds were taking full advantage, mostly Elegant Terns but also some Black-vented, Pink-footed and Sooty Shearwaters, Sabine’s Gulls and a couple of Magnificent Frigatebirds.

Still progressing southwards along the Baja peninsula on the first really sunny afternoon so far (although the wind was still very cool), the major highlight was Cook’s Petrel, about 11 in total. It’s the most commonly seen Pterodroma in this area but it was a first for a WildWings tour - and a “tick” for almost everyone on board. Other highlights were three Loggerhead Turtles, Fin Whales, a distant Humpback Whale, Short-beaked Common and Bottlenose Dolphins, California Sea Lions, Grey Phalaropes, Brown and Masked Boobies and many California Flying Fish.

Friday 1 April

We’d left the Pacific ocean and were now over the rich waters of Gorda Bank south of the Baja Cape. A northerly wind created a choppy sea but the air was much warmer now. We hoped to find Humpback Whales here and as usual on this trip we were not disappointed. Two together at first then as they parted company we followed one that was fluking, breaching, “flipper-flapping” and even laid on its back, both huge flippers waving in the air. This whale later joined a third Humpback and they swam and surfaced simultaneously in front of us for several minutes before giving us another show of tail-lobbing and breaching. Spectacular!

Birds were good, too, with a Masked Booby circling the boat and an Elegant Tern that seemed determined to settle on our heads. A group of Bottlenose Dolphins stayed with us for ages - we could see they were the offshore form, different from the paler animals in San Ignacio Lagoon.

After lunch we anchored off the coast at Los Frailes in the Sea of Cortez and went snorkelling. The recent swell and choppy sea meant visibility wasn’t perfect but we saw many different fish and had a thoroughly enjoyable hour in water that was 23oC. Back on the boat we quickly got ready for a walk in the desert to enjoy a variety of cacti and other desert plants. Some of the highlights were a big Cape Spiny Lizard, Red-tailed Hawk, 3 Northern Crested Caracaras, White-winged Doves, Gila Woodpeckers, Gray and Ashy-throated Flycatchers, Cactus Wren, Northern Mockingbirds, Western Tanager, Clay-coloured and Lark Sparrows, Northern Cardinal and Hooded Oriole. California Quails were calling all around us but not showing themselves.

When the Spirit left the sheltered bay late afternoon the wind was strong and the sea choppy; we expected a rough night.

Saturday 2 April

We slept surprisingly well. In early morning light we slowly cruised along the southern end of San José Island and admired the multi-coloured layers of rock with Black and Least Storm Petrels flying low around the boat.

A rather “shy” rorqual whale kept teasing us with imperfect views - the fin and its behaviour suggested Bryde’s but we just couldn’t see the rostrum properly, which on Bryde’s would show three obvious long ridges.

We were told that Blue Whales had already left the Sea of Cortez due to the very warm water, meaning a lack of food, but at least one very large Blue was still here. In the clear water we had prolonged close views of the whole animal, seeing the blue-grey colour that gives the species its common name and, because the wind had dropped, we could appreciate just how high the “blow” can be. Every time it went down it showed its tail flukes and we could clearly see a group of barnacles on the tip of its right fluke. Still elated by this experience, we were then entertained by about 100 Long-beaked Common Dolphins riding the bow and jumping high out of the water.

The wind picked up again and birds were few and far between so we headed back to the shelter of San José Island, spending some time around a small volcanic spur of rock known as Cayo Reef where amongst a variety of birds we saw our first Yellow-footed Gulls and Blue-footed Boobies along with many scuttling Sally Lightfoot crabs. We snorkelled in warm water below the volcanic cliffs and boulders in the lee of San José. The water was much clearer than off Los Frailes and we saw an even greater range of fish species, including King Angelfish, Rainbow Wrasse, Mexican Goatfish, Balloonfish, Giant Damselfish and various Snappers.

Not long after the Spirit moved away from the island, a very acrobatic group of Bottlenose Dolphins came charging in towards the boat, leaping high out of the water and making spectacular back-flips. Hundreds of Common Dolphins were spread out over a wide area of sea and Mobulas (related to Ray fish) were also leaping high, flapping their “wings” before flopping back down into the water.

We anchored below the cliffs of San Diego Island and after dark watched thousands of tiny fish and shrimps in the lights around the boat.

Sunday 3 April

The crew pulled up the anchor at 03.30hrs and we had a smooth ride from San Diego Island to Santa Catalina Island. After breakfast we went ashore to explore one of this area’s most dramatic desert landscapes. The cacti here are fantastic; majestic, multi-branched Elephant Cardóns and the endemic Giant Barrel Cactus dominate the views. Cardóns are the largest of all cacti, reaching up to 20m and living possibly 200 years or more. It’s not until you get used to these giants that you begin to notice other plants such as the strange Elephant Tree with thin, papery bark peeling off its small, thickened, water-storing trunk, and the parasitic Sonoran mistletoe as well as the reptiles, birds and insects. We thought for a while there must be Jackals on the island judging by the dry droppings scattered around but then Ann showed us the aptly-named Dog Poop Bush with its brown seed pods that were ripening and falling to the ground! Another endemic, the Santa Catalina Side-blotched Lizard was too fast to watch properly but we had a bit more luck with the larger Baja Spiny Lizard. Best of all, though, were the “rattleless” Catalina Rattle Snakes yet another island endemic. We built up quite a bird list as we strolled on the island - Turkey Vultures soaring over the peaks, Red-tailed Hawk, White-throated Swift, Ashy-throated Flycatcher, Loggerhead Shrike, Verdin, Raven, Green-tailed Towhee and Black-throated Sparrow. Both Gila and Ladderback Woodpeckers favoured the Elephant Cardón cacti.

Back on the boat we donned wet suits ready for a snorkelling session before lunch; the warm, crystal-clear water allowed good views of masses of fish such as Sergeant Major, Mexican Goatfish, Moorish Idol, Cortez Rainbow Wrasse and Median Hogfish and some starfish; a few were lucky enough to find small octupuses.

The afternoon was spent at sea and although it was calm we saw very little for ages, then suddenly the captain called “Tropicbirds”. They were resting on the water and we got very close before they took flight. Later we saw what looked like a surfboard floating upside down on the water - a Dwarf Sperm Whale. Sightings of this species are not common, so we were delighted to see two more. Something big leapt out of the water - not a dolphin, nor a mobula. Several of us saw it and our descriptions (and a photo) convinced Scot we had seen a Mako Shark, a species known for its jumping behaviour.

Monday 4 April

We were all on deck very early to witness sunrise at Punta Colorado on San José Island - the sandstone cliffs became stunningly orange-red and the water below a shimmering vermilion. Now we know why the alternative name for the Gulf of California is “Vermilion Sea”. A beautiful way to welcome a new day!

A Peregrine zoomed down from the red cliffs and plucked a bird from the surface of the sea.

The skiffs took us to the island where we explored the spectacular rocky ledges with many fossilised scallops and other shells. We found a long-dead Pacific Ridley Turtle amongst the boulders on the beach. Further on there were lots of small flowering plants in the shingle and sand. It was still early morning but the temperature was rising quickly, with lizards and insects very active. Some of us decided it was too hot and returned to the skiffs for a ride along the cliffs and shoreline, exploring a sea cave with nesting White-throated Swifts on the roof and Yellow-tailed Jack Fish in the clear water below.

Back on the Spirit we ate freshly-baked banana muffins as the captain took us southwards on a very calm sea. We had close views of Green Turtles both resting and swimming. A small cetacean, not much bigger than a Bottlenose Dolphin, surfaced ahead - most of us couldn’t say what it was as it dived and surfaced severasl times but Brian, our captain, had seen this species before - a Peruvian, or Pygmy, Beaked Whale! Luckily it surfaced a few more times and we could see the triangular fin, rather like that of a porpoise, and its pale grey markings. A very lucky, rare sighting; the species was described only about 20 years ago and is rarely seen alive. It is the smallest of the beaked whales, hence it’s alternative name. Our luck continued and we went on to see at least nine different Dwarf Sperm Whales “logging” on the calm sea and Striped Marlin leaping out of the water.

After lunch, while we were heading towards Los Islotes island just north of Isla Espiritu Santu, Scot scooped up a bucket of seawater and showed us a stunningly-beautiful little Blue Button “jellyfish” - actually a colony of hydrozoan polyps - with a central deep blue disc about a centimetre across surrounded by dozens of blue fine, feathery tentacle-like branches. Then we were distracted by two whales! One was a Fin Whale, the other a Bryde’s which came up immediately in front of the boat giving us fantastic views - but even so it took us a while to see the ridges on its rostrum. While we were still struggling with this whale, another huge animal swam by - distinctively patterned with spots and lines, it was a Whale Shark!

Reaching Los Islotes Island we could see nesting Magnificent Frigatebirds and Boobies and eagerly waited for the crew to prepare the skiffs to take us to the bay where we could see, but more impressively hear dozens of California Sea Lions, some snoozing on the rocks, some squabbling and others diving into or out of the water. This was going to be a very different snorkelling experience! It was exhilarating to be in the water with such big animals - they are so obviously in their element under water, so graceful yet powerful with an amazing turn of speed. Several individuals were very inquisitive, especially the younger ones, coming close to us before zooming away with just a flick of a flipper. Near the rocks the noise, and smell, was impressive. Hundreds of fish were all around us in many shapes, sizes and colours. Great shoals of Sergeant Majors, and others, swam just inches from our faces, apparently unconcerned by our presence as they fed on swarms of minute jellyfish. A Black-necked Grebe settled on the water near us, then dived very close and we watched it swimming underwater. After more than an hour we reluctantly left the water, quickly changed out of our wet suits and returned to the skiffs for a slow ride around the island for close views of female Sea Lions suckling their pups, surrounded by hundreds of Sally Lightfoot crabs and many birds including Blue-footed and Brown Boobies, Brown Pelicans, Brandt’s Cormorants, Magnificent Frigatebirds, Great Blue Heron, Black Turnstone, Wandering Tattler and Spotted Sandpiper.

Heading along the western side of Espiritu Santu Island just before sunset we enjoyed the calm conditions and celebrated today’s good luck. It wasn’t yet over, though, because a whale spouted close to the boat - another Blue Whale!

Scot had another treat in store for us - he scooped up more seawater and we all marvelled at the “salps” - both the tiny, transparent individual “mini sea gooseberries” as well the “chains” of even smaller linked individuals. There was an array of other fascinating creatures, including more Blue Buttons. The end of another amazing day on the Spirit of Adventure.

Tuesday 5 April

Smooth-tailed Mobulas were jumping clear of the water as we went on deck this morning. By 08.00hrs we were at the southern end of La Paz Bay - rather sad to see civilisation again after days of being alone. But we were in for something really special this morning. Our leaders, Scot and David, felt we had not seen as much on this trip as in previous years, saying the Sea of Cortez waters were less productive than usual for cetaceans and birds (it didn’t feel that way to most of us!) So, as an “extra” for $35 each, did we want to swim with Whale Sharks? Did we? You bet we did! In full snorkelling gear, we were sitting on yet another specially-adapted boat, listening to our whale-shark guide explaining why the waters off La Paz are so good for this largest of all fish (they come into the bay where the wind and upwelling concentrates a mass of their food, tiny copepods). And then the call came... “jump now”. Leaping off the side of the boat and seeing a huge beautifully-spotted fish beneath you is, quite honestly, mind-blowing. It’s difficult to find words to describe it. You are expertly placed just in front of this huge animal and you need to swim fast to keep up with it - but if you lag behind the guide grabs your hand and hauls you through the water so you are quickly alongside the head again. What an amazing experience. The whole operation is strictly regulated and after a set time you are taken back on board to gather your breath, try to take in what you’ve just seen and done, then in no time at all you are back in the crystal-clear water alongside another shark. Three times we did this. Truly wonderful. We forgot to ask if we’d seen one or three sharks, but as we clambered back on the boat after the last encounter, our guide said the animal beside us was not big; at 6m it still had a lot of growing to do (up to 12m) but to us it seemed gigantic.

Some of our group didn’t want to enter the water with the shark but they all had stunningly-close views of them beside the boat, just below the surface.

Even back on the Spirit we were still struggling to find words to describe our experience. We stood on deck watching for birds and cetaceans, finding two Red-billed Tropicbirds, Craveri’s Murrelets, lots of shearwaters and more close encounters with a Humpback Whale, Bottlenose Dolphins and bow-riding Long-beaked Common Dolphins - the list seemed endless.

The crew alerted us to a massive feeding frenzy ahead with Long-beaked Common Dolphins chasing fish and a variety of birds taking full advantage. Soon we had dolphins bow riding and jumping in the stern wake with many Magnificent Frigatebirds overhead and dozens of Black and Least Storm Petrel low over the water. What a way to end our last day on the Spirit of Adventure!

Wednesday 6 April

After settling our on-board bar bill at breakfast, we approached the bustling harbour of Cabo San Lucas but continued to see an impressive number of species: Brown Pelicans, an amazing 200 or more Magnificent Frigatebirds, Yellow-footed and California Gulls, California Sea Lions, even a couple of Mobula leapt out of the water. We said our goodbyes to everyone on the boat then the four of us went to pick up a rental car for the next part of our trip. It took a while to get our “land-legs” again!

First stop was the grounds of a big sprawling hotel, ME Cabo (accessed from Av. del Pescador in Cabo San Lucas), where we found some familiar species, including Cactus Wren, Audobon’s, American Yellow and Orange-crowned Warblers, Phainopepla and Gila Woodpecker as well as some new ones for the trip: Xantu’s Hummingbird, Cedar Waxwing, Black-headed Grosbeak, Western Tanager, Sage Thrasher and Western Scrub Jay, all bathing where the gardener was watering shrubs.

After an hour or so we moved east along Highway 1 to San José del Cabo’s various coastal wetlands, finding plenty of new birds as well as many we had seen elsewhere. First we parked near the Holiday Inn Resort on the west side of the San José estuary and walked along the barrier beach to a tower viewpoint, later driving about half a mile further north to walk beside a rather polluted but very productive stretch of the river. Some of the highlights were Pied-billed Grebe, Tricoloured, Great and Little Blue Herons, Great, Snowy and Cattle Egrets, Neotropic Cormorant, White-faced Ibis, various ducks including Blue-winged and Cinnamon Teal, Lesser Scaup, Red-tailed Hawk, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Lark Sparrow and Yellow-headed Blackbird.

We drove to the Best Western Aeropuerto Hotel for the night.

Thursday 7 April

At 04.00 am we left the rental car at the Alamo depot next to the hotel; the hotel shuttle then took us to the airport just a few minutes away. It was very calm and quiet inside the terminal, not at all busy. The flight to Mexico City was about 1hr 20min then we had a few hours to wait before the onward flight to Panama. A driver was waiting for us at Panama’s Tocumen International Airport and we were soon on our way through Panama City. We were booked into Albrook Inn in a quiet, rural setting west of the city. Rooms were basic but very comfortable with a good bathroom. We had dinner on the patio watching bats and a couple of Pauraques. With trees all around us it was a good place for our first night in Panama.

Friday 8 April

We were out by first light at 06.15hrs and immediately started seeing birds. Some of the species around the gardens and woodland edge were Red-crowned Woodpecker, Whooping and Rufous Motmots, Rufous-tailed Hummingbird, Clay-coloured Thrush, Vermilion, Dusky-capped and Social Flycatchers, Black-headed Saltator, Crimson-backed, Blue-gray and Palm Tanagers and Baltimore Oriole. A couple of Central American Agoutis showed themselves several times and a Brown-throated 3-toed Sloth (the orange and black pattern on its back confirmed it was a male) was moving oh-so-slowly through the trees, allowing us some very good views. Overhead we saw Common Black Hawk, Crested Caracara, Black and Turkey Vultures, Magnificent Frigatebird and Orange-chinned Parakeet.

Descending steep steps we came to a patch of closed-canopy woodland before emerging at a marshy area around a small natural lake. Our list grew rapidly here, with some of the highlights being Black-bellied Whistling Duck, Blue-winged Teal, Little Blue and Green Herons, Anhinga, Purple Gallinule, Wattled Jacana, Limpkin, Solitary Sandpiper, Pale-vented Pigeon, Ruddy Ground Dove, Brown-throated Parakeet, Amazon Kingfisher, Whiskered Puffbird, Louisiana Waterthrush, Great Kiskadee, Tropical Kingbird, Yellow-green Vireo, Southern Rough-winged Swallow and Short-tailed Swift. A small group of Geoffroy’s Tamarins entertained us for a while. In just a few hours we had a great introduction to Panama’s wildlife! Albrook Inn is certainly a good choice if you need to spend a night not too far from the airport .

A 10.30hrs we were picked up for the 40 minute drive to Canopy Tower. Leaving the city behind, we were soon turning onto Semaphore Hill through rain forest. It was surprisingly dry; there had been almost no rain for a long time, everyone was desperate for it to fall. At the top of the hill there was the Canopy Tower, rising 15 metres (50ft) to just above tree-top level. The first thing we did, like most people I guess, was try to photograph the many hummingbirds on feeders around the entrance. White-necked Jacobin, Blue-chested Hummingbird, Long-billed Hermit and Violet-bellied Hummingbird. Good start!

We were taken to our rooms - the Blue Cotinga Suite and the Harpy Suite. Spacious and comfortable with views directly into the forest just a few metres from the windows. Alex gave us a quick orientation then we were up on the Observation Deck looking out over the forest canopy. Mind you, the tower blocks of Panama City were visible in the distance, as was a stretch of the canal, some cleared and built-up areas and the huge expanse of the “Bridge of the Americas” spanning the Pacific entrance to the Panama Canal. A strange mix of wild forest and civilisation. But facing away from that view the scene was wonderful and even at midday there were many birds to see. Some of the highlights were two King Vultures flying past and a calling but unseen Grey-lined Hawk, Keel-billed Toucan, Common Tody-Flycatcher, Red-eyed Vireo, American Yellow Warbler, Green and Red-legged Honeycreepers and Thick-billed Euphonia. We soon learned the call of Lesser Greenlet, something we would hear everywhere, every day!

Time for lunch, but we were delayed by a female 3-toed Sloth carrying a tiny baby - she was immediately outside the dining-room window, so close, and feeding on the fruit of a Cecropia tree. Our lunch was very good, the first of many excellent meals here - plenty of choice, fresh produce, home baked cakes and puddings, and plenty of it. They were very careful about diet preferences and allergies. The kitchen staff are to be congratulated.

At 15.00hrs, along with an American couple, we climbed onto the “Birdmobile”, a modified Toyota 4x4 pick-up truck with open sides, a good way of getting around, if rather noisy. Our guide, Michael, drove down Semaphore Hill onto the main road towards Gamboa and over the single lane iron and wood road/rail bridge across the Chagres river. We named it the creosote bridge for obvious reasons. We strolled along a quiet road beside the Chagres river. We didn’t go far but saw plenty: Grey-headed Chachalaca, Grey-chested Dove, Greater Ani, Ringed Kingfisher, Collared Aracari, Yellow-headed Caracara, Southern Beardless Tyrannulet, Cocoa Woodcreeper, Lesser Kiskadee, Rusty-margined Flycatcher, Masked Tityra, Mangrove Swallow, Plain Wren, Northern Waterthrush, a female Rose-breasted Grosbeak and Yellow-rumped Cacique A small patch of rank grass held Thick-billed Seed-Finch, Yellow-bellied and Varied Seedeaters. Great-tailed Grackles were everywhere. By now we were hot and a little weary but there were ice-cold drinks waiting for us in the vehicle.

We got back to the Tower at 18.00hrs and sat with Michael to do the check-list before dinner. By 20.00hrs we were back on the Birdmobile and driving slowly down Semaphore Hill in the dark, hoping for some mammals - we were, after all, on a “mammal tour” rather than a regular birding tour. It wasn’t very successful but we were pleased to see two Hoffman’s 2-toed Sloths, a nocturnal species, whereas the 3-toed seen this afternoon is a diurnal animal. We listened to a distant Common Potoo calling with Michael whistling back to it, drawing it closer and closer, but we didn’t see it.

Saturday 9 April

The Mantled Howler Monkeys started calling around 04.00hrs; an incredible sound. Some of us had heard Red Howlers in Ecuador and thought the two species could be distinguished on voice alone, these Mantled Howlers sounding less raucous and not so powerful, although still very impressive. We were on the observation deck by 06.00hrs. Dull and cool, at first we saw only a few distant Collared Aracaris and Orange-chinned Parrots. Then three Keel-billed Toucans started displaying, some Red-lored Parrots and a Scarlet-rumped Cacique flew by, a Blue Cotinga was visible on a distant tree but a Bay-breasted Warbler came close, as did a Swainson’s Thrush, Blue-grey and Palm Tanagers. We had distant views of Mantled Howlers then a group of White-headed Capuchin Monkeys moved quickly through the trees close to the Tower. The 3 toed Sloth was still munching her way through bunches of Cecropia fruits.

After a good breakfast we walked down Semaphore Hill. It was a poor start with not many birds. The forest looked very dry with some of the understorey drooping and turning brown; perhaps there isn’t enough food at the moment to support many birds? It was hot and humid with occasional brief light showers, but not enough to make a difference. Things picked up as we got lower and we started to find a variety of species including Pale-vented and Scaled Pigeons, Squirrel Cuckoo, a pair of Gartered Trogons, Broad-billed Motmot and Lance-tailed Manakin, but the real highlight was an immature Tiny Hawk, quite a rarity around here. We saw plenty of Agoutis but just one White-nosed Coati and one 9-banded Armadillo. The best mammal sighting, though, was two Western Night Monkeys, heads drooping as they slept in their tree hole. At the bottom of the hill a vehicle arrived to take us back uphill to the Tower but not before we’d raided the coolbox for some nice cold drinks.

At 15.00hrs we went to the Ammo Pond and surrounding forest edge with Michael, passing a roosting Lesser Nighthawk on a roadside electricity pylon in Gamboa and a Fork-tailed Flycatcher perched on a barbed wire fence. Birding was good at the Pond but it’s beside the road and canal railway so very noisy. The side road into the forest (which leads to the Discovery Centre and Pipeline Road) was also busy with cars heading for an event somewhere in that direction. Nevertheless, we saw some superb birds such as Rufescent Tiger Heron (plus a fully-grown chick on the nest) and three Snail Kites. A good-sized Spectacled Caiman occasionally surfaced, some of us had a very brief glimpse of a Lesser Capybara and all the time we could hear White-throated Crakes, so close but never in sight.

Moving on to the forested track the birding hotted up. The biggest surprise was a close encounter with a Little Tinamou just a few feet from us. Our list included Crimson-crested Woodpeckers (a pair with juvenile), Barred and Black-crowned Antshrikes, Checker-throated, Dot-winged, White-bellied and Dusky Antbirds, Plain-brown Woodcreeper, Paltry Tyrannulet, Acadian Flycatcher, Grey-breasted Martin, White-shouldered, Summer, Scarlet and Crimson-backed Tanagers, a pair plus a single male Rose-breasted Grosbeak which was good having seen just a female yesterday. The only mammals here were Agouti and Variegated Squirrel.

Despite the slow start, it had been a very good day.

Sunday 10 April

This morning we went to Metropolitan Park, an area of nice secondary woodland with good birds especially around the fruiting Gumbo Limbo trees (Bursera simaruba). The park is popular with local people and we were there on Sunday but we weren’t disturbed whilst watching birds, insects and flowers. We found several sleeping Hoffman’s 2-toed Sloths and a Brown-throated 3-toed Sloth but not the hoped-for Crab-eating Racoons. Birds included White-necked Puffbird, Rufous-breasted and Plain Wrens, Canada Warbler, Blue Dacnis, Red-crowned and Red-throated Ant-Tanagers, Yellow-crowned and Thick-billed Euphonias. There was a big movement of Mississippi Kites and some Swainson’s Hawks overhead which we could see through gaps in the tree cover. Mammals this morning were Geoffroy’s Tamarin, Variegated Squirrel and, as always, Agoutis.

On our way back to Canopy Tower for lunch (and a rest, we were very hot and tired) we saw a Northern Tamandua on Semaphore Hill.

We declined the offer of a visit to the Locks this afternoon and Alex took us instead to Punta Cuelebra, one of the islands connected by the Amador Causeway on the Panama City coast. Again, being Sunday, it was a busy place but we had a good time and saw plenty. People were very friendly and seemed genuinely interested in the wildlife around them. In the car park a huge Green Iguana was draped over a big bough. They can reach 2m in length and this one was almost this size. It was the first of many we saw this afternoon; these giant vegetarian lizards are totally habituated to people here so we were able to get up close and really appreciate them. A number of waders were feeding along the shoreline - Spotted Sandpiper, Lesser Yellowlegs and Least Sandpiper - and Laughing Gull, Elegant and Sandwich Terns, Neotropic Cormorants, Magnificent Frigatebirds and Brown Pelicans were seen, too. In the open, scrubby woodland we found Boat-billed Flycatcher, Streaked Saltator, Yellow-backed Oriole and at least 8 Hoffman’s 2-toed Sloth.

Other species today included Grey-lined and Broad-winged Hawks, Grey-chested Dove, Garden Emerald Hummingbird, White-vented Plumeleteer, White-whiskered Puffbird, Mealy Parrot, Forest and Yellow-bellied Elaenias, Yellow-olive, Ruddy-tailed and Streaked Flycatchers, Eastern Wood Pewee, Bright-rumped Attila and a large Rock (Black) Iguana.

This evening there were many hundreds of Mississippi Kites and a few Swainson’s Hawks passing northwards over the Tower. As light faded they were dropping down to roost in a nearby valley.

Monday 11 April

The Tinamous were especially vocal early this morning as we watched from the observation deck, but our attention was drawn to a group of Mantled Howlers. A female was carrying a tiny, silvery coloured baby, obviously very young. It was fascinating to watch her tending the youngster. What seemed to be a “teenager” joined them and it appeared to be fascinated by the new member of its group. 4-5 Geoffroy’s Tamarins ran through the trees and some of the Mississippi Kites that had roosted nearby were on the move. Other sightings were Short-tailed Hawk, Scaled Pigeon, Brown-capped Tyrannulet, Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher, Shining Honeycreeper and Blue Dacnis.

After breakfast we headed for a different stretch of the Chagres river and boarded a small motor boat. The first part of the trip was around marshy edges, getting close to many birds and reptiles - Anhinga, Tricolored and Rufescent Tiger Herons, Snail Kite, Grey-necked Wood-Rail, Purple Gallinule, Limpkin, Southern Lapwing, Mangrove and Cliff Swallows, Spectacled Caiman, Basilisk Lizard and Green Iguana. We then moved into the Canal, skirting some very big ships, and soon reached “Monkey Island” in Gatun Lake. White-headed Capuchins quickly came to the shore and were obviously expecting to be fed but we just admired them and continued exploring elsewhere around the edge of the lake and its many islands. We got back to Canopy Tower by lunchtime.

This afternoon we were with Eliecer (Eli) for a visit to forest around the Discovery Centre off Pipeline Road. First stop was at the Centre’s hummingbird feeders for some photography - new for this trip were Crowned Woodnymph and Sapphire-throated Hummingbird. A bold White-nosed Coati wandered around the building, not at all concerned about us. Along the trails and from the 32m high watch tower we had good views of Grey-headed Kite, Whooping Motmot, White-whiskered Puffbird, Keel-billed and Yellow-throated (Chestnut-mandibled) Toucans, Black-cheeked and Cinnamon Woodpeckers, Yellow-headed Caracara, Mealy Parrot, White-flanked Antwren, Dusky and Chestnut-backed Antbirds, Black-faced Antthrush, Cocoa Woodcreeper, Plain Xenops, Purple-throated Fruitcrow, Blue-crowned and Red-capped Manakins Green Shrike-Vireo, Black-bellied and Song Wrens, Tennessee and Bay-breasted Warblers, Chestnut-headed Oropendola and White-tailed Deer. A real surprise was watching a Great Tinamou moving slowly through the undergrowth.

After dinner we clambered onto the Birdmobile for another night drive down Semaphore Hill but after a while Michael, this evening’s guide, suggested walking would be better because the vehicle is rather noisy! It paid off as we saw Central American Woolly Opossum, Hoffman’s 2-toed Sloths and Panamanian Night Monkeys (good to see them active rather than asleep in a tree hole). We got back onto the vehicle at the bottom of the hill and went a mile or so along the main road where the highlight was a Great Potoo perched high on a dead tree stump.

Tuesday 12 April

An early start so we could catch the 07.00 “river bus” to Barro Colorado Island on Gatun Lake. We had high hopes for the trip but it was rather a disappointment. A guide from the Field Research Station met us at Gamboa (Canopy Tower staff are not allowed to guide on the island) and joined us on the boat. At the island’s Visitor Centre we were offered coffee then ushered to the lecture room for a long talk about the history and work of the Smithsonian Institute and its research on Barro Colorado, as well as being given basic identification tips for various birds and mammals. It was 09.00hrs by the time we got into the forest, much too late to start a moderately strenuous walk on fairly rough ground with steep steps and the temperature and humidity rising. Three other people had joined us for the tour so there was quite a long line of people making their way through the forest. Various plants of interest were pointed out along the way but we didn’t see many birds or mammals - a pair of Crimson-crested Woodpeckers, Dot-winged Antwren, two displaying male Red-capped Manakins and a Red-tailed Squirrel were the highlights. A colony of White-lined or Sac-winged Bats roosting on a shady building wall was interesting.

After lunch in the Visitor Centre’s we were scheduled to go into the lecture room to watch a video about the island but we declined this and moved to another building with a large balcony at tree-top level (with a backdrop of huge ships moving along the Canal). We spent a couple of hours watching a good range of birds feeding in fruiting trees. Red-crowned Woodpecker, Collared Aracari, Rufous Motmot, Panama, Social and Streaked Flycatchers, Great Kiskadee, Blue Cotinga, Blue-gray, Palm and Summer Tanagers, Shining and Red-legged Honeycreepers and Yellow-rumped Cacique. A small group of Mantled Howlers moved slowly through the trees. White-nosed Coatis were common around the Visitor Centre but we didn’t see the Red (Geoffroy’s) Spider Monkeys that are descendents of animals reintroduced after the species was hunted to extinction here.

It seemed strange that there was no one from Canopy Tower to meet us when we got back to Gamboa but we were confident they would arrive soon. We wandered across the road to see what was on the Ammo Pond - Rufescent Tiger Heron, Great Egret, Little Blue Heron, Snail Kite, Purple Gallinule and the usual gang of noisy Wattled Jacanas. We returned to the river boat office, thinking we may have to telephone Canopy Tower but staff had just received a call saying our lift was delayed because a big tree had fallen across the road and it was taking a while to clear a way through. So we continued birding around the Ammo pond. The vehicle soon arrived and we learnt that it had taken so long because there was a large nest of bees on the fallen tree - and those bees were not happy about the disturbance!

Thousands more Mississippi Kites and numerous Swainson’s Hawks were again migrating northwards over Canopy Tower when we got back. We had good views of a Zone-tailed Hawk and a speedy fly-past by a Bat Falcon.

We went for another night drive after dinner, down Semaphore Hill, along the main road, across “Creosote” Bridge to the Chagres river at Gamboa. Success - five Common Pauraques, Central American Woolly Opossum, Hoffman’s 2-toed Sloth, Brown-throated 3-toed Sloth, three Nine-banded Armadillos, plenty of Agoutis, but best of all a heavily-pregnant Lesser Capybara beside the Chagres river.

Wednesday 13 April

We left at 06.30 for Pipeline Road, parking near the Discovery Centre and walking northwest from there. Jenn was our guide and we had an excellent morning. A few cars passed us but nowhere near as many as on our visit to the lower stretch a few days ago. 50+ Mississippi Kites passed overhead, then a Black Hawk-Eagle. Several times we heard Short-billed Pigeon but never saw one. Some of the species listed were Squirrel Cuckoo, Crowned Woodnymph, Snowy-bellied and Rufous-tailed Hummingbirds, a pair of Slaty-tailed Trogons, a female Black-tailed Trogon and a calling male Black-throated Trogon, Green and American Pygmy Kingfishers, Black-breasted, White-whiskered and Pied Puffbirds, Black-cheeked, Cinnamon, Red-crowned and Crimson-crested Woodpeckers, White-flanked, Checker-throated and Dot-winged Antwrens, Chestnut-backed and Bi-coloured Antbirds, Olivaceous, Northern Barred and Cocoa Woodcreepers, Forest Elaenia, Olivaceous Flatbill, Great Crested Flycatcher, a migrating flock of Eastern Kingbirds, Russet-winged Schiffornis, Masked and Black-crowned Tityras, White-winged Becard, Purple-throated Fruitcrow, Blue-crowned, Golden-collared and Red-capped Manakins, Song Wren, Swainson’s Thrush, Black-and-White Warbler, Golden-hooded, Plain-coloured, Grey-headed and White-shouldered Tanagers, Blue Dacnis, Scarlet-rumped and Yellow-rumped Caciques, Chestnut-headed Oropendola and Fulvous-vented Euphonia. Several species were constantly heard but remained out of sight - songs and calls of Spotted Antbird, Streak-chested Antpitta, Black-faced Antthrush and Southern Bentbill were memorable sounds. We saw many butterflies and Dragonflies; Jenn named most of them, such as Rusted Clearwing-Satyr and White-spotted Prepona butterflies, Blue-eyed Setwing and Yellow-lined Skimmer dragonflies. For those of us who saw it, a Tayra crossing the track was the best sight of the day.

A detour on the way back to Canopy Tower to Gamboa Rainforest Resort to a known day-roost for Panamanian Night Monkey paid off. Then after almost emptying the jar of “Canopy Tower Trail Mix” (salted peanuts, raisins and Smarties), we returned to base for lunch.

The afternoon was spent around Summit Gardens by the Zoo. Away from the depressing sight of caged creatures some nice species were added to our list - Common Nighthawk, Purple-crowned Fairy, Ochre-bellied Flycatcher, Black-headed Tody-Flycatcher, Black-chested Jay, Buff-throated Saltator, Common Tent-making Bat and, at last, a Crab-eating Racoon.

Thursday 14 April

We left just after 05.00hrs with Alex, heading north for a full day on the Caribbean slopes. We passed the almost-completed new locks and watched a massive cruise ship slowly inching its way into the very tight space of the old locks with hundreds of passengers watching proceedings from the decks. Reaching open ground we were pleased to see a brilliant Red-breasted Blackbird singing from a chain-link fence and nearby a Savannah Hawk and some Smooth-billed Anis. The first area we explored was Achiote Road - initially along the roadside then into a coffee plantation with scattered large trees and open areas. Species seen included a roosting Great Potoo, Slaty-tailed and White-tailed Trogons, Woodstorks overhead, Swallow-tailed and Plumbeous Kites, Gray-lined and Swainson’s Hawks, American Kestrel, Blue-headed Parrot, Spot-crowned Barbet, Keel-billed and Yellow-throated Toucans, Black-crowned Antshrike, Pacific and Dot-winged Antwrens, Ruddy-tailed Flycatcher, Tropical Pewee, White-headed and Bay Wrens, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Lemon-rumped Tanager, Yellow-backed Oriole, Crested and Chestnut-headed Oropendolas and Geoffroy’s Tamarin. While enjoying a packed mid-morning snack (sandwiches, fruit, cake, coffee, tea and soft drinks) we heard a Laughing Falcon quite near, but couldn’t see it.

It was almost midday by the time we reached Fort Sherman at Toro Point on the Caribbean coast, west of Colón city. While our driver set up a table (complete with gingham table cloth) and unpacked our lunch from the coolbox, we had a good look round this attractive site with views over a beautiful coastline and bright blue sea. The fort has an interesting history but it was a bit too hot to spend much time away from the trees.

We moved on to walk a trail in the nearby San Lorenzo National Park finding some nice birds. It was hot and humid and we concentrated more on the many interesting insects and plants. Next was another roadside stop but this time we were looking into a tangle of Black Mangrove roots. We were all delighted with a beautiful Mangrove Cuckoo, Stripe-throated Hermit and Belted Kingfisher.

Other species seen today were Southern Lapwing, Broad-winged and Common Black Hawks, Plumbeous Kite, Peregrine, Brown-hooded Parrot, Saffron Finch, Thick-billed Seedfinch, Black-headed Saltator, Giant Cowbird, Black-chested Jay, Canada Warbler and American Crocodile.

Friday 15 April

We were on the Observation Deck by 06.00 for a final watch before transferring to Canopy Lodge. Many of the regular species were seen, along with some we’d not had from the deck before - Woodstork, Cattle Egret, Snowy-bellied Hummingbird, Eastern Kingbird and Golden-hooded Tanager - and also good views of some new for the trip: White Hawk, Slaty-headed Tody-Flycatcher and Blackburnian Warbler.

The Canopy Lodge vehicle arrived to collect us at 10.00hrs for the 2hr journey to El Valle. There was quite a lot of traffic and one hold-up (20 minutes) due to a minor traffic incident. Heading southwest away from the Canal Zone we had distant views of rugged peaks around El Valle de Antón. After turning off the Pan-American highway towards El Valle we were a little concerned to see that everywhere was cultivated, cleared or built up. Climbing higher we started to see more trees and eventually beautiful forested hills around an ancient volcanic crater. We arrived in the lush grounds of Canopy Lodge just in time for lunch at 12.30 (very nice but not quite as special as at Canopy Tower).

It was a very pleasant temperature here, much cooler than the hot, sticky lowlands of the canal zone. We walked from the Lodge along the road (just a little local traffic) and within minutes had a real surprise - a Sunbittern was walking beside the tumbling stream below us! A little further and we turned off the road into cloud forest along the Chorro El Macho trail. We saw plenty of species, many that had been common over the past week and some less familiar as well as several new ones (either new for trip or “lifers”). Some of the afternoon’s highlights were Stripe-throated Hermit, Garden Emerald, White-vented and Bronze-tailed Plumeleteers, Crowned Woodnymph, Snowy-bellied and Rufous-tailed Hummingbirds, Spot-crowned Barbet, Blue-headed Parrot, Black-faced Antthrush, Eye-ringed Flatbill, Black-chested Jay, Rufous-breasted and Bay Wrens, White-breasted Wood-Wren, Tennessee, Rufous-capped and Canada Warblers, Bay-headed and Silver-throated Tanagers, Bananaquit, Orange-billed Sparrow, Red-crowned Ant-Tanager, Lesser Goldfinch. Red-tailed Squirrels and Basilisk Lizards were common. Rosy Thrush-Tanagers taunted us constantly when we returned to the lodge - very vocal birds but extremely secretive! We also heard Blue-black Grosbeak but failed to see those, too. Eleicer (Eli) our guide tried to get us on to a roosting Mottled Owl but we were not convinced that the shape in a dark hole, obscured by branches, was any kind of bird, let alone an owl!

As we reflected on another successful day and finished an enjoyable dinner outside in the warm air, a strange-looking animal scuttled past the tables - it was a Rothschild’s Porcupine!

Saturday 16 April

Two other guests joined us at 07.00hrs as we headed for a high cloud forest area. We passed cleared, arable and pasture areas then a huge battery chicken farm before reaching Cerro Gaital National Park. Even up here it was very dry; in rocky areas and along the edge of paths plants were wilted or shrivelled. Rain is needed very soon. We walked a trail for a few hours, finding many species. Eli was sure we would see a White-tipped Sicklebill on one of the flowering Heliconias, so we waited. Less than a minute later, there it was, using its perfectly adapted bill to reach the nectar in the curved flowers! We continued along a rockier trail until it became a little too steep, then retraced our steps. After a refreshing drink and a snack we found another track where the walking was easy. Some of the morning’s highlights were Swallow-tailed Kite, a distant Barred Hawk, Short-tailed Hawk, Green and Stripe-throated Hermits, Spot-crowned Antvireo, Checker-throated Antwren, Spotted and Cocoa Woodcreepers, Golden-collared Manakin, Tawny-crested Tanager, Yellow-faced Grassquit, Tooth-billed (Hepatic) Tanager, Red-crowned Ant-Tanager, Black-faced Grosbeak and Tawny-capped Euphonia. The whole area was superb but perhaps a little marred by the constant background sound of clucking battery hens!

Other species seen were Ruddy Ground Dove, White-tipped Dove, Keel-billed Toucan. A Scale-crested Pygmy-Tyrant called several times but was another one of those birds we just could not see. On returning to the Lodge we were given the tip-off that a rather special little hummingbird was showing well on some bushes in the grounds. We had cracking views of a Rufous-crested Coquette.

This afternoon two of us stayed back at the Lodge while the others went to Mata Ahogado and La Mesa with Eli. The bird feeders at the Lodge were busy with many species; almost everything seems to like banana, even Gray-necked Woodrail and Chestnut-headed Oropendola flew onto the tables! Sightings from the veranda and on a walk round the grounds included a family of Gray-headed Chachalacas, Rufous-tailed Hummingbird, Rufous Motmot, Collared Aracari, Red-crowned Woodpecker, Dusky-capped, Social and Streaked Flycatchers, House, Bay and Rufous-breasted Wrens, White-breasted Wood-Wren, Northern Waterthrush, Tennessee, Chestnut-sided, Buff-rumped, Rufous-capped and Canada Warblers, a whole range of Tanagers: Blue-gray, Palm, Silver-throated, Lemon-rumped and Crimson-backed, Bananaquit, Buff-throated Saltator, Orange-billed Sparrow, Thick-billed Euphonia and Lesser Goldfinch.

The Mata Ahogado / La Mesa areas were excellent, with several species new for the trip - Spectacled and Tropical Screech Owls, Orange-bellied Trogon, Blue-throated Toucanet, Gray-breasted Wood-Wren, Pale-vented Thrush, Mourning Warbler, Scarlet-thighed Dacnis and Black-striped Sparrow.

After dinner we could hear frogs or toads and set off towards the Lodge’s small lake - there were several bats flying and we photographed some very big Cane Toads.

Sunday 17 April

There was time to watch the bird feeders and try for a few last photographs before K&MC were driven back to Panama for the homeward flight (CS & JG had one more day). Being Sunday there wasn’t a lot of traffic and it took just 2½ hrs to reach Tocumen airport. It will be a longer journey tomorrow morning for CS&JG.

CS&JG returned to La Mesa for the morning, adding more birds to the trip list: Plain Antvireo, Slaty Antwren, Sulphur-Rumped Myiobius (Flycatcher), Rufous-and-White Wren, Tawny-faced and Long-billed Gnatwrens and Common Bush-Tanager (Chlorospingus). A Schiffornis identified here as Northern was later thought more likely Russet-winged but it remains unconfirmed. The afternoon was spent around the Lodge grounds.

Monday 18 April

CS&JG spent a short while in the Lodge grounds before transferring to the airport.

Species Lists

BIRDS 470 spp.

Great Tinamou Tinamus major Panama
Little Tinamou Crypturellus soui Panama
Black-bellied Whistling Duck Dendrocygna autumnalis Panama
Fulvous Whistling Duck Dendrocygna bicolor Panama
Snow Goose Chen caerulescens Salton
Ross's Goose Chen rossii Salton
Brant Goose Branta bernicla nigricans San Diego, Baja
Gadwall Anas strepera Salton, Baja
American Wigeon Anas americana San Diego, Salton, Baja
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos San Diego, Salton, Baja
Blue-winged Teal Anas discors Salton, Baja, Panama
Cinnamon Teal Anas cyanoptera Salton, Baja
Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata San Diego, Salton
Northern Pintail Anas acuta Salton
Green-winged Teal Anas carolinensis Salton
Redhead Aythya americana San Diego
Greater Scaup Aythya marila San Diego
Lesser Scaup Aythya affinis Salton, Baja
Surf Scoter Melanitta perspicillata San Diego, Baja
Bufflehead Bucephala albeola San Diego, Salton
Common Goldeneye Bucephala clangula Salton
Red-breasted Merganser Mergus serrator San Diego, Baja
Ruddy Duck Oxyura jamaicensis San Diego, Salton, Baja
Grey-headed Chachalaca Ortalis cinereiceps Panama
California Quail Callipepla californica Baja
Gambel's Quail Callipepla gambelii Salton
Wild Turkey Meleagris gallopavo San Diego
Pacific Loon Gavia pacifica San Diego, Baja
Great Northern Loon Gavia immer San Diego, Baja
Laysan Albatross Phoebastria immutabilis Baja
Black-footed Albatross Phoebastria nigripes Baja
Least Storm Petrel Oceanodroma microsoma Baja
Black Storm Petrel Oceanodroma melania Baja
Northern Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis Baja
Cook's Petrel Pterodroma cookii Baja
Sooty Shearwater Puffinus griseus Baja
Pink-footed Shearwater Puffinus creatopus Baja
Black-vented Shearwater Puffinus opisthomelas Baja
Pied-billed Grebe Podilymbus podiceps San Diego, Salton, Baja
Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis San Diego, Salton, Baja
Western Grebe Aechmophorus occidentalis San Diego, Salton, Baja
Clark's Grebe Aechmophorus clarkii San Diego
Red-billed Tropicbird Phaethon aethereus Baja
Wood Stork Mycteria americana Panama
American White Ibis Eudocimus albus Baja, Panama
Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus Panama
White-faced Ibis Plegadis chihi Salton, Baja
Rufescent Tiger Heron Tigrisoma lineatum Panama
Black-crowned Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax San Diego, Salton
Yellow-crowned Night Heron Nyctanassa violacea Baja
Green Heron Butorides virescens Salton, Baja, Panama
Striated Heron Butorides striata Panama
Western Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis Salton, Baja, Panama
Great Blue Heron Ardea herodias San Diego, Salton, Baja, Panama
Great Egret Ardea alba San Diego, Salton, Baja, Panama
Reddish Egret Egretta rufescens Baja
Tricolored Heron Egretta tricolor Baja, Panama
Little Blue Heron Egretta caerulea Baja, Panama
Snowy Egret Egretta thula San Diego, Salton, Baja, Panama
American White Pelican Pelecanus erythrorhynchos San Diego, Salton, Baja
Brown Pelican Pelecanus occidentalis San Diego, Baja, Panama
Magnificent Frigatebird Fregata magnificens Baja, Panama
Blue-footed Booby Sula nebouxii Baja
Masked Booby Sula dactylatra Baja
Brown Booby Sula leucogaster Baja
Brandt's Cormorant Phalacrocorax penicillatus San Diego, Baja
Neotropic Cormorant Phalacrocorax brasilianus Salton, Baja, Panama
Double-crested Cormorant Phalacrocorax auritus San Diego, Salton, Baja
Anhinga Anhinga anhinga Panama
Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura Anza Borrego, Baja, Panama
Black Vulture Coragyps atratus Panama
King Vulture Sarcoramphus papa Panama
Western Osprey Pandion haliaetus San Diego, Baja
White-tailed Kite Elanus leucurus San Diego
Grey-headed Kite Leptodon cayanensis Panama
Swallow-tailed Kite Elanoides forficatus Panama
Black Hawk-Eagle Spizaetus tyrannus Panama
Tiny Hawk Accipiter superciliosus Panama
Sharp-shinned Hawk Accipiter striatus Salton
Cooper's Hawk Accipiter cooperii Salton
Northern Harrier Circus hudsonius San Diego, Salton, Baja
Mississippi Kite Ictinia mississippiensis Panama
Plumbeous Kite Ictinia plumbea Panama
Snail Kite Rostrhamus sociabilis Panama
Common Black Hawk Buteogallus anthracinus Panama
Savanna Hawk Buteogallus meridionalis Panama
Great Black Hawk Buteogallus urubitinga Panama
Barred Hawk Morphnarchus princeps Panama
White Hawk Pseudastur albicollis Panama
Grey-lined Hawk Buteo nitidus Panama
Broad-winged Hawk Buteo platypterus Panama
Short-tailed Hawk Buteo brachyurus Panama
Swainson's Hawk Buteo swainsoni Anza Borrego, Panama
Zone-tailed Hawk Buteo albonotatus Panama
Red-tailed Hawk Buteo jamaicensis Anza Borrego, Baja
Sunbittern Eurypyga helias Panama
White-throated Crake Laterallus albigularis Panama
Ridgway's Rail Rallus obsoletus Salton
Grey-necked Wood Rail Aramides cajaneus Panama
Purple Gallinule Porphyrio martinicus Panama
Common Gallinule Gallinula galeata San Diego, Salton, Baja, Panama
American Coot Fulica americana San Diego, Salton, Baja
Limpkin Aramus guarauna Panama
Black Oystercatcher Haematopus bachmani Baja
American Oystercatcher Haematopus palliatus Baja
Black-necked Stilt Himantopus mexicanus San Diego, Salton, Baja
American Avocet Recurvirostra americana Salton
Southern Lapwing Vanellus chilensis Panama
Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola Salton
Killdeer Charadrius vociferus San Diego, Salton, Baja
Wattled Jacana Jacana jacana Panama
Wilson's Snipe Gallinago delicata Salton
Short-billed Dowitcher Limnodromus griseus San Diego, Baja
Long-billed Dowitcher Limnodromus scolopaceus Salton
Hudsonian Godwit Limosa haemastica Salton
Marbled Godwit Limosa fedoa San Diego, Salton, Baja
Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus San Diego, Salton, Baja
Long-billed Curlew Numenius americanus Baja
Greater Yellowlegs Tringa melanoleuca Salton, Baja
Lesser Yellowlegs Tringa flavipes Salton, Baja, Panama
Wandering Tattler Tringa incana Baja
Willet Tringa semipalmata San Diego, Salton, Baja
Spotted Sandpiper Actitis macularius San Diego, Salton, Baja, Panama
Black Turnstone Arenaria melanocephala Baja
Red Knot Calidris canutus San Diego, Salton, Baja
Western Sandpiper Calidris mauri Salton, Baja
Least Sandpiper Calidris minutilla Salton, Panama
Dunlin Calidris alpina Salton
Stilt Sandpiper Calidris himantopus Salton
Red-necked Phalarope Phalaropus lobatus Baja
Red (Grey) Phalarope Phalaropus fulicarius Baja
Black Skimmer Rynchops niger San Diego
Sabine's Gull Xema sabini Baja
Bonaparte's Gull Chroicocephalus philadelphia San Diego, Salton, Baja
Laughing Gull Leucophaeus atricilla Baja, Panama
Heermann's Gull Larus heermanni Baja
Ring-billed Gull Larus delawarensis San Diego, Salton
California Gull Larus californicus Salton, Baja
Glaucous-winged Gull Larus glaucescens Baja
Western Gull Larus occidentalis San Diego, Baja
Yellow-footed Gull Larus livens Baja
American Herring Gull Larus smithsonianus San Diego, Salton, Baja
Gull-billed Tern Gelochelidon nilotica San Diego, Salton
Caspian Tern Hydroprogne caspia Salton, Baja
Royal Tern Thalasseus maximus Baja
Elegant Tern Thalasseus elegans San Diego, Baja, Panama
Sandwich Tern Thalasseus sandvicensis Panama
Common Tern Sterna hirundo Baja
Forster's Tern Sterna forsteri San Diego, Baja
Pomarine Skua Stercorarius pomarinus Baja
Scripps's Murrelet Synthliboramphus scrippsi Baja
Craveri's Murrelet Synthliboramphus craveri Baja
Cassin's Auklet Ptychoramphus aleuticus Baja
Rock Dove Columba livia San Diego, Anza Borrego, Salton, Baja, Panama
Scaled Pigeon Patagioenas speciosa Panama
Pale-vented Pigeon Patagioenas cayennensis Panama
Short-billed Pigeon Patagioenas nigrirostris Panama
Eurasian Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto San Diego, Anza Borrego, Salton, Baja,
African Collared (Ringed) Dove Streptopelia roseogrisea San Diego
Common Ground Dove Columbina passerina Salton, Baja
Ruddy Ground Dove Columbina talpacoti Panama
White-tipped Dove Leptotila verreauxi Baja, Panama
Grey-chested Dove Leptotila cassinii Panama
Mourning Dove Zenaida macroura Anza Borrego, Salton
White-winged Dove Zenaida asiatica Anza Borrego, Baja, Panama
Greater Ani Crotophaga major Panama
Smooth-billed Ani Crotophaga ani Panama
Greater Roadrunner Geococcyx californianus Anza Borrego, Salton
Squirrel Cuckoo Piaya cayana Panama
Mangrove Cuckoo Coccyzus minor Panama
Tropical Screech Owl Megascops choliba Panama
Spectacled Owl Pulsatrix perspicillata Panama
Burrowing Owl Athene cunicularia Salton
Great Potoo Nyctibius grandis Panama
Common Potoo Nyctibius griseus Panama
Lesser Nighthawk Chordeiles acutipennis Panama
Common Nighthawk Chordeiles minor Panama
Pauraque Nyctidromus albicollis Panama
Band-rumped Swift Chaetura spinicaudus Panama
Short-tailed Swift Chaetura brachyura Panama
White-throated Swift Aeronautes saxatalis Anza Borrego, Salton, Baja
White-tipped Sicklebill Eutoxeres aquila Panama
Green Hermit Phaethornis guy Panama
Long-billed Hermit Phaethornis longirostris Panama
Stripe-throated Hermit Phaethornis striigularis Panama
White-necked Jacobin Florisuga mellivora Panama
Rufous-crested Coquette Lophornis delattrei Panama
Garden Emerald Chlorostilbon assimilis Panama
Crowned Woodnymph Thalurania colombica Panama
Violet-bellied Hummingbird Juliamyia julie Panama
Sapphire-thrtd Hummingbird Lepidopyga coeruleogularis Panama
Rufous-tailed Hummingbird Amazilia tzacatl Panama
Blue-chested Hummingbird Amazilia amabilis Panama
Snowy-bellied Hummingbird Amazilia edward Panama
White-vented Plumeleteer Chalybura buffonii Panama
Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer Chalybura urochrysia Panama
Xantus's Hummingbird Basilinna xantusii Baja
Purple-crowned Fairy Heliothryx barroti Panama
Anna's Hummingbird Calypte anna San Diego, Anza Borrego
Costa's Hummingbird Calypte costae San Diego, Anza Borrego, Baja
Allen's Hummingbird Selasphorus sasin San Diego
Calliope Hummingbird Selasphorus calliope San Diego
Slaty-tailed Trogon Trogon massena Panama
Black-tailed Trogon Trogon melanurus Panama
White-tailed Trogon Trogon chionurus Panama
Gartered Trogon Trogon caligatus Panama
Black-throated Trogon Trogon rufus Panama
Orange-bellied (Collared) Trogon Trogon (collaris) aurantiventris Panama
American Pygmy Kingfisher Chloroceryle aenea Panama
Green Kingfisher Chloroceryle americana Panama
Amazon Kingfisher Chloroceryle amazona Panama
Ringed Kingfisher Megaceryle torquata Panama
Belted Kingfisher Megaceryle alcyon Salton, Panama
Whooping Motmot Momotus subrufescens Panama
Rufous Motmot Baryphthengus martii Panama
Broad-billed Motmot Electron platyrhynchum Panama
White-necked Puffbird Notharchus hyperrhynchus Panama
Black-breasted Puffbird Notharchus pectoralis Panama
Pied Puffbird Notharchus tectus Panama
White-whiskered Puffbird Malacoptila panamensis Panama
Spot-crowned Barbet Capito maculicoronatus Panama
Blue-throated Toucanet Aulacorhynchus caeruleogularis Panama
Collared Aracari Pteroglossus torquatus Panama
Keel-billed Toucan Ramphastos sulfuratus Panama
Yellow-throated Toucan Ramphastos ambiguus swainsonii Panama
Acorn Woodpecker Melanerpes formicivorus San Diego
Black-cheeked Woodpecker Melanerpes pucherani Panama
Red-crowned Woodpecker Melanerpes rubricapillus Panama
Gila Woodpecker Melanerpes uropygialis Baja
Ladder-backed Woodpecker Picoides scalaris Baja
Nuttall's Woodpecker Picoides nuttallii San Diego
Northern Flicker Colaptes auratus San Diego
Gilded Flicker Colaptes chrysoides Baja
Cinnamon Woodpecker Celeus loricatus Panama
Crimson-crested Woodpecker Campephilus melanoleucos Panama
Northern Crested Caracara Caracara cheriway Baja, Panama
Yellow-headed Caracara Milvago chimachima Panama
Laughing Falcon Herpetotheres cachinnans Panama
American Kestrel Falco sparverius Anza Borrego, Salton, Panama
Bat Falcon Falco rufigularis Panama
Prairie Falcon Falco mexicanus Anza Borrego
Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus Baja, Panama
Orange-chinned Parakeet Brotogeris jugularis Panama
Brown-hooded Parrot Pyrilia haematotis Panama
Blue-headed Parrot Pionus menstruus Panama
Red-lored Amazon Amazona autumnalis Panama
Northern Mealy Amazon Amazona guatemalae Panama
Brown-throated Parakeet Eupsittula pertinax Panama
Plain Xenops Xenops minutus Panama
Plain-brown Woodcreeper Dendrocincla fuliginosa Panama
Olivaceous Woodcreeper Sittasomus griseicapillus Panama
Wedge-billed Woodcreeper Glyphorynchus spirurus Panama
Northern Barred Woodcreeper Dendrocolaptes sanctithomae Panama
Cocoa Woodcreeper Xiphorhynchus susurrans Panama
Spotted Woodcreeper Xiphorhynchus erythropygius Panama
Barred Antshrike Thamnophilus doliatus Panama
Black-crowned Antshrike Thamnophilus atrinucha Panama
Plain Antvireo Dysithamnus mentalis Panama
Spot-crowned Antvireo Dysithamnus puncticeps Panama
Checker-throated Antwren Epinecrophylla fulviventris Panama
Pacific Antwren Myrmotherula pacifica Panama
White-flanked Antwren Myrmotherula axillaris Panama
Slaty Antwren Myrmotherula schisticolor Panama
Dot-winged Antwren Microrhopias quixensis Panama
Dusky Antbird Cercomacra tyrannina Panama
White-bellied Antbird Myrmeciza longipes Panama
Chestnut-backed Antbird Myrmeciza exsul Panama
Bicolored Antbird Gymnopithys bicolor Panama
Spotted Antbird Hylophylax naevioides Panama
Black-faced Antthrush Formicarius analis Panama
Streak-chested Antpitta Hylopezus perspicillatus Panama
Yellow-crowned Tyrannulet Tyrannulus elatus Panama
Forest Elaenia Myiopagis gaimardii Panama
Greenish Elaenia Myiopagis viridicata Panama
Yellow-bellied Elaenia Elaenia flavogaster Panama
Brown-capped Tyrannulet Ornithion brunneicapillus Panama
Southern Beardless Tyrannulet Camptostoma obsoletum Panama
Paltry Tyrannulet Zimmerius vilissimus Panama
Ochre-bellied Flycatcher Mionectes oleagineus Panama
Southern Bentbill Oncostoma olivaceum Panama
Scale-crested Pygmy Tyrant Lophotriccus pileatus Panama
Slaty-headed Tody-Flycatcher Todirostrum sylvia Panama
Common Tody-Flycatcher Todirostrum cinereum Panama
Black-headed Tody-Flycatcher Todirostrum nigriceps Panama
Eye-ringed Flatbill Rhynchocyclus brevirostris Panama
Olivaceous Flatbill Rhynchocyclus olivaceus Panama
Yellow-olive Flatbill Tolmomyias sulphurescens Panama
Yellow-margined Flatbill Tolmomyias flavotectus Panama
Black Phoebe Sayornis nigricans San Diego, Salton
Say's Phoebe Sayornis saya Salton, Baja
Olive-sided Flycatcher Contopus cooperi San Diego
Eastern Wood Pewee Contopus virens Panama
Tropical Pewee Contopus cinereus Panama
Acadian Flycatcher Empidonax virescens Panama
American Gray Flycatcher Empidonax wrightii Baja
Vermilion Flycatcher Pyrocephalus rubinus Panama
Piratic Flycatcher Legatus leucophaius Panama
Rusty-margined Flycatcher Myiozetetes cayanensis Panama
Social Flycatcher Myiozetetes similis Panama
Great Kiskadee Pitangus sulphuratus Panama
Lesser Kiskadee Philohydor lictor Panama
Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher Myiodynastes luteiventris Panama
Streaked Flycatcher Myiodynastes maculatus Panama
Boat-billed Flycatcher Megarynchus pitangua Panama
Tropical Kingbird Tyrannus melancholicus Panama
Western Kingbird Tyrannus verticalis San Diego, Salton
Fork-tailed Flycatcher Tyrannus savana Panama
Eastern Kingbird Tyrannus tyrannus Panama
Dusky-capped Flycatcher Myiarchus tuberculifer Panama
Panamanian Flycatcher Myiarchus panamensis Panama
Ash-throated Flycatcher Myiarchus cinerascens Baja
Great Crested Flycatcher Myiarchus crinitus Panama
Bright-rumped Attila Attila spadiceus Panama
Blue Cotinga Cotinga nattererii Panama
Purple-throated Fruitcrow Querula purpurata Panama
Blue-crowned Manakin Lepidothrix coronata Panama
Golden-collared Manakin Manacus vitellinus Panama
Lance-tailed Manakin Chiroxiphia lanceolata Panama
Red-capped Manakin Dixiphia mentalis Panama
Sulphur-rumped Myiobius (F’catcher) Myiobius sulphureipygius Panama
Ruddy-tailed Flycatcher Terenotriccus erythrurus Panama
Black-crowned Tityra Tityra inquisitor Panama
Masked Tityra Tityra semifasciata Panama
Russet-winged Schiffornis Schiffornis stenorhyncha Panama
White-winged Becard Pachyramphus polychopterus Panama
Loggerhead Shrike Lanius ludovicianus Baja
Green Shrike-Vireo Vireolanius pulchellus Panama
Red-eyed Vireo Vireo olivaceus Panama
Yellow-green Vireo Vireo flavoviridis Panama
Lesser Greenlet Hylophilus decurtatus Panama
Black-chested Jay Cyanocorax affinis Panama
California Scrub Jay Aphelocoma californica San Diego, Baja
American Crow Corvus brachyrhynchos San Diego, Salton
Northern Raven Corvus corax Anza Borrego, Baja
Cedar Waxwing Bombycilla cedrorum Baja
Phainopepla Phainopepla nitens Anza Borrego, Baja
Oak Titmouse Baeolophus inornatus San Diego
Verdin Auriparus flaviceps Saltobn Sea, Baja
Horned Lark Eremophila alpestris Baja
Sand Martin Riparia riparia Panama
Mangrove Swallow Tachycineta albilinea Panama
Violet-green Swallow Tachycineta thalassina Salton
Grey-breasted Martin Progne chalybea Panama
Northern Rough-winged Swallow Stelgidopteryx serripennis Anza Borrego, Salton, Baja
Southern Rough-winged Swallow Stelgidopteryx ruficollis Panama
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica Anza Borrego, Salton, Panama
American Cliff Swallow Petrochelidon pyrrhonota Salton, Panama
American Bushtit Psaltriparus minimus San Diego
White-headed Wren Campylorhynchus albobrunneus Panama
Cactus Wren Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus Baja
Rock Wren Salpinctes obsoletus Anza Borrego, Baja
Canyon Wren Catherpes mexicanus Anza Borrego
Marsh Wren Cistothorus palustris Salton
Black-bellied Wren Pheugopedius fasciatoventris Panama
Rufous-breasted Wren Pheugopedius rutilus Panama
Rufous-and-white Wren Thryophilus rufalbus Panama
Plain Wren Cantorchilus modestus Panama
Buff-breasted Wren Cantorchilus leucotis Panama
Bay Wren Cantorchilus nigricapillus Panama
House Wren Troglodytes aedon Panama
White-breasted Wood Wren Henicorhina leucosticta Panama
Song Wren Cyphorhinus phaeocephalus Panama
Tawny-faced Gnatwren Microbates cinereiventris Panama
Long-billed Gnatwren Ramphocaenus melanurus Panama
Tropical Gnatcatcher Polioptila plumbea Panama
Red-breasted Nuthatch Sitta canadensis San Diego
White-breasted Nuthatch Sitta carolinensis San Diego
Northern Mockingbird Mimus polyglottos San Diego, Anza Borrego, Salton, Baja
Tropical Mockingbird Mimus gilvus Panama
Sage Thrasher Oreoscoptes montanus Baja
Common Starling Sturnus vulgaris San Diego, Salton, Baja
Western Bluebird Sialia mexicana San Diego
Swainson's Thrush Catharus ustulatus Panama
Pale-vented Thrush Turdus obsoletus Panama
Clay-colored Thrush Turdus grayi Panama
Gray-breasted Wood Wren Henicorhina leucophrys Panama
House Sparrow Passer domesticus San Diego, Anza Borrego, Salton, Baja
Buff-bellied Pipit Anthus rubescens Salton
Purple Finch Haemorhous purpureus Anza Borrego
House Finch Haemorhous mexicanus San Diego, Anza Borrego, Baja
Lawrence's Goldfinch Spinus lawrencei Anza Borrego
Lesser Goldfinch Spinus psaltria San Diego, Anza Borrego, Baja, Panama
Pine Siskin Spinus pinus San Diego
Yellow-crowned Euphonia Euphonia luteicapilla Panama
Thick-billed Euphonia Euphonia laniirostris Panama
Fulvous-vented Euphonia Euphonia fulvicrissa Panama
Tawny-capped Euphonia Euphonia anneae Panama
Louisiana Waterthrush Parkesia motacilla Panama
Northern Waterthrush Parkesia noveboracensis Panama
Black-and-white Warbler Mniotilta varia Panama
Tennessee Warbler Leiothlypis peregrina Panama
Orange-crowned Warbler Leiothlypis celata San Diego, Salton, Baja
Mourning Warbler Geothlypis philadelphia Panama
Bay-breasted Warbler Setophaga castanea Panama
Blackburnian Warbler Setophaga fusca Panama
American Yellow Warbler Setophaga aestiva Anza Borrego, Panama
Mangrove Warbler Setophaga petechia Baja, Panama
Chestnut-sided Warbler Setophaga pensylvanica Panama
Myrtle Warbler Setophaga coronata San Diego, Anza Borrego, Salton
Audubon's Warbler Setophaga auduboni San Diego, Baja
Hermit Warbler Setophaga occidentalis Anza Borrego
Buff-rumped Warbler Myiothlypis fulvicauda Panama
Rufous-capped Warbler Basileuterus rufifrons Panama
Canada Warbler Cardellina canadensis Panama
Yellow-headed Blackbird Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus Baja
Western Meadowlark Sturnella neglecta San Diego, Salton
Red-breasted Blackbird Sturnella militaris Panama
Chestnut-headed Oropendola Psarocolius wagleri Panama
Crested Oropendola Psarocolius decumanus Panama
Yellow-backed Oriole Icterus chrysater Panama
Scarlet-rumped Cacique Cacicus microrhynchus Panama
Yellow-rumped Cacique Cacicus cela Panama
Baltimore Oriole Icterus galbula Panama
Hooded Oriole Icterus cucullatus San Diego, Baja
Red-winged Blackbird Agelaius phoeniceus Salton
Giant Cowbird Molothrus oryzivorus Panama
Shiny Cowbird Molothrus bonariensis Panama
Brown-headed Cowbird Molothrus ater Anza Borrego, Baja
Brewer's Blackbird Euphagus cyanocephalus Anza Borrego
Great-tailed Grackle Quiscalus mexicanus Salton, Panama
Bananaquit Coereba flaveola Panama
Song Sparrow Melospiza melodia San Diego, Salton
White-crowned Sparrow Zonotrichia leucophrys San Diego, Anza Borrego, Salton, Baja
Savannah Sparrow Passerculus sandwichensis San Diego, Baja
Races beldingi & sanctorum
Clay-colored Sparrow Spizella pallida Baja
Lark Sparrow Chondestes grammacus Baja
Black-throated Sparrow Amphispiza bilineata Anza Borrego, Baja
Green-tailed Towhee Pipilo chlorurus Baja
California Towhee Melozone crissalis senicula San Diego, Anza Borrego
Abert's Towhee Melozone aberti Salton
Black-striped Sparrow Arremonops conirostris Panama
Orange-billed Sparrow Arremon aurantiirostris Panama
Common Bush-Tanager Chlorospingus flavopectus Panama
Dusky-faced Tanager Mitrospingus cassinii Panama
Grey-headed Tanager Eucometis penicillata Panama
White-shouldered Tanager Tachyphonus luctuosus Panama
Tawny-crested Tanager Tachyphonus delatrii Panama
Crimson-backed Tanager Ramphocelus dimidiatus Panama
Lemon-rumped Tanager Ramphocelus icteronotus Panama
Blue-grey Tanager Thraupis episcopus Panama
Palm Tanager Thraupis palmarum Panama
Plain-colored Tanager Tangara inornata Panama
Silver-throated Tanager Tangara icterocephala Panama
Bay-headed Tanager Tangara gyrola Panama
Golden-hooded Tanager Tangara larvata Panama
Scarlet-thighed Dacnis Dacnis venusta Panama
Blue Dacnis Dacnis cayana Panama
Shining Honeycreeper Cyanerpes lucidus Panama
Red-legged Honeycreeper Cyanerpes cyaneus Panama
Green Honeycreeper Chlorophanes spiza Panama
Saffron Finch Sicalis flaveola Panama
Variable Seedeater Sporophila corvina Panama
Yellow-bellied Seedeater Sporophila nigricollis Panama
Thick-billed Seed Finch Oryzoborus funereus Panama
Yellow-faced Grassquit Tiaris olivaceus Panama
Rosy Thrush-Tanager Rhodinocichla rosea Panama
Tooth-billed (Hepatic) Tanager Piranga lutea Panama
Summer Tanager Piranga rubra Panama
Scarlet Tanager Piranga olivacea Panama
Western Tanager Piranga ludoviciana Baja
Red-crowned Ant Tanager Habia rubica Panama
Red-throated Ant Tanager Habia fuscicauda Panama
Rose-breasted Grosbeak Pheucticus ludovicianus Panama
Black-headed Grosbeak Pheucticus melanocephalus Baja
Northern Cardinal Cardinalis cardinalis Baja
Black-faced Grosbeak Caryothraustes poliogaster Panama
Black-headed Saltator Saltator atriceps Panama
Buff-throated Saltator Saltator maximus Panama
Streaked Saltator Saltator striatipectus Panama
Blue-black Grosbeak Cyanocompsa cyanoides Panama

MAMMALS 42 spp

Central American Woolly Opossum Caluromys derbianus Panama
Nine-banded Armadillo Dasypus novemcinctus Panama
Northern Tamandua Tamandua mexicana Panama
Hoffman's 2-toed Sloth Choloepus hoffmanni Panama
Brown-throated 3-toed Sloth Bradypus variegatus Panama
Desert Cottontail Sylvilagus audobonii San Diego, Anza Borrego, Salton
White-tailed Antelope Squirrel Ammospermophilus leucurus Anza Borrego
California Ground Squirrel Spermophilus beecheyi San Diego
Red-tailed Squirrel Sciurus granatensis Panama
Variegated Squirrel Sciurus variegatoides Panama
Merriam's Kangaroo Rat Dipodomys merriami Anza Borrego
Rothschild's Porcupine Coendou rothschildi Panama
Central American Agouti Dasyprocta punctata Panama
Lesser Capybara Hydrochoerus isthmius Panama
Guadalupe Fur Seal Arctocephalus townsendi Baja
California Sea Lions Zalophus californianus San Diego, Baja
Northern Elephant Seal Mirounga angustirostris Baja
Harbour Seal Phoca vitulina Baja
Tayra Eira barbara Panama
White-nosed Coati Nasua narica Panama
Crab-eating Racoon Procyon cancrivorus Panama
(Greater) White-lined Bat Saccopteryx (bilineata) Panama
Common Tent-making Bat Uroderma bilobatum Panama
Little Mastiff Bat Molossus molossus Panama
Geoffroy's Tamarin Sanguinus geoffroyi Panama
White-headed Capuchin Cebus capucinus (imitator) Panama
Panamanian Night Monkey Aotus zonalis Panama
Mantled Howler Alouatta palliata Panama
Sei Whale Balaenoptera borealis Baja
Bryde's Whale Balaenoptera edeni Baja
Blue Whale Balaenoptera musculus Baja
Fin Whale Balaenoptera physalus Baja
Humpback Whale Megaptera novaeangliae Baja
Gray Whale Eschrichtius robustus Baja
Dwarf Sperm Whale Kogia sima Baja
Peruvian (Pygmy) Beaked Whale Mesoplodon peruvianus Baja
Long-beaked Common Dolphin Delphinus capensis Baja
Short-beaked Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis Baja
Common Bottlenose Dolphin Tuirsiopstruncatus Baja
Pacific White-sided Dolphin Lagenorhynchus obliquidens Baja
Mule Deer Odocoileus hemionus San Diego
White-tailed Deer Odocoileus virginianus Panama
[ Striped Skunk - dead ] Mephitis mephitis Salton
[ Sperm Whale - dead ] Physeter macrocephalus Baja


Chuckwalla Lizard Sauromalus ater Anza Borrego
Side-blotched Lizard Uta stansburiana Anza Borrego, Baja
Santa Cataline Side-blotched Lizard Uta squamata Baja
Desert Spiny Lizard Sceloporus magister Salton Sea
Baja Spiny Lizard Scelpoarus zosterornus Baja
American Crocodile Crocodylus acutus Panama
Spectacled Caiman Caiman crocodilus Panama
Cape Spiny-tailed Lizard Ctenosaura hemilopha Baja
Rock (Black) Iguana Ctenosaura similis Panama
Green Iguana Iguana iguana Panama
Basilisk Lizard Basiliscus basiliscus Panama
Panamanian Whiptail Lizard Ameiva festiva Panama
House Gecko Hemidactylus frenatus Panama
Yellow-headed Forest Gecko Gonatodes albogularis Panama
Catalina Rattlesnake Crotalus ruber Baja
Green Sea Turtle Chelonia mydas Baja
Loggerhead Sea Turtle Caretta caretta Baja
Red-eared Slider Turtle Trachemys scripta Panama
Scorpion Mud Turtle Kinosternon scorpioides Panama
Cane Toad Rhinella marina Panama
[ Pacific Ridley Sea Turtle - dead ] Lepidochelys olivacea Baja

BUTTERFLIES 18 spp. * tentative i.d.

Felder's Orange-tip Butterfly * Anthocharis cethura Anza Borrego, Salton Sea
Sara's Orange-tip Butterfly * Anthocharis sara San Diego
Monarch Butterfly Danaus plexippus San Diego
Tiny (or Dyman) Checker-spot * Dymasia dymas imperialis Anza Borrego
(Western) Tiger Swallowtail * Papilio (rutulus) San Diego, Anza Borrego
Pale Swallowtail Papillio eurymedon San Diego, Baja
Marine Blue * Leptotes marina Baja
Long-tailed Blue Lampides boeticus Baja
Rusted Clearwing-Satyr Cithaerias pireta Panama
White-spotted Prepona * Archaeoprepona amphimachus Panama
Banded Peacock Anartia fatima Panama
Orange Mapwing * Hypanartia lethe Panama
Menelaus Morpho Morpho menelaus Panama
Common Morpho Morpho (helenor) peleides Panama
Owl Butterfly sp. Caligo sp. Panama
(?White-tailed) Longtail * Urbanus sp. Panama
(?Tanna) Longtail * Urbana (?tanna) Panama
(?Sharp-banded) Skipper * Autochton (?zarex) Panama


Tarrantula Hawk Wasp Pepsis sp. Baja
Blue-eyed Setwing Dythemis nigra Panama
Yellow-lined Skimmer Orthemis biolleyi Panama


Pelagic Red Crab Pleuroncodes planipes San Diego, Baja
Sally Lightfoot Crab Grapsus grapsus Baja


Salps Thaliacea spp. Baja
Blue Button "Jellyfish" Porpita porpita Baja
Pennella sp. Pennella sp. Baja

FISH 33 spp.

Cornet fish Fistularia sp. Baja
Mexican Goatfish Mulloidichthys dentatus Baja
Yellow (Colorado) Snapper Ocyurus chrysurus Baja
Blue and Gold Snapper Lutjanus viridis Baja
Barred Pargo Hoplopagrus guentherii Baja
Cortez Chub Kyphosus elegans Baja
Scissortail Damselfish Chromis atrilobata Baja
Giant Hawkfish Cirrhitus rivulatus Baja
California Flying Fish Cheilopogon pinnatibarbatus californicus Baja
Horse Eyed Jack (Jack-Mackerel) Caranx latus Baja
Yellowtail Jack Seriola lalandi Baja
Mullet Seriola lalandi Baja
Cortez Rainbow Wrasse Thalassoma lucasanum Baja
Pacific Creole Fish Paranthias colonus Baja
Striped Marlin Kajikia audax Baja
Spotted Sharp Nose Puffer Canthigaster punctatissima Baja
Guineafowl Puffer Arothron meleagris Baja
Balloonfish Diodontidae sp Baja
Barber fish Johnrandallia nigrirostris Baja
King Angelfish Holacanthus passer Baja
Three Band Butterfly Fish Chaetodon robustus Baja
Panamic Sergeant Major Abudefduf troschelii Baja
Giant Damselfish Microspathodon dorsalis Baja
Mexican Hogfish Bodianus diplotaenia Baja
Bicolor Parrotfish Cetoscarus bicolor Baja
Moorish Idol Zanclus cornutus Baja
Convict Surgeonfish Acanthurus triostegus Baja
Yellow Tailed Surgeonfish Paracanthurus hepatus Baja
Short-fin Mako Shark Isurus oxyrinchus Baja
Whale Shark Rhincodon typus Baja
Spiny-tailed Mobula Mobula mobular Baja
Smooth-tailed Mobula Mobula thurstoni Baja
Remora Remora remora Baja

PLANTS Baja California islands only. (Brackets) = Spanish/Local Name


Sebastian Agave (Mescal)
Agave sebastiana Wide green lvs, flrs yellow. Endemic to Cedros & San Benito Islands.
Crystalline Iceplant (Vidriero)
Mesembryanthemum crystallinum Low-growing succulent annual, flrs white. Saline bluffs. Introduced weed.
Barclay Saltbush (Saladillo)
Atriplex barclayana Low, spreading, perennial herbs. Several subspecies in Baja.
Nettle-Leaf Goosefoot (Cenizo)
Chenopodium murale Annual herb. Disturbed sites. Introduced weed.
Bush Seepweed (Quelite Salado)
Suaeda nigra Bushy perennial, lvs green & red, succulent. Saline soils. Common, So CA to Baja.
Street Tarweed
Hemizonia streetsii Annual herb, flrs bright yellow. Endemic to San Benito Islands.
Guadalupe Island Cryptantha
Cryptantha maritima var.maritima Diminutive annual, flrs white. Common, W San Benito Island.
Coast Cholla (Cholla)
Cylindropuntia prolifera Stem segments easily detached, as some of us learned! Islands off NW coast of Baja
Palmer Fishhook Cactus (Viejito)
Mamillaria neopalmeri Small cactus w/ hooked spines, flrs white. Endemic to San Benito & Guadalupe Islands.
Cliff Spurge (Jumetón)
Euphorbia misera Shrub, flrs white. Common on N Baja islands & adj mainland.
Palmer Frankenia (Yerba Reuma)
Frankenia palmeri Low growing perennial, flowers white. Common on Baja Islands & adj mainland.
San Benito Island Bush Mallow
Lavatera venosa Shrubby perennial herb, lg purple & white flrs. Endemic to San Benito & San Geronimo Is.
Island Poppy (Amapola)
Eschscholzia ramosa Small annual, flrs yellow. Common, many CA & Baja islands.
Sea Kisses
Calandrinia maritima Succulent low annual, flrs pink. Common in Baja. Rare in CA.
California Box-Thorn (Frutilla)
Lycium californicum Spiny shrub, small lavender flrs. Common; CA deserts & Baja.


Purpus Hummingbird Flower (Chuparosa)
Justicia purpusiiShrub, flrs red. Endemic to the Cape region of Baja.
Sword Agave (Datilillo)
Agave datylio Leave narrow, gray-green. Endemic to Baja CA Sur.
Baja California Elephant Tree (Torote Blanco)
Pachycormus discolor var pubescens Small tree, fruits purple. Endemic to Baja.
Celosia (Bledo)
Celosia floribunda Perennial herb, flrs greenish. Endemic to Baja CA Sur.
Rush Milkweed (Ajamete)
Asclepias subulata Tall perennial herb, flrs pale yellow. Visited by tarantula wasp. Common, CA & Baja deserts.
Canyon Ragweed (Chicura)
Ambrosia ambrosioides Shrub, flrs green. CA, AZ & Baja CA Sur.
Mule-Fat (Guatamote)
Baccharis salicifolius Tall shrub, forming thickets, flrs cream. CA & Baja.
Felt-leaf Sunflower (Ariosa)
Bahiopsis tomentosa? Tall sunflower. Endemic to the Cape region.
Brickellia sp.? Shrub.
Wild Marigold
Dyssodia (=Tagetes) speciosa Orange flowers, aromatic. Abundant in the Cape region.
Small-leaf Elephant Tree (Torote)
Bursera microphylla Small tree, peeling brn bark. California, Arizona, mainland Mexico and Baja.
Chain-fruit Cholla (Cholla)
Cylindropuntia cholla Fruits light green, chain-forming. Endemic to Baja.
Townsend Barrel Cactus (Biznaga)
Ferocactus townsendianus Fruits yellow. Endemic to S half of Baja CA Sur.
Aborigine's Comb (Cardón Barbón)
Pachycereus pecten-aboriginum Orange, spiny fruits. Lowlands of the Cape & mainland Mexico.
Galloping Cactus (Pitaya Agria)
Stenocereus gummosus Many spreading, curving stems. Most of Baja.
Dodder (Manto de la Virgen)
Cuscuta sp. Parasitic vine w/ orange stems, white flrs.
Yellow Morning-glory (Yuca)
Merremia aurea Vine, yellow flrs. Common; Baja CA Sur.
Felt-Leaf Morning-glory (Campanilla)
Jacquemontia abutiloides Vine, blue flrs. Common; Baja CA Sur.
Baja California Spurge (Pata de Aura)
Euphorbia xanti Shrub. Near endemic to Baja CA Sur.
Leatherplant (Matacora)
Jatropha cuneata Shrub. AZ, mainland Mexico & Baja.
Acacia sp. Shrub. Many species in Baja.
Palo Verde
Cercidium floridum Green stems, yellow flrs. Common, widespread.
Western Albizia (Palo Escopeta)
Hesperalbizia occidentalis Tree, white flrs, long pods. Common in the Cape region.
Skunk Cassia (Palo zorrillo)
Senna atomaria Shrub, yellow flrs. Common in the Cape region.
Adam's Tree (Palo Adán)
Fouquieria diguetii Many long branches, flrs red. Baja near-endemic.
Abutilon sp. Low shrub. Eight species in Baja.
Malva Rosa
Melochia tomentosa Shrub, pink flrs. Baja CA Sur & elsewhere.
Distichlis spicata Mat-forming grass. Saline soils. Widespread.
Goatnut (Jojoba)
Simmondsia chinensis Shrub, flrs green. Common; CA deserts & Baja.
Tree Tobacco (Tabaco amarillo)
Nicotiana glauca Shrub, yellow flrs. Introduced from Argentina, Bolivia.
Baja California Nightshade (Mariola)
Solanum hindsianum Shrub, silver lvs, purple flrs. Common, Baja, mainland Mexico & AZ.


Saltbush -two spp. - (Chamizo)
Atriplex spp. Perennial herbs, flrs green. Many species in Baja.
Bigelow Pickleweed
Salicornia bigelovii Low, succulent, green stems, annual herbs. Coastal areas of Baja & mainland Mexico.
Baja California Elephant Tree (Torote Blanco)
Pachycormus discolor var.pubescens Small tree, fruits purple. Endemic to Baja.
Saltwort (Dedito)
Batis maritima Low succulent, green stems, perennial. Common marshy areas, coasts Baja and elsewhere.
Island Opuntia (Tuna Tapona)
Opuntia tapona Flattened stems w/ long spines. Endemic to Baja CA Sur.
Elephant Cactus (Cardón)
Pachycereus pringlei Tall, many-branched. Common, Baja.
Galloping Cactus (Pitaya Agria)
Stenocereus gummosus Many spreading, curving stems. Most of Baja.
Palo Blanco
Lysiloma candidum Tree, white flrs. Near-endemic to Baja.
Jouvea pilosa Perennial tufted grass. Baja, mainland Mexico & Central America.
Gulf Star-violet
Stenotus mucronata Subshrub, flrs white. Baja Gulf coast & islands.


Baja California Elephant Tree (Torote Blanco)
Pachycormus discolor var.pubescens Small tree, fruits purple. Endemic to Baja.
Small-leaf Elephant Tree (Torote)
Bursera microphylla Small tree, peeling brn bark. CA, AZ, mainland Mexico, and Baja.
Chain-fruit Cholla (Cholla)
Cylindropuntia cholla Fruits light green, chain-forming. Endemic to Baja.
Giant Barrel Cactus (Biznaga)
Ferocactus diguetii Flrs red. Endemic to Isla Santa Catalina & a few other southern Gulf islands.
Fishhook Cactus
Mammillaria sp. Many species in Baja.
Elephant Cactus (Cardón)
Pachycereus pringlei Flrs white. Endemic to Baja from El Rosario south.
Galloping Cactus (Pitaya Agria)
Stenocereus gummosus Many spreading, curving stems. Most of Baja.
Dodder (Manto de la Virgen)
Cuscuta sp. Parasitic vine w/ orange stems, white flrs. 19 species in Baja.
Cliff Spurge (jumetón)
Euphorbia misera Shrub, flrs white. Common on N Baja islands & adj mainland.
Leatherplant (Matacora)
Jatropha cuneata Shrub. AZ, mainland Mexico & Baja.
Palo Verde
Cercidium sp. Tree, flrs yellow. Many species in Baja.
Dog Poop Bush (Palo Hierro)
Ebenopsis confinus Spiny shrub, fruits brn to black. Near-endemic to Baja.
Ironwood (Palo Fierro)
Olneya tesota Tree, branches spiny, fl purple & white. Mainly Sonoran Desert areas US, Baja & mainland Mexico
Little-leaf Palo Verde (Dipuga)
Parkinsonia florida Shrub, flrs yellow. Near the beach. Near-endemic to Baja Ca Sur.
Adam's Tree (Palo adán)
Fouquieria diguetii Many long branches, flrs red. Baja near-endemic.
Sonoran Mistletoe (Chupones)
Psittacanthus sonorae Dark grn lvs, flrs red. Parasite of elephant trees and other plants. So Baja and Sonora.
Palmer Fig (Zilate)
Ficus palmeri Shrubby tree, on cliffs. Common in Baja.
Date Palm (Dátil)
Phoenix canariensis or dactylifera Tree, leaves gray-green, pinnately compound. Introduced.
Balloon Vine (Tronador)
Cardiospermum corindum Vine, reddish-brn inflated fruits. Baja to So America.
Goatnut (Jojoba)
Simmondsia chinensis Shrub, flrs green. Common, CA deserts & Baja.


La Paz Agave (Mescale Pardo)
Agave sobria ssp. roseana Wide gray-green lvs. Endemic to Baja CA Sur.
Saltbush -two spp. - (Chamizo)
Atriplex spp. Perennial herbs, flrs green. Many species in Baja.
Baja California Elephant Tree (Torote Blanco)
Pachycormus discolor var. pubescens Small tree, fruits purple. Endemic to Baja.
Sweetbush (Junco)
Bebbia juncea Shrub, lvs very small, sweet odor. Widespread Sonoran Desert.
Gulf Coulterella
Coulterella capitata Low, succulent, yellow flrs. Beaches. Endemic to southern Baja.
White-rayed Coreocarpus (Aceitilla Blanca)
Coreocarpus parthenioides Annual herb, flrs white. Streambed. Most of Baja, Sonora.
California Rock Daisy (Manzanilla Amarilla)
Perityle californica Annual, flrs yellow. Streambed, among rocks. Endemic to southern Baja & mainland Mexico.
Rock Daisy
Perityle emoryi Annual, flrs white & yellow.
Palmer Cardamine
Dryopetalon palmeri Annual, light purple, lobed petals. Beaches. Baja CA Sur.
Small-leaf Elephant Tree (Torote)
Bursera microphylla Small tree, peeling brn bark. CA, AZ, mainland Mexico, and Baja.
Chain-fruit Cholla (Cholla)
Cylindropuntia cholla Fruits light green, chain-forming. Endemic to Baja.
Fishhook Cactus
Mammillaria sp. Many species in Baja.
Elephant Cactus (Cardón)
Pachycereus pringlei Flrs white. Endemic to Baja from El Rosario south.
Organ Pipe Cactus (Pitaya Dulce)
Stenocereus thurberia Large; multiple branches from base. Southern Baja, mainland Mexico, AZ.
Lollipop Tree (Palo San Juan)
Forchhammeria watsonii Lg shrub, lvs long, narrow, rolled under on edges. Southern Baja.
Sweet Mangrove (Mangle Dulce)
Maytenus phyllanthoides Shrub, fruits red. Coastal Baja & islands.
Yellow Morning-glory (Yuca)
Merremia aurea Vine, yellow flrs. Common, Baja CA Sur.
Small-seed Sand Mat (Golandrina)
Euphorbia polycarpa Annual, mat-forming, flrs white. Widespread in North American deserts.
Dog Poop Bush (Palo Hierro)
Ebenopsis confinus Spiny shrub, fruits brn to black. Near-endemic to Baja.
Palo Blanco
Lysiloma candidum Tree, white bark, in washes. Near-endemic to southern Baja.
Parry Dalea
Marina parryi Annual, flrs indigo. Beaches. CA, AZ & Baja.
Olneya tesota Tree, branches spiny, flr purple & white. Mainly Sonoran Desert areas US, Baja & mainland Mexico
Adam's Tree (Palo Adán)
Fouquieria diguetii Many long branches, flrs red. Baja near-endemic.
Blazing Star (Pega Ropa)
Mentzelia aspera? Annual, lvs like sandpaper, flrs yellow. 14 species in Baja.
Desert Mallow
Sphaeralcea ambigua Low shrub, flrs apricot. Widespread in North American deserts.
Trailing Windmills (Hierba de la Hormiga)
Allionia incarnata Annual, prostrate stems, flrs deep pink. Widespread in No American deserts.
Distichlis spicata Saline soils, forming lg mats. Widespread.
Graythorn (Amole Dulce)
Ziziphus obtusifolia var. canescens Thorny shrub w/ blue-black edible berries. Most of Baja. CA, AZ, so NV, and Sonora.
Balloon Vine (Tronador)
Cardiospermum corindum Vine, reddish-brn inflated fruits. Baja to So America.
Goatnut (Jojoba)
Simmondsia chinensis Shrub, flrs green. Common; CA deserts & Baja.
Baja California Nightshade (Mariola)
Solanum hindsianum Shrub, purple flrs. Common, Baja, mainland Mexico & AZ.
Sonoran Stegnosperma (Tinta)
Stegnosperma halimifolium Shrub, lvs gray-green, berries reddish-brn. Most of Baja and south to Central America.