A Ladies Bird Walk


Betsy of Equinox, Sharon of SunBow, Karen from Turning Point, Joan of Panchita and Lorraine of Black Dog II. click to enlarge
In many places during our travels I have become known as ‘the bird lady’, so I wasn’t surprised when I got dubbed that here. Fellow cruisers and marina employees see me head out or come back in from the forest nearly every day with binoculars around my neck.
I’ve told lots of people about the Toucans and Trogons and Parrots I’ve seen and it has become routine to come in from birding and have people along the dock ask if I’ve seen something new. I hope I have infected a few people with the birding virus; or at least caused them to notice birds a bit more than they did.
I often get asked to identify a bird, and fortunately, so far, they are birds I can ID. Most people ask about the Great Kiskadee or the ‘prehistoric bird’ (Magnificent Frigatebird).
Great Kiskadee

Magnificent Frigate Bird
Last Sunday, some of Shelter Bay cruising ladies had a group manicure, wine and cheese session. We introduced ourselves and talked of cruising experiences; where we’d been and where we were going.

A cruising woman's life is nothing but work, work, work!

Thanks to Sharon on Sunbow for providing the pictures of the manicure get together.
A few of them knew me as a birder and someone asked if I would take them out for a bird walk. I said sure. Someone asked when we should do it and another said she was not a morning person, so I suggested a 4:30 walk to the San Lorenzo Park. Another said, “Ok, we’ll meet Tuesday evening at 4:30 at the pool.”
I suggested binoculars and water and I took my field guide. I don’t usually take it because it weighs a ton, but I still have a problem remembering which Trogon is which and I thought looking up the birds as we saw them would be nice. I warned them that we may not see much because we were a crowd.
I quickly established myself as a cut-rate guide when someone pointed out a distant bird on the top of a palm and asked what it was. Without even looking through the bins, I told them it was a Yellow-headed Caracara. “You can tell that far away?” “Yeah, I know it because it is there all the time and I can tell by the posture.” The bird flies toward us and I see that it is a Crested Oropendola and I sheepishly correct myself. I was a lot more careful after that.
All of these women are a bit more adventurous than most people or they wouldn’t be out risking life and limb at sea. A few had already been exploring and had a good sense of the forest, so we had some sharp eyes. It was sometimes hard to decide where to look at a given time. Betsy, on Equinox pointed out two sloths and we were treated to seeing one move along a branch. Most of the time they are stationary.
I was going to keep a day list, but forgot about it once we started. I hoped everybody could see a Trogon and we found a White-tailed Trogon. I got lifer #814; an Olive-sided Flycatcher. Unfortunately, I had taken the batteries out of my camera to charge them and forgot to put them back in, so I was hauling around a worthless camera. Sharon on Sunbow had a very good one, but it did not have a 12x zoom like mine does. She took a few shots for me and we hoped that the pixel count would allow me to zoom on the computer to get a good image. (It turned out they were not any help, but I went out the next two days and found one again on the second day. I had my camera with me and got a few bad, but id-able shots.)
Turning Point is now on the hard and Karen has gone home. Sharon and Sunbow have sailed off for adventures in the Caribbean. Lorraine and Black Dog II also sailed off for the Caribbean; planning a first stop in the Chagres River. Gene and I got our new (old) bikes not long after they left and when we pedaled to the Chagres, we saw them anchored. I figured someone might have an email address for them so I took some pictures of them. The next morning, Black Dog II came back into Shelter Bay after breaking their boom. Joan, Betsy and Lynn are still here.

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