23 December 2010

A washout in Panama

We made a trip to Panama in late November-2010 and stayed at The Canopy Tower. (If you haven't been to the rainforest, this is a great place to get an introduction.)

Our intent for this trip was to visit Pipeline Road regularly and record the various insects and birds for a few days.

It was the end of the rainy season so we expected to have rain for a bit each day. What do you expect in the rainforest? However, we didn't take into account that it was a La Nina year. The first day or two of our stay had a bit more rain that we'd experienced in previous trips which was no big deal.

However, the remainder of the trip involved rain, with only short periods of hot, humid weather. We didn't find many dragonflies during the limited "dry" periods. Following is a list of the locations we visited and the relatively few odes encountered.

Plantation Road in Soberania National Park:
The trailhead to this great path is at the base of Semaphore Hill (where The Canopy Tower is located).

On the morning of November 26th, we hiked ~3km of the path and found a few individual dragonflies. The mammals were the most numerous with a troop of Mantled Howler Monkeys and White-faced Capuchins lounging over the trail.

One Uracis imbuta was perched out at the trailhead:

One male rubyspot (Hetaerina sp.) was found ~1km:

One male Argia (possibly oculata) was perched ~1km:

Two female Blue-fronted Setwings (Dythemis multipunctata) were found at ~1.5km. Here is one:

We also found two helicopter damselflies (Megaloprepus caerulatus) but they didn't cooperate for photos.

On the afternoon of November 28th we returned and found dragonflies to be gathered at, or near, the trailhead.

One female Argia (likely oculata):

One female of a couple Blue-fronted Setwings (Dythemis multipunctata):

One female Macrothemis sp.:

Additionally, there were many saddlebags (likely Striped, Tramea caverti) and gliders (Pantala sp.) working the open area above the parking lot for a couple hours before sunset.

The Ammo Dump Ponds near Gamboa have great potential for a variety of odes. A brief afternoon visit in the rain on November 26th provided a couple species.

One male Flame-tailed Pondhawk (Erythemis peruviana):

One female that is likely Erythrodiplax fervida:

The Discovery Center is a great destination along Pipeline Road. This building and trails opened a few years ago. Brewed coffee is sold on the porch at the visitors center (a great relief from the drenching rains). The trails pass a couple small creeks and there's an overlook at a lagoon.
On the morning of November 27th, we found a few individuals before the rains arrived for the day.

One male rubyspot (probably Hetaerina miniata):

One male Argia (likely pulla) was found near Lake Calamito:

One male Blue-fronted Setwing (Dythemis multipunctata) was found at the stream near the visitor's center:

One male Flame-tailed Pondhawk (Erythemis peruviana) was near the parking lot:

Pipeline Road is a must if one visits the area. There are many opportunities to explore many river crossings. Sadly, it rained on us almost the entire time of our visits to this great location. Here's one instant without rain at Rio Frijoles:

The insect highlights of the trip were found at The Canopy Tower. During the last two nights of our stay, the staff put up a white sheet with a black light to attract moths. This attracted dozens of species, along with other interesting insects. We haven't identified most of the moths, but they can be viewed in the latter half of the Flickr set here or this Flickr set here. I didn't add moth photos here since I can't decide which are the coolest, but here are a couple of non-leps:

The rains continued after we left and truly caused problems:
- The Panama Canal was closed for one day.
- A portion of the Centennial Bridge washed out.
- Here's an incredible video showing the level of water and the force of the rains. This is the bridge one uses to access Gamboa and the Pipeline Road Area from Panama City.

Hopefully your future travels avoid rains such as this.


KaHolly said...

Rain or not, looks like an incredible trip. Enjoyed the photos very much.

Darrin OBrien said...

thanks...overall, it was nice to get away.

Unknown said...

Darrin - Have been enjoying you blog! We just returned from a cruise that went through the Panama Canal and they were still getting pounded by the rain. We went through the canal on 12/25 and I believe it was closed again temporarily the next day due to flooding. I've been looking at odes a bit here in Idaho - I've got a bunch of photos here: http://picasaweb.google.com/chaetura/DamselfliesAndDragonfliesOdonata#

Darrin OBrien said...

Thanks, Chas... I hope you're doing well out west.

It was a wet one in Panama. Check out this video from Gamboa:

The ode season is a bit slow in MI now, so we're working on another trip south this winter. I suspect the next post will be in 2 or 3 months.