During World War II the United States constructed an oil pipeline from the Pacific to the Atlantic sides of the Panama Canal to ensure a steady supply of fuel in the event of an attack by the Japanese or the Germans. That attack never came and after the war the road along the pipeline gained a reputation as one of the best birding sites in the Americas. In 1999 the canal was turned over to Panama, which has protected all of the land around the road.
It's not often that you get to explore a place with the person who actually wrote the book on it. But that's what we got to do today, walking Pipeline Road with George Angehr, author of “The Birds of Panama: A Field Guide." Over the course of two hours, we saw many species of birds, including trogons, toucans, antbirds and flycatchers. In addition we were treated to howler monkeys, a pygmy three-toed sloth and a brigade of army ants.
Angehr's encyclopedic knowledge was evident from the moment we stepped onto the road. Within minutes he was whistling in perfect unison with the birds in the forest and we were following his pointing finger to branches high in the canopy.
|Pygmy three-toed sloth Photo: Jeff Gage|
|Army ants on patrol. Photo: Jeff Gage|
|George Angehr Photo: Jeff Gage|