Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Visiting Isla Iguana

It is summer time in Panamá, time to enjoy the sun and the beaches along our coasts... as we did last weekend.  The Cubilla family, along with a bunch of great friends, visited the coast of southern Azuero peninsula, specifically around the town of Pedasí and beyond!
We then headed to the Isla Iguana Wildlife Refuge, 7 km off the coast from El Arenal beach where we took the boats (seeing both Royal and Elegant Tern in the beach).  The island emerged from the sea thousands of years ago, first as two islands with a coral reef between them that eventually formed the central part of the island (it looks like an "8"), with coral white sand beaches and crystal-clear waters, a must for every beach lover!
The island is well-known by the scuba divers, but also for its wildlife, including birds, as you can see in this interpretative sign at the Visitors' center (and eventually, I saw ALL these species that day).
As you arrive, it is immediately obvious that this is an important nesting site for the Magnificent Frigatebirds... hundreds can be seen resting or flying over the island... each season, more than 5000 birds engage in mating activities.
The iguanas are also an important element of the island's wildlife (as you can guess by its name).  I found MANY Black Iguanas (Ctenosaur sp.) close to the beach, but only one Green Iguana behind the Visitor's center on an introduced exotic tree.
Of course, I spend more time enjoying the warm waters, but I took a couple of minutes to walk the short trail to the lighthouse where I found several individual of Yellow "Mangrove" Warblers, of the endemic subspecies iguanae, found only in this tiny island.  Then, I returned to the beach to see my two girls enjoying the trip: PRICELESS.
After a couple of hours, it was time to leave.  Reluctantly, we boarded our boats and started the return journey.  At the estuary of the Pedasí river, we where able to see a flock of resting Laughing Gulls accompanied by two American Oystercatchers that even my non-birders friends appreciated as really beautiful birds.
That was an excellent end for a great day at a paradisiac island, but we continue our trip southward, searching new beaches to enjoy, so stay tuned!

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