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CHECKLIST

ACHIOTE ROAD

PANAMA
LOCALE

# Species*:315
# Excl Vagrants*:315
# Endemics*:0
# Near Endemics*:12
*Based on partial or incomplete data.
Habitat: Roadside woodland, wet pastures, subtropical forest

ABOUT THE BIRDING

Achiote Road traverses the southern section of Fort San Lorenzo National Park, a nearly 12,000 hectare (29,000 acre) protected area of forests, pastures, and mangroves. The park was established in part to protect the old Spanish Fortress built on a grassy knoll overlooking the Caribbean. The fort was largely destroyed in 1670 by a contingent of pirates led by Joseph Bradley under orders from Henry Morgan, the infamous English pirate of the 17th century. It was subsequently rebuilt by the Spanish, and the ruins of its stone walls are now a tourist attraction for visitors.

The best birding in the park is along Achiote Road, site of Panama Audubon Society's world-famous Christmas Bird Count, where up to 340 species can be found within a 24-hour period. The habitat along the road is relatively open but the scattered trees, shrubbery, and wet pastures are excellent for finding trogons, flycatchers, and tanagers. The first part of the road is one of the most reliable places to find Blue Cotinga. Trogon Trail accessed from Achiote Road is an easy, level trail through the forested area in the southern section of the park. The trail offers some of the best birding on the Caribbean side of the Canal Zone.

LOCATION OF SITE

Fort San Lorenzo National Park is situated just west of the Gatun Locks on the Caribbean side of the Panama Canal. It is reached by crossing Gatun Locks from Colon. Just past the locks is the turnoff toward Fort Sherman and the ruins of the old Spanish fortress of San Lorenzo. This road goes north toward Toro Point and then west along the coast to the fortress. Going south rather than turning off to Fort Sherman and Fort San Lorenzo brings one to the southern end of the park and eventually to Achiote Road. The southward road skirts Gatun Lake to the east until the turnoff to the village of Achiote where one turns right onto Achiote Road.