OLD GAMBOA ROAD
|# Excl Vagrants:||403|
|# Near Endemics:||7|
|Habitat: Secondary Forest, primary forest|
ABOUT THE BIRDING
The southern end of Old Gamboa Road traverses a variety of habitats including developed areas, open country, and remnant forests. It eventually reaches the Summit Ponds, which is a good location for seeing various aquatic birds. The northern end of the road continues from the Summit Ponds into more forested areas and offers access to forest-dwelling birds including some birds not commonly seen elsewhere on the Pacific side of the canal zone. Unfortunately, access to the road is currently curtailed by construction related to widening the Panama Canal, so it is not generally accessible for birding during the foreseeable future.
Many of the same birds seen along Old Gamboa Road can also be found along nearby Pipeline Road, but the forest is somewhat drier and has a somewhat different species mix. This is the area where we saw and photographed a rare Black Hawk-Eagle. It's an especially good place to look for antbirds and other species such as Gray-headed Tanager that are obligatory followers of army ant swarms.
The town of Gamboa provides access to famed Pipeline Road, described separately. There is also some birding around the Ammo Dump ponds and other areas around the town. It is the location of Gamboa Rainforest Lodge, which has limited birding on the premises but is the access point for taking a boat across an arm of Gatun Lake to an Embarra village.
The Chagres River flows into Gatun Lake at Gamboa. This and other waterways around Gamboa provide habitat for wetland birds, which we include in our bird checklist of the area.
LOCATION OF SITE
Old Gamboa Road is the old road between the town of Gamboa and Panama City. This 4.4 km section of old road parallels Gaillard Highway, the main road to Gamboa. At the Summit Gardens turnoff, turn left (instead of right to Summit Gardens), cross the railroad tracks, and then turn right a few hundred yards past the railroad tracks onto the road. The Summit Ponds are near the beginning of this road.
The north end of the road is reached from the intersection with the Gaillard Highway. It's the second road to the left after passing the entrance to the El Charco Trail.