September in the States

img_2098Happy 2019 Fall Migration, everyone!

Whew, with this “Casual Big Year 2019” I’ve been carrying out, my eBird list has certainly enjoyed a huge boost this migration with having traveled north at the beginning of this month. I’ve been enjoying a “September in the States” to see family and friends before heading back down to Tranquilo Bay for my second high season there. And on my way back down to Panama at the end of the month, I’ll be riding the same winds that our migratory raptors, shorebirds and songbirds are doing (even at this very moment!) as we all travel south for the winter. 


And then, right before South America, I’ll stop along with the winter resident summer tanagers, northern waterthrushes, spotted sandpipers and prothonotary warblers in the south Caribbean’s Bocas del Toro, Panama where we get to enjoy each other for the winter as they enjoy a tropical world with plenty to eat where they’ll feed next to colorful parrots and honeycreepers instead of the obligatory chickadee or titmouse.

Time with family and friends has been packed, active, outdoorsy and fun-filled. It’s practically all been spent out of doors, hiking, kayaking, bicycling and pure birdwatching (but always keeping tabs on the birds throughout other activities), and it’s been glorious! I love this late summer time of year in temperate zones and the afternoon light that creeps earlier and earlier as the birds get restless and feed like crazy on this fall harvest of nuts and berries before their long-distance migration to the tropics and subtropics. Anyways, here’s an idea of the fun I’ve had over the past two weeks in the states:

I’ll be back in Panama at the end of the month, thus in time to see the continuing stream of birds that pass through on their journey before winter hits the northerly climes, different species traveling down Central America and even farther down into South America.


Common Yellowthroat, Blue Mash Nature Trail, Maryland, Fall 2019

As we find ourselves arriving into peak fall migration I just always have to give a nod to our migratory birds because they’re flying their little hearts out while I have the luxury of an airplane seat to doze in. These little sprites, weighing in at less than an ounce and flying thousands of miles, sometimes without stopping–as in when they fly over oceans there’s no stopping because that means dying. Warblers, vireos, tanagers, sandpipers, hawks, vultures and other migrants following the eastern flyway headed south will oftentimes simply vault off the end of Florida and fly for days over the Caribbean before seeing the mainland again.


Tired Spotty.

Particularly impressive to me are the warblers and shorebirds. I’ve held these little sprites when I worked on various bird-banding efforts and they weigh simply nothing, they’re all feathers and they’re so fragile! So the idea that one of these tiny, magnificent creatures can carry out such a phenomenal feat (while many still die along the arduous way) is pretty mind boggling and wildly impressive.

What’s fun is that up here in first the subtropics of Gulf Coast of Florida (where I spent last week) and now tooling around MD/VA/DC, I’ve essentially headed upstream against the migration. So I’m seeing some fun perspectives of migration. For instance, I’ve now seen Red-eyed vireos first in Panama last month, then Florida last week and today in DC on a birdwalk along the Potomac River. Also there was a Chestnut-sided warbler which is the same species I look forward to seeing in a couple weeks, scarfing down melastoma berries around the gardens of Tranquilo Bay on Isla Bastimentos where I live in the Caribbean.

It’s also just fun to see all the birds I grew up with down in my tropical digs. I love having them through the fall and winter down with me in Panama. Looking forward to seeing my feathered “snowbird” neighbors in a couple weeks!

Happy Birding and enjoy the migration!


Hooded Warbler, Myakka State Park, Florida,      Fall 2019

…it really is mother earth’s reminder and the very symbol of our connection with other countries and the importance of protecting habitat that will support birds in both their northern and southern homes, but also between the two as stopover habitat to support the birds and provide food to fuel the long flight ahead.

We’re connected, it’s a whole system that functions across state and country boundaries. And if we’re not supporting the wildlife that depend on protected habitat to survive, we’re also putting ourselves in danger as is becoming more and more evident as we dive headfirst into the terrors of how earth is reacting to what we’ve done to it. Oops, I meant to stop this post a couple paragraphs ago.


Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Blue Mash Nature Trail, Maryland, Fall 2019

Anyways, be well, enjoy the beauty, let it draw you away from this worldwide shit hurricane we’re in at the moment. Oh and please leave comments..I’d love to get an idea of who is reading 🙂

(thanks momma, daddio)

And thanks so much for reading!


About Stacey M. Hollis

Tropical guide and naturalist at Tranquilo Bay Eco-Adventure Lodge on Isla Bastimentos set within Panama's Caribbean Bocas del Toro archipelago. My aim is to share my passion for birds and the awesome biodiversity of the tropics while spreading the word about the importance of environmental conservation.
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2 Responses to September in the States

  1. Marjorie Hollis says:

    Wonderful writing and photographs. Keep spreading the word!


  2. Harry Mitchell says:

    I always read all your posts. And thoroughly enjoy them.

    Liked by 1 person

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