Saturday, 2 January 2016

Shelter Bay Wildlife

Shelter Bay Marina is situated in what was formerly Fort Sherman, the US army base that was used for jungle training as well as being the primary defence base for the Caribbean section of the Canal. It was handed back to Panama in 1999 and whilst it is now a nature park all of the officers quarters, the handball court, the church and other assorted buildings are still standing but in a desolate and sad state of repair.
This is a street sign at first I thought it was beware of low flying hats but then figured it was telling you there is a sentry station ahead!

In an effort to keep some semblance of being fit we go for a walk through the park which is full of wildlife. One of the most beautiful things here are the big, blue butterflies. They are huge,some the size of your hand and their turquoise wings catch the sunlight beautifully, unfortunately I have not been able to capture one on camera so I have to admit to cheating and copying a photo of one from Google images! Never going to be another David Bailey.....

The Howler monkeys are also great, you see them high up in the trees and John always encourages them to make themselves heard by doing his Tarzan impersonation. Surprisingly this works and they often reply to him whilst keeping way up in the top of the palm trees looking down at interlopers on their patch. They often get set off at night when it seems that a change in barometric pressure can set them off and at the same time give us fair warning that rain is on the way! Clever stuff!
There are also so pretty mean leaf cutter ants here. They are huge and whole armies of them march across the road from one side of the jungle to the other. I'm not sure why there are leaves on both sides of the road but I'm sure it's all part of some cunning plan!

I've also got to mention the Crocodiles. Here is the marina there are a couple of crocs, not good news if you want to dive down and clean the hull. One of them has been given the name Rocky and he can often be seen sunning himself over on the other side of the channel that comes into the Marina. We have also seen them in the Canal and once through Gatun Lakes you are advised swimming due to the Crocs. We stick to the swimming pool! However they have been known to come up into the jungle and when out on our walks John arms himself with a good hefty stick to ward off Crocodiles or any other predator that might be on the look out for a snack!....with his Crocodile Dundee hat on he looks the part at least! We do not want to end up as a light snack for the Turkey Vultures that pass through Panama on their way to Argentina and can be seen circling over the Jungle areas looking for carrion. These things are big ugly brutes!
Whilst on the subject of wildlife I feel I have to mention a store we found in Panama City. It was called Tactical Army, a pretty unusual name for a store we thought. On closer inspection we found that we could buy anything you wanted as long as it was in khaki or camouflage colours. It's motto was ' Everything you want for Battlefield and Weekend Warriors' ! Its stock included guns and knives of all shapes and sizes, camouflage tents and many items of battle dress! Weird or what? Not something that will catch on in the UK I hope!

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