Guests to the Backyard Office

During the COVID-19 pandemic and lock-down, my backyard terrace became the office space at home in Clayton, just to the northwest of Panama City in Panama, where I am currently based for work. We live in what was formerly known as the ‘Canal Zone‘, an 8-kilometre strip on either side of the Panama Canal that was a US Territory from 1903 until 1979. Following a US-Panama treaty the area was ceded back to Panama in 1999. In addition to the canal infrastructure, expansive military and administrative complexes were constructed within the southern part of the area along with residential areas such as Clayton, built for personnel working within the Canal Zone. In between these built-up areas and extending northward to the city of Colón at the Caribbean Sea end of the canal, the forests were preserved within the 8-km strip on either side of the canal. So, we have the good fortune of being in close proximity to the Parque Nacional Camino de Cruces that merges with the Parque Nacional Soberanía to the north; meaning the natural beauty of Panama is within easy reach (the green swath of the forest reserve is clearly seen in the 3D Google Earth imagery below; the red pin is where we live).

The outdoor office desk
The backyard

Panama is rather hot and humid not unlike Saint Lucia, although is much less breezy; however, I adapted to working outside and quite enjoyed the calming greenery of the backyard. Next to my laptop sat my camera (with a 300 mm telephoto lens) and I would photograph the ’office mates’ as they passed through in a distracted moment, or when I got up to stretch and move around.

‘Guests to the Backyard Office’ is a compilation of photos I took up to the end of 2020 in the backyard office, mainly focusing on what was in the immediate surroundings. In the compilation, each image is a collage of nine of the best individual photos for each week, which starts off the week of March 16th when we switched to telecommuting from home, until the end of 2020; a total of 42 weeks. I have identified the birds and did my best with the other critters, but I’m sure there be will need for corrections.

You can download the higher-resolution image by clicking here; just right-click to select ‘save image’. If you wish to use or share, please be cool and credit the source or send me an email at to request permission. You can also see the individual photos from the series on my Facebook page and on Instagram. The photos will make great references for my art…check out the website ChrisCoxOriginals; would love your feedback! Let’s see what 2021 brings; I will continue the series as long as we remain at the ‘home office’.

By the way, here is my design ‘Planet on Pause’ I created back at the start of the craziness when the planet started to go into lockdown. The pandemic has also given us an opportunity to reflect on the environmental ills we have beset on the planet and the need to do all we can to restore her health…after all, our own health depends on it! Finally, continue to stay safe and my very best wishes for a brighter 2021!

10 thoughts on “Guests to the Backyard Office

  1. charles swain

    Hi Chris,

    I have really enjoyed following your weekly ‘guests to the backyard office’. The toucan is my favourite but really the diversity of bird species in the place you live is quite incredible!

    Your point about reflecting on the environmental ills contrasting with the biodiversity of a place so close to a big city just shows how much we still have that we can protect and enjoy in the future.

    I hope you are doing well in whatever you are currently working on. Maybe one day we will cross paths again wherever that may be.

    All the best.


    1. Chris Post author

      Hi Charles!
      Great to hear from you and that you enjoyed the series. Yes, the toucan is definitely one of the iconic ‘bird stars’ around here. There are usually 3 to 4 in the vicinity; if only I can get them closer to the feeder where I put out bananas and papaya! Indeed, the challenge to protect is an ongoing one and glad to be doing this through work at UNEP. I am now supporting countries in the Caribbean to implement Global Environment Facility (GEF) projects on biodiversity and land degradation since the middle of 2019. So I am now closer to home (based however in UNEP’s Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean in Panama). Very best to you mate; happy to have worked with you back in Nairobi and yes maybe we will cross paths again.
      Cheers, Chris

  2. Max Zieren

    Hi Chris, Nice initiative and beautiful results. Panama and your garden in the Canal Zone is definitely rich in avian diversity; much more than what found in my garden in Bangkok. Of course we have many squirrels, frogs, toads and the occasional Brown Tree Snake, Atlantis Birdwing Butterfly, Monitor Lizard, and some birds (albeit very low variety).
    I feel blessed having a garden with big trees and a veranda like you, as most in Bangkok live in apartments and can only enjoy the next door neighbor buildings or the city skyline. Funny you live in a former US Territory, whilst my place in Bangkok – called Baan Thai Village, was established to cater for R&R of the US army officials during the Vietnam war, and with traditional Thai wooden houses, including the one I rent. Keep up the good work. Max

    1. Chris Post author

      Hi Max, thanks for your kind comments! It is indeed really great to have some green space around with that diversity; yes we are blessed with that! Interesting re your parallel between Thailand and Panama with the long reach of the US interests and the footprints they left (and of course still continue to leave :)). Have not been to Thailand yet…been close – Vietnam and Myanmar, but someday soon! Cheers, Chris

  3. Brad auer

    Chris, in the midst of this pandemic, as well as the additional craziness going on in my part of the world (U.S.A.), it is really nice to see some beautiful photos that remind me that life continues in spite of it all. By the way, I’m very jealous of your “office space”!

    1. Chris Post author

      Hi Brad, Thanks man! Indeed, I feel the same way…sometimes the ‘constants’ around us seem to disappear in the background as we wrap ourselves in the day to day “busyness”, so just nice to have this environment to break up the work monotony LOL. When the pandemic breaks, swing down thru Panama in one of your next excursions. Take care and stay safe (from the crazies)!

  4. Aska Ochiel

    Wow Chris, this is so beautiful and inspiring especially during these times. It shows the importance of finding positive things to focus on and the importance of embracing nature during this period. Kudos for a job well done!

    1. Chris Post author

      Hi Aska, thanks for your kind comments! I am a bird and wildlife watcher so I do take note the wildlife around the house, but certainly would not have been aware of the diversity at hand right here if I were otherwise spending the time in the office. Now I think I prefer my outdoor office!

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