We arrived home in the wee hours of this morning after a couple of weeks of birding in Panama, A full account of our trip will follow over the days ahead, but here is a glimpse into what we experienced during our final morning at The Canopy Lodge in El Valle de Anton on 15 April.Miriam and I wandered around the property from end to end, taking in its various delights, and catching a last glimpse at the flora and fauna of the area before being transported to Tocumen International Airport for the flight home.
This Rufous Motmot (Baryphthengus martii), taking advantage of the fresh fruit on the feeding table, appears to have been in a fight for its life. The rackets on the tail are missing and it appears that one eye has been rendered sightless.
Nature can be a cruel and unforgiving mistress sometimes, where essentially almost every organism is the prey species of a creature higher up the food chain.
A Cocoa Woodcreeper (Xiphorhynchus susurrans) was a common visitor to the compost heap, and often could be seen foraging under leaves and decaying fruit, tossing them about in a manner reminiscent of a leaftosser.
The wonderfully coloured Orange-billed Sparrow (Arremon aurantiirostris) was no less common at this location.
This individual seems to stand out in the photographs, but when walking past a stand of vegetation it is far harder to see. I have no doubt that we passed many unnoticed.
Common Basilisks (Basilicus basilicus) are much easier to detect as they rest on rocks to catch the thermo-regulating rays of the sun, interspersed with their forays across the stream where they appear to walk on water; hence their common name, Jesus Christ Lizard.
For several days we had watched with great fascination as a pair of Common Tody-Flycatchers (Todirostrum cinereum) constructed their pendent nest.
The structure appeared to be complete except for a little shaping on the interior, with perhaps some fine lining to be added, and Miriam actually captured one of the pair entering the nest. They did this so quickly you had to take a series of rapid shots and hope for the best.
The nest, at first glance, seems relatively flimsy but is quite robust and firmly anchored it seems. It came through an intense, heavy rain shower with no ill effects that we could see.
Every birder or ornithologist will tell you that rails are exceedingly shy and difficult to observe. The Grey-necked Wood Rail (Aramides cajaneus) seems to have thrown away the playbook, however, and becomes quickly habituated to humans and wanders around quite fearlessly.
We are woefully inadequate when it comes to identifying butterflies and moths, but I will do some searching and hopefully put a name to the following species.
Clay-coloured Thrush (Turdus grayi) is found in the same genus as our familiar American Robin (Turdus migratorius) and sings in similar cheerful fashion, enabling even a casual observer to quickly identify it by voice.
The delightful little Central American Agouti (Dasyprocta punctata) was seen so often around the grounds of the Canopy Lodge that it took on the character of a house pet almost!
As might be expected, as we start to experience the first waves of neotropical migrants here in Ontario, many species were encountered on their long journey north. This Chestnut-sided Warbler (Setophaga pensylvanica) looked especially handsome in freshly acquired nuptial plumage.
No visit to Panama would be complete without seeing a range of hummingbirds, and here are three species that were frequently observed feeding on nectar in the lush gardens of the lodge.
......but the female has her own special charm too.
Euphonias were once placed taxonomically in the large assemblage of tanagers, but based on current science, both morphological and genetic, they are considered part of the Fringillidae.
When I took my first birding trip in the American tropical regions (to Guyana many, many years ago) the first tanager I saw was a Blue-grey Tanager (Thraupis episcopus) and I have seen many on every trip since. I remember asking the leader of the tour to turn the vehicle around so that I could get a better look, but he assured me that I would see a dozen more before the day was out - and he was right.
It still holds a special place in my affections, however.
I can't imagine what my reaction might have been had it been a Crimson-backed Tanager (Ramphocelus dimidiatus)!
A Lemon-rumped Tanager (Ramphocelus icteronotus) is aptly named, but is classified by many authorities as a subspecies of Flame-rumped Tanager (Ramphocelus flammigerus). I suspect that this taxononomic discussion may not be over yet!
We saw several species of saltator, with Buff-throated Saltator (Saltator maximus) being the most common in the gardens.
Seemed like we were both heading home.