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Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Back Home from Panama

     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.


     Green Iguanas (Iguana iguana) can grow to an impressive size, but are quite capable of camouflaging themselves well in the foliage.




     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.


     A Social Flycatcher (Myiozetetes similis) remained quite aloof, despite its name, when contrasted with the wood rail.



     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.


Rufous-tailed Hummingbird
Snowy-bellied Hummingbird


White-vented Plumleteer


     Grey-headed Chachalaca (Ortalis cinereiceps) was a reliable visitor and it was a rare day when we did not see groups of several individuals moving through the trees. They did not hesitate to raid the fruit feeder from time to time either.




     A Masked Tityra (Tityra semifasciata) has all the swagger of a pirate and it is always a special pleasure to come across one.




     The female is no less rakish.



     Euphonias are brightly coloured little birds, many having subtle differences to separate one species from another, and they represent the essence of neotropical birding for some visitors. They are by any measure very appealing; Thick-billed Euphonia (Euphonia laniirostris) being in daily attendance at the Canopy Lodge. sometimes several quarrelsome individuals vied for food on the fruit table at the same time.
     The male is exceptionally handsome......


     ......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.



      Fittingly, just before we had to board the vehicle for the drive to the airport we spotted this male American Yellow Warbler (Setophaga aestiva). 



     Seemed like we were both heading home.

56 comments:

  1. Hola David.

    ¡Cuántas maravillas nos presentas en esta entrada! Veo que tú y Miriam habéis tenido un viaje espectacular con muchas especies observadas; no sabría con que ave "quedarme" pero sí sé que a majestuosa no le ganan a la iguana.

    Un abrazo desde Galicia,

    Rafa.

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  2. I assumed you were away. Oh, what a treat you gave us in this 'taster'. I am really, really looking forward to more.
    Nature is indeed a hard task mistress. She doesn't play favourites either.

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  3. Fabulous images, I love the Rufous Motmot so beauriful.

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  4. The agouta is a surprise!

    The green iguana comes close to home- there's an exhibit here at the Nature Museum with some live animals, including one of those. I featured it yesterday.

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  5. Wonderful! I have enjoyed these photos and look forward to so much more. I always enjoy your travels.

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  6. Amazing! I only knew 2 birds shown you can guess which ones. Did you stay in one of the canopy lodges? That is a dreamy location!

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    1. We stayed at the Canopy Tower for a week and at the Canopy Lodge for a week.

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  7. Oh that poor Rufous Motmot. I do admire its toughness. What a handsome iguana. We have little anoles that run around here. They change from bright green like this to brown depending on where they are hanging out. It must be funny to see the Basilisks running on water in real life! All the other little guys and gals are adorable. It looks like you had a perfect trip.

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  8. Oh my. What beauty. Were the first few photos of your blind/hide? Please say yes.

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    1. It was not a blind per se, Susan, just a tree house built on the property.

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  9. Välkommen tillbaka David! Ni har haft en fantastisk resa förstår jag med tanke på alla bilder av fåglar och djur i en paradisisk miljö. Denna artrikedom som dina bilder visar är en sådan kontrast mot vad som finns att upptäcka här i vårt kalla Norden.
    Men jag gläds varje gång en långväga resenär landar hos mig, i måndags anlände en gammal vän sädesärlan Motacilla alba.

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  10. Hi David - sounds like an amazing break ... I've been AWOL ... but will enjoy your report back and looking at that amazing range of birds and critters - they are extraordinary in their variety. Love seeing them - thank you to Miriam for the photos ... cheers Hilary

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  11. That exotica makes for fascinating reading together with a search for a field guide. Seeing birds on their way to Ontario adds a special twist to such a visit. I'm looking forward to the next instalment David.

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  12. I am always thrilled to see Hummingbirds particularly as they do not grace us with their presence here. I have enjoyed seeing them in Canada, Brazil, Florida and South Africa.

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    1. Not in South Africa, Rosemary. Hummingbirds are only found in the Americas. You probably saw sunbirds in SA which are similar in many ways.

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    2. Yes of course you are correct David, but not being a bird expert myself I was happy to accept from them that they were S. Africa's equivalents.

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  13. Hi David.

    You have seen so many beautiful birds, butterflies and iguanas.
    Magnificent.

    Greeting from Patricia.

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  14. Hello David,

    I have missed your wonderful photos. It's a feast to watch them. The snowy-bellied Hummingbird is my favorite. So beautiful!

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  15. Welcome home David and Miriam, I understood from your last blog you were going on a trip. Now you are back and oh what an amazing birds did you see. It must be a place of wonders with so much wildlife. Just fantastic. We will see in your coming blog what more beauty you encountered.
    Regards,
    Roos

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  16. Great to see that you are both safely back home again,

    All that in a single morning at one location - how utterly fabulous!! If this was my base for a week, I might have difficulty leaving the property!

    I'm no expert, but I think your second lepidoptera may be a moth of the Castria family - possibly Castria licus.

    I think that the Chestnut-sided Warbler has stolen my heart.

    Looking forward to (the numerous installments of?) your full report.

    My love to you both - - - Richard

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    1. Chestnut-sided Warbler will be common here by early May, Richard.

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  17. You sure know how to escape winter. Love seeing these birds of Panama. I've heard it is a good place to go.

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  18. I've spent a lot of time watching the Cornell Panama live webcam at the Lodge so i'm recognising some of the birds you've posted already! Looking forward to reading about the trip :)

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  19. Hello, looks like another awesome trip! The Lodge and grounds look amazing. Beautiful variety of birds and lovely photos. Have a happy day!

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  20. Welcome back, David! I remember that you mentioned in one of your posts that you are going to Panama. I am sure you had a wonderful time being there. The photos of birds are fabulous!!! I have never seen these birds and was delighted to look at them. They are all very special!

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  21. Precioso viaje y precioso reportaje amigo David. Cuanta maravilla de aves y cuál de ellas más bonita, son todas fascinantes y espectaculares de muy hermosos colores. La naturaleza toda en su conjunto es de gran belleza y armonía.
    Un fuerte abrazo amigo David y Miriam.

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  22. Wonderful series of photos, I enjoyed viewing them and look forward to seeing more. Have a wonderful day!

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  23. Hari om
    Welcome back and...wow! YAM xx

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  24. Wonderful photos David, Panama is certainly a place I want to visit in the future! Your photos were certainly persuasive!

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    1. It's a great place to visit, Matt. Costa Rica is even better.

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  25. Wow such exotic birds and great photography. I hesitate to pick a favourite as each bird I passed I thought it was my favourite, maybe though the little Warbler got the thumbs up. I did love the Iguanas, I am always fond of reptiles. I would love to visit that part of the world but I think it is highly unlikely, Maybe though I will get to South Africa again before I am too old to travel!!
    Hope all is well Diane

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    1. Gee, and I thought that Canada in the winter was your first choice, so that you and I can make snow angels together!

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  26. You really are a "lucky guy" to be able to see all this nature's treasure! I am for the first time on your blog and I am impressed.
    Good luck ahead with your photo camera!

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  27. Thanks for dropping by, Ella. Hope to see you again.

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  28. Welcome back David & Miriam! What a wonderful account of your last morning David. How nice that you were able to have such a lovely walk before travelling home. I'm glad the Common Tody-Flycatcher nest survived the storm. Great photos Miriam. The pair of Masked Tityra are indeed special and my favourites.

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    1. Thanks, Carol. As always, it is good to be home. See you soon!

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  29. Maravilloso reportaje, los pájaros y todo lo demás es precioso. Un abrazo.

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  30. All these amazing birdswhilst filling in time for the airport! I await with anticipation for the full account of your visit to Panama.

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  31. Welcome back. What a wonderful trip you've had.
    Fantastic collection of wonderful photographs.
    So nice to see all the colourful birds, and others too.
    Looking forward to seeing more.

    All the best Jan

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  32. Looks like a great trip. There is something so strange and sweet about the gray-necked wood rail wandering around and being fearless around humans.

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  33. Looks like another great trip! So many little cute and colourful friends!

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  34. Me alegra mucho que puedas seguir realizando estos fantásticos viajes de observación de aves y los compartas con el público en tu blog, nos muestran para los que no podemos ir a esos lugares fantásticos todas las maravillas naturales. En cuanto a los Rallidae he leído que son muy tímidos y huidizos, pero no es tan así, varias especies con paciencia se pueden fotografiar bien, incluso a veces son mansos y curiosos, hoy he podido fotografiar varios en la laguna a corta distancia. A seguir publicando todas esas bonitas fotos y tan interesantes relatos.
    Saludos cordiales

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  35. What a collection of rare beauties! The Common Tody-Flycatcher's nest is so surprising, its texture looks like candyfloss. This seems to be another very rewarding trip, David.

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  36. WoW!! beautiful pictures, pretty, colorful birds and animals!!! i really like the rufous motmot!!

    you are lucky to be able to take a trip like this!!!

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  37. Que imagens belas!
    A natureza como sempre perfeita.
    bjs

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  38. Hi Both,
    If this is a collection of images from your last morning while waiting to leave for the airport, what are the posts going to be when you get into the holiday for real.
    Some super images of delightful birds and animals. Always find Hummingbirds so beautiful.
    By the way, welcome home.
    All the best, John

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  39. Hi David,
    You see a lot of the world! Wonderful mammals and reptiles. But, of course, especially the beautiful colorful birds! Beautifully captured!
    Happy Easter weekend!
    Regards, Maria

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  40. Hello David, your Panama birds are all beautiful. Lovely photos. I think the Rufous Motmot is one of my favorite, but I love them all. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Happy Saturday, enjoy your day and weekend! Happy Easter! PS, thanks for commenting on my post.

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  41. How amazing! I'm sure you enjoy seeing so many different birds and must have fun with a book to id them all. It's hard to choose a favorite but I do love the different hummingbirds! And the Lemon rumped Tanager is spectacular! Well done on the photos for you and Miriam both! WOW!

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  42. Hi David,
    Costa Rica is not very far away from Panama, so it is not surprising that the wildlife is also spectacular. When I look at the examples you show us here I can draw just one conclusion: this is a great cliffhanger, very promising of you are undoubtedly going to present here.
    Greetings, Kees




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  43. Beautiful images David, my favourites are the Agouti, it is superb.

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  44. What an amazing array of birds David. Superb selection of pictures.

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  45. Hello David,
    It looks like a great trip!
    Nice variety of birds and beautiful pictures.
    Best regards, Irma

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  46. Oh David, I know I am going to enjoy your Panama visit -- what a fabulous trip. Please tell Miriam that each and every photo is a gem. I have too many bird faves to name but I also loved the agouti and that fun little iguana!

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  47. Somehow I missed knowing that you were going to Panama, but that explains your absence. Now that I have a little time to catch up, I know I'm going to enjoy the photos and commentary. I've been watching the Cornell Panama cam for some months, and never imagined I'd know someone who actually travelled to the spot. I've already recognized a couple of birds, and look forward to seeing more -- new, as well as familiar.

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