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Saturday, 20 April 2019

Trip to Panama - Part 1 (01 - 03 April 2019)


01 April 2019
Waterloo - Tocumen International Airport - Canopy Tower

     After we had decided to go to Panama, to revisit the Canopy Tower and Canopy Lodge where we had stayed twelve years earlier, John and Geraldine Sanderson told us that they would like to make the same trip. So it was that they picked us up in order to travel to Pearson International Airport together.
     We were at the terminal in lots of time and waited in the boarding lounge, reading a little and people-watching, until it was time to board the plane. 
     The Copa Airlines flight was far from full and Miriam and I had aisle seats, Miriam having moved from the centre seat she had been assigned next to me. This gave us much more room - not that sitting cheek by jowl with Miriam would have been anything but sheer delight, but a little extra space and the ease to get up without clambering over someone was much appreciated.
     It was indicated on our reservation confirmation that no meals were provided so we had made sandwiches at home to take aboard, but dinner was in fact served - and it was quite good. The main feature was chicken and rice, served with a glass of a pleasant Sauvignon Blanc.
     We touched down at Tocumen International Airport in Panama City at 14h:50 local time and were through the formalities fairly quickly. One could be forgiven for thinking that customs and immigration officers around the world are chosen for their surliness, and the woman we got at Tocumen was no exception. To smile, it seemed, or to use more than two words at a time, was an impossible task. After photographing us and taking our fingerprints, however, she stamped our passports and we were on our way.
     Lorenzo, from the Canopy Tower was there to meet us and we had a smooth forty-five minute drive to our home for the next week. On the way up Semaphore Hill we had the amazing sighting of a Little Tinamou (Crypturellus soui) walking in the gully. It quickly scooted off into the forest, but not before we all saw it well.
     In total contrast to the glumness displayed at the airport, the staff at the Canopy Tower greeted us with nothing but beaming smiles and warm expressions of welcome.
     Having checked into our room we went up onto the observation deck where we witnessed a spectacular migration of Swainson's Hawks (Buteo swainsoni), with a smaller number of Turkey Vultures (Cathartes aura). Two resident King Vultures (Sarcoramphus papa) were very exciting to see.




     About forty Tree Swallows (Tachycineta bicolor) were headed north, and although the Canopy Tower Guide, Alex Sáurez, seemed a little skeptical, I remain convinced that this is what I saw.
     Dinner was a fine affair with a delicious salad of broccoli and avocado, followed by chicken lasagna, plantain and squash. Both red and white wine were on the table.
     But it was at the buffet table that the most bizarre event of the trip; in fact the strangest event of recent memory, occurred. John likes to say grace by holding hands and reciting a verse. I have always felt uncomfortable doing this, especially since it is totally antithetical to my non-religious beliefs, and had advised John, a couple of weeks before leaving that I had no intention of sitting around the table in Panama doing it. In fact, I stated that outside of his home, I  no longer had any intention of doing it anywhere. 
     While getting our food, John announced to me that he no longer considered us friends, and that we would have to find our own way home from Toronto since he would not be taking us. I was stunned. Obviously this was planned ahead of time, and why he would not have advised us before leaving so that we could have taken our own car, or had friends drive us to the airport, seems to indicate a particular level of viciousness. And all this because he cannot impose his religious incantation, his ritual, on others?  Is this the action of a good Christian? Does this display the universal values of kindness, love, charity and humility? I will leave it to you to judge.
      Geraldine, to her eternal credit, wavered not one bit in her usual level of conviviality and warm friendship.
     By now we had met Larry Roel, a birder from South Carolina, and were struck by his gregarious outgoing nature and became firm friends.
     We retired to our room and both Miriam and I had a peaceful, restful night's sleep.

All species 01 April: Little Tinamou, Rock Pigeon, White-collared Swift, Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, King Vulture, Swainson's Hawk, Orange-chinned Parakeet, Tree Swallow, Tropical Mockingbird, Great-tailed Grackle, Palm Tanager.

02 April 2019
Observation Deck - Semaphore Hill - Ammo Ponds - Canopy Tower

     I awoke around 04h:30, well rested. The Mantled Howlers (Alouatta palliata) perhaps slept well too, but they were in full voice by around 05h:00. I read for a little while, checked my emails (WIFI was always a little temperamental and although we could receive emails we were unable to send from Outlook Express), and then joined Alex and others on the observation deck to check the awakening going on in the rain forest all around us.


     
     A troupe of White-faced Capuchins (Cebus capucinus) scampered through the trees, never stopping for an instant, so they were hard to photograph.



     I should mention here that there will not be many photographs accompanying today's account. Miriam had the misfortune to accidentally erase a whole bunch of pictures from her memory card (more about this later). I didn't take many shots and her results are always better than mine anyway.
     Nothing quite says "tropical" like a toucan and several Collared Araçaris (Pteroglossus torquatus) close to the deck were a singular delight for all present.



     There is always coffee available on the observation deck for us North Americans who need our early morning coffee fix, and coffee and araçari seemed like a pretty good combination. Keel-billed Toucans (Ramphastos sulfuratus) were seen off in the distance too. Palm Tanagers (Thraupis palmarum) were always close at hand. The constant call of Green Shrike-Vireo (Vireolanius pulchellus) was heard from the moment I arrived on deck, and we got a couple of fairly decent looks too.
     We went down for breakfast and I had a little fruit, sausages, fried bananas and more coffee. No doubt Miriam had fruit and yogurt, her standard fare most mornings.
     When we went down to begin our morning's walk we checked the hummingbird feeders, which were quite active. White-necked Jacobin (Florisuga mellivora) was always the dominant species, but several other species were present too, including a single Black-throated Mango (Anthracothorax nigricollis). A couple of Black-breasted Puffbirds (Notharchus pectoralis) were close by.
     Birders of course often come back after a day in the field with muddy boots. Do you think the staff at the Canopy Tower would appreciate you cleaning them off before entering the building?



     It was a rare day when we did not see several Central American Agoutis (Dasyprocta punctata), many of which have become quite tame, well accustomed to human activity.



     Sloths are quite common too, but finding them is a different matter entirely, so we were quite fortunate to have this Hoffmann's Two-toed Sloth (Choloepus hoffmanni)  so visible on our walk down Semaphore Hill. 



     Alex had a special treat in store for us when we reached the bottom of the hill. A pair of Black-and-white Owls (Ciccaba nigrolineata) is always a memorable sighting.




     A Canopy Tower birdmobile came down to pick us up to take us back for lunch, which consisted of sea bass, potatoes and salad.



     I took a nap after lunch while Miriam read and at 15h:00 we once again boarded the birdmobile, joined by a couple from Rochester, NY named John and Norma, to visit the Ammo Ponds.
    The target bird at this location is White-throated Crake (Laterallus albigularis) but we were unsuccessful in spotting one. We did, however, see a juvenile Rufescent Tiger Heron (Tigrisoma lineatum) still in the nest.



     A couple of adult birds stalked through the marsh too.



     In a grassy area several seedeaters and grassquits moved around, feeding and chasing each other, including this male Blue-black Grassquit (Volatinia jacarina).



     At a bit of a distance a Fork-tailed Flycatcher (Tyrannus savana) seemed to be having great success capturing insects.


     A Blue-grey Tanager (Thraupis episcopus) perched in a tree was much more photogenic.



     There were many other species, including a fabulous male Blue Cotinga (Cotinga nattererii) and I know that Miriam had a large number of photographs; it can only get better from here.
      After a while we climbed aboard the birdmobile again and headed for "home." Happy hour was very pleasant and we completed our checklist with a glass of wine and crackers and dip. I checked a couple of finer points on birds we had seen using the excellent reference library at the Canopy Tower for all peruse.
     Dinner was Greek salad, beef (very overcooked and tough), rice and vegetables, following which we sat around and chatted with Larry and a couple of others until it was time to turn in for the night.

All species 02 April: Black-bellied Whistling Duck, Pale-vented Pigeon, Scaled Pigeon, Smooth-billed Ani, Short-tailed Swift, White-necked Jacobin, Long-billed Hermit, Black-throated Mango, White-vented Plumleteer, Blue-chested Hummingbird, Violet-bellied Hummingbird, Purple Gallinule, Southern Lapwing, Wattled Jacana, Least Sandpiper, Spotted Sandpiper, Solitary Sandpiper, Wood Stork, Rufescent Tiger Heron, Great Egret, Little Blue Heron, Tricoloured Heron, Green Heron, Striated Heron, Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, Osprey, Broad-winged Hawk, Swainson's Hawk, Black-and-white Owl, Black-throated Trogon, Broad-billed Motmot (heard), Black-breasted Puffbird, Collared Araçari, Keel-billed Toucan, Red-crowned Woodpecker, Cinnamon Woodpecker (heard), Crimson-crested Woodpecker (heard), Yellow-headed Caracara, Orange-chinned Parakeet, Mealy Amazon, Black-crowned Antshrike (heard), Cocoa Woodcreeper, Grey Elaenia, Ochre-bellied Flycatcher, Common Tody Flycatcher, Olivaceous Flatbill, Yellow-olive Flycatcher (heard), Ruddy-tailed Flycatcher, Bright-rumped Attila, Dusky-capped Flycatcher, Panama Flycatcher, Great Kiskadee, Rusty-margined Flycatcher, Social Flycatcher, Piratic Flycatcher, Tropical Kingbird, Eastern Kingbird, Fork-tailed Flycatcher, Blue Cotinga, Green Shrike Vireo, Lesser Greenlet, Grey-breasted Martin, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Southern Rough-winged Swallow, Cliff Swallow, Barn Swallow, Song Wren, Tropical Gnatcatcher (heard), Clay-coloured Thrush, Tropical Mockingbird, Thick-billed Euphonia, Fulvous-vented Euphonia, Scarlet-rumped Cacique, Yellow-rumped Cacique, Yellow-tailed Oriole, Baltimore Oriole, Great-tailed Grackle, Bay-breasted Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Summer Tanager, Scarlet Tanager, Indigo Bunting, Blue-grey Tanager, Palm Tanager, Golden-hooded Tanager, Plain-coloured Tanager, Green Honeycreeper, Blue-black Grassquit, White-shouldered Tanager, Crimson-backed Tanager, Blue Dacnis, Variable Seedeater, Slate-coloured Grosbeak.

03 April 2019
Canopy Tower - Pipeline Road - Canopy Tower

     Before even leaving the room the Green Shrike-Vireo was calling its now familiar "Here I am" refrain. We had an early breakfast at 06h:00, consisting of potato puffs, papaya, yogurt and coffee (for me) and we left a little after 06h:30 for a full day of birding on the legendary Pipeline Road.



     Right from the moment we arrived there were birds everywhere. A nearby tree was host to a couple of Red-lored Amazons (Amazona autumnalis), clearly visible for appreciative birders to enjoy.



       And quite close a Crimson-crested Woodpecker (Campephilus melanoleucos) went about its business.



     One of the stars at this stop was a Golden-crowned Spadebill (Platyrinchus coronatus), perched low and at times in full view. I captured the following decidedly awful picture.....



     .....but Miriam, with her patience, skill and equipment achieved a couple of amazing shots as the bird raised its crown in display. Even Alex, the guide was excited, never having seen the bird exhibit such behaviour before. 
     Alas, it was shortly after this, having accidentally hit a button or something equally innocuous, that her card was wiped clean. Not only did we lose the spadebill shots, but everything she had taken the previous day, and all the other pictures so far that morning - honeycreepers, woodpeckers, a Grey-chested Dove (Leptotila cassinii) on the nest - all gone. 
     Nothing could be done, so we spent about thirty seconds saying things like damn (perhaps even words a little stronger!) and moved on. As the old aphorism says, there really is no point crying over spilled milk.
     A clear view of a Great Potoo (Nyctibius grandis) lifted our spirits right back to their supercharged normal.



     Larry and Geraldine seemed to enjoy it.



     And so did Miriam.



     At a small facility along Pipeline Road, there is a gift shop, a place to buy snacks and we stopped there for everyone to take advantage of washrooms. Thank goodness we did, for it was here that we saw, in all its scintillating glory, a Great Jacamar (Jacamerops aureus).




     This is a bird to take your breath away, and when the sun struck its back it positively shimmered. There are eighteen species of Jacamar in the Americas and Great Jacamar was my sixth species. It seems that all too often when one sees a bird for the first time it is flitting around, mostly half concealed , and flies off all too soon. This jacamar stayed put for several minutes and it was truly a wonderful encounter.
     It was followed up in short order by great views of a Black-crowned Antshrike (Thamnophilus atrinucha), well captured by Miriam, of course.



     Dot-winged Antwren (Micorhopias quixensis) is a familiar bird of ground cover and forest understorey, with the female (first two pictures below) being arguably more attractive than the male.





     As has been noted earlier Central American Agouti was seen almost every day, often several times, but it was especially appealing to come across this individual with a baby.



     It was around this time that we also observed a Northern Tamandua (Tamandua mexicana), an anteater that is active both day and night. It saw us, however, around the same time we saw it, and before there was any chance at all for a picture, it was gone. It was a wonderful encounter, nonetheless.
     Black-cheeked Woodpecker (Melanerpes pucherani) is quite common, but it can be frustratingly difficult to photograph at times.



     Trogons appeal to everyone. Even the most casual observer is struck by them, and often they will perch in one spot for several minutes allowing birders and photographers alike to drink in their beauty.


Slaty-tailed Trogon (Trogon massena)


White-tailed Trogon (Trogon chionurus)

     Lunch in the forest was a fine affair, with a very tasty curried tuna in a wrap, ham and cheese sandwiches for those whose conservative taste buds eschewed the tuna, lettuce, tomatoes, fruit, cake and a variety of juices. 


     Butterflies were attracted to the fruit and the sugar content of the cake, I suspect.


     This one joined Miriam right on her plate.



     Another seemed to prefer Geraldine's hat as a perch.



     Any help with butterfly ID would be much appreciated.
     It struck me that a bird guide today needs many skills. Alex was driver, guide, maître de table, and increasingly photographer, as many clients pass their smart phones to the guide to digiscope for them. Larry was the consummate considerate individual who had to be coaxed into handing his phone to the guide and always after everyone had used the scope to see the bird well. There were others who immediately thrust the phone into the hands of the guide seemingly as a matter of right. It was interesting that these same people tended to be always first at the scope and hogged it, often not readily moving aside for others to take a look. Birding étiquette (aka simple courtesy) seems to be lost on some.
     After lunch Alex left us and was replaced by Jorge Pineta, another Canopy Tower guide, personable and skillful, persistent in his search for a bird, a dedicated professional in every way.
     Antpittas are notoriously difficult birds to see, and Jorge was determined that we should see Streak-chested Antpitta (Hylopezus perspicillatus).
     After a good deal of dedicated searching we had one in view and Jorge was able to capture a couple of pictures on Larry's smart phone. Larry has kindly permitted me to use them and I know that he will approve of the fact that I have added Jorge's name to the pictures.




          We spent a productive and enjoyable afternoon birding with Jorge and benefitted in no small measure from his excellent field skills and agreeable personality. I am sure this Yellow-throated Toucan (Rampastos ambiguus) would be in complete agreement.



     Black-breasted Puffbird turned out to be fairly common, this one picked out by Larry's sharp eyes.



     And just before getting back into the vehicle to return to the Canopy Tower this female Black-tailed Trogon (Trogon melanurus) was perched in full view.



     Back at the Tower Happy Hour was indeed a "happy hour" and we did the list, chatted with Larry and other guests and had dinner - avocado and pineapple salad, fish (probably sea bass), rice and beans and vegetables. 
     It had been a wonderful day of birding with two fine guides. Whenever a list of "places to bird before I die" is published Pipeline Road is invariably included. I was grateful to have my second opportunity to bird in this legendary location.

All species 03 April: Great Tinamou (heard), Scaled Pigeon, White-tipped Dove, Grey-chested Dove, Greater Ani, Great Potoo, Short-tailed Swift, White-necked Jacobin, Blue-chested Hummingbird, Rufous-tailed Hummingbird, Violet-bellied Hummingbird, Wattled Jacana, Rufescent Tiger Heron, Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, Short-tailed Hawk, Slaty-tailed Trogon, Black-tailed Trogon, White-tailed Trogon, Whooping Motmot (heard), Black-breasted Puffbird, Great Jacamar, Collared Araçari, Keel-billed Toucan, Yellow-throated Toucan, Black-cheeked Woodpecker, Cinnamon Woodpecker, Crimson-crested Woodpecker, Yellow-headed Caracara, Brown-hooded Parrot, Red-lored Amazon, Black-crowned Antshrike, Spot-crowned Antvireo (heard), Checker-throated Antwren, Dot-winged Antwren, Chestnut-backed Antbird, Strea-chested Antpitta, Northern Barred-Woodcreeper, Cocoa Woodcreeper, Black-striped Woodcreeper, Plain Xenops, Grey Elaenia, Ochre-bellied Flycatcher, Black-capped Pygmy-Tyrant, Southern Bentbill, Golden-crowned Spadebill, Dusky-capped Flycatcher, Red-capped Manakin, Green Shrike-Vireo (heard), Lesser Greenlet (heard), Grey-breasted Martin, Black-bellied Wren, Song Wren, Long-billed Gnatwren, Trpical Gnatcatcher, Scarlet-rumped Cacique, Yellow-rumped Cacique, Yellow-backed Oriole (heard), Great-tailed Grackle, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Grey-headed Tanager, White-shouldered Tanager, Red-legged Honeycreeper, Blue Dacnis.


52 comments:

  1. Hello David, great trip report. The birds in Panama are awesome. Great birds and sightings, It is hard to pick a favorite they are all beautiful. In my opinion no one should force their religion beliefs on others. Frankly I find it hard to believe someone who is so christian would act the way you mentioned. To leave you at the airport seems childish to me. I hope your trip was not spoiled, the birding looks awesome. Enjoy your day and weekend.

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    1. It was not spoiled st all, Eileen. There were many fine people and the birding was tremendous.

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  2. It must be like a fairytale for you David to watch all theese wonderful birds! They are all so beautiful.

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  3. Dear David - I would say good ridance to your so called Christian friends. Why anyone thinks that they can impose their own particular beliefs onto others is beyond me. We had some friends who always said grace at meal times in their home but fortunately they did not hold hands. We just sat quietly feeling a bit uncomfortable, but waited patiently for them to finish. When they came to our house things were reversed, but they accepted it, just as they should.
    I believe that the rather moth eaten butterfly, excuse the pun, is a Smooth-banded Sister, but it appears to be a bit past its former glory.
    How I would love to see a sloth - somehow it's name belies was a delightful little creature it actually is.

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    1. Thanks, Rosemary. And I know of other groups who practice silent grace without fanfare or ostentation, and no one else is made uncomfortable.

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  4. John's behaviour is the antithesis of what I understand of Christianity.
    I loved travelling with you, and mourn the loss of Miriam's photos, which, while firmly held in your memory banks, would have been wonderful to see.
    So many wonders... So much beauty. Megathanks.

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  5. This is a dream vacation! You were in a different world there were a variety of wonderful birds! A Slaty-tailed Trogon captured my attention so much. Something very dignified about him.
    Amazing memories, David!

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  6. This looks like an amazing site for birders! What a variety to witness. A tiger heron sounds gorgeous. I would love to see one of those in person (as well as have lunch in the forest). I can empathize with Miriam accidentally deleting vacation photos before uploading them to safety. Done that! Those Central American Agouti are adorable.

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  7. Hari Om
    Again I have bird envy... here in the Great Down Under Parts I have yet to properly get sightings and have been here over two weeks already. Managed a couple as will be revealed later on blogs, but hope to manage a lot more before return to UK. Am so glad you had such a fruitful trip and really feel for Marian - having faced a similar loss a few trips back! YAM xx

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  8. Thanks so much, David, for sharing your and Miriam’s exquisite photos and wonderful narrative of what was a fantastic birding trip. Your expertise and commentary during our walks supplemented the guides work in finding birds, making for a truly memorable experience. Most of all, thanks for your friendship and kindness to this enthusiastic, but not so experienced birder. Hope to see you again soon, Larry Roel

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  9. Another great trip and report.
    Aren't the birds in Panama so colourful.
    A shame about the loss of Miriam's photographs, but you were still able to provide us with a stunning collection, thank you.

    All the best Jan

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  10. Hello! You've seen a lot of different birds – I mean really a lot.
    Interesting photos.Thank you.

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  11. A very beautiful collection of pictures - the Great Jacamar is wonderful! And besides all these gorgeous birds, we can read about what in French we would call "un drôle d'oiseau" (a strange bird, the colloquial phrase for "queer fish") named John and let's hope a unique specimen!

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  12. What a wonderful place to visit. Great that you have so many photo's of what you've seen. A valuable memory.
    Have a wonderful Easter

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  13. En tråkig erfarenhet David och som jag förmodar en avslutad vänskap. Som icke troende har jag alltid känt mig obekväm med troende människor och tyvärr återfinns ofta en fördömande sida hos djupt religiösa personer. Och så denna småsinthet med att vägra skjuts tillbaka, en trist historia som jag hoppas inte påverkade er fantastiska upplevelser av regnskogens innevånare.
    Det gör mig glad att du fick uppleva den skimrande Jacamar, ett minne för livet, en otroligt vacker fågel.

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    1. It was a great trip, Gunilla, with fabulous flora and fauna, with many interesting, vibrant people.

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  14. Hi David,
    This is quite a report. Of course you respect people having a religion. But being a believer doesn't go together with getting irritated and angry when others don't follow your habits and ideas.
    Losing pictures by erasing them from a memorycard has happened to me twice. Fortunately I had got a good advice the first time it happened to me: don't use the memorycard anymore during the trip and search at home for software to get the pictures back again. Both times I didn't loose one picture!
    The third subject is people standing in front of you without thinking that others also like to take pictures. Normally spoken they move aside when you kindly ask them to do so, but I agree, times are changing.
    Fortunately you could also write about the pleasant experiences you had in Panama, clearly enjoying the abundant wildlife. Panama obviously is a great country for wildlife lovers.
    Greetings, Kese

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  15. Wow !! Always nice to visit your blog !! Fantastic shots !!
    Thank you very much for your beautiful wishes !!
    I wish a happy weekend :)

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  16. Bizarre indeed. What a poor start to your holiday David. I am of the firm belief that it is the fixation on religion and not money that is the root of much of the evil in the world; more so in these current times.

    That birdmobile looks handy, just the job for my ageing knees to be ferried around by a knowledgable guide. I feel for poor Miriam as although I have not yet pressed any seriously dangerous buttons the menus on some cameras are quite confusing and sometimes contradictory.
    Birding (and photography) in jungle type environments is made very difficult by the constantly changing light and shadows and the seeming habit of jungle species to be always on the move. Great that you managed so many shots, not just of birds, but the animals too.

    I have seen sloths only in zoos and they are remarkable prehistoric creatures - believed to have evolved around 60 million years ago John.

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    1. Organized religion has bestowed a lot on the world hasn't it......inquisitions, sexual abuse of children, the Bible has been used to justify slavery, oppression and sometimes outright slaughter of those who dissent.......it goes on and on. And continues to this day.

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  17. Un nuevo y extraordinario viaje con gran cantidad de esplendidas aves captadas de majestuosa belleza. Gracias amigo David por compartir y comentar con tan exquisita narrativa. Fue una pena que a Miriam se le borraran las imágenes de su cámara.
    Es incomprensible la actitud mostrada por John, con esa actitud revela y deja al descubierto un carácter y un posicionamiento para nada compatible y correcto en una persona que dice ser y sentirse muy religiosa.
    Gracias de nuevo por compartir tanta belleza.
    Recibir un fuerte y caluroso abrazo de vuestro amigo alicantino y español Juan Tarrero.

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    1. En lo que concierne a John, es verdad, Juan. Gracias por tus palabras!

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  18. Hello David and Miriam, So much birds and animals. Your list is very impressing. That you both spoke out in some not so fine remarks after finding out that Miriam lost a lot of captures by doing something wrong with the camera is understandable. I would have done the same.
    So sorry to hear the way your friends dropped you because they do not respect your point of view about certain practices. Indeed what dous that religion mean if you do not practice the word of that religion; like peace, respect and understanding. My motto is 'live and let live'. The whole world is already a big mess because of religions that make people oppose their will on others. Very sad indeed :(
    Warm regards,
    Roos

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    1. If the whole world would "live and let live" it would be a much finer place.

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  19. hi david...i read the first half of your entry, the part more about your travel adventures. your descriptions are spot on and quite accurate. your "diaries" like this are quite detailed, which i actually enjoy, but i will have to come back to read the second, and best half, about the birds!!!

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  20. David, about the incident with John, my opinion is that I can not stand people who try to impose their judgment on others, it is a total lack of respect.
    Your trip is a marvel that I enjoy in every photo and in the explanations that you give on all the details, it's like traveling with you and with Miriam.
    I liked that boot cleaner! and of course to meet the lazy and the birds in their natural habitat.
    A hug!

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  21. Wonderful report and beautiful photos. The birds are so colourful and nice to see.

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  22. Hello David, such beautiful photos from your trip! It looks fantastic,
    Wishing you a continous happy easter,

    Best regards, Ida

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  23. Some amazing birds! And how awesome is the sloth!?!?

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  24. Me encanta tu nuevo viaje a Panamá, hay aves preciosas. El comportamiento de John no me parece bien. Me alegra que lo pasaran bien con otros amigos. Besitos.

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  25. Wow. Being agnostic myself, I am very insulted when people feel they need to push their own religious views on me. That wasn't very Christian of him leave you behind, doesn't being Christian mean you turn the other cheek? Love all the birds and the sloth too.

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  26. Wow - on many levels! I there is a space (and Sal says 'yes',) I/we would be interested in a trip!

    As they say in Yorkshire - there's nowt so strange as folk!!

    cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

    PS: can guarantee no such behaviour in Mont Albert!!!

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  27. Hi David - gosh ... someone needs some lessons on charitable understanding ... I'd be heaving! The guides sounds amazing as too the friends you saw. Wonderful photographs - just sorry for Miriam and I hate to say it - us all! ... about a wobble with the fingers and losing those early photos.

    I was interested to know you were allowed to take sandwiches on board ... while at the lodge - broccoli and avocado sound an interesting mix for a salad ... but fresh is always best - thanks for such a full post: stacks of birds - cheers Hilary

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  28. Hello, David, I agree that as you write 'customs and immigration officers around the world are chosen for their surliness'- I noticed the same thing. Your photos are amazing, I'm sorry Myriam's loss, but many others are interesting. I liked this one of Hoffmann's Two-toed Sloth and the bird White-tailed Trogon is very pretty.

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  29. A shame the trip started out the way it did but i'm pleased you didn't let it spoil things for you and very frustrating with the photos, we've all done it unfortunately. I have to say I love the butterflies, I'd be happy to share my fruit!

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  30. What a marvelous trip! So many birds to see that i have never seen, and even a few nice mammals. I enjoyed reading about your trip.

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  31. First, it took me a few minutes to process the childish and vindictive behavior of your (former) “friend”. I can’t believe that any kind of Christian would recommend or approve (though no personal experience with such beliefs for many years,).... Second, your posts, especially your travel ones, are to me more like good books than most the usual picture blogs I visit (the ones like my own), therefore, while I am in awe of the amazing photos you both take, I am not expecting a photo with every fascinating paragraph! Still I empathize with Miriam, because I have been known to cry and swear over losing my mediocre photos! ... Third and most important, I completely enjoyed every word and picture and remain in awe of the wonders you encounter ! Thank you for all.

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  32. Hi Both,
    After such an unfortunate start to your trip, all the remainder appears to have run very well.
    Why do some people set themselves on a pedestal, they only set themselves up to be knocked off
    What a wonderful place to visit with such a variety of birdlife, and you have certainly given us some excellent images.
    You also appear to have been lucky with the guide.
    All the best, John

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    1. My grandmother always used to say, "You have to be bigger than they are."

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  33. Hi David. Sorry to take so long to get round to visiting your blog. I'm only just catching up with things that went by the board whilst I had my month of incapacitation.

    I'm so sorry to hear of John's 'unchristian' attitude. It must have put somewhat of a blight on your holiday.

    This blog post makes this Panama lodge sound mouthwateringly attractive - such an amazing variety of wildlife on the doorstep!

    To echo Kees's words. Next time, just put the card to one side, and then use recovery software when you get home. Coincidentally, for the first time in a couple of years, I accidentally erased some images on a card yesterday. I used software called RecoveRx and got the lot back - YOU WILL PROBABLY BE ABLE TO USE THIS NOW IF YOU CAN REMEMBER WHICH CARD IT WAS AND YOU HAVEN'T FORMATTED IT YET - the only problem is that you'll have to dig through all the images it comes up with in order to find the 'lost' ones.

    My love to you both - - - Richard

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    1. You know what, Richard, it really didn't. I suppose we compartmentalized it somewhat in our mind and ignored it. There was so much to see and do, and many other interesting, kind people on the trip. Now what happened when we returned is another matter and will be covered when I get to the final stage of my report. As far as the lost pictures are concerned, Miriam continued to use the same card, and she thinks that might be a problem in terms of recovery of the lost images.

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    2. Still might not be a recovery problem, David. It's amazing what can be recovered with clever software - give it a try!

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  34. i came back to finish part 1, this is a great account of your trip. i see you shared the joy of picture taking with miriam, you both photographed some beautiful and unique birds!! i enjoyed seeing and reading about the butterflies...i have seen the 2nd butterfly many times in butterfly houses, i looked in my books but could not come up with a name!!

    your friend john is not really your friend, good that you found that out now. l have been forced in to prayer circles and was so uncomfortable, i was not brave enough to say anything!!

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  35. I love sloths so I'm so glad you showed one! And that Tamandua and the Agouti (?) were both great. Of course your birds are always fabulous. Miriam has just the best smile ever! And your hotel room looks lovely. And oh, do I ever feel for the memory card loss!

    As for John -- well, that just hurts to hear that someone who claims to be Christian would do something so uncharitable, unkind, intolerant and plain rude. I feel for Geraldine who must have been stuck in the middle. (Wonder if he got read the riot act. I wouldn't have been able to keep my mouth shut on that one.) I find that kind of behavior very shocking, childish and petulant but even more, very sad. I'm sorry you had to experience it.

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    1. She does indeed, Jeanie. One of the first things that attracted me to her,

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  36. Such a wealth of bird life, David. It's the sloth, though, that really stands out to me. They seem very zen.

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  37. Just so you know -- some of us who consider ourselves Christian are uncomfortable with public displays of piety, as well. I've been with people who prefer to offer prayers before meals, but who do it simply and in a low-keyed manner. I certainly never have encountered anyone intent on coercing someone else to join in. That's just odd.

    That aside, I loved seeing the accomodations, including the forest lunch. There's such an overwhelming wealth of birds, it's almost hard to focus. I was delighted by the Agouti, and amazed by the behavior of the butterflies. Of the birds, I was especially taken with the black and white owls. Clearly, you had more than one kind of buffet on this trip!



    All that aside,

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    1. Thanks for this. John is not willing to engage in silent prayer, as so many others do, he wants it his way or no way, with a public recital and everyone holding hands. This was a huge issue for me in Cuba when we were privileged to be invited into a local home, in a Communist country, with no endorsement of religion, and John insisted on doing it HIS way in THEIR home. The shock on the faces of our hosts was very evident.

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