Canopy Tower - Semaphore Hill - Plantation Road - Old Gamboa Road and Summit Pond - Canopy Tower
We were both awake fairly early and anxious to get up onto the observation deck to see what might be around. At about 05h:00 the Mantled Howlers (Alouatta palliata) were in full voice, either closer than usual or more vociferous this morning.
Even before we left our room we were treated to a wildlife display, with this fire beetle (Pyrophorus sp.) enlivening our stay in the bathroom.
The two luminous organs varied in light intensity as the beetle moved around and it is claimed that placed on a newspaper the beetle sheds enough light to read the print. The primary purpose is to attract prey, although one would surmise that predators would be equally drawn to them. An adaptive balance has obviously been achieved and we found it quite fascinating to observe this creature.
We arrived on the deck just as sunrise was about to occur.
And here is what it looked like a few minutes later.
The air was redolent with unfamiliar scents, howlers roared in the background, parrots squawked and a chorus of unfamiliar bird song resonated in our ears. It was good to be in this tropical paradise and our hot, aromatic coffee was both welcome and appropriate.
A Mealy Amazon (Amazona farinosa) surveyed the world from a lofty perch.
Cinnamon Woodpecker (Celeus loricatus) is not uncommon but seldom cooperates as much as this individual did, remaining on the same exposed perch for several minutes.
I could not help but think that it seemed a precarious position, a sitting target for a passing hawk or large falcon, but it certainly delighted all the onlookers on the deck.
This familiar Great Crested Flycatcher (Myiarchus crinitus) was doubtless migrating north and will soon be seen and heard in the woods and on the trails near our home.
There are at least two distinct advantages to watching birds from the observation deck; the first is that the birds are often very close and the second is that Canopy Tower guides are there to help clinch the ID of birds most of us see very infrequently. We were happy to have Jorge confirm the identification of this Brown-capped Tyrannulet (Ornithion brunneicapillus).
Mostly when I have seen Bright-rumped Attila (Attila spadiceus) on previous journeys to Central America it has been low to the ground, or right on the ground, often foraging. It was therefore very agreeable to observe this individual perched at eye level in the canopy.
A Black-breasted Puffbird (Notharchus pectoralis) was no less welcome, especially for people newly arrived, having their first experience of daybreak on the deck.
Red-lored Amazons (Amazona autumnalis) were quite common, and unlike some of the other psittacids were prone to perch and feed where we could clearly see them and enjoy their exploits.
Very often our hummingbird shots are taken around feeders, such as these images of White-necked Jacobin (Florisuga melivora).
But the shots Miriam achieved from the deck are far more pleasing, showing the bird in its natural setting.
After a good breakfast we left in the birdmobile, casting a backward glance at the Canopy Tower receding behind us.
We birded a little going down Semaphore Hill, but mainly we were on a mission to get to Plantation Road to explore the treasures that awaited us.
That mensch, Larry, was all set to go, with Jorge as our expert, friendly guide.
Trogons are known to exploit termite nests to excavate their own nest cavities and this is what appears to have been done here, although the species remains unknown.
Red-tailed Squirrels (Sciurus granatensis) were common, but entertaining and delightful, despite their proclivity to raid bird feeders. To see them peel a banana and hold it in their front paws to eat it was to view an exercise in efficiency and dexterity.
This bug looked very interesting.....
..... and this damselfly no less so.
As always, ID help would be appreciated.
Larry held the mantle of puffbird spotter par excellence and I am sure he was delighted to see this White-whiskered Puffbird (Malacoptila panamensis) to add to his repertoire.
Jorge's keen eyes spotted a Great Tinamou (Tinamus major) moving in the dense undergrowth and we were able to follow it, losing it for a moment, regaining contact another. When it settled down to rest Jorge was able to get it in the scope and digiscoped this image on Larry's smart phone.
It's not much but it is a coup to take any kind of picture of a tinamou. Having spent several minutes on the observation deck checking out the finer points of Cinnamon Woodpecker it seemed especially interesting to discover this individual at a nest cavity.
Other than for parrots, it is amazing how often one sees a pair of birds perched side by side, yet not looking at each other. These White-necked Jacobins seemed to prove the point.
One of the most spectacular tanagers is Golden-hooded Tanager (Tangara larvata) - in a family where spectacular is the default adjective - and we were very happy to find this one on a nest.
We had a great morning of birding and returned to the Canopy Tower for lunch, following which it was siesta time until 15h:00 when we left for the Old Gamboa Road and Summit Pond. Alex was our guide once again, accompanied by Beto Dominguez.
As we started our walk we heard lots of Chestnut-headed Oropendolas (Psarocolius wagleri) although we saw very few. There was quite a large nesting colony and as might be expected a Piratic Flycatcher (Legatus leucocephalus) was in attendance.
|Nests of Chestnut-headed Oropendola|
A Social Flycatcher (Myiozetetes similis) seemed oblivious to all else going on around him/her.
A female Slaty-tailed Trogon (Trogon massena) was more likely to remain on the same branch for a longer period.
A Green Kingfisher (Chloroceryle americana) zoomed back and forth, barely perching for an instant, and even when it did in less than perfect situations for photography, but Miriam finally managed this shot.
A Boat-billed Heron (Cochlearius cochlearius) was more sedentary and easier to photograph.
A Green Heron (Butorides virescens) was in the same vicinity.
Numerous Common Sliders (Trachemys scripta) had hauled out onto logs and were basking in the afternoon sun.
Panama is host to an incredible variety of plants; perhaps my good friend Juan Tarrero Sarabia will be able to identify this one.
We returned to the lodge for Happy Hour and a chance to complete the daily checklist and chat about the day's successes, followed by dinner, after which Larry and I shared a couple of bottles of wine with other guests and generally had a fine time enjoying the companionship of fellow naturalists all enthralled with Panama. Names, addresses and emails were exchanged, friendships forged, bonds made.
Sleep came easy, perhaps with dreams of avian pleasures still to come.
All species 04 April: Great Tinamou, Grey-headed Chachalaca, Pale-vented Pigeon, Scaled Pigeon, White-tipped Dove, Squirrel Cuckoo, Short-tailed Swift, White-necked Jacobin, White-vented Plumleteer, Blue-chested Hummingbird, Violet-bellied Hummingbird, Anhinga, Little Blue Heron, Green Heron, Boat-billed Heron, Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, King Vulture, Western Osprey, Broad-winged Hawk, Swainson's Hawk, Slaty-tailed Trogon, Gartered Trogon (heard), Amazon Kingfisher, Green Kingfisher, American Pygmy Kingfisher, Black-breasted Puffbird, White-whiskered Puffbird, Keel-billed Toucan, Black-cheeked Woodpecker, Red-crowned Woodpecker, Cinnamon Woodpecker, Lineated Woodpecker (heard), Yellow-headed Caracara, Orange-chinned Parakeet, Brown-hooded Parrot, Red-lored Amazon, Mealy Amazon, Fasciated Antshrike, Black-crowned Antshrike, Dot-winged Antwren, Jet Antbird, Chestnut-backed Antbird (heard), Bicoloured Antbird, Scaly-throated Leaftosser, Cocoa Woodcreeper, Plain Xenops, Brown-capped Tyrannulet, Forest Elaenia (heard), Ochre-bellied Flycatcher, Black-capped Pygmy-Tyrant, Southern Bentbill, Olivaceous Flatbill, Bright-rumped Attila, Dusky-capped Flycatcher, Lesser Kiskadee, Great Kiskadee, Boat-billed Flycatcher, Rusty-margined Flycatcher, Social Flycatcher, Streaked Flycatcher, Piratic Flycatcher, Tropical Kingbird, Eastern Kingbird, Masked Tityra, Blue-crowned Manakin (heard), Golden-collared manakin, Red-capped Manakin, Scrub Greenlet, Green Shrike-Vireo, Lesser Greenlet, Mangrove Swallow, Southern Rough-winged Swallow, Barn Swallow, Rufous-breasted Wren (heard), Rufous-and-white Wren (heard), Isthmian Wren (heard), Tropical Gnatcatcher, Clay-coloured Thrush, Fulvous-vented Euphonia, Orange-billed Sparrow, Chesnut-headed Oropendola, Yellow-rumped Cacique, Yellow-backed Oriole, Baltimore Oriole, Northern Waterthrush, Bay-breasted Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Scarlet Tanager, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Palm Tanager, Golden-hooded Tanager, Plain-coloured Tanager, Grey-headed Tanager, White-shouldered Tanager, Crimson-backed Tanager, Shining Honeycreeper, Red-legged Honeycreeper, Blue Dacnis, Variable Seedeater.