Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Trip Report - Panama Part 6 - 10 and 11 April 2019

10 April 2019
Canopy Lodge - Altos del Maria - Canopy Lodge

     We were looking forward to a full day out to Altos del Maria, with Moyo as our guide. Two four wheel drive vehicles were used for this journey, and we were joined by Joseph, a guide in training if I am not mistaken, and Aidan the manager of Canopy Lodge.


     Before leaving the lodge, we were treated to a range of insects, none of which we are able to identify as to species!

     We stopped at various point along the way, birding in areas that were known to be productive, based on Moyo's past experience. For the most part the terrain was open woodland, very attractive indeed.

     We were fortunate to have a Tufted Flycatcher (Mitrephanes phaeocercus) approach very closely providing us with the best looks we have ever had of this species.

     It is a singularly attractive little bird in my estimation and I was very pleased to observe it at close range.
     A pair of Blue-throated Toucanets (Aulocorhynchus caeruleogularis) was almost as cooperative.

    The taxonomic ranking of this species seems to be in a constant state of flux and it may be classified by some authorities as Emerald Toucanet or Northern Emerald Toucanet (A. prasinus).
     The neotropics are renowned for the number of wrens in a wide range of genera that coexist there.  Grey-breasted Wood Wren (Henicorhina leucophrys) is quite common, but not always easy to view in the open, so we were very happy with this encounter.

     Among the many species of Euphonia to be found in Panama, Tawny-capped Euphonia (Euphonia fulvicrissa) is among the most distinctive, especially the male, and is easily identified.

     At one point, we all saw a raptor fly in, and it perched in a relatively good position for viewing. It turned out to be our only Double-toothed Kite (Harpagus bidentatus) of the entire trip.

     The two tomial "teeth"of this oddly-named bird, are formed by notches on the upper mandible, but are of little use as a field character.
     Following on the heels of the Double-toothed Kite, Moyo became very animated, and pointed us in the direction of a Great Jacamar (Jacamerops aureus). Never common, this species was outside its normal range, and Moyo had never before encountered it at Altos del Maria.
     For a really superb picture of this species I am indebted to my friend Masaru who took this picture in the Darien area of Panama.

     Bat Falcon (Falco rufigularis) is a small compact falcon, widespread throughout Central America, and fortunately not shy.This pair was not perched in an ideal spot for pictures but Miriam did her best.

     Despite its name, bats are not its main source of food, and one of the birds above can be seen consuming what is probably a large insect. Where bats are taken the bird is generally a crepuscular hunter.
     Anyone who has visited Central America has probably at one time or another seen a Helicopter Damselfly in the family Pseudostigmatidae, a family that specializes in feeding on web-building spiders, and in fact seems to be the prototype for the flight style of a helicopter. Some members of the family are very large indeed. 


     A Spotted Antbird (Hylophylax naeviodes) is a very attractive inhabitant of the lower levels of the forest.

     Antpittas, as a general rule are very difficult birds to see. They skulk in the densest parts of the forest understorey, often on or close to the ground in gloomy, thick vegetation. Moyo was determined that we would see Black-crowned Antpitta (Pittasoma michleri), a lifer for everyone, and he worked at it for about twenty minutes until we had one in view, in fact at times in full view, albeit for brief intervals.

     The genus Pittasoma indicates the family known as Gnateaters, sometimes even referred to as "Gnatpittas!"
     It was a stellar sighting by any standards.  Moyo wryly commented that he enjoys most of all finding difficult birds, and one can easily understand that a fellow who earns his living taking people out to see birds every day, would embrace that challenge, especially if he is with people who really want to see them. I was very, very happy to have the opportunity to observe Black-crowned Antpitta! It is also quite wonderful that Miriam managed such a good picture of an elusive bird.
     Following this splendid success we repaired to a lovely area, next to a pond to have lunch.

     Lunch in the field was always very agreeable. We so much enjoyed the curried tuna sandwiches prepared by the staff at the lodge that we asked Aidan to provide the recipe to us, which he did, and we will now to be able to make it at home. There was lettuce and tomato to add to the sandwich, and to satisfy anyone with a sweet tooth cantaloupe, water melon, pineapple and carrot cake. 
     Trogons came to visit, Kiskadees serenaded us, Joseph amused us......we were happy birders all.
     After lunch, in another display of dogged determination, Moyo, spent a good deal of time and effort finding Snowcap (Microchera albocoronata) for us. We were unable to get a picture of this diminutive, fast-moving little hummingbird but we were delighted to see it.
     A Plain Brown Woodcreeper ( Dendrocincla fuliginosa) proved to be much easier to observe - and focus a camera on too!

     This must surely be known as our "Toucanet day" in Panama. We had already seen one species (and there are only two in Panama) and we came upon the second. A pair of Yellow-eared Toucanets (Selenidera spectabilis) were plainly visible and we were all elated to see them.

     As we returned to the lodge we enjoyed driving through the various habitats of the region and seeing small towns and villages along the route.
     Moyo joined us at Happy Hour to complete our checklist, followed by a splendid dinner of garden salad, chicken in cilantro sauce, cauliflower au gratin and squash soufflé. There was chocolate cake for dessert for those who wanted it.
     Just before dinner it had started to rain and the intensity increased. The ferocity of the winds through the valley had caused the power to get knocked out and the lodge was plunged into darkness for a few minutes before the emergency generator was pressed into service. 
     It had been another great day in Panama enhanced in no small measure by Moyo's excellent knowledge of the avifauna of Altos del Maria and his superb skill at finding the birds.

All species 10 April: Grey-headed Chachalaca, Black Guan, Pale-vented Pigeon, Scaled Pigeon, White-tipped Dove, White-collared Swift, Stripe-throated Hermit, Snowcap, Crowned Woodnymph, Snowy-bellied Hummingbird, Black Vulture, Swallow-tailed Kite, Double-toothed Kite, Common Black Hawk, Barred Hawk, Broad-winged Hawk, Collared (Orange-bellied) Trogon, Broad-billed Motmot, Great Jacamar, Blue-throated Toucanet, Yellow-eared Toucanet, Keel-billed Toucan, Black-cheeked Woodpecker, Red-crowned Woodpecker, Lineated Woodpecker, Yellow-headed Caracara, Bat Falcon, Blue-headed Parrot, Barred Antshrike, Russet Antshrike, Plain Antvireo, Spot-crowned Antvireo, Spotted Antbird, Black-crowned Antpitta, Plain Brown Woodcreeper, Spotted Woodcreeper, Spotted Barbtail, Red-faced Spinetail, Eye-ringed Flatbill, White-throated Spadebill, Tufted Flycatcher, Rufous Mourner, Dusky-capped Flycatcher, Social Flycatcher, Tropical Kingbird, White-ruffed Manakin, Black-chested Jay, Grey-breasted Martin, Southern Rough-winged Swallow, House Wren, Ochraceous Wren, Grey-breasted Wood Wren, Song Wren, Swainson's Thrush, Pale-vented Thrush, Clay-coloured Thrush, Thick-billed Euphonia, Tawny-capped Euphonia, Common Bush Tanager, Chestnut-headed Oropendola, Great-tailed Grackle, Bay-breasted Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Buff-rumped Warbler, Rufous-capped Warbler, Hepatic Tanager, Blue-grey Tanager, Plain-coloured Tanager, Bay-headed Tanager, Silver-throated Tanager, Green Honeycreeper, Black-and-Yellow Tanager, Tawny-crested Tanager.

11 April 2019
Canopy Lodge - Candelario Trail - La Mesa - Mato Ahogado - Canopy Lodge

     We had been advised that we would be going out with Danilo Sr. at 07h:30 but by 08h:00 he was nowhere to be seen and we checked with Aidan as to what might have happened. Apparently there had been some confusion as to which period he was supposed to work and he had thought it was in the afternoon.
     Tino Sanchez was assigned to us and based on the birding which ensued we lost nothing in the trade.
     As was often the case a Red-crowned Woodpecker (Melanerpes rubricapillus) was on the feeder as we left.

     Miriam decided to stay behind this morning so the photographic record for the outing is scant.
     Our principal target on the Candelario Trail was White-tipped Sicklebill (Eutoxeres aquila), a bird known to feed there on its favoured species of heliconia. I was looking forward with great anticipation to the possibility of locating this species, for on three trips to Costa Rica, a prior trip to Panama, two visits to Ecuador and one to Colombia I had failed every time. To make a long story short, at the end of the morning I had still not seen a Sicklebill! I think this is destined to become my nemesis of all nemeses. 
     But there was more than adequate compensation in the form of two Rufous-vented Ground Cuckoos (Neomorphus geoffroyi), a highly sought after species. I have no pictures to memorialize the event, but we saw the birds at varying intervals for several minutes and the experience is indelibly etched in my mind. Sighting of this species verge on mythical. 
     A couple of Isthmian Wrens (Cantorchilus elutus) put on quite a show for us, far more concerned with each other than the human observers close by.

    Shiny Cowbirds (Molothrus bonariensis) are a constant threat to their host species, but they were quite numerous.

     Tino, clearly feeling bad that he had been unable to connect us with a Sicklebill took us to another location nearby where there was a stand of heliconia known to attract the bird. Not on that morning, however.
     I assured him that this was the nature of birding and being in the right place at the right time is a great part of success. Obviously we had been in the right place, but not at the right time!
     It was interesting to find a Silver-throated Tanager (Tangara icterocephala) on its nest.

      If you look carefully you can see its head at the top left in the picture above.
     On the way back to the lodge a sighting of a Nine-banded Armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus) was very agreeable, and we watched it for several minutes.

     When we arrived back Miriam was anxious to share her experiences around the lodge while we were away and had pictures to illustrate her successes.

Red-tailed Squirrel (Sciurus granatensis)

Snowy-bellied Hummingbird (Amazilia edward)

Flame-rumped Tanager (Ramphocelus flammigerus) ♂
Thick-billed Euphonia (Euphonia laniirostris)

Snowy-bellied Hummingbird, dorsal view

     You may recall that I mentioned earlier that Rufous-capped Warbler (Basileuterus rufifrons) seems to take a good deal of pleasure from bathing and we frequently saw it in the stream.

     Great Kiskadee (Pitangus sulphuratus) was common around the lodge, usually announcing its presence with its signature onomatopoeic call.

     House Wren (Troglodytes aedon) was also easily found, often hopping around on the steps going down to the feeders.

     After lunch we were left to our own devices until 15h:00 when we departed with Danilo, Sr to go to Mata Ahogado to see what we could find there.

     At the first stop Miriam saw this old sewing machine stand and could not resist taking a picture of it.

     I suspect that it is not going to be pressed into service any time soon!
     Crested Oropendola (Psarocolius decumanus) was not seen with anything like the frequency with which we saw Chestnut-headed Oropendola (Psarocolius wagleri) so we were happy to be able to take this picture.

     Southern Rough-winged Swallow (Stelgidopteryx serripennis) by contrast was seen almost every day, usually in swift flight, however, so this individual perched was the exception to the rule.

     Elaenias in general are fairly nondescript little flycatchers and it takes  practice and keen attention to learn the various species. Yellow-bellied Elaenia (Elaenia flavogaster) is perhaps easier than others.

     A boldly marked Streaked Flycatcher (Myiodynastes maculatus) presents less of a challenge.

     The "best" bird of the afternoon was an Orange-billed Nightingale-Thrush (Catharus aurantiirostris) but it played hide-and-seek with us so successfully (more hide than seek) that I don't believe anyone got a picture.
     We returned to the lodge for the evening ritual of Happy Hour and the check list update, followed by dinner.
     Miriam and I had arranged for a night tour with Danilo, Sr, and Joseph tagged along too. Danilo played his tape and almost instantly a Tropical Screech Owl (Megascops choliba) responded and perched on the corner of one of the buildings. It was interesting to walk around at night, but it terms of wildlife it produced very little.
     I believe that these pictures are of Giant Toad (Bufo marinus), also known as Cane Toad, a voracious species. Just talk to an Australian about the folly of introducing alien species to places where they don't belong, and the enormous problems that have resulted from the importation of Bufo marinus into Queensland.

     A Vaillant's Frog (Rana vaillanti) is a little more benign.

     Throughout our walk, which lasted about an hour and a half, we heard Mottled Owl (Ciccaba virgata) almost continuously and I estimated that there were at least four calling, possibly more. Finally Miriam managed to get a picture - and everyone will appreciate this is "just for the record!"

     We were in bed a little after 22h:00 and asleep soon afterwards.

All species 11 April: Scaled Pigeon, Ruddy Ground Dove, White-tipped Dove, Squirrel Cuckoo, Rufous-vented Ground Cuckoo, Smooth-billed Ani, Band-rumped Swift, Green Hermit, Stripe-throated Hermit, Garden Emerald, Bronze-tailed Plumleteer, Crowned Woodnymph, Rufous-tailed Hummingbird, Grey-necked Wood Rail, Southern Lapwing, Eastern Cattle Egret, Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, Black Hawk-Eagle, Tropical Screech Owl, Mottled Owl, Collared Araçari, Red-crowned Woodpecker, Yellow-headed Carcara, Blue-headed Parrot, White-bellied Antbird, Spotted Antbird, Yellow-bellied Elaenia, Sepia-capped Flycatcher, Common Tody-Flycatcher, Yellow-olive Flycatcher, Long-tailed Tyrant, Great Kiskadee, Boat-billed Flycatcher, Social Flycatcher, Grey-capped Flycatcher, Streaked Flycatcher, Tropical Kingbird, Black-chested Jay, Grey-breasted Martin, Southern Rough-winged Swallow, Barn Swallow, House Wren, Rufous-breasted Wren (heard), Rufous-and-white Wren, Isthmian Wren, Bay Wren, White-breasted Wood Wren, Song Wren, Orange-billed Nightingale-Thrush, Pale-vented Thrush, Clay-coloured Thrush, Thick-billed Euphonia, Tawny-capped Euphonia (heard), Chestnut-capped Brush Finch, Black-striped Sparrow, Yellow-billed Cacique, Crested Oropendola, Chestnut-headed Oropendola, Shiny Cowbird, Giant Cowbird, Great-tailed Grackle, Tennessee Warbler, Mourning Warbler, Rufous-capped Warbler, Canada Warbler, Dusky-faced Tanager, Red-crowned Ant Tanager, Blue-grey Tanager, Palm Tanager, Golden-hooded Tanager, Silver-throated Tanager, Blue-black Grassquit, White-lined Tanager, Flame-rumped Tanager, Crimson-backed Tanager, Red-legged Honeycreeper, Bananaquit (heard), Yellow-faced Grassquit, Variable Seedeater, Black-headed Saltator, Buff-throated Saltator. 


  1. I'm always so impressed about the variety of birds you are showing, David.
    The Snowy-bellied Hummingbird is always my favorite.

  2. What a wonderful trip it was, such amazing birds in this post!

  3. Great photos as always. Wow! That insect that with leaf wings! The Tufted Flycatcher is adorable. What amazing color on the Tawny-capped Euphonia. I love that blue eye of the Crested Oropendola.

  4. Your shot of the armadillo is my favourite of the set.

  5. Hari om
    Outstanding photography, one and all! Am still struggling my side... YAM xx

  6. Lovely collection of photos and so many pretty birds, animals etc.
    Cane Toad, a curse in Northern Australia - though I can say that I've only seen a couple in our travels.

  7. Otro gran y bello reportaje amigo David con gran variedad y hermosas capturas de extraordinarias criaturas. Buen viaje realizado y muy bien aprovechado tuvo que ser fascinante. Fotos fabulosas de Miriam.
    Un fuerte y cariñoso abrazo de tu siempre amigo Juan.

  8. Hi David.

    Beautiful nature.
    And so many beautiful insects and colorful birds.
    Thank you for showing, so nice to have a look at all this beautiful.

    Greeting from Patricia.

  9. This is a bird bonanza. You must be thrilled at the varieties. The first insect is a puzzler. I’m not sure if that’s a bug carrying leaves or if it has leafy wings or if it’s taking shelter beneath a leaf umbrella. Regardless, it’s an amazing slice of life as are all the creatures!

  10. Hola David.

    En este viaje creo que la que más ha trabajado fue Miriam: ¡cuántas fotos! Gracias por compartir tu "cuaderno de bitácora" del viaje a Panamá que por lo visto podría hacer suyo también el lema de Costa Rica: Pura Vida.

    Un abrazo desde Galicia, España,


  11. Hello David, another great day in Panama. The trip report is wonderful, awesome bird sightings. The photos are beautiful. Happy birding, enjoy your day!

  12. När jag läser dina trevliga berättelser om allt du och dina vänner fått uppleva i regnskogens spännande miljö så slår det mig hur begränsade mina kunskaper är om alla de fåglar, insekter och däggdjur som lever i en annan del av världen. Få känner jag igen även om jag ibland kan ana ett släktskap till de fåglar och andra djur som finns i min närhet.
    Här i Norden är artrikedomen begränsad, om det sedan är klimatet eller något annat vet jag inte.
    Just nu väntar jag på tornseglarnas ankomst som borde ske vilken dag som helst. De är alltid de sista som anländer av våra flyttfåglar och då kan jag återigen njuta av deras visslande i luften och deras snabba flykt över nejden.

  13. Beautiful trip, beautiful nature! I like a lot the Mottled Owl, was surprised to it there.

  14. Hi David,

    You'll be guided on Lesvos, but I think you can be veeeeery satisfied with all the nice species you've seen in Panama. Amazing birds and insect. A walking leave, wow. The birds are sometimes similar to European species, but the most are more clourful though. I love the small tifted flycatcher, he is very cute and the Rufous-capped Warbler is fantastic!
    It's also good to see some other wildlife, for me it's obvious to look at more than birds only and so do you both.
    A nice report again!

    Kindest regards,

  15. Wonderful photos of all the birds and wildlife.
    The giant toads were interesting to see.
    Thanks for sharing and have a wonderful day.

  16. Hi David. Another mind-boggling array of fabulous birds to delight us - thank you.

    I was chatting with a friend yesterday and he informed me that he was going to Panama on a birding trip soon. After I have finished writing this comment, I shall send him a link to your blog. He's a very serious birder - I think he's got four long-haul birding trips arranged for this year! I'm sure he'll find your trip report extremely interesting.

    Take good care. My love to you and Miriam - - - Richard

  17. So many amazing birds spotted. Your blog is an eye opener to their beauty and habitats.
    Wonderful to see the armadillo.
    The food sounds wonderful too. I hope you found a 'good' wine to go with it.

  18. Sure it was another great trip, David. I love seeing your or Myriam's photos of the wood, valleys, paths, trees, lakes and gazebo. I especially love some birds you show as Euphonia, Black-crowned Antpitta, Flame-rumped Tanager - they are bright and I can't imagine then in our northern woods :-)

  19. Hello David,
    Fantastic amount of birds that you've seen!! I wonder when you are looking back on your photo's from this wonderful trip, if you can believe that you've seen so many different kind of birds
    A fantastic memorie it must be.
    Have a wonderful week ahead.

  20. Definitely the nature of birding, nothing is guaranteed! No matter though when you still have so many others to see. It must be just a joy wandering around the lodge on its own!

  21. Hi David,
    Once again the help of a good guide is obvious. Just like I experienced myself you can be sure to miss some wildlife without his assistance. Lucky you to see an armadillo. I would have loved to see one in Patagonia, but unfortunately we missed them. Plenty of birds once again during your trips. It will be difficult to get used to your daily enviroment when you are back home.
    A walking leaf and some frogs bring something extra besides all the beautiful birds.
    It has been an amazing trip!
    Greetings, Kees

  22. I do love the Great Jacamar, fabulous.

  23. Super. Ik heb er van genoten!

    A Red-tailed Squirrel over there?!

  24. Otra gran entrada, con mucha variedad de pájaros. Me ha encantado. Besitos.

  25. Beautiful birds as always.I really enjoy those close -up of each one!They are so pretty to see. I like the House Wren!
    Enjpoy your weekend,David.

  26. El ptimero es un Phasmatodea tambien llamado insectos palo o hoja, son expertos en camuflarse.
    Interesante reportaje David. Siempre dejando valiosa información. Aprendemos mucho de la naturaleza aquí.
    Me encanta leer amigo. Muchos libros hay en mi casa😉
    Te deseo un buen jueves.
    Un abrazo.

  27. Fabulous photos. It is always amazing at the amount of variety there is in the tropics, isn't there?

  28. Looks great, thanks for sharing these lovely pictures...

  29. Always enjoyable to see your photographs.
    Such a wonderful variety of birds … and I liked the old sewing machine too!

    All the best Jan

  30. Hello Miriam and David, What a place, what richness, of plants, birds and animals. Amazing. Miriam my compliments for all your wonderful photos you were able to make. David thank you for the explanation of what you saw. I just can not say which one is te most beautyful so I leave it to that it is my whish that this may last forever and will not be destroyed in the future.

  31. How amazing to get a photo of the owl! WOW! And I love that Toucanet! All of these are beautiful of course! Enjoy your weekend!

  32. I've heard some good things about Panama. It's a place that is too inaccessible from here to be on my personal radar. The toucanet must have been such a thrill - such interesting looking birds. But my favourite was the tufted flycatcher.

  33. Hi Both,
    What a wonderful post with super images Miriam.
    Certainly a trip to remember and shows the importance of having a good guide, super shots of the armadillo, such an unusual creature.
    You really choose some wonderful places to have your lunch, sitting in splendour overlooking the lake.
    All the best, John

  34. Hello, these are all awesome photos and beautiful birds. What a great trip, Panama is an awesome place for a birding vacation. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Happy Saturday, enjoy your day. Wishing you a great weekend. PS, thanks for the visit and comment on my blog.

  35. What an amazing place. Looks like somewhere I should visit.

    1. I have not the slightest doubt you would enjoy it very much, Adam.

  36. so many beautiful birds, most unique and very colorful! all of the pictures are amazing, so nicely focused! there is a yellow and blue bird that is not identified that is especially pretty! i do think this is a place that all of us birders would enjoy!!

    and what was the secret ingredient or recipe for the tuna sandwiches?

    1. Hi Debbie: That bird is a second picture of Thick-billed Euphonia. Send me your email address and I will send you the recipe for the tuna sandwich.

  37. You seem to have hit the jackpot of this leg of your trip David. Some terrific birds there - Bat Falcon and the Antpittas especially.

    As to your question about cars. As you know, the default here in Europe is manual transmission and I would expect that if I wanted an auto hire car, I would have to order it well in advance and also to accept what was offered. I have never driven an auto and might struggle to do so. Here at home we have a manual rather than the so-called "dualogic" Fiat Pandas each, but not the same model. Perhaps you are planning a trip to Spain?

    1. I am almost certainly going back to Australia next year and I am pondering various options as to how I might break up the long journey. Nothing firm yet, however. just weighing various options.

  38. Hello. Interesting post. Great serie of birds and "critters". Thank you.

  39. Hola David, es un placer seguir tus experiencias a través de los reportajes y ver esas aves tan increíbles. Me ha gustado ver ese insecto hoja, demuestra la importancia de pasar desapercibido para la supervivencia ¡y las fotos de Miriam son admirables!
    Muchos besos.

  40. Hello friend David,
    the insect on the first picture is just like a leaf from a tree :-) Great that something like that exists in nature :-))))
    You had a very good guide and that is essential for traveling to a bird and nature reserve. I see beautiful birds passing by and you can also photograph the birds of prey nicely. I also see other animals and that is very nice, also nice for variety. You can see that you really enjoyed this trip :-)

    Dear greetings, Helma xo

  41. Hello David,
    you've had a wonderful trip indeed. I'm impressed by the number of differend and so colorful birds you can show us here. I especially like the small tufted flycatcher, it looks so cute.

    Best regards, Corrie

  42. Hi David - you certainly make the most of your trips and journeys out and about ... quite delightful - I enjoyed seeing all the birds, insects, flora too ... the posts really tempt me to visit. Such beautiful colours, so many different ones to see and marvel over ... Miriam's owl - excellent ... and congratulations to photographers three ... cheers Hilary

  43. It always takes me two or three -- or four! -- reads to absorb even a portion of the riches you lay out for us. I was especially taken with the toucanettes, partly because of their name. It may amuse you to know that in the days of the earliest ordained women, they often were called 'pastorettes.' Are the Euphonia species named for particularly pleasing songs and calls? I need to go over to the Macaulay Library and see what I can find.

    I loved seeing the armadillo. Of course it's nearly iconic here in Texas. You may know that its prehistoric ancestor, the Glyptodon, was about the size of a VW beetle, and there's evidence that the shells were used for human shelter. I once wrote about the so-called Armadillo House outside Comfort, Texas, where there was a going cottage industry that produced lampshades and purses from the shells of the creatures in an earlier time.