Wednesday, July 6, 2016

05_02 to 12_2016 Panama - Bird Watching - Part IV

Perhaps Dave's favorite bird of the trip was this - the Tiny Hawk. This is in essence a little bity Sharp-Shinned or Cooper's. It measures 8" or 9" tall and like its relatives, it's a bird eater. :/  Here the Tiny Hawk has a hummingbird in his grasp waiting for the HB to die. I left before that happened. As gruesome as it was, it was a great find. The guide at the Canopy Lodge says he's seen one in ten years. Great find by Callie! Great photo by Dave!
The little town where the Lodge was called Valle de Anton. It is the crater of a volcano - super beautiful. At the highest inhabited point was a chicken farm that raised and sold chicken for breeding, not slaughter (so they say).  Great birding around there for sure.
Birding up high in the Valle de Anton. This is the area where we saw many Orange-Bellied Trogon.
Beautiful vistas.
Dining at the Lodge. We had much of our time there alone.
In town.
Birding in a slightly different area near town.
An anthill hole
Dave while birding.
The town market. Very colorful...
The buses too were really colorful!
The grounds of the Lodge were impeccable.
Finally, on the 12th, it was time to go home. We drove to Panama City (which is a gorgeous, huge city) to to the airport. We caught a flight to Houston Intercontinental where we slept on the floor to catch our very early flight to Denver. We slept remarkably well considering the light, noise and hard floor. The trip was really amazing and I'm hoping we can return next year to an area called Darien. That is the home of the Harpy Eagle!  (We saw one in captivity. Stunning). 

05_02 to 12_2016 Panama - Bird Watching - Part IV

The sights on the drive to the Lodge were really interesting. This is crossing the bridge over the canal that was featured in an earlier photo.
The Lodge was lovely!
The grounds were really beautiful with a lot of bird (and bird breeding/nesting) life.
Our balcony.
Dave chased the Crimson-Backed Tanager all trip. It was a super challenging bird due to his colors, but also because the canopy is dark! It is said that only 5% of light gets through the canopy. I believe it.
A pair of Tropical Screech Owls. Cool find!
Spectacled Owl. Another really fun find.
The Chestnut-Headed Oropendolas were fascinating. Not only are the really wild looking birds, but their colonies of pendulum nests were quite entertaining. Not only were the Oropendolas hanging at the colonies, but so were several parasitic birds looking for any opportunity to drop an egg in an unsuspecting bird's nest!
Keel-Billed Toucans were also in this environment. We'd hoped to see an Emerald Toucanet, but were shut down on that bird.
Another KB Toucan
Nice portrait of a Chestnut-Backed Oropendola.
A pair of Tody Flycathers building the most beautiful nest. Check out how wide those little bird's bill are!
Yellow-Faced Grassquit bathing. And singing. Of course. 
We saw many Orange-Bellied Trogon.
Spot-Crowned Antvireo

Part V, and and final installment next! At least until next time. :)

05_02 to 12_2016 Panama - Bird Watching - Part III

The routine with the Canopy family was to get up early and hit the roof to watch birds and drink coffee/tea. Then we'd head out to bird in the field at about 7am.  We'd return to the tower at about 11 am when we had a little time to relax (shower to cool off - it was hot and humid!).  Then it was usually lunch around noon, then head back out to bird at 3pm until about 6. Everyday was a full fun day. And the trucks we rode in were fun too. :)
This is the road to/from the Tower.  We birded with several different guides which was great fun. All were fantastic.
Here is guide Jenn Sinasac, one of the guides. We saw some amazing avian with her.
This was a bridge Dave dubbed "Bridge of Death". We didn't see anyone die, but there were elements of it that didn't inspire a ton of confidence. At least we couldn't see any gators or crocs in the water below it. This road runs adjacent to the Canal (to the right of the photo). 
Dinner and the other meals were all fantastic. Nice to relax after a full and hot day each day.
We may not known what we were eating half the time, but I know it was good!
Another morning at the tower on the roof with guide Michael and a group from California.
This is the way to ease into one's day!
Dinner with the crew from Southern CA.
We spent our last afternoon at a set of locks on the Panama Canal. A part of this time was spent going through the museum (super cool!) and watching a film about the canal.

I encourage you to read about the Canal. I bet you'll learn a lot you never knew. When we were there, they were just completing construction on the expanded locks. Since we've returned they are in operation.

Here is the wiki page: 
We were able to spend enough time there to watch several ships (commercial and pleasure) go through these locks. It really was pretty fascinating. But sad too having learned about how it is decimating the water in the area. The new locks are, in theory, supposed to correct that.

Lots of  bird life around the canal as well.
Here is one set of locks opening (or closing?).  You can see three sailboats in the other set of locks. Plus, this shows the incredibly difference in water level.  There are three sets of locks at this particular location.
Monster cargo ship going through. Lots of people where we were taking photos. Lots of people on the boat taking photos of all of us! Pretty funny. Notice that there is almost no room between the boat and the canal walls. It is crazy tight.
Our final day at the tower. We got up and hopped in a car to drive a couple of hours to the Canopy Lodge. This place is higher in the mountains, a bit cooler, and featured many other species of birds that prefer that environment.

Part IV coming up!

05_02 to 12_2016 Panama - Bird Watching - Part II

At the Tower and in the forest canopy, we saw many Green Honeycreepers. In fact, it was the first bird I saw and I thought "how can it get better?"  It did.
A beautiful Today Flycatcher. These are tiny, feisty little birds!
Northern Lapwing. These were really beautiful birds. Several had babies running with them.
The trees were filled with Keel-Billed Toucans!
Here is the female Green Honeycreeper. She was as beautiful as the male.
Gorgeous Slaty-Tailed Trogon.
And a Black-Throated Trogon. Trogon are always treats to see!
Along with amazing birds, there were mammals, insects and plants that were awesome. This is the Hot Lips plants. Definitely a gorgeous and well-named perennial.
There were troupes of Geoffroy's Tamarins that would come through the canopy. Watching them never got old either. 
The Thick-Billed Euphonia were everywhere. Beautiful little birds.
Portrait of an Orange-Chinned Parakeet
A female Streaked Saltator on the nest. 
With the guide and one other couple, we spent a lot of time on the infamous Pipeline Road. This place was rich with birds, but had almost no insects to our delight!
Red-Legged Honeycreeper - male. Sometimes bird names make a lot of sense!
This is a male Blue Dacnis. They were electrically colored!
I called this Toucan Tree because it seemed to grow a nice crop of Keel-Billed Toucan every time I looked at it.
A Golden-Hooded Tanager. The number of absolutely incredibly Tanagers in Panama was mind-blowing.
Here we are on top of the Canopy Tower with the beautiful Panama City skyline in the background. The Canal, if you could see it, is to the right side of the photo.

Next set of photos coming up!