Hasta Pronto, Panama!! And Muchisimo Gracias! Jan 31st

7 03 2011

Well, tonight I sleep in the US. I’m all packed and ready to go–but I did make a quick walk around Gamboa Rainforest Resort this morning.

I found a nice Red Lored Amazon Parrot…..

Red Lored Amazon Parrot-Gamboa Panama

A Blue Crowned Motmot……

Blue Crowned Motmot-Gamboa Panama

And a Ruddy Ground Dove…….

Ruddy Ground Dove-Gamboa Panama

So many Beautiful Birds, Awesome Animals, Bodacious Bugs…most importantly, Fantastic Friends!!

Special thanks to:

Raul Arias de Para, Carlos Bethancourt–and the entire staff of the Canopy Family at the Canopy Tower and Canopy Lodge. You guys are the best!!

Guido Berguido and his Advantage Tours Pamama–Guido is a great guide and handles the demands of large and unique groups with aplomb. Everyone knows Guido, and everyone who knows Guido says, ‘Guido is my friend’. Me too!

Jose Soto and the staff at Gamboa Rainforest Resort. I greatly appreciate your friendship, Jose, and the hospitality of the staff at GRR.

Beatriz Schmitt and Margelys Barria, and the rest of the staff at Panama Rainforest Discovery Center–One of my favorite destinations in the Gamboa area. You guys do a great job.

Gonzalo Horna-Your ‘Birding By Boat’ tours are great, and you’re a great guide. Highy Recommended.

Ida Herrara and the staff at Sierra Llorona–You run a great B & B, and truly enjoyed my stay there!

Ivan Ortiz at Ivan’s Bed and Breakfast-in Gamboa

The staff at Anton Valley Inn, in El Valle

Jennifer Wolcott, Bill and Claudia Ahrens, Alfred Raab, and the dozens of other folks I had the good fortune to meet on my adventure in Panama. I may forget a bird now and again, but I’ll never forget you all and your gracious hospitality.

And now it’s time to go. Hasta Pronto, Panama. It’s been an incredible adventure.

I’ll be adding Panama wildlife images to my website as I find time to process images. You can view them at


Last Full Day, Jan 30th, 2011

7 03 2011

I’m gettin all sad!! I head back to the USA tomorrow, and all I can think about is all the fantastic adventures in Panama that I WON’T have starting tomorrow. Arrrrrrgh!

Ok, now that that’s out of my system, I grab the gear and I head out to see what I can see and shoot what I can shoot.

Went down to the Teleferico area at dawn to see if I could find the Blue Cotinga again, which I did. It was waaaaay early though, so I had to use the flash and I don’t really care for those shots as the flash distorts the beautiful deep blue of the bird in ‘regular’ light.

I got some nice shots of the Yellow Tailed Oriole too, but since I’ve showed ya’ll some better ones from earlier on the trip, I’ll pass on posting those too.

I will post this one, the Red Throated Tanager—I like this shot.

Red Throated Ant Tanager-Gamboa, Panama

And then I saw it–the Dream bird. The Purple Crowned Fairy. I got a really bad shot of one of these when I was here last year, and I’ve been dying to see one again. They’re just magical to watch in flight. They’re a canopy bird, and I’ve never heard of them hitting a feeder, so shots of them are rare. I saw this one for just a couple of minutes, hitting flowers in a tree-top almost directly overhead. This isn’t a great shot by any stretch of the imagination–but it does give you some small idea of the delight of seeing one of these.

A poor shot of a Fabulous bird--the Purple Crowned Fairy


I was also able to watch a Chestnut Headed Oropendula feeding on some monster flowers–but the light was bad for photography. None the less it was fun to watch. He’d reach up with his foot and peel back some petals on the flower for a drink of nectar. These flowers must have been dripping nectar, because when he’d pull away the droplets would fly.

I then saw this butterfly land on a tree–I don’t know the species, but they are really a striking butterfly.

Butterly-Unk Species-Gamboa, Panama

After grabbing a late breakfast at GRR (and an early siesta!) I grabbed the macro lens and found this wonderful red-eyed grasshopper. I figure he must taste like crap–otherwise this coloration seems to me like it’d make him a meal-advertisement to the local birds.

Red Eyed Grasshopper-Gamboa Panama


And then I found this unique jumping spider (unique, in that it seems to be using a beetle shape for its camo) dining on a jumping spider!

Spiders getting together for lunch!

With that, it’s time to head back to the crib and see to the packing–for Manana I head back to the US of A.


El Torre at Panama Rainforest Discovery Center-Jan 29th

7 03 2011

Oh my, I’m getting short of time here!! Heading home on Monday, the 31st.

So as my time winds down I revisit one of my favorite places in the area. The Panama Rainforest Discovery Center is one of the underappreciated jewels of the area. Great hummingbirds at the feeders (which feature coffee, cold drinks and snacks) along with great trails and the fantastic ‘El Torre’, the 170ft tall tower that soars above the canopy.

I hit the Tower at dawn. My first sighting was a Scaled Pidgeon. A strikingly plumaged bird, no?

Scaled Pidgeon-From El Torre at Panama Rainforest Discovery Center

A few minutes later a magnificent Blue Cotinga dropped by.

Blue Cotinga from El Torre

And then a White Necked Puffbird…..

White Necked Puffbird from El Torre

And a Crimson Crested Woodpecker…

Crimson Crested Woodpecker-from El Torre

And finally, a Great Potoo was spotted through a hole in the foliage–taking in the early morning light.

Great Potoo-from El Torre

I’ve never had a bad morning in El Torre, and this one proved better than most. I also saw and photographed a Gray Headed Kite, a Roadside Hawk, and a hook billed kite, but they were so far away that the shots will reside on my hard drives as ‘ID shots’.

I don’t think I’ll make it back over here before I leave day after tomorrow, so I can only say ‘Muchisimo Gracias!!’ to the staff at Panama Rainforest Discovery Center. The Center is a national treasure, as is so much in this area. They’ve created an oasis of accessibility for many who might not be able to hit some of the more primitive sites such as Pipeline Road, and Plantation road, and the staff is consistently professional and friendly.

Macro Day at the GRR-Jan 28th

7 03 2011

I slept in this morning. For some reason I wasn’t feeling well–probably due to the most excellent mohitos served at the bar at the Gamboa Rainforest Resort (sigh!) Honestly, they are the best mohitos I’ve ever had.

So after rolling out of bed well after the ‘birding hours’ I decided to strap a Macro lens on one of my camera bodies and see what little buggers I could find.


Jumping Spider-Gamboa Rainforest Resort

Jumping Spider-Gamboa Rainforest Resort


Butterfly-Gamboa Rainforest Resort


And Flies!!

Itty Bitty Little Green Fly-Panama

Itty Bitty Little Fly-Gamboa, Panama


Oh My!!

I don't know what this is, but it freaks me out--Gamboa, Panama

Gamboa Rainforest Resort–Jan 27th

7 03 2011

I took another cruise around the GRR today. This is one of the most underappreciated birding spots in the area!!

Both species of Toucan were very much in evidence, Keel Billed and Chestnut Mandibled Toucan’s are all over the place. Here’s a selection for you.

Keel Billed Toucan-Gamboa Rainforest Resort-Panama

Keel Billled Toucan-Gamboa Rainforest Resort-Panama

Chestnut Mandibled Toucan-Gamboa Rainforest Resort

Walking down by the water, I found a nice female Red Legged Honeycreeper preening, and found some turtles basking in one of the offshoots to the Chagres River.

Turtles-aka: 'Swims with Crocs'-Gamboa Rainforest Resort

Smiling Turtle-Gamboa Rainforest Resort-Panama

Red Legged Honeycreeper-Female-Gamboa Rainforest Resort

Gamboa Rainforest Resort-Jan 26th

6 03 2011

Since the Contingas are just there in the very early morning at GRR, and since the light is very low since it’s before sunrise, a trip over there sometimes yields only a dozen shots–and that’s if you’re lucky!  So, I went back over this morning to get more, more, more (I can be a bit piggish when it comes to shots of truly beautiful and rare birds!)

They showed up again this morning, but my luck wasn’t with me as I didn’t get any shots better than what I already have, so I won’t bore you with them. A Cinnamon Woodpecker showed up though, and he put on a nice show for me. He was pecking away at some dead branches, hunting bugs, and his attention was on that, not me.

Cinnamon Woodpecker scratching an itch

Cinnamon Woodpecker-going for the grubs

The Yellow Tailed Oriole dropped by the tree next door to hit the flowers for some nectar. Handsome, handsome birds.

Yellow Tailed Oriole

After shooting more of the ‘usual suspects’ at GRR, I headed up for a nice breakfast (they have a breakfast buffet that’s worth the price of admission!) and then headed home for a nap. Got going later in the afternoon and headed out to follow up on a report about the local Bat-Falcons.

Found this Chestnut-Headed Oropendula gathering nesting materials in a palm tree. The Oropendulas build large ‘pendulum’ nests–hanging sacs–and they’re just getting started in January.

Chestnut Headed Oropendula

Just as it was getting dark, the Bat-Falcon made his appearance. First he perched way up high on a palm-disguised cell phone tower. From there, he watches for the bats to start hunting, which happens right as twilight starts to dim. When he sees one, down he comes. Being a falcon, he’s fast of course, but the truly amazing thing is his manuevering in such dim light. He flies right through trees and thickets going after his prey and it’s amazing to watch. Once he makes a kill, there’s a certain tree in the ‘historic villas’ that he goes to for a ‘perch and dine’ session. Had to use flash–no flash no shot since it was so dark. But wow!!!

Gee Daddy, Why do they call them 'Bat' Falcons???

Bat Falcon with Dinner--Fresh Bat!

Gamboa Rainforest Resort-Blue Contiga heaven, Jan 25th

6 03 2011

Headed over to the Gamboa Rainforest Resort this morning for another shot at the Blue Dacnis. I’ve been hoping for an opportunity to see and shoot the female Blue Cotinga, and getting down there early paid off!!

Here are three shots–of course one is the promised Blue Cotinga, the other is a male that was shot using flash, and one without flash for comparison. As you can see, when you use a flash on these birds you get a striking photo, but one that has the color completely wrong. This is true with many birds with blue plumage. I believe it’s caused by the fact that blue is not a pigment (like other colors). Instead, blue coloration is a result of light refraction, so when we ‘flash’ the birds, we get that refraction but since the light is coming from a single source (unlike natural light) we get this blue-green effect. As you can see, the female’s coloration is much more cryptic than the males, but she’s got a subtle beauty of her own..

Blue Cotinga-Female


Blue Cotinga-correct coloration (shot in natural light)

Blue Cotinga-shot with Flash

I also got a nice shot of another one of my favorite birds, the Cinnamon Becard.

Cinnamon Becard

This afternoon, I headed over for a hike up Plantation Road. About two miles in I inadvertantly scared a Green Hermit off the nest. I grabbed a few shots of the nest, which had two eggs on it, and backed off. The adult came back after about a half hour, but as soon as I moved it bolted again, so I left the area without a shot of the adult on the nest since I didn’t want to risk causing an abandonment.

Green Hermit Nest-Plantation Road