Got Swarm? (You bet!) Dec 14th

2 01 2011

Got lucky today and found a nice army ant swarm right at the entrance to the Pipeline Road. This thing was only about 20 yards past the bridge, and the first thing I noticed was some Gray Headed Tanagers flitting across the trail. Giving it a short stalk and a listen I could hear Bi-Colored Antbirds and a few others calling in the brush on the right side of the road. After busting brush for just a few meters I found the swarm and the birds. The ants were the small ones, and the swarm was mostly in impenetrable brush, but the attendant birds were pretty cooperative.  I found myself a comfortable spot and settled down for some shooting. The swarm turned out to be ‘missing’ the birds I was really looking for (Rufous Vented Ground Cuckoo (RVGC) or Ocellated Antshrikes were high on my list…as you know from the blog I’ve gotten some great RVGC shots and on that same swarm there were Ocellateds, but  they were ignored in favor of the I’m dying to get some Ocellated as I think they are a fantastic looking bird. Oh well, I’ve got time!!

First up:

Gray Headed Tanager–these guys are good ‘indicator’ species for ant swarms. When you see them flitting about…look for a swarm as you’ve a very high likelihood of finding one closeby.

Gray Headed Tanager-Pipeline Road

Next, we’ve got  a Bi-Colered Antbird. these are very vocal on a swarm and hearing their calls is another strong indicator of a nearby swarm.

Bi-Colored Antbird-Pipeline Road

Lastly, I got some nice shots of the Barred Woodcreeper.  Again, a species that is quite a strong follower of Army Ant Swarms.

Barred Woodcreeper-Pipeline Road

Once I got past that swarm I did a major hike up Pipeline road and back for ‘bupkiss’. It happens, but when it happens AFTER the cards of full of great images it’s not bad…not bad at all.





2 responses

4 01 2011
susan jackson

John, just wanted to thank you for all your help while my family and I stayed at the gamboa hostel. We enjoyed spending time with you, Graham and Randy – dinner and the delicious after dinner drinks! We finished out our Panama trip on Isla Contadora – no birds, but good snorkeling. Hope the weather is cooperating and you are getting some great shots. ps I think that worm is a snake – going to show it to Jake and see what he thinks. Otherwise that’s one hell of a worm!! susan

5 01 2011
Mike Jackson

John, it was great to meet you and see your fantastic photos while in Panama. Gamboa was great! If you ever get to Jacksonville, give us a shout.

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