Sierra Llorona-Dec 24th

5 03 2011

I awoke to the sound of Keel Billed Toucans this morning. Rushing through a shower and grabbing the gear, I hit the yard at Sierra Llorona and found them perched in a big snag, seranading the dawn (and me!).  The Keel Billeds are, as I’m sure you know, one of the ‘signature’ birds of the Neotropics…and for good reason. They look like they were designed by Disney Studios rather than Nature! Looking totally impractical, they survive and prosper in the phenomenally challenging environment of the jungles of Central America. I, of course, and glad they do!!

Keel Billed Toucan-Sierra Llorona, Colon Panama

Keel Billed Toucan-Achiote Road, Colon Panama

Also found a nice looking Red Capped Mannikin haunting the undergrowth of the grounds at Sierra Llorona. One of these days I’ve got to find some on a lek (a courtship display area) and get some video.

Red Capped Mannikin-Sierra Llorona, Colon, Panama

The other species that was most prevalent on the grounds is the Black Cheeked Woodpecker. So of course I got a couple of shots for you to enjoy, so….Enjoy!!

Black Cheeked Woodpecker-Sierra Llorona, Colon Panama

Black Cheeked Woodpecker, Sierra Llorona, Colon Panama





Sierra Llorona, Colon….Jan 23rd

5 03 2011

Drove over to Sierra Llorona yesterday afternoon. Sierra Llorona is a very nice little bed and breakfast sitting way up in the hills SW of Colon. The view is great, Colon and the ships waiting passage through The Canal are easily viewed.

The property is birdy, with Toucans, hummingbirds and of course varios woodpeckers and tanagers running through the gardens. I headed down to Achiote Road this morning to meet a local guide (I always recommend local guides. They know what’s going on in their area like no transient guide possibly could) for some great birding. I met the guide at the entrance to the trails at Achiote, and he suggested we take the car down the road a bit since it was still quite early and we had little light. As we headed down the road, a bird flew up from the side of the road and became hung up on the windshield wiper!! Of course I figured the bird was either dead or injured, he’d hit the car pretty good and then caught his leg on the wiper, so I figured we’d find either a broken neck or leg.  It turned out to be a Chestnut Back Antwren, a very handsome bird, and it was OK!! I was delighted to see it fly off into the forest.

Once we parked, we found a White Tailed Trogon right away, and spotted a Collared Aracari too. I was delighted to get some shots of Toucans in flight this morning. Both the Keel Billed and Chestnut Mandibled Toucans put on flight displays for me.

Chestnut Mandibled Toucan-Achiote Road, Colon Panama

Also had a nice flyby by a Yellow Headed Caraca, much to my delight, and later in the morning we spotted a real rarity, a King Vulture—he was a looong ways away, but here’s a shot so you know what to look for. Always binoc the vultures–the higher ones just might be a King!

Yellow Headed Caracara

King Vulture-Achiote Road, Colon Panama

Now that we had good light, we headed into the jungle where we got great views of Chestnut Backed, Dull Mantled, and Immaculate Antbirds. Unfortunately, my photographs of those birds today don’t measure up so they’ll be resident of my computer drives and won’t otherwise see the light of day. I did get a presentable shot or two of Song Wrens–these guys have the craziest vocalization–it’s really fun to listen to them.

Song Wrens, Achiote Road, Colon Panama





Panama Rainforest Discovery Center-Hummingbirds! Jan 22nd

4 03 2011

Took the short trip down to the Panama Rainforest Discovery Center for a Hummingbird Fest this morning. They’re feeders are just  insane–dozens and dozens of hummingbirds of about a dozen species flitting about constantly. Don’t wear a red hat!!! (You’ll get mobbed!)

First Up: Rufous Tailed Hummingbird–these are quite common, and more subtly plumaged than many of the  hummingbirds, but handsome, doncha think…

Rufous Tailed Hummingbird

Next, a male and a female Crowned Woodnymph, Gorgeous birds.

Crowned Woodnymph-female

Crowned Woodnymph-male





Plantation Road-Jan 21st

4 03 2011

Got up early and did a big walk through Gamboa Rainforest Resort this morning. It was pretty productive as I got some nice shots of a Red Throated Ant Tanager and had a lengthy session with a young Fasciated Tiger Heron.

Red Throated Ant Tanager

Went and had lunch at the resort, where met a nice fella who was going home tomorrow who hadn’t been to Plantation Road, so I invited him to ride-along for a jaunt up there this afternoon. I’m glad we did!! Ran into a decent Army Ant Swarm about a click up the road that had a nice variety of birds on it. Three woodcreeper species, a Rufous Motmot, Bi-Colored Antbird, and the treat of the day, a Bright Rumped Attila. I’ve included a couple of shots, as had to show you that bright rump that gives the bird his name.

Bright Rumped Attila

Bright Rumped Attila-the Rump

As we were getting ready to leave, we found the parking lot inundated with a mixed flock of feeding birds. Here I picked up a shot of a Dot Winged Antwren, a female Dusky Antbird, and an adult male Fasciated Antshrike.

Fasciated Antshrike

Dusky Antbird-Female

Dot Winged Antwren

Lastly, I present you with a Mystery bird. Found this one lurking in the underbrush on the antwarm, and for the life of me I can’t figure out the species. Immature Bi-Colored, perhaps?

The Mystery Bird





Back on the Pipeline….Jan 20th

4 03 2011

It’s back in Gamboa, and back to the Pipeline Road for me today.

Waaay down the road I found a Crimson Crested Woodpecker. His pecking was reverberating through the forest, and I finally located him through a hole in the foliage. Handsome birds, these guys are really shy and sensitive to the presence of people so getting images isn’t easy.

Crimson Crested Woodpecker-Pipeline Road

One the way back I ran into a couple of butterfly species–there’s an incredible variety of them down here, though I’m only really interested in the wild ones.

Pipeline Road Butterfly

I also stopped for a bit and studied some of the leafcutter ants that were hard at work disassembling a leaf. Am I the only one who cries for the leaves?

Leaf Cutters Cutting





Something a lil Different-El Valle Jan 19th

3 03 2011

Drove down from the highlands yesterday and decided to spend the night at El Valle. Got a room at the Anton Valley Inn (great hotel, reasonably priced with a good restaurant attached) and this morning I decided to just play the tourist. Grabbed a camera body with a couple of wide lenses and did some walking around after breakfast.

At the market, I noticed a vendor with a ‘sno-cone’ cart. Down here, they don’t have the brand name, of course, and the vendor carries a block of ice that he shaves on the spot for you to make your cone. (Block ice lasts a lot longer than shaved ice) I noticed a young gentleman approach the cart and started shooting as he made his selections and paid for his cone for a slice of Panamian life…..

Selecting the flavor-

The Decision-Flavor

Selecting the topping-

The Decision-Toppings Please

Sealing the deal

Panamas GNP just went up about 50 cents

They’ve got buses all over Panama that they call the Red Devils. These are retired US schoolbuses that get sold down here and converted into private transportation. Each buyer distinguishes his bus with a wild paintjob, stereos and other knickknackery to distinguish himself from the competition. This one is TAME compared to some I’ve seen.

Red Devil-El Valle

Red Devil-El Valle





Final Chiriqui Day-Jan 18th

3 03 2011

Time to head back to the Gamboa area today. I’m looking forward to the drive south–the last part of the drive up here was in the dark so I’m interested to see more of the highlands in the daylight.

On the way down I stopped by the Volcan Lakes area as I’ve heard it can be quite good. As I neared the lakes, I noted a tour bus stopped with a load of binoculared gray-hairs out and about. I pulled over and asked what was up and heard ‘Leucistic Rufous Collared Sparrow’ (oh my!).  So of course I stopped and drug out the gear!

Leucistic birds and animals are often confused with Albinos. The distinction in the field is the eyes. A true albino has pink eyes, I’ve included a shot from a couple of days ago of a ‘normal’ Rufous Collared Sparrow for comparison. I must say that the coloration on the Leucistic bird makes him pretty special.

Leucistic Rufous Collared Sparrow-Volcan Lakes, Panama

Rufous Collared Sparrow-Volcan Panama

I also took a shot of the area from higher up the hill–gorgeous country, neh? If you head to Panama and get the chance, the Boquette/Volcan area is quite nice. I didn’t get an opportunity to photograph any Resplendant Quetzals on this trip–it was too early in the year for them to be engaging in courtship so they were not easy to find. (I saw one flying, but it was about a half a mile away)

Chiriqui Highlands