Welcome to Birds In My Bins And Lens: Eyeing The Avifauna And Fauna Of The Americas. It has always been a childhood dream of mine to travel to the tropics. I vividly remember being nine years-old, thumbing through seemingly endless stacks of Ranger Rick, National Wildlife, National Geographic and International Wildlife Magazines, dreaming of visiting such wonderful places as: Costa Rica, Panama, Mexico, Colombia, etc. in order to see all the great birds and animals that call these places home. Finally, after 40 years, I am fulfilling my childhood dreams.

Photo Above: Flame-faced Tanager (Male) Ecuador August 2014


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Saturday, August 9, 2014

ECUADOR: AUGUST 9-18, 2014


ENDEMICS, EARTHQUAKES & ETC. 
 
This is a work in progress. Please check back often and see what is being posted...
 
 
 One of the views from Yanacocha. This is at about 11,000 feet. Thankfully I had no issues whatsoever with the altitude. The birding here was simply amazing
 
 

This short tour offered great opportunities to see many spectacular endemic species of the extremely diverse Choc√≥ bioregion of the NW slope of the Ecuadorian Andes. Not only were many endemics seen, but also many other interesting and varied birds.

We made several day trips out of Tandayapa Lodge (our home base),  ensuring we visited a wide range of altitudes (altitude, like attitude, is everything--especially in terms of birding), and different forest types, giving us excellent shots at many of the endemic species that make this Choc√≥ region so appealing and a birders dream.

The following is just a "Reader's Digest" summary of a great trip.

 

 

 
Day One: August 9, 2014.  ARRIVING IN ECUADOR

DTW+MIA+OUI=PARADISE


I arrived in Quito with no issues. The plane landed in the airport here safely on its first attempt. I heard from a few of the locals next to me on the plane, that sometimes a plane might have to abort a landing, pull out and try again due to the difficulty of windy and weather conditions that plague this airport. The weather conditions and mountains make for and interesting combination.  Apparently, the old airport was worse.
 
Even though we landed on the first attempt, it was still an interesting landing. I did have my doubts. It was a teeter back and forth and bumpy ride. 
 
Coming into Quito, we were above the clouds. Words cannot describe the formations. It looked prehistoric or alien. I have never seen anything like it. It was eerie and beautiful all at the same time. Especially with the sun shining above and through them.
 
 
Coming into Quito above the clouds and the sun is shinning...
 

We descended through the first thick layer of towering clouds, that seemed endless. The Andes and Ecuador came into view. Beautiful! Some peaks were snow covered and shrouded in clouds, adding to the alien planet feel.
 
Seconds after seeing the sun shine through the couds was taken, we broke through the clouds and a full moon and the Andes came into view.
 


As we descended through the second layer, the sun was replaced by a fullish moon. The lady behind me shrieked, "what happened to the sun." It was interesting going from day to twilight in minutes.
 
Customs was swift and easy. The easiest time I ever had any where I have ever traveled. The lady at the counter never asked me any questions, just stamped my passport and told me to enjoy my stay in Ecuador.
 
My driver was waiting for me outside immigration and drove me to the Hotal de la Rabida, a small Hostal in the middle of the tourist district of Quito, that will be my home for two nights, before I head to the Tandayapa Bird Lodge and begin my birding on August 11th.

I ate dinner with two of my fellow tour companions, Ashley and Owen (two very nice gentlemen), who hail from Australia. The food was fabulous. After dinner, I took a long hot shower, which felt amazing. I watched two episodes of the Simpsons in Spanish (which I really had no problems understanding) and called it a night. 
 
 
 

Day Two: August 10, 2014. HOSTAL DE LA RABIDA
 
QUIET QUITO
 
 

 
The Garden at the Hostal de la Rabida. Not the birdiest place on the trip, but I had my lifers Black-tailed Trainbeare and Eared Dove here. The small black blob in the lower right of the frame is the Hostal's pet rabbit, Brownie.

 
Birding List: Six species of birds (2 lifers): Great Thrush, Eared Dove, Sparkling Violetear, Rufous-collared Sparrow, Rock Pigeon and Black-tailed Trainbearer. The best, of course,  being a stunning male Black-tailed Trainbearer
 

I Woke up this morning at 5:00am which is about normal for me. Still no issues with the altitude which  is a major plus. Seeing Quito is only 9,000 feet elevation, it shouldn't be too much of an issue.
 
I took another shower and unpacked my gear and went outside my room around 7:00am to checkout the garden that is the center of the Hostal. I was hoping to find something cool for my first bird for Ecuador. I was really hoping that it would be a new hummingbird
 
I was only outside for a few seconds, when I heard the familiar buzz of the wings of a hummingbird to my right. I looked to where the sound was coming from and saw an awesome, kick--butt Black-tailed Trainbearer  working some flowers. This is a very nice looking hummingbird with a very long tail, that is probably three times as long as the bird itself. Score! My first bird for Ecuador was a lifer and a cool one at that. The hummer landed just about three feet away from me, giving me killer looks at this beauty.

I was just about to take it's picture when another hummingbird came into the garden, in the form of a Sparkling Violetear who, unfortunately, proceeded to chase off the Trainbearer.  The Violetear was not a lifer, but still nice to see.

Other birds in this small garden, located in the big city, are Eared Doves (lifer) which is similar to our Mourning Dove and the overly common, but still attractive, Rufous-collared Sparrow. 
 
 
 
The overly common, yet attractive Rufous-collared Sparrow

 
As I was watching for more  hummingbirds, I felt something wet hit the side of my right cheek, just missing my eye. I took my hand and wiped it off and saw it was bird crap. I looked up in the tree above me to see who did a doodie on my face. There, on a branch, was a large sized black thrush with a bright orange beak and orange legs. A Great Thrush! A bird I recognized from my trip to Colombia. Not a lifer, unfortunately, but still fun to see.
 
 
 
Great Thrush. This is the little bugger who dropped a deuce on my face

 
Another Great Thrush



 
The thrush then flew to the ground right next to me get a drink of water from Browie's bowl of water. Brownie is the Hostal's black, pet rabbit that has the run of the garden. He is pretty cool for a rabbit and very friendly, Dog and cat friendly.

As with any trip, no bird list is complete without seeing those rats with wings, a Rock Pigeon. Two of these critters were camped out on one of the taller buildings behind the Hostal.

Two lifers just steps outside my room! Tomorrow, on the first official day birding, will no doubt bring many more. Tomorrow is gonna be sweet. Heading to do some higher elevation birding at Yanacocha in the elfin Forest that cloak the slopes of snow capped, Pichincha Volcano. My main targets are: Sword-billed Hummingbird and the very rare and critically endangered, Black-breasted Puffleg. We will have to be very, very lucky to see this hummingbird.
 
 
My small but comfy room at the Hostal. Plenty of hot water with amazing pressure in the shower. A very welcome part of the trip.

 
As I was getting ready to go into the dinning room for breakfast, I could hear a church congregation just outside the gated walls of the Hostal singing a praise and worship song in Spanish. I had to stand there and listen.
 
I immediately recognized the song..Lord, I give you my heart. I never heard it sung in Spanish. It was beautiful. The singing was amazing. Sounded like hundreds of people singing with one voice and no music. Gave me goose bumps. A pretty nice way to cap of my first morning in Ecuador.  You can listen to a version that was pretty close here
 



 DAY THREE: MONDAY, AUGUST 11, 2014
YANACOCHA & OLD NONO-MINDO ROAD 
 
BETTER THAN A ROCKY MOUNTAIN HIGH

 
Me at Yanacocha. the views here were outstanding. Only over shadowed by the amazing birding.


Birding List: 74 species (58 Lifers) Andean Guan, Roadside Hawk, Variable Hawk, Andean Lapwing, Band-tailed Pigeon, Eared Dove, Sparkling Violetear, Speckled Hummingbird, Shining Sunbeam, Mountain Velvetbreast, Buff-winged Starfrontlet, Sword-billed Hummingbird, Great Sapphirewing, Giant Hummingbird, Sapphire-vented Puffleg, Golden-breasted Puffleg, Black-tailed Trainbearer, Tyrian metaltail, Masked Trogon, Crimson-mantled Woodpecker, Speckled-faced (White-capped) Parrot, Rufous Antpitta, Tawny Antpitta, Streaked Tuftedcheek, Red-faced Spinetail, Azara's Spinetail, White-tailed Tyrannulet, White-banded Tyrannulet, White-throated Tyrannulet, White-crested Elaenia, Tawny-rumped Tyrannulet, Smoke-colored Pewee, Black Phoebe, White-browed Ground-Tyrant, Streak-throated Bush-Tyrant, Smoky Bush-Tyrant, Crowned Chat-Tyrant, Slaty-backed Chat-Tyrant, Brown-backed Chat-Tyrant, Golden-crowned Flycatcher, Barred Fruiteater, Red-crested Continga, Barred Becard, Turquoise Jay, Blue-and-white Swallow, Brown-bellied Swallow, Sedge (Grass) Wren, Plain-tailed Wren, Gray-breasted Wood-Wren, White-capped Dipper, Great Thrush, Spectacled Redstart (Whitestart), Black-crested Warbler, Superciliaried Hemisphingus, Rufous-chested Tanager, Blue-capped Tanager, Blue-and yellow Tanager, Scarlet-bellied Mountain Tanager, Buff-breasted Mountain Tanager, Cinereous Conebill, Blue-backed Conebill, Rusty Flowerpiercer, Glossy Flowerpiercer, Black Flowerpiercer, White-sided Flowerpiercer, Masked Flowerpiercer, Grassland Yellow-Finch, Yellow-bellied Seedeater, Plain-colored Seedeater, Yellow-breasted (Rufous-napped) Brush-Finch, White-winged Brush-Finch, Rufous-collared Sparrow, Golden-bellied (Southern Yellow) Grosbeak, Hooded Siskin
 
 
We all left Quito very early in the morning (while it was still dark) in our fancy, luxury tour bus and headed to Yanacocha, which is roughly about an hour and a half drive from the Hostal de la Rabida in Quito. This would be our first initial day of birding and what a day it was!
 
We made a couple stops on our way to the reserve, giving us great looks at: Andean Guan, Southern Yellow Grosbeak, Variable Hawk and many others,
 
Yanacocha is a beautiful reserve in the elfin forest that cloaks the scenic slopes of Pichincha Volcano. the views here are simply amazing.
 

 Although the surrounding terrain is steep and high elevation (11,000+ feet) walking here was very easy and the birds were amazing. I was worried that I would have issues at this elevation, but thankfully, I had not even the slightest issue. No headaches, no breathing issues...nada!
 
 
 
 
Variable Hawk (juvenile). Basically, a glorified Red-tailed Hawk, but it's a lifer raptor!!
 
 
 
The same Variable Hawk Kiting looking or prey
 
 
 
This was the only site of the tour that we visited that is in the temperate zone, meaning that this would be the only opportunity to see many species of birds, mainly certain hummingbirds that can't be seen any where else on the tour. Well placed feeders placed on the trails, afforded amazing looks at these winged jewels, such as: Great Sapphirewing, Tyrian Metaltail, Sapphire-vented and Golden-breasted Pufflegs, Sword-billed Hummingbird (a very impressive hummingbird!) and Shinning Sunbeam, just to name a few. The tanagers, flower piercers and others were equally impressive.
 
 
Masked Flowerpiercer. A common and beautiful visitor to the many hummingbird feeders along the trail at Yanacocha.

 
 
Buff-winged Starfrontlets. The most common hummingbird at the feeders
 
 
Glossy Flowerpiercer


After a full morning of outstanding birding in the reserve, we continued on our journey towards Tandayapa, driving down the Old Nono-Mindo Road in the afternoon, making selected stops to look at Andean Lapwing, Slaty-backed Chat-Tyrant, White-capped Dipper, Crimson-mantled Woodpecker, Masked Trogon and many more.
 
video
 
Just a small fraction of the activity at one of the feeders on a trail at Yanacocha
 
 
The first official day birding was simply outstanding. The top five birds for the first day are really hard to pick, seeing that so many possible options are available. But, if I were to choose, I would choose the following: Sword-billed Hummingbird, Crimson-mantled Woodpecker, Shinning Sunbeam, Turqouise Jay and Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager.
 
After a nice and birdy day, we arrived to our home base, the Tandayapa Bird Lodge. We were given our room assignments and sat down to an incredible, three course dinner.
 
After dinner, I took a moderately warm shower and set off to bed to get recharged for another full and exciting day of birding.
 
 
 
DAY FOUR: TUESDAY, AUGUST 12, 2014
TANDAYAPA VALLEY & TANDAYAPA LODGE
 
EARTHQUAKES AND HUMMINGBIRDS
 
 
The back side and patio of the lodge
 

 
Another view of the back
 

 
The view off the patio, showing a glimpse of the cloud forest. There were a handful of hummingbird feeders here, which afforded amazing looks and photo opportunities of these winged jewels
 

 
Another view of the cloud forest backyard
 

 
Oh, and yet another view of the patio where three of us were standing when the initial and moderate earthquake (5.1-5.3 magnitude) hit
 

 
A view of the dinning hall where we ate the most amazing meals I have ever had. Our guide, Jose ("muy Guapo") is seen in the photo. The windows to the left of our table and Jose, are where fruit feeders are loaded with fresh fruit daily to entice a great variety of birds to visit during breakfast.
 

 
The common room and lounging area just to the right of the dining area. The open door to the right of the frame leads out to the patio where the hummingbird feeders are located
 
 
  video
 
A little hummingbird action and variety. It's always fun seeing several species of Hummingbirds at once. such is the case here: Rufous-tailed, Booted Rackettail, Brown Violetear, Sparkiling Violetear, Purple-throated Woodstar, White-necked Jacobin and Ecuadorian Emerald.
 
 
Booted Rackettail. One of the more common, yet stunning hummingbirds that visited the Lodge's feeders

Buff-tailed Coronet. a great hummingbird.
 
 
 
another Buff-tailed Coronet showing off his "true colors"
 
 

Ecuadorian Emerald. A cute little hummingbird

White-necked Jacobin. Not an overly abundant hummer at the feeders. I have seen these guys in Colombia and Panama. Always worth looking at these stunning birds.

Sparkling Violetear. One of three species of violetears that visited the feeders.

Crimson-rumped Toucanet. A beautiful toucan. This one was visiting the fruit feeder outside the dining room while we ate our breakfast one morning.
 
 
 
 
 
White-throated Quail Dove


Monday, June 23, 2014

PANAMA. JUNE 11-21, 2014

ENOUGH WAS ENOUGH!!


The daily string/sting of subzero wind chills were not only physically numbing, but also mind numbing.

Those that say, "but it's so pretty out" are the same ones who either stay home all day or who work in a warm cubicle some where. 
 
Even though it was "only" -11 air temperature and a "balmy" -28 wind chill, it was not the coldest day we had by far. This was the straw that broke the camel's back for me and the day that enough was enough!! I decided right then and there, I was going back to Panama!!
 








The rest of the day, just added to my angst against winter. The roads I travel and make deliveries on, were rarely plowed. Most were reduced to mere two racks by the vehicles that made their way through the mess. I was glad to have taken the plunge and made reservations for my trip!


 

 
Going down one of my many snow covered, drifted over roads in my big propane truck, on my route. Hoping that another vehicle would not be coming from the other direction, seeing there is not any room for them to pass. Lord knows, I will not pull-over to allow them to pass. Most likely, I would push them out of my way. Those of you who really know me, know that I would do it.


On an occasional Sunday off, the weather still sucked, with more snow storms...adding to the ever growing snow fall totals.





My house was a "Winter Wonderland". The snow mounds in my yard grew daily. One afternoon, while out traversing the towering peaks, to fetch my mail, I ended up rescuing the Donner Party. Some of you might get the joke!?


MAKING PLANS:

So, on Tuesday, January 28, 2014, I sat in my work truck, just totally disgusted, exhausted and frustrated with winter (photo to the left). I committed right then and there to go back to Panama as soon as possible.

I sat in my truck and emailed Elba Pan (who works at the reservations department for the Canopy Tower Family of Eco-lodges). I emailed her just before 10:00am, telling her I wanted (NEEDED) to come back to Panama! She emailed me back within minutes. Expressing how excited she was to hear from me and was even more excited about my return to her beautiful country. Obviously, she was not as excited as I was! However, her excitement fed mine even more.
  
I picked the dates, June 11-21, 2014 for my return to Panama. Obviously, it wouldn't be soon enough, but making plans gave me something to look forward to. I am a very goal driven person, so having this "light at the end of the tunnel" would get me through the rest of the horrible winter. That and I had just booked a trip to Ecuador for my August vacation--which I can't wait to do.


 
The view of Panama City from the over look at Metropolitan Park. this is a nice, huge park. the largest rainforest park in all of Latin America, associated with the big cities. This is the park, where I got my lifer Tiny Hawk. From this over look, we had great views not only of the city, but eye level looks at Short-tailed Hawk, Gray-headed Kite and other raptors.


My first trip to Panama, was almost a year ago to the day, was truly one of the most outstanding experiences of my nascent globe trotting life.
http://birdamericas.blogspot.com/2013_06_01_archive.html and this third trip, was even better! In fact, it was the most outstanding birding and wildlife experience in my life! Thanks, Michael, Domi & Alexis! You three are amazing, friendly people with outstanding personalities, incredible knowledge of the birds and animals and the best guides, EVER!

Granted, I could have chosen to go any where for this vacation. It's a great big world out there, after all. So many places to visit. So many places I need to visit: Guatemala, Peru, Cambodia, Honduras, Tanzania...All of which are on my radar. But, it is views like these below, that draw me back.




 
Sunrise from a top of the Canopy Tower. June 2014. The sunrises from here are amazing. It begins to get light around 5:15am. The birds and Howler Monkeys begin to wake up around then as well. Red-lored, Mealy and Blue-headed Parrots, Great Tinamous, Slaty-backed and Collared Forest Falcons, Green-shrike Vireos, Keel-billed Toucans, Green and Red-legged Honeycreepers, Plain-colored and Golden-hooded Tanagers and an array of other bird sounds fill the air. Many of the birds are visible at eye level.


 
View of the Chagres River. June 2014. My guide, Domi, fellow birders, Chris, Petra and Karen and I stopped for a cold Cerveza (a cold Balboa Beer) at the Rainforest Resort and this was our view. A nice thunderstorm was making it's appearance known, while egrets, herons, swallows, toucans and others winged by.


However, there is also something to be said for finding "that special place" and sticking with it and getting to know her better and making "that" place "yours." Panama is "that" place for me. She holds a very special place in my heart, for so many different reasons. It is hard to put into words my affections for her, but if you've been there or go there, you do/will understand.




I like Panama so much, that I bought an old, expired Panama License Plate for the front of my pick-up truck!


 
 
I decided to return to the place where I made my first pilgrimage to Panama. The world famous Canopy Tower (above). For an interesting, short history about the tower, check out this link http://www.canopytower.com/History 

I fell absolutely in love with this place on my first trip and vowed to return someday. The lodge is amazing! Not fancy, but very functional and very comfortable. The birding here and the surrounding environs is outstanding!
 
 
 
The tower's dining hall and common room. There are large windows on all sides of the room, which give a great 360 degree views of the jungle, where many of the birds and mammals are at eye level, just mere feet away. When the windows are open, sometimes these jungle critters will come in for a visit. Such visitors that came in during this stay included: Huge False Vampire Bats (that are crow-sized), other smaller bats, Plain-colored Tanagers, Spotted Antbirds, Owl Butterflies and a huge array of other insects and house geckos. It was fun watching the geckos stalk and snatch the moths that were on the ceilings or walls.
 
An added bonus, as a returning guest, I received a very, very nice discount on my stay. So much so, I added three additional nights. The price was too good to pass up! I could not go to Florida for the same amount of time as cheap as I did this trip. The trip was a package deal, which included all transport to and from the airport, all lodging and meals (excellent food), a guide (the most awesome guides), a vehicle for all daily birding forays and wine nightly at dinner (good wine too!). I had gotten more than my money's worth! I Can't wait to go back!

 

BIRDING:
 

This was my third trip to Panama; my second to the Canopy Tower in a year.

Even though I had birded the area around the tower pretty extensively last June; seeing many of the birds that are possible in the Canal Zone.

 


There were some major holes in my list for the area and I hoped to fill in some of them on this trip. One bird that I was hoping to score, was, Black-and-white Hawk Eagle. The picture above, I am scanning for that species in an area that they are known to frequent. Unfortunately, I didn't see one. However, the small speck in the middle of the photo is a soaring King Vulture, which is not a bad second place bird.

The other holes in my Panama list were some pretty uncommon and rare/hard to find birds. Nonetheless, I managed to see many of them, thanks to my guides, Michael, Domi and Alex. These guys are amazing!

This trip to Panama was the most amazing time birding I have ever had. The trip produced a decent 247 species of birds, which 15 were lifers. I also acquired five species of birds new to my Panama list. Most of the birds we saw, we saw well, which is always a plus.

We had additional birds we heard, but did not see. I did not include them to the trip list. Thankfully, none of the birds that were heard only would have been lifers.

I managed to get some of the "top on my list of birds" I wanted to see for the trip. These include: Slaty-backed Forest Falcon, Rufous-vented Ground Cuckoo, Tiny Hawk, Hook-billed Kite, Ornate Hawk-Eagle, Crested Owl (which I saw  on Semaphore Hill as I was being taken to the airport at 5:30am) and Pheasant Cuckoo. 
 
Other avian lifer highlights include: Royal Flycatcher, Ruddy Quail-Dove, Olive-backed Quail-Dove,  and Long-tailed Woodcreeper.
 

PHOTOS:

The only negative during my trip (other than it wasn't long enough), my main Camera, my Canon 40D, crapped out on me on the third day. The mother board went on the fritz again. Second time this has happened since I owned this body.

Since the camera took a dump, I used my iPhone, IPad and my Nikon Point and Shoot Camera.
Using these three options, rather than my main set-up was not the best, but still allowed me to capture some images, albeit, less than stellar ones.

When I returned home, I purchased a new Fuji Finepix S1 Digital Camera. It's not a high end model, but a decent "bridge camera" that will more than suffice for my upcoming trip to Ecuador in August, replacing both my Canon set up and my Nikon for travels to the tropics. Thus, keeping my main bird photography gear from being torn up in the humidity. This camera is weather resistant (moisture and dust sealed). I will most definitely put it to the test.
 
This new Fuji camera will be easier to carry and should allow for some serious flexibility in the field with it's 24-1200mm (35mm equivalent) 50X Zoom lens. Plus, it will be great for taking photos of my other favorite subjects, my nephews Jaryn, Anson and Revere (my newest nephew) and my niece, Kira.
 

 

 
 An adult Male Tiny Hawk (digiscoped  by my friend and guide, Michael Castro with my iPhone). This is my lifer Tiny Hawk (thanks Karen for spotting this one!). It was great seeing this uncommon and hard to find raptor. We watched this guy for about 15 minutes. He eventually flew from his perch to catch a large Cicada. He was perched just above our heads and paid no attention to us.


 


 
Male Mantled Howler Monkey. This guy, the alpha male, was huge. He and his troop of 15 fellow primates stopped by the tower an hour after I had arrived.
 

 
 
Male Geoffrey's Tamarin. This alpha male would bring his troop by the tower every couple of days. These little monkeys are incredibly cute. One day, while birding at another site, we watched two rival troops cross paths and fight and battle one another. Amazing how mean they can be for such cute buggers.
 

 
 
Brown-throated Three-toed Sloth waking up from a nap. This guy spent a few days in a Cercropia Tree, just a couple of feet away from top of the tower. I assume this is the same fellow I photographed in the same tree last year.
 
 
 
This is how a Sloth sleeps 90 feet off the ground. I always find it amazing that they can sleep in such weird ways on such small branches.
 
 
 
This is how a Brown-throated Three-Toed sloth sleeps in a torrential rain, 80 feet above the ground. Looks almost human sleeping this way.

 
 
Metal Mark Butterfly on a Lantana Flower

 
 
 
Army Ants ganging up on and attacking "prey" as it tries to flee the swarm
 

 
 
Male Red-legged Honeycreeper. These guys were daily visitors in a Cercropia Tree just off the platform at top of the tower
 
 
 

 
Capped Heron (Not a captive bird. The fence behind him is the fence that surrounds this pond at a police training station). Taken with my iPhone. This is an uncommon bird and a difficult one to find.

 

 
A baby lizard (I assume is a Gecko?) I rescued from a large Army Ant Swarm. He was about to be torn to shreds. Poor little guy was running for his life. He wasn't too excited about being caught at first. When I finally caught him, he didn't want to leave my hand. Every time I put him on the ground, he would run and jump back on my hand. I think he knew he was safe. I figured he was thinking that it's better taking his chances with me than tens of thousands of Army Ants!? I ended up moving him about 50 yards from the ant swarm and put him up in a tree.


 
 
Tree Boa was sitting on a wall ledge by the tower, right underneath one of the main flower bushes that many of the hummingbirds feed at. I think the small bulge in the center of the snake is (was) a hummingbird. This beautiful snake was about 15-17" long.
 
 
 
 
Wine Cup Mushrooms
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
A young Howler Monkey with a terrible infestation of Botflies. A horrible parasite. Yes, there is a human Botfly too. Most likely, this young monkey will not survive this parasite infestation. Most likely dying due to secondary infection. Last year, I photographed an adult Male (whom I named, "Eugene") who also had several of these parasites. He died two weeks after I photographed him. The lumps are called "Warbles" and it is in these warbles that the larvae (maggot) of the Botfly lives. You can see the breathing hole at the end of the warble.
 
 
 

 
This is Eugene from last year. He would imitate me sticking my tongue out at him. This photo of him, was chosen as "the photo of the month" in the June News Letter for the Canopy Tower. I was sadden to hear he had died two weeks after I took this photo.
 
 
 
 
Plain-colored Tanager. A very common bird at the tower. They frequently come into the dining hall to see if we left anything for them.
 
 
 
 
White-nosed Coati (male). Not a lifer, but always cool to see.
 
 
 
 
Leaf Toad. I have seen these on my previous trip. They are pretty cool looking and one of my favorites.
 
 
Another Leaf Toad
 
 
 
 
I believe this is one of the Tantilla Snakes?
 
 
 
Streak-chested Antpitta taken with my iPhone. neat little birds Looks like a tail-less Thrush. Antpittas are not the easiest groups of birds to get good looks at. They are ground stalkers and usually hide in the thickets. Thankfully, they are usually pretty vocal.
 
 
 
 
One of my favorite flowers. Not sure of the actual name of this, but the locals call it "hotlips"


 
A Spectacled Caiman...waiting for lunch and giving me the Stink-eye.



 
A cool mantis we found one day on Pipeline Road. He would chase our green lazer pointer around the tree like a cat. It was pretty funny. he was about 4 inches long.
 
 
 


 
One of my favorite parts of doing a full day's birding in the field, is eating lunch in the Jungle. The bottom photo is my guide and friend, Michael. this guy is an amazing guide and one helluva a nice guy!  The vehicle is necessary for getting up and down the roads. Here, we are on world famous Pipeline Road. While eating lunch, there was an Ornate Hawk-Eagle calling. Later on after lunch, we got to see glimpses of two separate birds soaring.
 
 
 
 
On the way back to home base, the Canopy Tower. We are crossing the bridge from the town of Gamboa, which goes over the Chagres River at the Panama Canal (to the right of the frame). This is a one lane bridge. The only road in and out of Gamboa, basically. Three modes of transportation in one frame.
 
 
 
I titled this photo, "Bite ME!" Just screwing around a bit in the town of Gamboa. We did see real American Crocodiles too. One big boy, measuring around 17 feet long, possibly the same beast I saw last year. I was hoping to see this guy catch a capybara, but unfortunately it didn't happen.
 
 
 
VIDEOS:

 

video
White-nosed Coati (Male)


 
 
video
Leaf Cutter Ants


video
Central American Agouti
 
 

video
 A morning view from a top the Canopy Tower



video
Army Ant Swarm (Me getting bitten at the end of video)


video
 
Rosy-thrush Tanager. Yes, there is a robin sized black and bright red bird in this bush. He looks a bit like a Varied Thrush with red, basically. This video goes to show you, just how hard it can be to sometimes to get real great looks at birds while in the tropics. They can be right in front of you, calling and it may take a while to see them. You can see a flash of movement near the top of the frame at :03-:04 seconds of the video. We did get killer looks at this beauty. Such an amazing looking bird. 


video
 
Cicadas, Howler Monkeys and more at 5:00am from a top of the canopy Tower. I probably miss this view and sounds, more than anything.


CHECKLIST:

Even though this was my third trip to Panama (my second to the Tower) in a year, I still was blessed to see so many new birds and mammals. This trip was the best birding/wildlife viewing I have ever had. The birding was outstanding and the mammal sightings were incredible!

Birds in light blue are lifers. Birds in pink are new birds for my Panama list. List only includes the birds seen. Birds that were heard only were not added to the trip list.

STATUS: A=ABUNDANT  C=COMMON  U=UNCOMMON  M=MIGRANT R=RARE for the area.

TINAMOUS (2)
Great Tinamou (C)
Little Tinamou (C)

DUCKS, SWANS & GEESE (1)
Black-bellied Whistling Duck (C)

CURASSOWS, GUANS & CHACHALACAS (2)
Gray-headed Chachalaca (C)
Crested Guan  (R)

GREBES (1)
Pied-billed Grebe (C)

FRIGATEBIRDS (1)
Magnificent Frigatebird (C)


CORMORANTS (1)
Neotropic Cormorant (C)


DARTERS (1)
Anhinga (C)


PELICANS (1)
Brown Pelican (C)


HERONS (10)
Least Bittern (R)
Rufescent Tiger-Heron (U)
Great Egret (C)
Snowy Egret (C)
Little Blue Heron (C)
Cattle Egret (C)
Green Heron (C)
Striated Heron (C)
Capped Heron (R)
Boat-billed Heron (U)


VULTURES (3)
Black Vulture (C)
Turkey Vulture (C)
King Vulture (U)


HAWKS, EAGLES & KITES (12)
Gray-headed Kite (U)
Swallow-tailed Kite (U)
Snail Kite (C)
Hook-billed Kite (R)
Double-toothed Kite (C)
Tiny Hawk (R)
Savanna Hawk (U)
Great Black-Hawk (U)
White Hawk (U)
Short-tailed Hawk (C)
Black Hawk-Eagle (U)
Ornate Hawk-Eagle (R)


RAILS, GALLINULES & COOTS (2)
Gray-necked Wood-Rail (U)
White-throated Crake (C)
Purple Gallinule (C)
Common Moorhen (C)


PLOVERS & LAPWINGS (1)
Southern Lapwing (C)


JACANAS (1)
Wattled Jacana (C)


PIGEONS & DOVES (6)
Rock Pigeon (C)
Pale-vented Pigeon (A)
Scaled Pigeon (C)
Short-billed Pigeon (U)
Ruddy Ground-Dove (A)
White-tipped Dove (C)
Ruddy Quail-Dove (R)
Olive-backed Quail-Dove (R)


CUCKOOS (5)
Squirel Cuckoo (C)
Rufous-vented Ground Cuckoo (R)
Pheasant Cuckoo (R)
Smooth-billed Ani (C)
Greater Ani (C)


TYPICAL OWLS (1)
Crested Owl (R)

POTOOS (1)
Common Potoo (U)


SWIFTS (3)
Short-tailed Swift (C)
Band-rumped Swift (C)
Lesser Swallow-tailed Swift (C)


HUMMINGBIRDS (17)
White-necked Jacobin (C)
Band-tailed Barbthroat (U)
Green Hermit  (C)
Long-billed Hermit  (C)
Stripe-throated Hermit  (C)
Purple-crowned Fairy  (U)
Black-throated Mango (U)
Long-billed Starthroat  (U)
Violet-headed Hummingbird (C)
White-vented Plumeleteer (C)
Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer  (U)
Crowned Woodnymph  (C)
Blue-chested Hummingbird  (C)
Snowy-bellied Hummingbird (C)
Rufous-tailed Hummingbird (C)
Violet-capped Hummingbird  (R)
Violet-bellied Hummingbird (C)

TROGONS (5)
Slaty-tailed Trogon (C)
Black-tailed Trogon  (U)
White-tailed Trogon  (C)
Gartered Trogon  (C)
Black-throated Trogon  (C)

MOTMOTS (3)
Whooping Motmot  (C)
Rufous Motmot  (C)
Broad-billed Motmot  (C)


KINGFISHERS (4)
Ringed Kingfisher  (C)
Amazon Kingfisher  (C)
Green Kingfisher  (C)
American Pygmy Kingfisher  (U)

PUFFBIRDS (3)
Black-breasted Puffbird (U)
Pied Puffbird  (U)
White-whiskered Puffbird  (U)

BARBET & TOUCANS (4)
Spot-crowned Barbet (U)
Yellow-eared Toucanet  (R)
Collared Aracari  (C)
Keel-billed Toucan  (C)
Black-mandibled Toucan  (C)


WOODPECKERS (6)
Black-cheeked Woodpecker  (C)
Red-crowned Woodpecker  (A)
Stripe-cheeked Woodpecker  (R) --Endemic
Cinnamon Woodpecker  (C)
Lineated Woodpecker (C)
Crimson-crested Woodpecker  (C)


FALCONS & CARCARAS (5)
Slaty-backed Forest Falcon (R)
Collared Forest Falcon (U)
Yellow-headed Caracara (C)
American Kestrel  (U)
Bat Falcon  (U)


PARROTS (6)
Orange-chinned Parakeet (A)
Brown-hooded Parrot  (U)
Blue-headed Parrot  (C)
Red-lored Parrot (C)
Mealy Parrot  (C)
Yellow-crowned Parrot  (U)


ANTBIRDS (17)
Fasciated Antshrike (C)
Great Antshrike  (U)
Barred Antshrike  (C)
Black-crowned Antshrike  (C)
Russet Antshrike  (U)
Spot-crowned Antvireo  (U)
Moustached Antwren  (U)
White-flanked Antwren (C)
Checker-throated Antwren  (C)
Dot-winged Antwren (C)
Dusky Antbird (C)
Jet Antbird (U)
White-bellied Antbird (C)
Chestnut-backed Antbird  (C)
Spotted Antbird  (C)
Bicolored Antbird (U)
Ocellated Antbird (U)

ANTPITTAS & ANTTHRUSHES (2)
Streak-chested Antpitta  (U)
Black-faced Antthrush (C)


 OVENBIRDS & WOODCREEPERS (7)
Scaly-throated Leaftosser (U)
Long-tailed Woodcreeper (R)
Plain-brown Woodcreeper (C)
Northern Barred-Woodcreeper (U)
Cocoa Woodcreeper (A)
Black-striped Woodcreeper  (U)
Plain Xenops (C)

TYRANT FLYCATCHERS (33)
Brown-capped Tyrannulet (C)
Southern Beardless Tyrannulet (C)
Yellow-crowned Tyrannulet (C)
Forest Elaenia  (U)
Greenish Elaenia  (C)
Yellow-bellied Elaenia  (C)
Ochre-bellied Flycatcher (U)
Paltry Tyrannulet (C)
Scale-crested Pygmy-Tyrant  (U)
Southern Bentbill  (C)
Common Tody-Flycatcher  (C)
Black-headed Tody-Flycatcher  (U)
Brownish Twistwing  (U)
Olivaceous Flatbill  (C)
Yellow-olive Flycatcher  (C)
Yellow-margined Flycatcher  (C)
Golden-crowned Spadebill  (U)
Royal Flycatcher (R)
Ruddy-tailed Flycatcher  (C)
Sulphur-rumped Flycatcher  (R)
Black-tailed Flycatcher (U)
Bright-rumped Attila  (C)
Dusky-capped Flycatcher  (C)
Panama Flycatcher  (C)
Lesser Kiskadee  (C)
Great Kiskadee  (C)
Boat-billed Flycatcher  (C)
Rusty-margined Flycatcher  (C)
Social Flycatcher  (A)
Streaked Flycatcher  (C)
Piratic Flycatcher  (M)
Tropical Kingbird (A)
Fork-tailed Flycatcher  (C)


TITYRAS, BECARDS & ALLIES (6)
Russet-winged Schiffornis (U)
Speckled Mourner (R)
Masked Tityra  (C)
Black-crowned Tityra  (U)
Cinnamon Becard (U)
White-winged Becard  (U)

Contingas (2)
Purple-throated Fruit-Crow (c)
Blue Continga (U)

MANAKINS (5)
White-ruffed Manakin (U)
Lance-tailed Manakin (U)
Red-capped Manakin (C)
Golden-collared Manakin (C)
Blue-crowned Manakin (C)

VIREOS (4)
Yellow-green Vireo (M)
Scrub Greenlet (C)
Golden-fronted Greenlet (C)
Lesser Greenlet (C)
Green-shrike Vireo (C)

JAYS & CROWS (1)
Black-chested Jay (C)


SWALLOWS (3)
Gray-breasted Martin (C)
Mangrove Swallow C)
Southern Rough-winged Swallow (C)


Wrens (9)
House Wren (C)
Rufous-breasted Wren (C)
Black-bellied Wren (C)
Rufous-and-white Wren (U)
Plain Wren (C)
Bay Wren (C)
Buff-breasted Wren (C)
White-breasted Wood-Wren (C)
Song Wren (U)


GNATCATCHERS (2)
Long-billed Gnatwren (C)
Tropical Gnatcatcher (C)

THRUSHES (1)
Clay-colored Thrush (A)


MOCKINGBIRDS & ALLIES (1)
Tropical Mockingbird (C)


WOOD-WARBLERS (1)
Rufous-capped Warbler (C)


BANANAQUIT (1)
Bananaquit (C)


TANAGERS (17)
Black-and-yellow Tanager (U)
Rosy Thrush-Tanager (C)
Gray-headed Tanager (C)
White-shouldered Tanager (C)
Crimson-backed Tanager (C)
Flame-rumped Tanager (C)
Blue-gray Tanager (A)
Palm Tanager (A)
Golden-hooded Tanager (C)
Plain-colored Tanager (C)
Rufous-winged Tanager (R)
Bay-headed Tanager (C)
Scarlet-thighed Dacnis (U)
Blue Dacnis (C)
Green Honeycreeper (C)
Shinning Honeycreeper (U)
Red-legged Honeycreeper (C)

GENUS INCERTAE SEDIS (3)
Streaked Saltator (C)
Buff-throated Saltator (C)
Black-headed Saltator (U)
Slate-colored Grosbeak (U)

BUNTINGS & ALLIES (7)
Blue-black Grassquit (C)
Variable Seedeater (C)
Yellow-bellied Seedeater (C)
Ruddy-breasted Seedeater (U)
Thick-billed Seed-Finch (C)
Yellow-faced Grassquit (C)
Black-striped Sparrow (C)

CARDINALS & ALLIES (5)
Hepatic Tanager (C)
Red-crowned Ant-Tanager (U)
Red-throated Ant-Tanager (C)
Carmiol's Tanager (U)
Blue-black Grosbeak (C)

BLACKBIRDS & ALLIES (9)
Red-breasted Blackbird (U)
Great-tailed Grackle (A)
Shiny Cowbird (C)
Yellow-backed Oriole (C)
Yellow-tailed Oriole (U)
Yellow-billed Cacique (U)
Scarlet-rumped Cacique (C)
Yellow-rumped Cacique (C)
Chestnut-headed Oropendula (C)

GOLDFINCHES & ALLIES
Yellow-crowned Euphonia (C)
Thick-billed Euphonia (A)
Fulvous-vented Euphonia (U)


OLD WORLD SPARROWS (1)
House Sparrow



The Mammal sightings (22) was outstanding and the best I have ever had on any trip to the tropics! Mammals in light blue are lifers. Mammals in hot pink are new for my Panama list

Common Opossum
Central American Wooly Opossum
Northern Tamandua (anteater)
Hoffman's Two-Toed Sloth
Brown-throated Three-Toed Sloth
Nine-banded Armadillo
Lesser White-lined Bat
False Vampire Bat
Geoffrey's Tamarin
Panamanian (Western) Night Monkey
White-faced Capuchin (monkey)
Mantled Howler Monkey
Varigated Squirrel
Red-tailed Squirrel
Tome's Spiny Rat
Rothchild's Porcupine
Central American Agouti
Paca
White-nosed Coati
Kinkajou
Collared Peccary
Red Brocket (deer)