We travelled from Canopy Tower in the back of a four-wheel truck called the “Birdmobile.” This gave us a good view of the rainforest.
Our first afternoon of birding was at Summit Ponds, just a few minutes from the tower. The ponds are near the highest point along the canal.
This Anhinga was sunning himself, just like a cormorant does. Anhingas have longer necks and bills and tails than cormorants and are in a different family.
We were lucky enough to see a couple of Mealy parrots. They were hard to see because they are almost all green and were high in the canopy, yet our guide spotted them and Doug was able to get a good photo.
We were also fortunate to see two Spectacled owls roosting.
The next day, we were driven to the bottom of the Semaphore Hill. From there, we hiked along the Plantation trail in Soberania National Park. The trail passes through mature rainforest and follows a small creek.
We saw the first of many Slaty-tailed trogons that we saw over our two week visit.
That afternoon, we visited the Canopy B&B in nearby Gamboa. There were wonderful birds on their feeders, but this Green iguana stole the show.
Here’s a look at our next birding sites. This spot overlooks a marshy area known as the “Ammo Ponds,” which we examined closely from the road below. From the hill, we had good views of birds and also of the canal in the distance.
For these two days, we enjoyed the company of two nature lovers from Berlin, while we tried to persuade them to become birders.
The next day, we headed for the Pipeline Road for a full day of birding. The road was built in the 1940s as a service road to the oil pipeline that crossed the isthmus and is world-renowned for its birding opportunities.
This juvenile Rufescent tiger-heron was perched on a branch that was overhanging the road. Perhaps it was a little off-track, because it wasn’t very near any water.
Our 4-wheel drive “birdmobile” was able to navigate the muddy ruts in the limited access road. This day, it was only our group of four (us and our friends, Gretchen and Bob) with our guide, Iqua.
The photo below is typical: the guide sets up the telescope on a special bird and we all take turns look at the “scope view.” Doug and Bob work to capture the image and Gretchen and Wendy look at it through binoculars. This time, after a quick look through the ‘scope, Wendy took a photo of the group because the holes in the bridge deck made her feel uneasy.
We can’t remember exactly which bird we were looking at. Perhaps it was this White-tailed trogon,
or this Yellow-throated toucan.
We also got good views of Howler monkeys.
Since we were out for the whole day, had a picnic lunch in the forest. We had lots of food, and stools to sit on.
Shortly after we had filled our plates, the heavens opened. It was the longest and hardest rain that we had the whole trip. Our jackets kept us mostly dry. Once the rain had stopped, we dried off pretty quickly.
Here’s Bob making the best of a soggy situation.
Walking was our main exercise, but sometimes the small “window” between the leaves required some bending to get a good view. Not really a yoga pose, more like “douga” or “boba.” Here you can see our guide using a green laser pointer to help pinpoint the bird.
Maybe they were getting a photo of a Cocoa woodcreeper. We saw lots of these birds throughout the week.
Gretchen practices yoga regularly which allowed her to “hold the pose” for as long as she needed.
Bob and Gretchen were probably looking at some kind of bird that is forages for ants in the undergrowth of the rainforest. There are antbirds, antthrushes, antshrikes, antpittas, ant-tanagers and antwrens. This photo is of a Bicolored antbird.
The next day, (Wednesday) was another full-day trip. This time we drove over an hour to the hills above Tocumen towards the two peaks of Cerro Azul and Cerro Jefe.
At lunchtime, we visited the “Hummingbird House,” the name given to the home of two American bird lovers. They have seed feeders along with over a dozen hummingbird feeders, all numbered so the guides could direct your attention to a specific feeder.
The owner removes the bee guards from the feeders so that honeycreepers can drink from them. This one is a female Shining honeycreeper.
Here’s a male Green honeycreeper.
We saw several Bay-headed warblers over our visit, but this view was probably the best.
And of course there were hummingbirds. We all saw a Rufous-crested coquette with our binoculars but it was feeding on some flowers that were obscured by branches and it was difficult to get a well-focused photo. The coquette is one of the cutest and smallest hummingbirds and very common.
This Bronze-tailed plumeteer was more cooperative.
So that’s enough for one blog post. The next one will document the rest of the week of our stay at Canopy Tower.