The Metropolitan Natural Park encompasses 265 hectares and is the only large forested park within a metropolitan capital in Latin America. A large potion of the park is Dry Lowland Pacific Forest, an endangered tropical ecosystem.
On the maintained trails throughout the park, there are signs explaining the plants and animals. This sign gives information about the Keel-billed toucan. I think the name in Spanish refers to its rainbow bill.
And we had a good view of a Keel-billed toucan.
We also saw a family of White-nosed coatis. Coatis are members of the raccoon family, and from our experience, they didn’t have much fear of humans. They are more often foraging on the ground, but they climb trees easily.
That afternoon, we did some bird-watching near the Changres River. We saw a Black-tailed trogon and a White-winged becard, but the best photo was of a Slaty-tailed trogon.
We saw this Central American Agouti in the field near the truck. An agouti is a rodent and is an important member of the rainforest community because they are “scatter hoarders.” This means that when food is plentiful, they will bury excess nuts and fruit.
The next day, on the way to the Rainforest Discovery Center on Pipeline Road, we stopped the truck to let a coati cross the road. Our guide heard an Ocellated antbird. It’s almost only found at Army ant swarms. He used an antbird recording to bring it in.
Each of our guides had a portable speaker that they accessed through Bluetooth and could hang on a bush and fool the bird into thinking there was another bird there. It comes to investigate and you get a chance to see it. It’s not a strategy that should be used when birds are nesting, or overused in any one area. Usually when our guides used the speakers, we were the only people around.
So we were able to see this Ocellated antbird. Quite the weird-looking character!
Here is the bottom of the 175 step tower at the Rainforest Discovery Center. It was fine going up, but we got a little dizzy coming down and had to stop.
Jorge was our guide today. The top of the tower was one of the few times that we were in full sun for a longish period of time, and apart from the Canopy Tower, the only time we were above the canopy.
This colourful character is a Collared aracari.
A Yellow-headed caracara flew by. Although they are raptors, cacarcas have bare heads because they also eat carrion.
This female Blue dacnis perched on the railing for a few moments.
This is the best view of a Pied puffbird that we had all week.
After coming down from the tower, we spent some time looking for a Pheasant cuckoo, a rare bird that our guide had heard call from the tower. This cuckoo lurks in dense undergrowth, and yes, we saw it, but the dense undergrowth didn’t allow for a quality photo.
We followed the trail to this overlook, which although beautiful didn’t produce many birds besides some Wattled jacanas and a distant heron.
Later that afternoon, we visited Summit Ponds again. Here’s a photo of a Gray-cowled wood-rail.
And one of a Green heron catching his dinner.
On Saturday, we revisited the “Ammo Dump Ponds” because we had yet to see the elusive White-throated crake, which other birders at the Tower has seen. We had heard it, but we wanted to see it.
We didn’t see the WHCR, but we saw something better! A rare Yellow-breasted crake. Another birding group had spotted it and let us know. Mostly it walked in the reeds, but it allowed us to see it briefly.
We continued onto Pipeline Road. We saw this American pygmy kingfisher above a pool by the gate.
That afternoon we took some time off of serious birding and visited the Panama Canal at the Miraflores Locks.
Two cruise ships went through the locks while we were there. We also saw some informative exhibits about the history and the workings of the canal.
We’ve now described our first week in Panama. Next we move to Canopy Lodge in El Valle. More birds, more adventures!