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PANAMA

CANAL ZONE, PLAYA BLANCA, & EL VALLE DE ANTON

5 - 19 March 2005

by Blake Maybank, with diary entries by Pat McKay & Don MacNeill

Photos by Richard Stern, Alasdair McKay, & Blake Maybank

A Maritimes Nature Travel Club outing

In March 2005 the Maritimes Nature Travel Club undertook its third excursion, this time to Panama.  We were a group of 19; 18 Canadians (all but two from Nova Scotia), and one American.  I organised the tour, using other trip reports as a template, and benefitting enormously from suggestions made by Raul Arias of the Canopy Tower in Panama.   Travel arrangements were made by Carlson Wagonlit in Halifax.

Publications:

Itinerary Summary:

5-11 March - Canopy Tower

12-19 March - Playa Blanca
Photos

Numerous photos of our trips were taken by many group participants, and a selection of these can be found at:

http://pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/accentor/my_photos

Just click on any of the various six Panama folders, which are arranged according to content; Birds (two folders), Flora, Non-bird Fauna, People, and Scenery.

Daily Itinerary Details

Information about our daily activities and adventures is augmented by diary excepts courtesy of Don MacNeill and Pat McKay. 
05 March - Travel to Panama

Don's Diary:

Continental (Embraer RJ145) FLT CO3343 Leaving Halifax 13:25  Arriving Newark 14:50
Plane delayed leaving until 13:50 due to faulty charger

Continental (Boeing 737) FLT CO887 leaving Newark 17:05  Arriving Panama City 22:21
Left at 19:00, again delayed (this time because of redirection of our plane) and disembarked at 23:45

Bus waiting for us and took us to Canopy Tower arriving there at 01:30 on Sunday morning.  Had a drink and went to bed after seeing a large, pale coloured bat Carlos said was a False Vampire.

Pat's Diary:

We left home by taxi at 10.30a.m., and soon met up with the 17 local members of our group at the airport. Our plane to Newark was slightly late in leaving Halifax, but made up some time in the air. It was a lovely clear afternoon on arrival at Newark, and we had super views of the Statue of Liberty,  the Empire State Building and Manhattan as we circled prior to landing.

At Newark we met up with the 18th member of our group from Montreal. We had a longer wait than we had been expecting as the plane taking us to Panama got diverted elsewhere, and we were very glad of the sandwiches we had brought from home.

We eventually left for Panama City some 2 hours later than originally scheduled, but again the plane made up some of this time in the air. We were met by staff from Canopy Tower, and driven straight there in a bus. The journey took just under an hour, but it was of course too dark to see anything much as we travelled. It was around 1.00a.m. when we arrived, and we were all too tired to take much note of our surroundings. We collapsed into our room after having some cold drinks in the dining room lounge area, as we were all extremely thirsty. The bed was large and very comfortable, and came with a mosquito net. I had never slept with a mosquito net, so we decided to try it out, even though no mosquitoes were making their presence felt.


The Canopy Tower

The Canopy Tower is renowned, even revered, but a further description would not hurt.  Our group filled every bed in the Canopy Tower, and such is the site's popularity that it was necessary to make our booking at least two years earlier.  With such a long time to wait before our actual vacation our anticipation level rose quite high, and whenever this occurs there is a significant chance for a let-down when (as so often happens) reality does not match the hype.  However, in this case, the reality was superb.   The facility was exactly as advertised, and the staff were uniformly superb.  In particular, we must single out our guides for special praise.  Our travel club always tries to use local guides whenever possible, both as a matter of principle (keep the employment in-country), and also to keep costs down (bringing guides from elsewhere is expensive).  Carlos, José, and Danilo were extraordinary; they knew the birds (and calls and songs) as well as the other wildlife and many of the plants, but they were also masters with the spotting scopes, finding the birds with amazing speed, allowing us all to see birds we'd otherwise have missed.  And in addition they were all very agreeable companions.  They are professional guides in every sense, and match the best that any country can offer.  No-one should feel they will be short-changed if they choose to forego Panama tours offered by out-of-country operators, and instead opt for the staff of Canopy Tower.

Don's Diary:

Canopy Tower is owned by Raul Arias de Para.  It has five rather small single rooms on the second floor sharing a bathroom (although there was a spare bathroom on the next floor up).  Next level up was double rooms with own bathrooms, then the dining and sitting room, and the top level was an outdoor observation deck (which was above tree level).  All levels are connected by steel stairs with sound proofed treads.  The area around the tower is fenced and the gate locked at night to keep out people and animals.  We saw a lot of barbed wire fencing around properties in Panama which indicates a high crime rate although we never felt unsafe.

Personnel were extremely competent and attentive.  Water was potable and safe, and all meals were excellent and varied.  The cook is writing a Panamanian cookbook which we will have to buy when it is available. Wine was free but beer and liquor cost extra.  A book was laid out for us to write down each beer and liquor drink we consumed, and other charges such as internet use ($5 an hour).  These were totted up and paid for on the last day.

Canopy Tower is situated 900 feet above sea level and was cooler than at lower levels.  Breezes also helped to make us feel comfortable.  Bedrooms had large fans in the ceiling or small table fans.

Our two guides for the first week, Carlos and Jose, were excellent.  They knew the birds and the calls well and were able to set their scopes on the birds very quickly so we could all get a good look at them.  They were also quite conversant with the other flora and fauna of the area.

Open vehicles with padded seats were used for day trips.  They also had four-wheel drive vehicles for Pipeline Road and hired an air-conditioned bus and driver for longer day-trips.  They carried drinks and food in the vehicles for morning stops and a couple of lunches.

Pat's Diary:

Canopy Tower is an ecolodge made out of what used to be an old American Radar Tower, which used to survey the goings on in and around the Panama Canal. It is owned by Raoul Arias de Para. The tower has four levels, the ground floor being an exhibition area, reception, and various offices. It is constructed mainly out of steel, with a steel stairway connecting the floors. It was quite echoy, and the partitions between rooms were very thin – so no talking any secrets! The first floor up had all the single rooms, which were very small, and also the Harpy Eagle suite, the second best accommodation in the tower. The floor above that had 5 double rooms and the poshest suite in the place – the Blue Cotinga Suite. Before leaving Halifax, we had had a draw to see who would be the lucky couples to get the suites, and Bob and Wendy got the Harpy Eagle suite, while Ally and I won the Blue Cotinga Suite!  This gave us a lot of extra space, a hammock as well as a large double bed, a bathroom, and our own balcony with a swinging chair on it.  The top floor internally had the kitchen and dining area, also a lounge/library area, and two or three hammocks for siesta time. Above this level was the outside observation deck at the base of the now empty dome which at one time held the radar equipment.  Because of the height it was a little bit cooler, and there was nearly always a lovely breeze blowing about the observation deck. It was a great place to watch for raptors, black and turkey vultures in particular being plentiful.


06 March - Semaphore Hill (morning), Gamboa (afternoon), Ammo Dump Ponds (late afternoon)

The day's birding excursions were included as part of our stay in the Canopy Tower, and all the sites were close by.  It was a great way to slowly become introduced to a new avifauna.   Although all the birds were a pleasure, the Crane Hawk was perhaps the most unexpected.

Don's Diary:

Up at 06:15 to the sound of howler monkeys and Great Tinamous, breakfast at 07:30 (scrambled eggs, bacon, pancakes, ham, fruit, cheese, rolls).  Birded from the observation deck and on Semaphore Hill (the road up to the Tower) in the morning.   Had lunch at the Tower.

At 15:30 took open vehickes to the Gamboa area for  birding.  Feeders with bananas attracted a lot of good birds.  The ammo dump ponds yielded a nice Muscovy Duck and a group of White-nosed Coatis with their tails in the air (looking like a flock of geese).  Today we also saw a 3-toed sloth, red-tailed squirrel, howler monkeys, a Geoffrey’s Tamarin and nests of Aztec ants and termites.

By the end of the first day we had seen 107 species of birds of which 63 were lifers for me.

21:30 – to bed

Pat's Diary:

In spite of our long tiring journey yesterday, I was awake just before dawn to go up to the observation deck to watch the sunrise. Soon after the door on to the deck was opened, and coffee, tea and biscuits appeared. One of the guides came to help with the bird identification. It was lovely to be able to look down on birds which one normally had to crane one’s neck to look up to see them in the canopy. I saw my first Keel billed toucan, amongst many other species. The two Canopy Tower guides, Carlos and Jose helped us identify the birds.

Breakfast was at 7.30a.m., and it was with a certain reluctance that I dragged myself away from the observation deck to go and eat. I need not have worried too much however, as the dining room area has large windows which are excellent for birding as you munch. The meal was delicious – yoghurt, fresh fruit, scrambled eggs, sausages, ham, cheese, rolls, fruit juice and Earl Gray tea!

When we had all stuffed ourselves sufficiently, Carlos and Jose proposed a walk down the long drive from Canopy Tower to the bottom of the hill. We took our time about the descent, saw many birds, the most memorable being the Broad Billed Motmot and the Slaty Tailed Trogon. Also, a coati ran across the road. The sun rose higher and higher in the sky as we descended the driveway, and it got hotter and hotter, and just when we were beginning to worry about whether we’d be able to make it back up the hill without collapsing, Carlos announced that he was calling for the “Rainforest mobile” from the Tower to come and pick us up. The Rainforest mobile was basically a truck with open air seating for 10, so it had to make two trips to get us all back up the hill to the Tower for lunch.

After another huge and delicious meal, everyone decided that they needed a siesta after the very long day yesterday and the exertions of the morning (to say nothing of all the food).

At 3.30p.m. Carlos and Jose loaded us all up into the Rainforest Mobile and the Bird Mobile (a smaller version of the Rainforest Mobile) and we set off for a local birdy spot near Gamboa. We stopped by some wonderful bird feeding stations, which had fruit and bananas as well as nectar and birdseed. Lots of beautiful tanagers at the bananas, ruddy ground doves at the seed holders, and hummingbirds and a red crowned woodpecker(!) at the nectar feeders.
Leaving the feeders we visited a marshy area with a pond, which yielded a Muscovy duck, and a Little Blue Heron, and we also saw a large group of coatis with their tails straight up in the air, which from a distance looked like a flock of long necked geese. Other mammals seen were a Geoffrey’s Tamarin, Howler Monkeys, and a squirrel. We had brief passing views of the Canal en passant, and got back to Canopy Tower just in time to do bird lists before supper, which was chicken in cilantro sauce, and veggie pie – very delicious, especially with wine, which was free (beer and other alcoholic drinks were not). We had another short spell of stargazing before bed.

06 March Bird Lists:

Semaphore Hill (Canopy Tower) -- also includes incidental sightings 07-12 March:

Great Tinamou
Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture
Gray-headed Kite
Double-toothed Kite
Crane Hawk
Broad-winged Hawk
Black Hawk-Eagle
Pale-vented Pigeon
Orange-chinned Parakeet
Blue-headed Parrot
Red-lored Parrot
Mealy Parrot
Squirrel Cuckoo
Band-rumped Swift
Western Long-tailed Hermit
White-necked Jacobin
Violet-bellied Hummingbird
Blue-chested Hummingbird
Snowy-bellied Hummingbird
White-vented Plumeleteer
Purple-crowned Fairy
Slaty-tailed Trogon
Rufous Motmot
Broad-billed Motmot
Black-breasted Puffbird
White-whiskered Puffbird
Collared Aracari
Keel-billed Toucan
Chestnut-mandibled Toucan
Crimson-crested Woodpecker
Cocoa Woodcreeper
Fasciated Antshrike
Western Slaty-Antshrike
Checker-throated Antwren
Dot-winged Antwren
Spotted Antbird
Blue-crowned Manakin
Red-capped Manakin
Brown-capped Tyrannulet
Forest Elaenia
Yellow-bellied Elaenia
Paltry Tyrannulet
Bright-rumped Attila
Social Flycatcher
Tropical Kingbird
Masked Tityra
Gray-breasted Martin
Southern Rough-winged Swallow
Barn Swallow
Black-bellied Wren
Buff-breasted Wren
Long-billed Gnatwren
Tropical Gnatcatcher
Yellow-green Vireo
Lesser Greenlet
Green Shrike-Vireo
Bay-breasted Warbler
White-shouldered Tanager
Summer Tanager
Blue-gray Tanager
Palm Tanager
Fulvous-vented Euphonia
Blue Dacnis
Green Honeycreeper
Red-legged Honeycreeper
Scarlet-rumped Cacique

Gamboa Feeders:

Ruddy Ground-Dove
Band-rumped Swift
Lesser Swallow-tailed Swift
Rufous-tailed Hummingbird
Red-crowned Woodpecker
Clay-colored Robin
White-shouldered Tanager
Crimson-collared Tanager
Blue-gray Tanager
Palm Tanager
Plain-colored Tanager
Blue Dacnis
Green Honeycreeper
Red-legged Honeycreeper
Variable Seedeater
Great-tailed Grackle

Ammo Dump Ponds [also includes incidental sightings from 08 March]:

Brown Pelican
Magnificent Frigatebird
Tricolored Heron
Little Blue Heron
Snowy Egret
Cattle Egret
Rufescent Tiger-Heron
Muscovy Duck
Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture
White-throated Crake
Wattled Jacana
Purple Gallinule
Common Moorhen
Spotted Sandpiper
Ruddy Ground-Dove
White-tipped Dove
Greater Ani
Short-tailed Swift
Black-throated Mango
Ringed Kingfisher
Cinnamon Woodpecker
Barred Antshrike
Panama Flycatcher
Great Kiskadee
Rusty-margined Flycatcher
Social Flycatcher
Piratic Flycatcher
Tropical Kingbird
Fork-tailed Flycatcher
Barn Swallow
House Wren
Tropical Mockingbird
Northern Waterthrush
Thick-billed Euphonia
Variable Seedeater
Yellow-bellied Seedeater
Black-striped Sparrow
Buff-throated Saltator
Great-tailed Grackle
Yellow-tailed Oriole
Baltimore Oriole

07 March - Parque Natural Metropolitano (morning), El Diablo mangrove (noon), Summit Ponds (afternoon):

This was the first of four full-day excursions that we organised with Canopy Tower for our week's stay at the resort.   We had originally thought of booking only two day-trips, but the group decided that we should take as much advantage as possible of our time there, while still taking care to not exhaust ourselves.

Pat's Diary:


We were up before the crack of dawn (5.30a.m.) for breakfast before taking a bus to the Metropolitan National Park not far from Panama City. Our first bird was a Bat Falcon sitting on a wire. We had a lovely walk along a trail, and saw many birds, including good looks at a Blue Browed Motmot. We had good views overlooking Panama City. We then visited a marshy/mangrove swamp area called the “El Diablo Marsh”, where we saw a White Ibis, a Mangrove Warbler, and a Mangrove Black Hawk before returning to Canopy Tower for another sumptuous lunch.

At 3.30p.m. we boarded the bus again for a short trip to the Summit Ponds, where we found one of my favourite species of heron – the Boat Billed Heron. We walked into the forest along a most interesting little trail. There was a clump of the native bamboo, looking similar to the oriental bamboo, except for the huge long thorns on smaller branches at the very entangled base of the clump. Carlos and Jose found a magnificent Spectacled Owl for us, and we had to tiptoe up in little groups of five to see it through a telescope. We also had good looks at a Red-throated Ant Tanager. We ate fish for supper, followed by an early bed.

Don's Diary:

Up at 04:50, breakfast at 05:30

Left at 06:00 by bus to the Parque Natural Metropolitano in Panama City.  One of the first birds seen was a Bat Falcon perched on a distant electrical tower.  We climbed to a summit that gave us a good view of the country and Panama City in the distance.

We stopped at a mangrove swamp in El Diablo Heights where a Mangrove Warbler gave us a chance for a tick if it is split from Yellow Warbler.

Had lunch back at the Tower at 12:30.  Meat loaf, rice and beans, and fresh fruit.  Napped.

At 15:30 headed out again for Summit Ponds where a Boat-billed Heron was one of the first birds.  Along a trail, Carlos and Jose went ahead and set their scopes up on a bird in the forest.  When we got up to look, there was a magnificent Spectacled Owl.

Supper back at the Tower was breaded sea bass.

07 March Bird Lists:

Parque Natural Metropolitano:

Great Egret
Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture
Short-tailed Hawk
Crested Caracara
Yellow-headed Caracara
Bat Falcon
Pale-vented Pigeon
White-tipped Dove
Orange-chinned Parakeet
Blue-headed Parrot
Squirrel Cuckoo
Slaty-tailed Trogon
Blue-crowned Motmot
Keel-billed Toucan
Red-crowned Woodpecker
Crimson-crested Woodpecker
Plain Xenops
Cocoa Woodcreeper
Western Slaty-Antshrike
Dot-winged Antwren
Dusky Antbird
Lance-tailed Manakin
Yellow-crowned Tyrannulet
Forest Elaenia
Greenish Elaenia
Yellow-bellied Elaenia
Lesser Elaenia
Yellow-green Tyrannulet
Paltry Tyrannulet
Southern Bentbill
Common Tody-Flycatcher
Ruddy-tailed Flycatcher
Bright-rumped Attila
Boat-billed Flycatcher
Social Flycatcher
Streaked Flycatcher
Tropical Kingbird
Rufous-breasted Wren
Clay-colored Robin
Tropical Gnatcatcher
Yellow-throated Vireo
Yellow-green Vireo
Scrub Greenlet
Golden-fronted Greenlet
Lesser Greenlet
Green Shrike-Vireo
Rosy Thrush-Tanager
Summer Tanager
Crimson-backed Tanager
Blue-gray Tanager
Palm Tanager
Yellow-crowned Euphonia
Plain-colored Tanager
Blue Dacnis
Red-legged Honeycreeper
Variable Seedeater
Black-striped Sparrow
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Blue-black Grosbeak
Great-tailed Grackle
Yellow-backed Oriole
Scarlet-rumped Cacique
Chestnut-headed Oropendola

El Diablo Mangrove:

Magnificent Frigatebird
Mangrove Black-Hawk
Spotted Sandpiper
Short-tailed Swift
Lesser Swallow-tailed Swift
Ringed Kingfisher
Straight-billed Woodcreeper
Northern Scrub-Flycatcher
Yellow (Mangrove) Warbler
Lesser Goldfinch

Summit Ponds:

Brown Pelican
Little Blue Heron
Boat-billed Heron
Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture
Osprey
Swainson’s Hawk
Pale-vented Pigeon
Ruddy Ground-Dove
White-tipped Dove
Gray-chested Dove
Blue-headed Parrot
Spectacled Owl
Rufous-tailed Hummingbird
Amazon Kingfisher
Green Kingfisher
Blue-crowned Motmot
Fasciated Antshrike
Dusky Antbird
Southern Beardless-Tyrannulet
Dusky-capped Flycatcher
Lesser Kiskadee
Great Kiskadee
Rusty-margined Flycatcher
Tropical Kingbird
Mangrove Swallow
Southern Rough-winged Swallow
Black-and-white Warbler
Prothonotary Warbler
Northern Waterthrush
Rosy Thrush-Tanager
Red-throated Ant-Tanager
Summer Tanager
Blue-gray Tanager
Variable Seedeater
Orange-billed Sparrow
Orchard Oriole
Yellow-rumped Cacique


08 March - Pipeline Road

This was the second of our all-day field trips, although rain prevented us from getting as far along the road as we might have wished.   Nevertheless, we saw a fine array of birds.

Pat's Diary:

We had another early breakfast for a full day trip to the Pipeline Road. For this expedition Carlos had brought in three 4-wheel drive trucks as well as the Birdmobile. Volunteers were asked for to travel in the open Birdmobile, the others were packed into the other vehicles. We had a brief stop at a marsh en route, where we had lovely views of Jacana and a Rufescent Tiger Heron.

The pipeline was for oil, and had been built by the Yanks in case the Panama Canal was captured and their oil supply got interrupted. The Pipeline Road could not in reality be dignified with such a title, as it was little more than a cart track, and in places rather a muddy one. The reason for the 4 wheel drive vehicles was immediately apparent.

We drove along the “road” for 3 or 4 kilometres, and then we all got out and walked for a section. The birds and the scenery were magnificent – Purple Fruit Crow, Chestnut Headed Oropendola, American Pygmy Kingfisher – and the botany was equally interesting even if we were unable to name as many species, and there were pretty butterflies too.

After we had walked a kilometre or two, Carlos summoned up the vehicles. We had a mid-morning snack and some drinks before loading into our transportation to be driven a little further along the trail. We hadn’t gone far before he stopped the cars and he showed us the roosting site of a Common Potoo, a species I had been longing to see. Without the guides we certainly would never have seen this bird, as it disguises itself as a dead tree stump, and its camouflage is perfect!

Everyone was intrigued by the Potoo, and we spent some time studying it, but eventually we were all loaded back into the vehicles and we proceeded on our way. It was at this point that it started to rain, quite gently at first. Up until that moment all of us in the Birdmobile had been enjoying our open-air view as we travelled, pitying the rest of the group cooped up inside the cabs of the 4 wheel drives. The rain became more persistent, and then became a tropical downpour. Fortunately I had my umbrella with me, so two of us were able to get some sort of shelter underneath it, but probably only at the expense of poor Don getting extra water draining onto his lap. Another umbrella and some raincoats were produced from inside the vehicles, and we drove on through the torrents. We got wetter and wetter, but that wasn’t the worst of it, as the cart track we were driving along was also getting wetter, and as it did so, it became muddier and muddier. The driving got worse and worse, and the track became quite hilly, and the vehicles were slipping and sliding all over the place. Finally our Birdmobile got well and truly stuck trying to go up a steep slope, and ended up almost sideways on to the hill, with one wheel perilously poised on the edge of a huge muddy rut. At this point we decided to get out and walk the rest of the way up the hill, leaving the Birdmobile to get itself sorted out, which it eventually did.

Perhaps wisely, it was decided that it would not be a good idea to proceed any further up the trail, so we had a picnic lunch – in the rain – before the vehicles were turned around for the journey back.  We offered to trade places with anyone sitting inside one of the other vehicles for the journey back, but no one took us up on the offer!

The rain eased off and we dried up a bit. I tried to spot the Potoo on the way out, but was unable to recognise the spot. We had good looks at a tamandua and at howler monkeys, and at a White Whiskered Puffbird. The rain came back once we were back on the proper highway, and we go wet for a second time in the Birdmobile. We were back at Canopy Tower just in time to do the lists before supper – pork chops and fried plantain.

08 March Bird List (Pipeline Road)

Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture
Osprey
Double-toothed Kite
Broad-winged Hawk
Scaled Pigeon
Pale-vented Pigeon
Short-billed Pigeon
White-tipped Dove
Orange-chinned Parakeet
Brown-hooded Parrot
Blue-headed Parrot
Red-lored Parrot
Squirrel Cuckoo
Common Potoo
Band-rumped Swift
Stripe-throated Hermit
Purple-crowned Fairy
White-tailed Trogon
Violaceous Trogon
Black-throated Trogon
Black-tailed Trogon
Slaty-tailed Trogon
American Pygmy Kingfisher
Rufous Motmot
Broad-billed Motmot
Great Jacamar
Black-breasted Puffbird
Pied Puffbird
White-whiskered Puffbird
Collared Aracari
Keel-billed Toucan
Chestnut-mandibled Toucan
Black-cheeked Woodpecker
Red-crowned Woodpecker
Cinnamon Woodpecker
Crimson-crested Woodpecker
Plain Xenops
Northern Barred-Woodcreeper
Black-striped Woodcreeper
Western Slaty-Antshrike
Spot-crowned Antvireo
Checker-throated Antwren
White-flanked Antwren
Dot-winged Antwren
White-bellied Antbird
Chestnut-backed Antbird
Bicolored Antbird
Spotted Antbird
Black-faced Antthrush
Streak-chested Antpitta
Speckled Mourner
Purple-throated Fruitcrow
Golden-collared Manakin
Blue-crowned Manakin
Red-capped Manakin
Brown-capped Tyrannulet
Paltry Tyrannulet
Black-capped Pygmy-Tyrant
Brownish Flycatcher
Olivaceous Flatbill
Ruddy-tailed Flycatcher
Acadian Flycatcher
Bright-rumped Attila
Rufous Mourner
Dusky-capped Flycatcher
Piratic Flycatcher
Tropical Kingbird
Gray-breasted Martin
Southern Rough-winged Swallow
Bay Wren
White-breasted Wood-Wren
Song Wren
Clay-colored Robin
Tawny-faced Gnatwren
Black-chested Jay
Yellow-green Vireo
Green Shrike-Vireo
Kentucky Warbler
Olive Tanager
Gray-headed Tanager
White-shouldered Tanager
Red-throated Ant-Tanager
Blue-gray Tanager
Slate-colored Grosbeak
Scarlet-rumped Cacique
Chestnut-headed Oropendola

09 March - Summit Park (morning), Miraflores locks (afternoon)

This day included tours included as part of our stay in the Canopy Tower. 

Pat's Diary:

Up at 6.00a.m. for an hour and a half on the observation deck before breakfast. There was a wonderful effect caused by fog rising from the Panama Canal, which made everywhere look like a Chinese landscape. Brilliant yellow flowers have appeared overnight on the Guyacan trees – they look spectacular. Birds seen include both toucans, a Green Shrike Vireo, Green Honeycreeper, and a Masked Titrya.

After breakfast we went to the Metropolitan Summit Park, which was very close by at the bottom of the hill that Canopy Tower sits on, to see the Harpy Eagle exhibition, and to do some more birding in the lovely parkland surrounding the exhibits. It was a great day for raptors, and the park was a great place to see the large kettles of hawks which were forming in the thermals. We saw a Black Hawk Eagle, and lots of Swainson’s Hawks and Broad-winged Hawks – a most impressive sight.

Another interesting view was of the Oropendola nests swinging in a tall tree, and the Chestnut-headed Oropendolas themselves, and we saw a gorgeous Blue Cotinga, the bird our “suite” at Canopy Tower is named after. Nor were birds the only things to look at in the Park. Although we did not make any attempts to go and see all the animals that were on display, we could not really help seeing the Baird’s Tapir, which was in a large pen close to where we parked the vehicles. Ally spent some time filming the tapir, and got a brief shot of it swimming in its pool while we were all looking at the Cotinga. The botany was also good – many interesting flowering trees and shrubs, including a Cannonball tree, which had particularly pretty flowers, and fruit which looked like a cannonball.

We went back to Canopy Tower for a pizza lunch, followed by a short siesta, and then everyone except Don went on an optional trip to see the Panama Canal and the Miraflores Lock. We seemed to arrive at the lock at a particularly busy time, as we saw 3 or 4 large vessels pass through the lock, all travelling from the Atlantic to the Pacific. The boats are towed through the lock by 4 to 8 trains (depending on the size of the vessel) running on rails along the side of the lock. Some of the boats were extremely large, and only just fitted into the lock, with only inches to spare on each side. There was also an exhibition about the canal, and a very poor video about the making of the canal, but all in all, it was an interesting afternoon, and not entirely bird less, as we had unusual views of Magnificent Frigate birds and Brown Pelicans in that we were able to see them from above as they flew along the lock below us, and there was also a Laughing Gull which actually flew through the lock gates just as they were closing.

We arrived back at Canopy Tower in time to do some hummingbird and hawk watching, and the trees round the observation deck were full of howler monkeys, which were howling loudly. Don made a recording of the sounds. We had curry for supper and then went to bed really early as we had an extremely early start the next morning for our trip to the Atlantic side of the country.

09 March Bird Species List:

Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture
Osprey
Double-toothed Kite
Broad-winged Hawk
Short-tailed Hawk
Swainson’s Hawk
Black Hawk-Eagle
Scaled Pigeon
Pale-vented Pigeon
Ruddy Ground-Dove
White-tipped Dove
Orange-chinned Parakeet
Blue-headed Parrot
Red-lored Parrot
Squirrel Cuckoo
Band-rumped Swift
Violaceous Trogon
Collared Aracari
Black-cheeked Woodpecker
Red-crowned Woodpecker
Lineated Woodpecker
Crimson-crested Woodpecker
Western Slaty-Antshrike
Blue Cotinga
Red-capped Manakin
Brown-capped Tyrannulet
Yellow-bellied Elaenia
Paltry Tyrannulet
Common Tody-Flycatcher
Bright-rumped Attila
Great Kiskadee
Social Flycatcher
Streaked Flycatcher
Tropical Kingbird
Fork-tailed Flycatcher
Thrush-like Schiffornis
Masked Tityra
Black-crowned Tityra
Gray-breasted Martin
Southern Rough-winged Swallow
Barn Swallow
House Wren
Clay-colored Robin
Philadelphia Vireo
Yellow-green Vireo
Green Shrike-Vireo
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Bay-breasted Warbler
Gray-headed Tanager
White-shouldered Tanager
Crimson-backed Tanager
Blue-gray Tanager
Palm Tanager
Yellow-crowned Euphonia
Thick-billed Euphonia
Plain-colored Tanager
Golden-hooded Tanager
Blue Dacnis
Green Honeycreeper
Red-legged Honeycreeper
Buff-throated Saltator
Great-tailed Grackle
Bronzed Cowbird
Shiny Cowbird
Giant Cowbird
Yellow-rumped Cacique
Scarlet-rumped Cacique
Chestnut-headed Oropendola

10 March - Achiote Road (morning), Parque Nacional San Lorenzo (afternoon), Canal train (late afternoon):


Another of our full-day excursions, and this was truly a full day, with a very early start.  As we were birding on the Caribbean slope it was hot and humid, so we were a very tired bunch by the time of our return. 

Don's Diary:

Up at 03:30, breakfast at 04:00

At 04:30 left by air-conditioned bus for the Colon area and Achiote Road.  Had to wait at the Gatun Locks for a couple of ships to go by before we could cross over the canal.  Met some fellow birders from Winnipeg and the States.

Walked along Achiote Road birding.  Had Swallow-tailed, Double-toothed and  Plumbeous Kites.

Drove to the Parque Nacional San Lorenzo near Fort Sherman to do some more birding.   Had a great look at a kinkajou above us on a limb.  He relieved himself but missed us.

Took the train back to Panama City from Colon.  Saw Snail Kites and Least Grebes from the train. Our bus met us to return us to the Tower.

Pat's Diary:

We were up at 3.30a.m. to drive in a bus to the Atlantic side of the country to bird the Achiote Rd in the early morning before it got to be too hot. We had a long hold-up crossing the Canal, as a boat had to go through and we had to wait for it, but we saw Saffron Finches while we were waiting – the only time on the whole trip we saw this species (I spotted them from the bus, and asked Jose what they were).

The Achiote Rd certainly had lots of interesting birds, but it was a very busy road and the pleasure of birding was somewhat marred by having to jump out of the way of the kamikaze bus drivers, who whizzed by at top speed. Nevertheless, we did see Wood Stork, Swallow-tail Kites, White Hawk, and Plumbeous Kite. It soon became very very hot, and extremely humid.

We had a picnic lunch in the shade at the start of a short trail through jungle. After eating we walked the trail, splitting up into 2 groups each with a guide, as the trail was too narrow for such a large party to go together. Our group did not see many birds on the trail apart from one trogon, but the vegetation was beautifully jungly, and it was such a treat to get off the busy road where you always had to have one eye on the lookout for traffic.

Then it was back to the bus for a short drive, and we stopped again to see a lek of Golden Collared Manakins – tiny little birds with a spectacular golden collar. The males snap their wings and produce an extraordinary sound – a bit like a Christmas cracker being pulled, or a sharp handclap. The manakins were hard to see in the jungle, and we spent a long time making sure that everyone had a reasonable view of them, and just as we were about to leave that spot, we also saw a beautiful Kinkajou lying on an overhead branch very close to the whole group. The kinkajou, who appeared to be wide awake and horrified by our presence, rather like a Victorian Old Maid who has just discovered a man under her bed, was so surprised she “took a leak” and very nearly pissed on some members of our group. However, she did not run off and hide, but most cooperatively stayed and stared at us staring at her, a really lovely animal. The guides were most surprised, as the Kinkajou is a nocturnal species, and they said they had never had such a good view of one before – usually you have to go chasing after them with torches at night, and don’t see much more than the reflection of their eyes.

After reluctantly leaving the kinkajou to its interrupted sleep, we piled back into the bus and drove past the Gatun Dam, where there were lots of herons, including a Tricoloured Heron. We saw a Mangrove Black Hawk catch and fly off with a snake – the only snake I did see the whole trip. The hawk perched on a branch, and we thought he had dropped the snake, but he was actually just manoeuvring a bit so that he could catch hold of the neck just behind the head to kill it. We drove to the Parque Nacional San Lorenzo near Fort Sherman, where we saw Red-breasted Blackbirds on the fence.

The bus then took us to the train station for our transcontinental train journey back to the Pacific side of the country. We sat in the bubble car, and had great views as we traveled along the side of the Gatun Lake, where we saw dozens of snail kites, but not too much of the Canal, which was a bit of a disappointment. We were back at Canopy Tower for supper and an early bed as we were all exhausted.

10 March Bird Lists:

Achiote Road
& Parque Nacional San Lorenzo:

Little Tinamou
Anhinga
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Tricolored Heron
Little Blue Heron
Snowy Egret
Cattle Egret
Green Heron
Wood Stork
Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture
Osprey
Swallow-tailed Kite
Double-toothed Kite
Plumbeous Kite
White Hawk
Common Black-Hawk
Gray Hawk
Short-tailed Hawk
Black Hawk-Eagle
Yellow-headed Caracara
Purple Gallinule
Wattled Jacana
Pale-vented Pigeon
Short-billed Pigeon
Ruddy Ground-Dove
White-tipped Dove
Orange-chinned Parakeet
Blue-headed Parrot
Red-lored Parrot
Mealy Parrot
Smooth-billed Ani
White-collared Swift
Band-rumped Swift
Stripe-throated Hermit
Violet-crowned Woodnymph
White-tailed Trogon
Violaceous Trogon
Black-throated Trogon
Black-tailed Trogon
Slaty-tailed Trogon
Ringed Kingfisher
Green Kingfisher
Black-breasted Puffbird
Pied Puffbird
Spot-crowned Barbet
Collared Aracari
Keel-billed Toucan
Chestnut-mandibled Toucan
Black-cheeked Woodpecker
Red-crowned Woodpecker
Cinnamon Woodpecker
Lineated Woodpecker
Cocoa Woodcreeper
Black-striped Woodcreeper
Great Antshrike
Barred Antshrike
Western Slaty-Antshrike
Dot-winged Antwren
Chestnut-backed Antbird
Black-faced Antthrush
Blue Cotinga
Golden-collared Manakin
Brown-capped Tyrannulet
Yellow-bellied Elaenia
Paltry Tyrannulet
Southern Bentbill
Black-headed Tody-Flycatcher
Olivaceous Flatbill
Yellow-olive Flycatcher
Acadian Flycatcher
Long-tailed Tyrant
Dusky-capped Flycatcher
Panama Flycatcher
Great Crested Flycatcher
Great Kiskadee
Boat-billed Flycatcher
Social Flycatcher
Streaked Flycatcher
Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher
Piratic Flycatcher
Tropical Kingbird
Fork-tailed Flycatcher
Cinnamon Becard
Masked Tityra
Black-crowned Tityra
Gray-breasted Martin
Southern Rough-winged Swallow
Barn Swallow
Black-bellied Wren
Bay Wren
Plain Wren
White-breasted Wood-Wren
Song Wren
Clay-colored Robin
Tropical Gnatcatcher
Yellow-green Vireo
Lesser Greenlet
Tennessee Warbler
Yellow Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Northern Waterthrush
Rufous-capped Warbler
Bananaquit
Rosy Thrush-Tanager
White-shouldered Tanager
Red-throated Ant-Tanager
Summer Tanager
Crimson-backed Tanager
Flame-rumped Tanager
Blue-gray Tanager
Thick-billed Euphonia
Fulvous-vented Euphonia
Golden-hooded Tanager
Blue Dacnis
Green Honeycreeper
Red-legged Honeycreeper
Blue-black Grassquit
Variable Seedeater
Thick-billed Seed-Finch
Streaked Saltator
Buff-throated Saltator
Black-headed Saltator
Red-breasted Blackbird
Eastern Meadowlark
Great-tailed Grackle
Giant Cowbird
Yellow-tailed Oriole
Yellow-rumped Cacique
Chestnut-headed Oropendola

Panama Canal List (railroad and lock):

Least Grebe
Brown Pelican
Magnificent Frigatebird
Snail Kite
Common Moorhen
Saffron Finch

11 March - Tocumen Marsh (morning), Cerro Azul (noon & afternnoon), Costa del Este (late afternoon):

Another full day trip, with wonderful destinations.  The Pied Water-Tyrant played a merry chase with us at Tocumen, as did an elusive Southern Lapwing.  We also were happy to see Pale-breasted Spinetail and Yellow-billed Cacique.

Words nearly fail us when asked to describe the delights of Cerro Azul, although our delight was accentuated by the very fine weather we experienced.  Bird highlights included the White-tipped Sicklebill, Rufous-breasted Coquette, White-ruffed Manakin, and a remarkable display of tanagers.

Costa del Este reminded me a bit of coastal Texas -- great birds but poor aesthetics.  Pat and Don describe the scene well.  The Black Skimmers were an unexpected sighting, and are apparently rare for Panama.

Pat's Diary:

We had another early start to the day as we set off in a bus for the Tocumen marshes. This is an agricultural area, where there is a lot of rice grown. There were also several smallish ponds at the start of the walk, where we saw both kinds of Night Herons and lots of Egrets. A few of us, myself included, were lucky enough to get brief views of Southern Lapwings before they flew off. There were also good looks at Yellow headed Caracara, Swallow tailed Kites and Fork tailed Flycatchers. One of the ponds had a caiman in it. We all heard a very noisy cicada in a tree (the same noise that we heard every day in Costa Rica, but there it occurred only at sunset).

Leaving the marsh area, we set out in the bus for the foothills, and went to Cerro Azul for lunch. The president of the Panama Audubon Society has a wonderful villa here, and we were allowed to use it as a marvellous place for our lunch. The gardens were gorgeous, full of flowers and birds and butterflies, so many that at times it was hard to know which direction to look in next. There was a wonderful vista from the garden too.  There was a wonderful vista from the garden too. Alasdair was so taken with the spot that he recited Keats’ famous sonnet as he reckoned we were about as near to Darien as we were going to get on this trip!

On First Looking into Chapman's Homer,  by John Keats

Much have I travell'd in the realms of gold,
And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;
Round many western islands have I been
Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.
Oft of one wide expanse had I been told
That deep-brow'd Homer ruled as his demesne;
Yet did I never breathe its pure serene
Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:
Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken;
Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
He star'd at the Pacific--and all his men
Look'd at each other with a wild surmise
Silent, upon a peak in Darien.

Birds which I especially remember are the Emerald Tanager (I only managed fleeting glimpses of this one), Speckled Tanager (great looks at this one), and especially the rare hummingbird – the White tipped Sicklebill. To see this last bird, Carlos and Jose took some of us a considerable distance down a very steep, narrow, muddy path to a wilder area where the specific type of Heliconia flowers grow that this particular hummingbird likes to feed upon. Sure enough, they managed to find a bird about 40 feet off the path, almost buried in the jungle. However, they got it in the scope, and we were all able to see it reasonably clearly, and Richard took a still picture of it. For the botanists amongst us, the garden was a great treat as it was full of flowers, most of which were unfamiliar and interesting to look at. The flowers attracted lots of butterflies, especially a particularly beautiful type whose wings were transparent, called Glass-winged butterflies according to Jose.

It was with considerable reluctance that we left Cerro Azul. I for one could have easily spent an entire day there just sitting in the garden, admiring the view and the flowers, and searching for birds and butterflies, but eventually Carlos dragged us away. On the way home we stopped at the coast just outside Panama City, and were bowled away all over again by an amazing maelstrom of sea birds – pelicans, frigatebirds, plovers, sandpipers, terns, gulls, whimbrels, dowitchers, egrets, herons and others – thousands of birds filling the air, a truly spectacular sight. Once more it was difficult to know where to look next, as there were so many birds in the air and on the ocean. Pelicans put on a magnificent display of high altitude diving, against a spectacular backdrop of Panama City skyscrapers. Large flocks of small shore birds wheeled and turned as one amazing unit, their wings flashing a gleaming silver in the sunshine as they moved. A small flock of Black Skimmers was also spotted – an unusual sight according to Carlos. For me this must rank as possibly the most diverse and spectacular collection of shorebirds and waterfowl I have ever seen at one time.
Once more Carlos and Jose had a hard time dragging us away from such a performance, but eventually they got us all rounded up and loaded on the bus for home. The drive back took us past the ruins of Old Panama City, but we did not have time to stop.

Back at Canopy Tower, we just had time to do the bird lists before supper. We went to bed soon after supper, worn out after such an amazing and interesting day.

Don's Diary:

Bus took us to Tocumen Marsh.  Agricultural machinery was working in the fields using GPS and satellite to ensure perfectly level areas for planting rice.  Had great looks at Crested Caracaras as well as Black-necked Stilts and a Savannah Hawk.

Went to the Parque Nacional Chagres in Altos de Cerro Azul.  Fernando, the caretaker (and a birder) let us in to the property of the President of the Audubon Society.   Most of the group hiked down a steep incline where they saw a White-tipped Sicklebill.  We sat and watched Yellow-faced Grassquits coming to the feeder.

Stopped to see shorebirds in Panama City (Costa del Este).  There were huge numbers of Brown Pelicans and numerous shorebirds.  The shoreline was littered with garbage, probably from the many ships, and Little Blue Herons were wandering about the garbage.  We passed  the ruins of Old Panama on the way home.

11 March Bird Lists:

Tocumen Marsh

Little Tinamou
Great Egret
Tricolored Heron
Little Blue Heron
Cattle Egret
Striated Heron
Green Heron
Black-crowned Night-Heron
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron
White Ibis
Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture
Osprey
White-tailed Kite
Savanna Hawk
Roadside Hawk
Broad-winged Hawk
Short-tailed Hawk
Crested Caracara
Yellow-headed Caracara
White-throated Crake
Wattled Jacana
Southern Lapwing
Black-necked Stilt
Solitary Sandpiper
Spotted Sandpiper
Pale-vented Pigeon
Plain-breasted Ground-Dove
Ruddy Ground-Dove
Squirrel Cuckoo
Greater Ani
Smooth-billed Ani
Black-throated Mango
Ringed Kingfisher
Amazon Kingfisher
Red-crowned Woodpecker
Pale-breasted Spinetail
Southern Beardless-Tyrannulet
Yellow-crowned Tyrannulet
Yellow-bellied Elaenia
Common Tody-Flycatcher
Pied Water-Tyrant
Dusky-capped Flycatcher
Panama Flycatcher
Lesser Kiskadee
Great Kiskadee
Boat-billed Flycatcher
Rusty-margined Flycatcher
Social Flycatcher
Tropical Kingbird
Fork-tailed Flycatcher
Southern Rough-winged Swallow
Barn Swallow
Plain Wren
House Wren
Tropical Mockingbird
Clay-colored Robin
Tropical Gnatcatcher
Lesser Greenlet
Yellow Warbler
Northern Waterthrush
Blue-black Grassquit
Variable Seedeater
Black-striped Sparrow
Streaked Saltator
Red-breasted Blackbird
Eastern Meadowlark
Great-tailed Grackle
Yellow-billed Cacique

Cerro Azul

Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture
Swallow-tailed Kite
Plumbeous Kite
White Hawk
Black Hawk-Eagle
American Kestrel
White-tipped Dove
Orange-chinned Parakeet
Yellow-crowned Parrot
Band-rumped Swift
White-tipped Sicklebill
Rufous-breasted Coquette
Sapphire-throated Hummingbird
Rufous-tailed Hummingbird
Blue-chested Hummingbird
Snowy-bellied Hummingbird
Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer
Violaceous Trogon
Keel-billed Toucan
Chestnut-mandibled Toucan
Crimson-crested Woodpecker
Black-striped Woodcreeper
Long-tailed Woodcreeper
White-ruffed Manakin
Scale-crested Pygmy-Tyrant
Black Phoebe
Buff-breasted Wren
White-breasted Wood-Wren
Song Wren
Bay-breasted Warbler
American Redstart
Bananaquit
Olive Tanager
White-shouldered Tanager
Hepatic Tanager
Summer Tanager
Crimson-backed Tanager
Blue-gray Tanager
Palm Tanager
Yellow-crowned Euphonia
Thick-billed Euphonia
Fulvous-vented Euphonia
Emerald Tanager
Speckled Tanager
Bay-headed Tanager
Rufous-winged Tanager
Golden-hooded Tanager
Scarlet-thighed Dacnis
Blue Dacnis
Green Honeycreeper
Red-legged Honeycreeper
Yellow-faced Grassquit

Costa del Este, Panama City

Brown Pelican
Neotropic Cormorant
Magnificent Frigatebird
Great Egret
Little Blue Heron
Snowy Egret
Black-bellied Plover
Short-billed Dowitcher
Whimbrel
Greater Yellowlegs
Lesser Yellowlegs
Willet
Red Knot
Sanderling
Semipalmated Sandpiper
Western Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper
Stilt Sandpiper
Laughing Gull
Franklin’s Gull
Royal Tern
Black Skimmer
Rock Pigeon



March 12-19  --  Playa Blanca


Note on Barceló Playa Blanca resort

We spent our second week at an all-inclusive resort on Playa Blanca, a popular vacation area on the Pacific coast, north of Panama City.  We experienced a few slight annoyances with the resort operation, but were satisfied overall.  Our intention was to have some relaxation time interspersed with three day-long inland excursions, organised by the staff of the Canopy Towers. 

The birding was surprisingly diverse around the resort, despite the ongoing development of the area, and the relatively limited species diversity typical of dry Pacific coast forests.  Our species list for the immediate Playa Blanca area is below.  The best two areas were at or near the mouths of two small rivers, one (Rio Fallaron) immediately south of the resort (and separating it from the Royal Decameron Resort to the south), and one about one km north along the beach.

From Don's Diary:

It is a typical seaside resort with fresh water swimming pools as well as the salt water beach.  Rooms were roomy and comfortable with good air-conditioning.  Maids made up the rooms daily.  The water here was also potable and safe to drink.  There is no forest handy but we did find a variety of habitats within strolling distance.  Some ponds and a few thickets provided quite a few birds, but not many new to the trip.  At the lifeguard station on the beach, green, yellow or red flags were flown.  Green was O.K. to swim and yellow was swim at your own risk (probably because of offshore winds or undertows).  Red was “don’t swim” and occurred when the tide was low and sting rays burrow beneath the sand.  We didn’t see the green flag up very often.

12 March - Travel from Canopy Tower to Playa Blanca (morning), Playa Blanca (afternoon):


Don's Diary:

Up at 06:00, Breakfast at 08:00

10:00 left by air-conditioned bus for Barceló Playa Blanca.  Stopped at the Summit golf course to see Southern Lapwings.  Drove across the Bridge of the Americas to the other side of the canal.

Stopped at a little shop (Quesos Chela) for cheese patties and a cold oatmeal drink recommended to us by Anna at the Tower.  Some liked it and some didn’t.

12:30 arrived at Barceló Playa Blanca.  Put our stuff away and had a very good lunch at the buffet.  The afternoon was our own to do with as we liked.

18:00 met to update our checklist and have some cool drinks.

Pat's Diary:

This was our last morning at Canopy Tower, and I was up at first light out on the observation deck so as not to miss a minute of it. We had our closest and best look at a Keel billed Toucan.

We left at 10a.m. in a bus for the Hotel Barceló at Playa Blanca. We had a couple of stops en route, firstly at a nearby golf course where we had been told to look for Southern Lapwings for everyone who had missed them at the Tocumen Marsh yesterday. I was somewhat surprised when the birds were exactly where we had been told to look for them, and this time everyone had reasonably good looks at them in the scope.

We crossed over the Canal at the Bridge of the Americas, and drove by some pretty spectacular mountains.  The other stop was at a particular wayside café, which is famous for its special oatmeal drinks. Blake ordered one for everyone. Most people liked them very much, but I was not keen, so I gave most of mine to Don.

We arrived at the Barceló in good time for lunch. We had a pleasant enough room, large in size, on the third floor, with a balcony overlooking a large freeform swimming pool. The food in the buffet for lunch was terrific – vast amount of choice, so much so that it was impossible to taste everything, even if you took only miniscule helpings.

We spent the rest of Saturday getting our bearings and settling in at the Barceló. One of our first activities was to go to the ocean for a dip in the briny. We had brought our snorkels in the hopes that there would be something to see, but unfortunately the water was very murky, and it was impossible to see anything more than a foot from your face. The ocean bottom was sand, which also made it unlikely that there would be anything much there, even if the visibility was terrific. This was a bit of a blow, but the water was lovely and warm, and the waves were good, so we enjoyed floundering around with the rest of the keen swimmers in our group. Unfortunately, as the tide went out we were chased from the water by the lifeguards. At first we thought this was because they were worried about dangerous undercurrents sweeping us out to sea, but eventually we discovered it was because they were concerned that we might step on a sting ray, which bury themselves in the sand, and can be stood on by the unwary when the water is low.

Ken went out and did some birding, and came back with reports that the birding was, perhaps surprisingly, quite good, given the lack of trees in the immediate vicinity, and we made plans to go on an early morning walk led by Ken the next day.

13 March - Playa Blanca (all day):

Pat's Diary:

We were up relatively early for Ken’s early morning walk, which started along the beach and then headed up the bank of the Falleron River. The birds were plentiful, and we had good looks at a Caracara. We spent quite a long time chasing Crested Bobwhites, but only achieved fairly distant views of them. (The Fallaron River is quite large, and although it is possible to ford it right on the beach at low tide, it is impossible to cross anywhere else without swimming, so care has to be taken to watch the state of the tide when crossing. Its presence so close to our swimming beach is probably responsible for the murkiness of the water leading to the lack of snorkelling.)

In the afternoon we went to investigate the possibilities of riding horses and/or taking a kayak trip. We ended up booking a kayak trip, and in the late afternoon we met up with our guide Pablo, who spoke no English. However, Alasdair’s rudimentary Spanish seemed to work most of the time, and we set off in a double kayak, me in front, with Pablo in a single kayak leading the way. The normal trip goes a very short distance up the Fallaron River before retreating back to the ocean and heading along the coast to the next resort – the Decameron. We decided that the river would make a much more interesting trip than paddling along the coast, so we tried to explain all this in pigeon Spanish to Pablo. Somewhat surprisingly, Pablo got the gist of what we were trying to communicate, and we ended up with a most enjoyable long, leisurely paddle up the river. There were plenty of birds along the  river bank, and they seemed to allow us to approach surprisingly close in the kayak without flying away. We had good looks at Pelicans, Black Vultures, Great and Snowy Egrets, Little Blue Heron, Ringed Kingfisher to name just a few. We passed through a fishing village, and met some locals paddling a dugout canoe. There were also a couple of folk in swimming. Eventually we ended up at what Pablo explained was the back of the Decameron resort.

Don's Diary:

Up at 05:50 and went birding with Ken at 06:30.  Only got one lifer today but it was a covey of Crested Bobwhites.  Nothing was scheduled for today.  09:00 breakfast and then back to room to cool off.  Had lunch at the buffet, then sat on the beach and watched the pelicans and terns diving.  Had a quick swim in the Pacific which was very nice on a hot day.

Click here for the Cumulative Playa Blanca Bird List.

14 March - El Valle de Anton (all day):

Don's Diary:


Up at 05:45 and a small breakfast was available to us at 06:00.  06:30 left by air-conditioned bus for El Valle de Anton in Cocle Province with Jose and Danilo (another very competent guide)

El Valle is a big crater left when a volcano blew its top off.  Some of the hills are heavily treed while others are bare.  Drove up by Chorro El Macho where Canopy Adventure is located.  Turned back when we got into fog and drizzle and birded at lower level.

We had lunch at the home of Raul Arias de Para, owner of Canopy Tower.  It was beautifully located with a stream running below and feeders set up for serving bananas.  These attracted a goodly number of tanagers and Chestnut-headed Oropendolas.  Flower gardens attracted hummingbirds, including a Rufous–crested Coquette.  Hammocks and chairs were set up in which to relax and watch the birdlife.  Raul took us for a look at his new lodge which is under construction.  It certainly would be a nicer place to stay than at the seaside resort which is uncomfortably hot.  I gave Raul my Nova Scotia Bird Society hat pin, a small token of our thanks for the way we were being treated.

Food was made by Raul’s own cook and was excellent.  We had a chicken paella, salad and banana cake.

We stopped at some gift shops in El Valle.  Supper back at the resort’s buffet.  22:00 to bed

Click here for the Cumulative El Valle de Anton Bird List.

15 March - Playa Blanca (all day):

A day of leisure -- no planned activities.

Click here for the Cumulative Playa Blanca Bird List.

16 March - El Chiru (morning), El Valle de Anton (noon & afternoon):

Pat's Diary:

We were up betimes to catch the bus for our birding trip to El Valle etc. Our guides for the day were José, whom we knew from last week at Canopy Tower, and Danilo, another of Raoul’s guides. The first stop en route was at a new trail which had just been made at El Chiru. We arrived there when it was still dark, and were able to listen to the sounds of the birds before dawn, which included the call of a Common Pauraque, a bird of the nightjar family. As dawn broke we were able to see enough to be able to follow a very pretty, but somewhat narrow trail for such a large group. It was difficult for everyone to see the birds which the guides found.

Back in the bus, we drove on to El Valle, which is located inside the crater of a volcano. The route driving up and into the volcano crater is very scenic, with good mountain views. We had a short stop at an orchid farm to please the botanists amongst us, and indeed it was interesting to see how they went about propagating orchids. Then it was on to Raoul’s newest place, which he is developing as another ecolodge to complement Canopy Tower. There was a special hummingbird feeder spot carved out in the jungle, where we stopped for 15-20 minutes to see the hummingbirds. Then we walked over a very rickety feeling and wildly swinging footbridge over a small river, and followed the river downstream towards Raoul’s house, where we were to eat our lunch. The path by the river was a particularly lovely walk, with lots of interesting shrubs and trees to look at, as well as lots of birds. Just before we arrived at the house, the river opened out and emptied into the most gorgeous “natural swimming hole” I have ever seen. The water was crystal clear, yet warm, and the banks of the pool were covered with beautiful tropical vegetation. It was so lovely that it was hard to restrain oneself from jumping in for a quick plunge immediately, but we were expected for lunch, so we had to keep moving onward.

We arrived at the house, and once more it was hard to imagine a more beautiful spot. The dining area was open to the garden on three sides, and what a garden it was! The flowers and the shrubs were gorgeous, and there were four or five bird feeding stations well supplied with bananas, which were already attracting lots of attention from the birds. There were so many of them it was difficult to know which way to look first – many different tanagers, a Red-crowned Woodpecker, a Tennessee Warbler, and of course the Oropendolas, the biggest and noisiest of all the birds. I sat down in a rocking chair and prepared to be entranced by all the avian activity. Hummingbirds flitted past including a fleeting glimpse of a Rufous-crested Coquette. A Tody Flycatcher was building a nest in a creeping vine against the wall of an adjacent building. There were wonderful stand-offs for the bananas between a Clay Coloured Robin and a much smaller Blue Grey Tanager. A Rufous Motmot paid a visit to the feeder furthest from the house, giving us the best look at this species that we had ever had. And of course the Chestnut-headed Oropendolas were everywhere, making their funny “gobbly” noises somewhat reminiscent of champagne bottles being opened and poured out. There was so much to see and enjoy that it was almost hard to drag oneself away to the lunch table.

The food was of course, excellent, and we were able to keep one eye on the bird feeding stations at the same time as keeping the other eye on our own plates, and there was time for another short sit in the hammocks and rocking chairs after we had finished eating before we were reluctantly herded back to the bus for the return journey. The bus driver was persuaded to go back via Fallaron Village, so that we could see the ruined and deserted house of the infamous General Noriaga, and also so that everyone could visit the tourist shop that Ally and I had found yesterday. We got back to the Barceló just in time for me to have a late afternoon swim before the group assembled for the bird lists and supper. Then it was early to bed after such an early start to the day.

Don's Diary:

Up at 04:00 and a small breakfast available to us at 04:30.  Left at 05:00 on air-conditioned bus to reach El Chiru as dawn was breaking.  Heard a nightjar calling which Jose identified as a Pauraque.  Had a Gray-headed Chachalaca fly in close to us and then quickly fly away.  Walked around the path that Danilo and friends had created.

Drove to El Valle and had lunch again at Raul’s (pork and beans and rice).  Birded in area and saw the Sleeping Princess hills.  Visited an orchid growing establishment (Asociacion de Productores de Orquideas de El Valle y Cabuya) .  Here, and in other places, there were locals banging on drums and carrying icons to celebrate San José.  I had earlier asked Danilo if it was our José and he replied that our José was “no san”.

On the way back to the resort we had the bus driver take us past Noriega’s house.  It is gated and locked from the street side and was overgrown and vandalized.  We drove behind the De Cameron Resort and shopped at a gift store there.
Got back to the resort at 17:00 and had a short nap.  Had supper at the buffet at 19:30 and went to bed at 20:30.

Click here for the Cumulative El Valle de Anton Bird List.

El Chiru Bird List:

Gray-headed Chachalaca
Scaled Pigeon
Pale-vented Pigeon
Ruddy Ground-Dove
Blue Ground-Dove
White-tipped Dove
Smooth-billed Ani
Pauraque
Blue-crowned Motmot
Chestnut-mandibled Toucan
Red-crowned Woodpecker
Barred Antshrike
Lance-tailed Manakin
Southern Beardless-Tyrannulet
Yellow-bellied Elaenia
Lesser Elaenia
Tropical Pewee
Dusky-capped Flycatcher
Panama Flycatcher
Great Kiskadee
Boat-billed Flycatcher
Social Flycatcher
Tropical Kingbird
Fork-tailed Flycatcher
Rufous-breasted Wren
Rufous-and-white Wren
House Wren
Clay-colored Robin
Yellow-green Vireo
Scrub Greenlet
Rufous-browed Peppershrike
Blue-black Grassquit
Variable Seedeater
Black-striped Sparrow
Streaked Saltator
Great-tailed Grackle

17 March - Playa Blanca (all day):

Don's Diary:

Up at 06:45 and had breakfast at 07:00.  Birded around the resort in the morning

At 13:00 most of us went snorkeling off an island close to our beach.  The island had a number of Magnificent Frigatebirds and Brown Pelicans roosting on it and was coverd with guano.  The water was great and there were a variety of fish to be seen, and a number of us had trouble getting back on board until we realized we should take our fins off first.

The tour boat from the Decameron resort broke down and our boat had to tow it back.  Our guy then took us over to the beach behind Noriega’s house and we all walked through it.  Some of us picked and ate tamarinds from the property.  The boat time was longer than scheduled but very few of us had bills in our bathing suits to tip the captain for taking us to Noriega’s.

At 19:00 we lined up for the A La Carte restaurant but found they had lost our reservations.  Most of us ate instead at a small open spot by the beach called Restaurante Velero.  I liked my calamari and others seemed to like their sea bass (red snapper?) done in either a garlic or tomato sauce.  It was more comfortable than the buffet since a breeze was blowing through, and there was hardly anyone else there.  We drank lots of wine

Pat's Diary:

We got up for a short walk along the beach before breakfast. Alasdair decided to leave the cameras behind this time, and to just enjoy the walk unencumbered. This proved to be a bit of a pity, as it was a most photogenic scene that met our eyes! The local fishermen were coming in to land their catches at the village, and it was a very arresting and attractive sight. All the people in the village, men, women and children were there, together with the local pack of dogs. Pelicans, Frigatebirds, and Vultures were circling in the air overhead in their dozens. The boldest of the vultures landed on the beach, hoping for the odd bit of waste fish scrap to come their way, and amazingly the dogs and the vultures ignored each other, even when they were sometimes extremely close to each other.

At one o’clock, 12 members of our party assembled to catch the boat to go snorkelling. The ride out to Fallaron Island in the pontoon boat was choppy, but pleasant enough, and nobody was seasick. The island is inhabited by hundreds of pelicans and frigatebirds, and smelt of guano quite strongly. It has a couple of sea caves which go right through the island, so you can see from one side to the other at low tide.

We anchored at a rocky bit just to the left of the island, and we all donned our masks, and snorkelled. The water was a bit clearer than back at the resort, and there were some fish around to be seen, but compared with Cuba or Costa Rica it was a bit of a disappointment. One of the boatmen came in the water with us, and dived down and produced starfish and sea cucumbers for us to look at. As far as fish went, I saw needlefish, parrotfish, and boxfish, also a few butterfly fish, and the striped fish that I think are called ‘sergeant majors’. There was also a very pretty blue fish with a bright yellow patch girdling its back. After about 45 minutes in the water, we were summoned back to the boat. Another boat from the rival hotel in Falleron, which had been there when we arrived, had broken down and needed our assistance to return to shore. A towrope was produced, and it hitched itself up to our stern, and off we went. We pulled them right round the island, so that everyone got a good view of all the birds, and then towed them back to the Decameron Hotel in Falleron village.

After dropping them off, our boat took us a short way up the coast and stopped just beside General Noriaga’s house, which we had seen from the landward side yesterday. General Noriaga is apparently presently in jail in Florida for some of his multitudinous crimes. Our guides said that if he ever dares to come back to Panama, he will be sent straight to jail here as well. We disembarked from our boat, and our guides took us up into Noriega’s ‘garden’ – now a total wilderness, and picked some cashew nut fruits, tamarinds, and almonds from his fruit trees. The fruit of a cashew is particularly juicy, and was very refreshing on a hot afternoon. We then explored the ruins of what must have been a magnificent villa at one time, but now was extremely squalid and totally wrecked – broken glass, and worse, was everywhere on the ground, and you had to be extremely careful where you walked. However, the only corpse encountered in the house was that of a bat.

We were quite glad to leave such squalid surroundings, and climb aboard the boat for the short ride down the coast to the Barceló.  Once back I went out by myself in search of the Caracara nest that the others had discovered somewhere near the parking lot, and a Pearl Kite nest that had been found near a small pond. I managed to find the pond, and I did see a Caracara, but could not find either of the nests, so eventually I gave up
.
It was a bit of a rush to get back to our room and changed for our dinner, which was to be in the “A la carte restaurant” this evening, but we made it for 7 o’clock, the appointed hour. Alan and Mary Jane were already there, and had encountered some difficulties in that the restaurant did not seem to be expecting our group, so we waited for Blake, who had made the reservation to get things sorted out. Joan arrived wearing a lei of shamrocks – we had forgotten all about St Paddy’s Day. Blake came and tried to get us in – to no avail – so rather reluctantly we were shuffled off down to the local lunchtime restaurant on the beach. We decided to make the best of it, and in any case it was a very picturesque spot, with the waves breaking on the beach in front of us, and a lovely cooling sea breeze blowing gently through the open-air building. The food was fine, but not particularly memorable. The wine was good, and there was plenty of it.

Cumulative Playa Blanca Bird List

Highlights included various nesting raptors (Pearl Kite, Mangrove Black Hawk, Yellow-headed Caracara), as well as a Reddish Egret that shifted between both river mouths.  Not only is the species rare in Panama, but it was apparently intermediate between the white and red morphs, so doubly rare.

Brown Pelican
Blue-footed Booby
Brown Booby
Neotropic Cormorant
Magnificent Frigatebird
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Reddish Egret
Tricolored Heron
Little Blue Heron
Snowy Egret
Cattle Egret
Green Heron
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron
Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture
Osprey
Pearl Kite
Mangrove Black-Hawk
Roadside Hawk
Crested Caracara
Yellow-headed Caracara
American Kestrel
Merlin
Peregrine Falcon
Gray-headed Chachalaca
Crested Bobwhite
Wattled Jacana
Semipalmated Plover
Wilson’s Plover
Whimbrel
Greater Yellowlegs
Lesser Yellowlegs
Solitary Sandpiper
Spotted Sandpiper
Willet
Sanderling
Least Sandpiper
Laughing Gull
Gull-billed Tern
Sandwich Tern
Royal Tern
Common Tern
Ruddy Ground-Dove
White-tipped Dove
Brown-throated Parakeet
Mangrove Cuckoo
Squirrel Cuckoo
Smooth-billed Ani
Sapphire-throated Hummingbird
Rufous-tailed Hummingbird
Snowy-bellied Hummingbird
Ringed Kingfisher
Amazon Kingfisher
Blue-crowned Motmot
Chestnut-mandibled Toucan
Red-crowned Woodpecker
Barred Antshrike
Yellow-crowned Tyrannulet
Mouse-colored Tyrannulet
Yellow-bellied Elaenia
Lesser Elaenia
Black-headed Tody-Flycatcher
Common Tody-Flycatcher
Dusky-capped Flycatcher
Panama Flycatcher
Great Kiskadee
Rusty-margined Flycatcher
Social Flycatcher
Streaked Flycatcher
Tropical Kingbird
Fork-tailed Flycatcher
Gray-breasted Martin
Southern Rough-winged Swallow
Cliff Swallow
Barn Swallow
House Wren
Tropical Mockingbird
Clay-colored Robin
Black-chested Jay
Yellow-green Vireo
Philadelphia Vireo
Rufous-browed Peppershrike
Tennessee Warbler
Yellow Warbler
Bay-breasted Warbler
Northern Waterthrush
Rufous-capped Warbler
Summer Tanager
Blue-gray Tanager
Palm Tanager
Blue-black Grassquit
Variable Seedeater
Ruddy-breasted Seedeater
Streaked Saltator
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Great-tailed Grackle
Baltimore Oriole
Lesser Goldfinch


18 March - El Valle de Anton (all day):

Don's Diary:

Up at 05:30 and a small breakfast at 06:00.  Left at 06:30 for El Valle in an air-conditioned bus with Jose and Danilo.   Passed the house of Noriega’s brother-in-law.

Birded El Valle in the morning.  Had great looks at a three-toed sloth close above our heads.  At 12:30 we had lunch again at Raul’s.  Delicious Panamanian chicken soup consisting of chunks of chicken, potatoes, corn, plantain on which we ladled broth.  Dessert was fresh pineapple and palm leaf cookies.

We stopped in El Valle again to buy more gifts and visit the grocery store.  Back at the resort we had supper at 19:00 at the A La Carte restaurant.  My meal of caesar salad, fish chowder and fish vol au vente was excellent.

Pat's Diary:

I was up extra early to go on a quick trip with Ken to see the Pearl Kite on its nest. It is extremely well hidden – I just saw its head. We also saw 2 Peregrines. We had a quick breakfast, and then we all piled onto the bus to go to El Valle again. We had a lovely early morning walk up “Carre Iguana” – named after a hill which is supposed to resemble an Iguana’s head. We saw lots of birds, but nothing that particularly stands out in my memory. We were back briefly at the hummingbird feeders, and then over the rickety bridge and down the path towards Raoul’s house. Before we got there however, we turn off the route and scrambled up a very steep narrow path in search of Tody Motmots. Jose and Danilo heard them calling, and eventually after a stiff climb, managed to get on in the spotting scope fleetingly, but only Ken was able to see the bird before it flew.

Since path was too steep and rough for most of the group, we gave up and went back down the hill to Raoul’s place for lunch. Lunch was, as we had come to expect, a delicious meal – chicken soup and a salad. After we had finished, there was a brief opportunity for those who wanted to, to go back to the swimming hole for a quick, cooling swim. The water was quite cool, but not freezing, and it was a most refreshing experience in most beautiful surroundings.

All too soon it was time to leave El Valle for the last time. We had a quick stop for last minute souvenirs.

We were back at the Barcelo by 4.00p.m. so that there was plenty of time to do packing. I flung a few things into a suitcase, and then decided that this was a waste of perfectly good birding time, not to mention swimming time, so I stopped and went off by myself to see if I could relocate the Pearl Kite. Even although I now knew exactly which tree it was nesting in, and even pretty approximately where the nest was in that tree, I was still unable to locate either the bird or the nest. However, all was not lost, as I had a very good view of a Black-shouldered Kite mobbing a Crested Caracara instead.

Today was the day we finally got to eat in the proper “A la carte” restaurant – Blake had made very sure that nothing went wrong with our reservations this time. I was a bit disappointed to learn that two items on the menu were unavailable – the avocado salad, and the chocolate meringues for dessert – both things I would have liked to have sampled. However, the stuffed eggplant as an appetiser, followed by filet mignon was very good. No one lingered very long at the end of the meal as we all had to pack for a very early start to the airport in the morning. I was in bed by 10.20p.m.

Cumulative El Valle de Anton Bird List:

Hightlights were numerous, but Barred Hawk was perhaps our rarest sighting. 

Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture
Swallow-tailed Kite
Barred Hawk
White Hawk
Roadside Hawk
Broad-winged Hawk
Short-tailed Hawk
Barred Forest-Falcon
Gray-headed Chachalaca
Pale-vented Pigeon
Ruddy Ground-Dove
White-tipped Dove
Orange-chinned Parakeet
Blue-headed Parrot
Squirrel Cuckoo
Smooth-billed Ani
Striped Cuckoo
Band-rumped Swift
Green Hermit
Stripe-throated Hermit
Rufous-crested Coquette
Garden Emerald
Violet-crowned Woodnymph
Sapphire-throated Hummingbird
Rufous-tailed Hummingbird
Blue-chested Hummingbird
Snowy-bellied Hummingbird
Green-crowned Brilliant
Long-billed Starthroat
Ringed Kingfisher
Tody Motmot
Rufous Motmot
Broad-billed Motmot
Emerald Toucanet
Collared Aracari
Keel-billed Toucan
Red-crowned Woodpecker
Plain Xenops
Cocoa Woodcreeper
Spotted Woodcreeper
Barred Antshrike
Spot-crowned Antvireo
White-bellied Antbird
Chestnut-backed Antbird
Black-faced Antthrush
Golden-collared Manakin
Lance-tailed Manakin
Yellow-bellied Elaenia
Lesser Elaenia
Sepia-capped Flycatcher
Paltry Tyrannulet
Scale-crested Pygmy-Tyrant
Common Tody-Flycatcher
Tropical Pewee
Dusky-capped Flycatcher
Great Kiskadee
Boat-billed Flycatcher
Social Flycatcher
Piratic Flycatcher
Tropical Kingbird
Fork-tailed Flycatcher
Masked Tityra
Gray-breasted Martin
Barn Swallow
Rufous-breasted Wren
Bay Wren
Rufous-and-white Wren
Plain Wren
House Wren
Scaly-breasted Wren
Clay-colored Robin
Long-billed Gnatwren
Black-chested Jay
Yellow-green Vireo
Lesser Greenlet
Golden-winged Warbler
Tennessee Warbler
Yellow Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Bay-breasted Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
American Redstart
Canada Warbler
Louisiana Waterthrush
Rufous-capped Warbler
Buff-rumped Warbler
Bananaquit
Common Bush-Tanager
Rosy Thrush-Tanager
Dusky-faced Tanager
White-shouldered Tanager
Tawny-crested Tanager
White-lined Tanager
Red-crowned Ant-Tanager
Summer Tanager
Crimson-backed Tanager
Flame-rumped Tanager
Blue-gray Tanager
Palm Tanager
Yellow-crowned Euphonia
Thick-billed Euphonia
Tawny-capped Euphonia
Plain-colored Tanager
Silver-throated Tanager
Bay-headed Tanager
Scarlet-thighed Dacnis
Green Honeycreeper
Red-legged Honeycreeper
Blue-black Grassquit
Variable Seedeater
Yellow-faced Grassquit
Streaked Saltator
Buff-throated Saltator
Black-faced Grosbeak
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Blue-black Grosbeak
Eastern Meadowlark
Great-tailed Grackle
Scarlet-rumped Cacique
Chestnut-headed Oropendola


19 March - Travel to Panama City airport, and home

Don's Diary:

Up at 04:30 breakfast at 05:00.  Bus left at 05:30 and arrived at airport at 07:00

Continental (Boeing 737) Flt CO886 Leaving 10:50 from Panama City
Arriving Newark 15:52 – arrived ½ hour early

Continental (Embraer RJ145) FLT CO2453 leaving 17:05
Arriving Halifax 20:36

Arrived to snow flurries in Halifax although we quickly drove out of them on the road into the city.

Pat's Diary:

We were up before the crack of dawn, and then down to the restaurant to look for the promised light breakfast. No food! We proceeded to the reception area to see if it was there – no food!! The man on the reception desk tried phoning to get it sorted out. We then discovered that there were no bellboys either to retrieve our luggage from our rooms, so we made off with a luggage trolley to do it ourselves. The porters caught up with us just as we were discovering that the luggage trolleys did not fit into the lift to go up to our third floor room. The porters gave us to understand that it was necessary to bring the luggage down from the rooms to the ground floor by hand, and then put it on the trolley, so we let them take over.

We were on the bus at 5.30a.m. and arrived with plenty of time to spare at the airport. The flights to Newark and then on to Halifax were uneventful. We returned to light snow, but at least it wasn’t a blizzard like last year.

And so ended the third trip of the Maritimes Nature Travel Club.  We were pleased with what we had experienced, especially considering the reasonable total cost of $3500 Cdn per person, including everything but airfare.  This was, mind you, our most expensive trip to date, but given the experience of the Canopy Tower, it was worth it. 

Our final group bird species list was 344 species (a few heard-only).

Final Trip Bird List:

Great Tinamou
Little Tinamou
Least Grebe
Brown Pelican
Blue-footed Booby
Brown Booby
Neotropic Cormorant
Anhinga
Magnificent Frigatebird
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Reddish Egret
Tricolored Heron
Little Blue Heron
Snowy Egret
Cattle Egret
Striated Heron
Green Heron
Black-crowned Night-Heron
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron
Boat-billed Heron
Rufescent Tiger-Heron
Wood Stork
White Ibis
Muscovy Duck
Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture
Osprey
Gray-headed Kite
Swallow-tailed Kite
Pearl Kite
White-tailed Kite
Snail Kite
Double-toothed Kite
Plumbeous Kite
Crane Hawk
Barred Hawk
White Hawk
Common Black-Hawk
Mangrove Black-Hawk
Savanna Hawk
Gray Hawk
Roadside Hawk
Broad-winged Hawk
Short-tailed Hawk
Swainson’s Hawk
Black Hawk-Eagle
Crested Caracara
Yellow-headed Caracara
Barred Forest-Falcon
American Kestrel
Merlin
Bat Falcon
Peregrine Falcon
Gray-headed Chachalaca
Crested Bobwhite
White-throated Crake
Purple Gallinule
Common Moorhen
Wattled Jacana
Black-necked Stilt
Southern Lapwing
Black-bellied Plover
Semipalmated Plover
Wilson’s Plover
Short-billed Dowitcher
Whimbrel
Greater Yellowlegs
Lesser Yellowlegs
Solitary Sandpiper
Spotted Sandpiper
Willet
Red Knot
Sanderling
Semipalmated Sandpiper
Western Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper
Stilt Sandpiper
Laughing Gull
Franklin’s Gull
Gull-billed Tern
Sandwich Tern
Royal Tern
Common Tern
Black Skimmer
Rock Pigeon
Scaled Pigeon
Pale-vented Pigeon
Short-billed Pigeon
Plain-breasted Ground-Dove
Ruddy Ground-Dove
Blue Ground-Dove
White-tipped Dove
Gray-chested Dove
Brown-throated Parakeet
Orange-chinned Parakeet
Brown-hooded Parrot
Blue-headed Parrot
Red-lored Parrot
Yellow-crowned Parrot
Mealy Parrot
Mangrove Cuckoo
Squirrel Cuckoo
Greater Ani
Smooth-billed Ani
Striped Cuckoo
Spectacled Owl
Common Potoo
Pauraque
White-collared Swift
Band-rumped Swift
Short-tailed Swift
Lesser Swallow-tailed Swift
White-tipped Sicklebill
Green Hermit
Western Long-tailed Hermit
Stripe-throated Hermit
White-necked Jacobin
Black-throated Mango
Rufous-crested Coquette
Garden Emerald
Violet-crowned Woodnymph
Violet-bellied Hummingbird
Sapphire-throated Hummingbird
Rufous-tailed Hummingbird
Blue-chested Hummingbird
Snowy-bellied Hummingbird
White-vented Plumeleteer
Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer
Green-crowned Brilliant
Purple-crowned Fairy
Long-billed Starthroat
White-tailed Trogon
Violaceous Trogon
Black-throated Trogon
Black-tailed Trogon
Slaty-tailed Trogon
Ringed Kingfisher
Amazon Kingfisher
Green Kingfisher
American Pygmy Kingfisher
Tody Motmot
Blue-crowned Motmot
Rufous Motmot
Broad-billed Motmot
Great Jacamar
Black-breasted Puffbird
Pied Puffbird
White-whiskered Puffbird
Spot-crowned Barbet
Emerald Toucanet
Collared Aracari
Keel-billed Toucan
Chestnut-mandibled Toucan
Black-cheeked Woodpecker
Red-crowned Woodpecker
Cinnamon Woodpecker
Lineated Woodpecker
Crimson-crested Woodpecker
Pale-breasted Spinetail
Plain Xenops
Long-tailed Woodcreeper
Northern Barred-Woodcreeper
Straight-billed Woodcreeper
Cocoa Woodcreeper
Black-striped Woodcreeper
Spotted Woodcreeper
Fasciated Antshrike
Great Antshrike
Barred Antshrike
Western Slaty-Antshrike
Spot-crowned Antvireo
Checker-throated Antwren
White-flanked Antwren
Dot-winged Antwren
Dusky Antbird
White-bellied Antbird
Chestnut-backed Antbird
Bicolored Antbird
Spotted Antbird
Black-faced Antthrush
Streak-chested Antpitta
Speckled Mourner
Blue Cotinga
Purple-throated Fruitcrow
Golden-collared Manakin
White-ruffed Manakin
Lance-tailed Manakin
Blue-crowned Manakin
Red-capped Manakin
Brown-capped Tyrannulet
Southern Beardless-Tyrannulet
Mouse-colored Tyrannulet
Yellow-crowned Tyrannulet
Forest Elaenia
Greenish Elaenia
Yellow-bellied Elaenia
Lesser Elaenia
Sepia-capped Flycatcher
Yellow-green Tyrannulet
Paltry Tyrannulet
Northern Scrub-Flycatcher
Black-capped Pygmy-Tyrant
Scale-crested Pygmy-Tyrant
Southern Bentbill
Black-headed Tody-Flycatcher
Common Tody-Flycatcher
Brownish Flycatcher
Olivaceous Flatbill
Yellow-olive Flycatcher
Ruddy-tailed Flycatcher
Black-tailed Flycatcher
Tropical Pewee
Acadian Flycatcher
Black Phoebe
Pied Water-Tyrant
Long-tailed Tyrant
Bright-rumped Attila
Rufous Mourner
Dusky-capped Flycatcher
Panama Flycatcher
Great Crested Flycatcher
Lesser Kiskadee
Great Kiskadee
Boat-billed Flycatcher
Rusty-margined Flycatcher
Social Flycatcher
Streaked Flycatcher
Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher
Piratic Flycatcher
Tropical Kingbird
Fork-tailed Flycatcher
Thrush-like Schiffornis
Cinnamon Becard
Masked Tityra
Black-crowned Tityra
Gray-breasted Martin
Mangrove Swallow
Southern Rough-winged Swallow
Cliff Swallow
Barn Swallow
Black-bellied Wren
Rufous-breasted Wren
Bay Wren
Rufous-and-white Wren
Plain Wren
Buff-breasted Wren
House Wren
White-breasted Wood-Wren
Scaly-breasted Wren
Song Wren
Tropical Mockingbird
Clay-colored Robin
Tawny-faced Gnatwren
Long-billed Gnatwren
Tropical Gnatcatcher
Black-chested Jay
Yellow-throated Vireo
Philadelphia Vireo
Yellow-green Vireo
Scrub Greenlet
Golden-fronted Greenlet
Lesser Greenlet
Green Shrike-Vireo
Rufous-browed Peppershrike
Golden-winged Warbler
Tennessee Warbler
Yellow Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Bay-breasted Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
American Redstart
Prothonotary Warbler
Northern Waterthrush
Louisiana Waterthrush
Kentucky Warbler
Canada Warbler
Rufous-capped Warbler
Buff-rumped Warbler
Bananaquit
Common Bush-Tanager
Rosy Thrush-Tanager
Dusky-faced Tanager
Olive Tanager
Gray-headed Tanager
White-shouldered Tanager
Tawny-crested Tanager
White-lined Tanager
Red-crowned Ant-Tanager
Red-throated Ant-Tanager
Hepatic Tanager
Summer Tanager
Crimson-collared Tanager
Crimson-backed Tanager
Flame-rumped Tanager
Blue-gray Tanager
Palm Tanager
Yellow-crowned Euphonia
Thick-billed Euphonia
Fulvous-vented Euphonia
Tawny-capped Euphonia
Plain-colored Tanager
Emerald Tanager
Silver-throated Tanager
Speckled Tanager
Bay-headed Tanager
Rufous-winged Tanager
Golden-hooded Tanager
Scarlet-thighed Dacnis
Blue Dacnis
Green Honeycreeper
Red-legged Honeycreeper
Blue-black Grassquit
Variable Seedeater
Yellow-bellied Seedeater
Ruddy-breasted Seedeater
Thick-billed Seed-Finch
Yellow-faced Grassquit
Saffron Finch
Orange-billed Sparrow
Black-striped Sparrow
Streaked Saltator
Buff-throated Saltator
Black-headed Saltator
Slate-colored Grosbeak
Black-faced Grosbeak
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Blue-black Grosbeak
Red-breasted Blackbird
Eastern Meadowlark
Great-tailed Grackle
Shiny Cowbird
Bronzed Cowbird
Giant Cowbird
Yellow-backed Oriole
Yellow-tailed Oriole
Baltimore Oriole
Orchard Oriole
Yellow-billed Cacique
Yellow-rumped Cacique
Scarlet-rumped Cacique
Chestnut-headed Oropendola
Lesser Goldfinch


Final Trip Mammal List:

Northern Tamandua  --  Tamandua mexicana
Brown-throated Three-toed Sloth -- Bradypus variegatus
Hoffmann's Two-toed Sloth -- Choloepus hoffmanni
Mantled Howler Monkey -- Alouatta palliata
White-faced Capuchin -- Cebus olivaceus
Geoffrey's Tamarin -- Saguinus geoffroyi
Red-tailed Squirrel -- Sciurus granatensis
Variegated Squirrel -- Sciurus variegatoides
Kinkajou -- Potos flavus
White-nosed Coati -- Nasua narica


Please feel free to contact me if you have any comments or questions.

Blake Maybank
Maritimes Nature Travel Club
http://maybank.tripod.com/MNTC/MNTC-info.htm
maybank AT ns.sympatico.ca
White's Lake, Nova Scotia, Canada




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