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Owling in the Kitchen

While strolling the streets of Warwick, NY with a friend a few weeks ago I happened to glance in the window of Newhard’s (one of my favorite stores).  I continued walking until what I had seen registered and I backed up.  There was an owl towel hanging in there.  My kitchen towels are a little threadbare and I had just been thinking I needed to get some new ones.

They are hand printed silkscreens  on cotton by Janet Howard-Fatta, a local artist and come in 3 colors, dark green, brown and a mustardy gold.

Now here is the question…What types of owls do you think they are?

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Big Changes Coming

I have made the decision (finally, after talking about it for at least a year.) to collapse my 2 blogs.  Basically nothing will change here other than the name (in the short-term), but the old Murmuring Trees will go away (as soon as I can make a hard copy of the entire thing.)  As you can see I flipped the name of the blog already and will start to work on switching to my own domain (yeah, I’ve owned it for, mmm, maybe 2 years).  Hang in there with me.


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Bird Photography Weekly

juvie Tiger Heron

We climbed onto the open-air truck with more than a few nervous glances at the dark threatening sky. The day before it had clabbered up and even rained a few drops, but then cleared. We were hoping for a repeat of that. Just as we crossed the Chagres River (where I saw a Gray-necked Woodrail walking on the waterlillies) it started to drizzle. By the time we arrived at the ponds it was a warm steady rain.  I popped open my mini-umbrella to protect the camera.  We ambled across the street blinking the rain from our eyes and peering up into the trees. 

The juvenile Rufescent Tiger Heron that I had seen a few days earlier begging for food (and being ignored by its mama) was standing at the edge of the pond.  As we stepped onto the grass under the canopy a huge swarm of mosquitos decended like a biblical plague of locusts.   We beat a hasty retreat and I passed around the DEET spray  (I alway carry it around.  Bugs seem to like me.)  Once we were chemically protected we turned again to birding. 

By this time the Tiger Heron was picking its way along the patch of grass next to the road.  The light was gray and flat, and I had to use flash, but you can see how beautiful it was strutting amidst the diamond drops.


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International Vulture Awareness Day 09

Black Vulture

From the top of the Canopy Tower, I was in the sky realm of the Vultures. They drifted over the valley, played in the drafts and chased each other. Black Vultures have a lot of personality, much more than Turkey Vultures. Sorry. But you really need to spend some quality time in the clouds to see it.

They are both lovely though in the early morning light.

Turkey Vulture

Not for nuthin’ but our world would be pretty gross without them, eh?


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Birding from the top of the Canopy Tower

Sunrise from the roof of the Canopy Tower

With a view of the Panama Canal and the surrounding  forest canopy, the Canopy Tower is an incredible place to stand in the early morning light.  I climbed the narrow steps to pop my head above the hatch to see the vista open before me.  As I walked in wonder around the roof, a flicker of movement caught my eye in a cecropia tree.  There, facing east, as if waiting for the sun’s rays to dazzle the eye, were 2 Golden-hooded Tanagers.  Nice. 

Golden-hooded Tanagers

I continued my walk around the huge yellow dome with a jig in my step.   

Roof of Canopy Tower

Both Turkey and Black Vultures were swirling around at eye level.  Three Red-lored Parrots landed in a clump of leaves and disappeared.  A Keel-billed Toucan clacked in a tree across the way. 


Each direction had new trees to scan.  I made the turn on my route around the dome when a flash of blue zipped into a cecropia tree.  I stared in disbelief.  My first lifer in Panama was not a little nondescript something, something, but…Holy Crap… a Blue Continga.

blue continga

I’ll tell you more about all of this tomorrow. Right now the rain is letting up and there are birds to see.


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Hanging with Monkeys in Panama

I drifted out of a dream to the unearthly sound of Howler Monkeys brawing in the new dawn.  It sounded like they were right outside of my room.  I tossed on some clothes and dashed up 3 flights of stairs to peer into the darkness.  I waited, alone in the common room,  expecting all of the guests to charge in bleary-eyed and bewildered.  Eventually a few guests arrived and we nodded to each other in amazement at the sound.  As the sun rose we saw that the monkeys had taken up residence in the trees in the parking lot.

Howlder Monkey

As the light got brighter, we could see them better, but they fell silent. I was hoping to get them on video, alas that didn’t happen. But while scanning for any movement in the trees, (yes, I will get back to birds really soon) one of the other guests happened to spot a tiny Geoffroy’s Tamarin jumping through the canopy.  The smallest of the Central American monkeys, it is the size of a squirrel.  And darn cute. We chased that monkey around and around the tower roof  hoping for it to sit for a few minutes so we could take it’s photo.  Finally he stopped and look right at me.

I suppose I would get used to them, but I don’t know….

     Geofforey's Tamarin

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Feeling Lazy in Panama

I had just been saying I wanted to see a sloth, (I really wasn’t whining, really) when the guide pointed up and said, “There’s one.” Now, of course, I find out that they are pretty common. There are both 2 and 3-toed Sloths here. The larger 2-toed sloth eats the tender young leaves

Two-toed Sloth

while the 3-toed eats the older ones.

3-toed sloth

I am full of lunch and like the slow-moving Sloth, not too motivated. So it’s time for siesta.  I’m going out again on a bird tour at 3.  

sleeping sloth

The line mark down this guy’s back means he is male, or so I have been told.


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Bird Photography Weekly

BB Motmot

Sitting sliently in a tree overhead, a Broad-billed Motmot nearly blended in with the environment around it. But for the quick eyes of Domi, my guide, I would never have seen it. This is smaller than the Rufous Motmot with more extensive green on the underparts. I had only heard one on the Costa Rican trip so I was super glad to see it.


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Birding in Panama – part 1

yellow-tailed oriole

I arrived at the Canopy Tower at 2:15 to find out my first bird tour was at 3.  I quick, quick, changed clothes and met Domi, one of the guides,  in the parking lot.  We headed out to the Pipeline Road. We were no sooner out of the car before we saw a mixed flock picking through the trees.  Domi sang out “Crimson-backed Tanager” and I got my first awe-struck look at an incredible bird.  The day only got better.  I am blessed with being the only birder at the lodge so I had a personal guide.  Let me leave you with the list of what I saw today.  I’ll blog more tomorrow. I am too pooped to even type straight.  Remember I’ve been up since 2:30 am.

Rufescent Tiger-Heron, Cattle Egret, Green Heron, Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, Black-bellied Whistling Duck, Gray-headed Chachalaca, Purple Gallinule, Southern Lapwing, Wattled Jacana, Pale-vented Pigeon, White-tipped Dove, Red-lored Amazon, Smooth-billed Ani, Blue-chested Hummingbird, Keel-billed Toucan, Red-crowned Woodpecker, Cinnamon Woodpecker, Plain Xenops, Cocoa Woodcreeper, Fasciated Antshrike, Barred Antshrike, Yellow-bellied Elaenia, Paltry Tyrannulet, Yellow-olive Flycatcher, Lesser Kiskadee, Great Kiskadee, Social Flycatcher, Streaked Flycatcher, Streaked Flycatcher, Tropical Kingbird, Cinnamon Becard, Scrub Greenlet, Golden-fronted Greenlet, Gray-breasted Martin, Mangrove Swallow, Barn Swallow, Plain Wren, House Wren, Clay-colored Robin, Tropical Mockingbird, White-shouldered Tanager, Crimson-backed Tanager, Blue-gray Tanager, Palm Tanager, Thick-billed Euphonia, Golden-hooded Tanager, Blue-back Grassquit, Variable Seedeater, Ruddy-breasted Seedeater, Buff-throated Saltator, Great-tailed Grackle, Yellow-tailed Oriole.

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They are called Turnstones for a Reason

ruddy turnstones

I was disappointed that the American Golden Plover that had been reported was no where to be found, but consoled myself with watching Turnstones do their thing.  Flip, flip, flip.  They eyeballed each stone for its potential then careful flipped it before moving on.  Flip, flip, flip.  Over and over as they marched down the spit.  Flip, flip, flip. I never get tired of watching them.

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