I jerked my head around and froze.
Alarm bells were going off in my head. Thrashing sounds among the trees are never a good thing, regardless of where you might be on the planet. I was standing in the middle of the road, searching for what could have possibly made the sounds when the trees up ahead exploded with a Squirrel Cuckoo executing evasive maneuvers, twisting and turning between branches, with some sort of Forest-falcon in hot pursuit. The cuckoo dove into a thick patch of leaves and disappeared. The pursuing bird flashed past the cuckoos hiding place. I was scanning the trees looking for the Forest-falcon when the there was a tussle in the Cuckoo’s hidey hole. Both birds dashed off again.
I never did ID the Falcon, but at 17-19 inches and with the crazy long spotted tail, the Squirrel Cuckoo was pretty hard to miss.
Filed under Photos, Travel
The rain was falling in buckets, yet a tiny Snowy-bellied Hummingbird sat tenaciously on the top of a Heliconia. He would make a foray out occasionally, but then return to his perch, point his bill to the sky and sit for long periods. I stood on the deck pondering this then wandered out into the garden. It turns out our long-suffering sprite had a terrific spot to wait out the elements. Above his head and protecting him from at least some of the downpour was a large banana leaf. What a smart cookie.
Here he is on a better day.
I never saw him sit on that Heliconia again.
Filed under Photos, Travel
“Is this the one that does the moonwalk?”
I looked over at an older woman standing next to me and shrugged with a little head-shake. I had absolutely no idea what she was talking about. The only moonwalk I knew of was Michael Jackson’s. I tracked the cherry red head through the gloom and deep shadow. “I’m sure this is the one, ” she persisted.
Luckily the guide came up and overheard her. He knew exactly what she was talking about. Turns out it is an old and well-known video on YouTube. In case you are living in a bucket like me, here it is. You just have to love Manakins. And dig those yellow thighs.
Filed under Photos, Travel
Will ya look at that bad boy. Total fave. There is something about the Violaceous Trogon that I just love. Maybe it’s all that yellow. I didn’t go to Panama with any target birds in mind. But once I got an eye-full of this guy, I wanted to see more and more Trogons. When I spotted him, he had a giant caterpillar in his beak and was thrashing it for all he was worth until the outside skin slipped off and he swallowed what was left. gulp. It was really gross. I have pictures, trust me, yucky.
She is a Slaty-tailed Trogon and much bigger than the Violaceous. Slaties are in the 12-13 inch range, while the Violaceous is only about 9 1/2. Notice the dark undertail. Lovely, but not a fave. The red/orange eye ring makes her look like she has been up all night.
This is a Black-throated Trogon. Blue eye-ring, yellow front, cute perky yellow bill, about the same size as the Violaceous.
I saw all of these on trips from the Canopy Tower. Need the Orange-bellied? Then go on a Mesa trip from the Canopy Lodge.
I have seen Collared Trogons and of course, the Resplendent Quetzal in Costa Rica and a Surucua Trogon in Brazil. Violaceous wins hands down for me. Which ones have you seen? What is your fave?
One of the first things (well aside from the birds) that you will notice in Panama is the incredible array of Butterflies. In the heat of the day (and I am talking serious heat and humidity at the Tower) during the siesta break, I wandered around sampling the butterflies as they sampled the nectar. I would like to show you a few of them. Most of them I do not know the names of, but they are all fabulous.
This one is a skipper and maybe a FrostedFlasher
Domi and I found this wicked looking caterpillar on a bridge railing at the start of Plantation Road. I wouldn’t touch it if you paid me.
Either Ziba Scrub-Hairstreak or Confusing Scrub-Hairstreak
All of these were taken at the Canopy Tower. But let me leave you with the Blue Morpho that floats everywhere at the Lodge. I loved that they came to the feeders to eat the bananas. They rest with their wings closed. It was impossible for me to take a good shot of one flying. They are the most beautiful blue.
Special thanks to Kim Garwood for helping ID the butterflies and to Patrick Belardo for suggesting her website.
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.