• 2023 Aspens - South Park, Colorado

    This year we spent a day in South Park, Colorado, not far from Fairplay and spent a lovely night in a cabin there.


  • Raising a Single Monarch

    I raised a Monarch from an egg I found outside on my Showy Milkweed. It was an amazing month from beginning to end.
  • Panamá - Darién - Part II

     After the Harpy Eagle hike, we boated to a different location along the river in hopes of finding a Crested Eagle. 

    Oops. It appears to have been raining and yet the river was running low and kept the boat far from the "stairs."

    No worries. Our local guides hopped out into the muck and got right to work arranging things for us.

    Oscar poses for me.

    Must have a handrail.

    Sadly, we were unsuccessful finding the eagles which had been nesting here. Meanwhile it rained hard on us and the mud was legendary. Getting back into the boat was 1) easier because the river water had risen bringing the boat closer to shore and 2) harder because the slipperiness of the mud was indescribable.

    Chestnut-headed Oropendolas

    Nice tights 

    Rufous-breasted Hermit

    This is the second species of hermit nest that I have seen. They were both rather airy, completely unlike the tightly-crafted nests of Rocky Mountain hummingbirds.

    Holographic Morph

    Gorgeous sloth hurrying off the road

    I love sloth sightings so much I always jump up off my bus seat and rush out to see it, like it might fly away or something. They never do.


    Rainbow Whiptail Lizard

    Our guides allowed us to find this bird on our own...well, after they pointed out the tree. It's not as easy as you might think. Great Potoo.

    John's picture gives a good demonstration of the camouflage.

    When it's raining, we don't stop birding. 

    Here's the refugee camp on the river where we were to catch our boat that would take us to visit an indigenous Emberá village.

    I found this interesting. Most of these refugees came from Africa by way of Brazil where they land-trekked to Colombia "before buying passage on small boats to Panama's north Darien coast. They then have to cross the Tarcarcuna mountains and buy passage on small boats to ports with road access to the Pan American highway like this location." ... Gavin Bieber, our US tour guide. Apparently they are hoping to travel further to Costa Rica and then possibly beyond, but for that they would need money and many of them don't have money. The Panamanian police were there. Many refugees are sent back home.

    Some are hoping to get the money for a bus ride north and one of our birders was approached for money. The whole human dilemma is a difficult thing to see.

    Fresh water is provided for them.

    Bathing in the Chucanaque River.

    One of our two dugout canoes arrives.

    I had been looking forward to experiencing these canoes.

    Birding by dugout

    This gentleman poles along the river bank. No motor for him. I'm not sure what he's putting in his basket.

    Riverside living

    These Emberá lovelies greeted us upon our arrival at our village.

    Houses in the Emberá village

    Before lunch we took a short forest hike behind the village.

    Caiman in the water

    John got this great photo of the Purple-throated Fruitcrow

    Upon returning to the village, these girls entertained us with

    three wonderful dances and songs.

    What a great picture Linda got.

    This was the sweet face of the little girl that took me by the hand to lead me up the steps into the village. Deference to the eldest, I assume. Unforgettably sweet.

    And this is the beauty from whom I bought my necklace. These people  reminded me a great deal of the Marshallese people on Ujelang where we lived in the Peace Corps.

    After lunch we went to find a Dusky-backed Jacamar, known to be in the vicinity  up the river.

    We did find a pair, but photography was very challenging as they were so badly backlit they were hard to see, never mind get in focus.

    On the dugout ride back to our bus, we passed by these sights.

    I'm not sure when John got these pictures, but they are stunners. The first is of Greater Ani. Note their light eyes.

    A pair of Gray-cheeked Nunlets with an unfortunate caterpillar.

    I had this Laughing Falcon on the river bank.

    and this White-necked Puffbird.

    Then we went back to Canopy Camp by bus.

    where Geoffroy's Tamarins were waiting.

    and Chestnut-headed Oropendolas.

    On this day I spent some time trying to get the perfect shot of pretty birds on the property. 
    Blue-gray Tanager

    Chestnut-headed Oropendola


    That evening we had drama. Gavin went out with a couple of birders and returned at dusk with a beetle in his ear. On the left is Linda, the lighting engineer, and kneeling next to her is Suann, our veterinarian, trying to extract the barbed beast from out trusting guide. I was of no use, since I could see nothing but blood in the ear canal. Suann said not to worry, she was used to working on dogs. Her diligent efforts were in vain, and  It was near the end of the trip, so Gavin toughed it out until he could see his ENT who was able to extract the barbed bugger which now lives in a jar of preservative in his house. Thankfully Gavin's ear was no worse for its trauma.

    The next day we again encountered mud, this time on a steep hill, so Scott and I elected to spend some time looking for more ordinary fare down below. 

    Ringed Kingfisher

    Gartered Trogon

    Grey-lined Hawk

    Rusty-margined Flycatcher

    On down the road, we had this Southern Lapwing

    and this immature Wattled Jacana.

    Here is a nice shot of the ever-present black Mango female.


    and the male Black-throated Mango

    Scaly-throated Hummingbird

    Rufous-tailed Hummingbird



    This is a Cracker Butterfly

    Here's a great shot John got of a White-necked Puffbird with a dragonfly.

    And John's shot of a Barred Shrike is outstanding!

    Linda sent in this great shot of a Blue Dacnis male and a White-bellied Hummingbird.

    Well, my friends, I hope you have enjoyed the virtual birding of this Panamá trip. It was one of our favorites. You should go if you have a chance. If you do go, don't forget to visit the Panamá Canal. I wonder if we'll be able to go out again....ever.


  • 2019 Panamá - Darién - Part I

    Boy am I glad we added the second part of this Wings trip to our plans! The Darién is hotter, more humid, possibly birdier and definitely a culturally rich part of the world. 

    On the day the Darién group began our bus trip to Canopy Camp, a few of the Bocas group spent their last day before returning home birding the Pipeline Road which is famous for its birds. Fran sent just a couple of pictures, but we heard it was a very fruitful expedition. 


    As our group traveled further east in Panamá from Panamá City, we could appreciate how this part of Panamá has been impacted by the construction of the Pan American Highway.  The land along both sides of the highway has been cleared for homes, thereby destroying vast stretches of bird habitat. On the plus side, it has made commerce and travel much easier. The highway was in near-perfect condition and made for fast travel.

    Along the way, there was a special bird to find along a treacherous muddy steep trail to go with it. Many in our group did the trek and easily found the bird. No pictures.

    Others of us birded up top and a posing Chestnut-billed Toucan joined us.

    We found a trail of our own.

    Some kind of Admiral Butterfly, I think.

    Frog, not sure if a poison dart frog, but about that size.

    Later we set off again on the highway.

    I believe this is Tortí, our lunch stop that day.

    Hummingbird feeders made it entertaining. 

    Rufous-tailed Hummingbird

    This is a Scaly-breasted Hummingbird.

    Snowy-bellied Hummingbird

    Long-billed Starthroat

    This Snowy-bellied Hummingbird was quite chatty.

    Scaly-breasted Hummingbird

    White-necked Jacobin female

    Snowy-bellied Hummingbird

    I believe this is a Sapphire-throated Hummingbird, differentiated from the Blue-chested by its deeply notched tail.

    And then, after lunch, we were there.

    Living fences

    Even if you don't know Spanish, you can understand this. Ha ha.

    Snowy-bellied Hummingbird

    Black-throated Mango male

    Canopy Camp is an amazing place to stay. We recommend it whole-heartedly. This is the "living room" where there are rocking chairs, couches, hummingbird feeders. The dining hall is also open-air about 50 feet away on the other side of this room.

    Inside one of the bedroom tents

    Private bathroom with outdoor shower. The bathroom is outside the sleeping tent, but still on the platform, handy, but requiring an unzip and rezip of the efficient heavy-duty zipper every time you go. Not a big problem, but requires a headlamp and a bit of patience. 

    Our tent came with a trogon tooting off the deck.

    From our deck back to the living room.

    We birded down the long entry road, sometimes with the group, sometimes on our own.  Chestnut-billed Toucan. Love his blue feet.


    Collared Araçari

    Toucans call a lot and have loud, raucous calls

    Our guides put up a sheet near a light by the living area where a huge variety of  insects chose to perch during the night. Here are just a few.

    Walking Stick


    Our Darién group had entomologists, extreme world travelers, extreme listers, a veterinarian, at least one biologist, botany experts...OK, I admit it, it was a little intimidating. 

    Remember this beetle. A smaller version of this type of beetle created some drama for our leader and concerned group near the end of the trip. Wait for it.

    Oropendula nest

    It being humid in the Darién, there were a lot of fungi.

    I believe this is the base of a Ceiba tree. The beautiful vine leaves were plastered tightly to the trunk..all of them.

    Back at the lodge, we had a cooperative Cinnamon Becard,

    a sweet bird

    that I couldn't stop photographing.

    I finally got a shot of the White-necked Jacobin when he

    opened up to a nice rain bath.

    Red-throated Caracara

    Spot-crowned Barbet. The yellow-green on the vent is a lighting artifact.

    His vent is really white.

    Lineated Woodpecker

    White-necked Jacobins were everywhere

    Chestnut-headed Oropendula also

    Scaly-breasted Hummingbird

    White-vented Plumeleteer

    There were lots of these also.

    This was my first, possibly last, and definitely best viewing of a

    Yellow-throated Vireo

    We had some migrants, but not a ton. This is a Summer Tanager.

    Blue-gray Tanagers were plentiful.

    Here's that white vent on the White-vented Plumeleteer.

    I'm thinking Sapphire-throated Hummingbird on this one, but I will take other bids.

    Sapphire-throated Hummingbird

    Violaceous or Gartered Trogon

    Lots of trogon sightings! Lots of different species.

    This is a picture of a Passion Flower with a hummingbird on it.

    Spot-breasted Woodpecker

    Smooth-billed Ani...note the dark eye. I will reference this in the next blog.

    Laughing Falcon

    Ruddy-breasted Seedeater

    Great-crested Flycatcher

    Roadside Hawk

    Rufous-breasted Hermit on banana flower

    Barred Puffbird

    Puffbirds are so cooperative and, I think, find us entertaining.

    Lesson in photography on this Mantled Howler. You gotta know when to hold 'em 

    and know when to move to a different view when sticks are in the way.

    These Chestnut-fronted Macaws were checking out the hole in this tree

    Next morning we loaded up in a boat for our Harpy Eagle adventure

    We motored down river to the spot where a Harpy Eagle was known to be nesting. This vaquero quietly accompanied us from a distance

    to be sure all went well with the cows in the pasture we were hiking through.

    The Harpy Eagle was, indeed near the nest and

    flew over us soon after we arrived.

    It pretty much never stopped yelling at us the whole time we were there.

    It was protecting this little white fluff of a chick in her not-so-big nest.

    Exciting spider

    The hike was one hour in and one hour out and pretty hot, but not otherwise strenuous.

    Here we are enjoying a picnic after the hike.

    My next post will cover other birding adventures and one of my favorite events, a trip in dugout canoes to an indigenous village where the people live as they have forever. 

    See you there in just a few days.


  • 2019 Panamá - Western Highlands

    On this leg of the journey we stayed at Los Quetzales, a quaint lodge in Cerro Punta in the town of Guadalupe near the 11,398 ft mountain Volcán Barú. This smallish town is REALLY cute, the weather is nice and cool (elevation 6,500 ft) , the traffic is not bad, and there are amazingly healthy flowers everywhere. Fruits, vegetables, chocolate, coffee and wine grow there; in other words, it's heavenly.

    But before arriving, we did some birding along the way. 

    Blue-headed Parrots

    Note the pink chest

    Pale-billed Woodpeckers, male and female

    Here's the hole they were working on...

    and a visiting Black-cheeked Woodpecker.

    Yeah, that hole might be a bit big for you.

    Great views of a three-toed sloth


    Lattice-tailed Trogon, more commonly seen in the
    Costa Rican portion of the Talamanca Range

    Habitat was changing fast as we moved inland and higher in elevation

    This Cinnamon Becard was curious about us.


    Wedge-billed Woodcreeper

    Great-crested Flycatcher

    Wedge-billed Woodcreeper

    If this is a moth, it is a beautiful one

    I love it when sloths are common sightings

    Blackburnian Warbler

    And we are here at Los Quetzales Lodge in Guadalupe

    The garden

    The first morning after arrival we took off to find a Quetzal

    But first we found other birds in the garden of the ranger's house...and finally when the light came up, this female Scintillant Hummingbird

    And then, voilá, he came....the male Resplendent Quetzal

    Ooh, the color on that tail

    How can he move around in trees with that tail?

    Because bird photographers dream of photographing this unique bird, it is hard to fail to get great shots of this amazing bird, but sometimes conditions just don't allow and that's okay. I'm glad we did not disturb this guy. He was a beauty.

    Close by there was another bird I had been longing to see...the Long-tailed Silky-Flycatcher.

    Although he was very cooperative, his delicately-colored light head was hard to bring into contrast with his surroundings, partly because he was mostly in the shade. But in this picture, we can see his yellow eye-ring.

    After a bumpy, rocky ride up the mountain we came to the Volcán Barú Reserve. 

    Which offered this lovely view...I think the volcano is the highest peak in the picture.

    We went on a walk, ate sack lunches

    And had wonderful leisurely views of a proud male Volcano Hummingbird. He was super cooperative.

    Love the lavender gorget.

    Finally near departure time I was able to get a shot of him against a green background.

    And Sue C with her little camera got this beautiful shot.

    Later on the same day we visited a tomato tree farm (and tasted the tomatoes) and had some seated time in front of hummingbird feeders while we waited for our targeted dove to arrive.

    We had this Malachite Lizard

    Sue C. caught this Violetear

    and I got this male Volcano briefly at a flower.

    We had lots of views of the Talamanca Hummingbird (split from the Magnificent),

    sightings of  a female Scintillant Hummingbird female

    and I am excited to report I got a good picture of a Stripe-tailed Hummingbird with a lot of tail showing. You can see the rufous on the top of the wing as it shines through the wing in the good light.

    Sue C. got this great shot of a Talamanca in the fading light at the end of a rainbow.

    The next morning we went on a hike in Las Lagunas Reserve.

    I didn't take my camera up, so I have no pictures.

    A small crossing 

    Later we had good, sunny free hours to explore Los Quetzales grounds and find and photograph birds to our hearts' content. I love that.

    I had to work to get a shot of the beautiful Silver-throated Tanager.

    The Talamanca Hummingbird was always hiding in the sticks.

    along with the Blue-gray Tanager

    and the Clay-colored Thrush

    Here's the Blue-gray Tanager again.

    Surprisingly, this was the first Rufous-collared Sparrow I had seen on the trip, and I think, maybe the last. In other Central and South American countries I've visited they've been very common, but usually in towns, even cities.

    Red-crowned Woodpecker

    Talamanca Hummingbird

    Clay-colored Thrush

    I was excited to snap this shot of a Stripe-tailed Flycatcher, not knowing, of course, what I was snapping.

    and there were flowerpiercers

    and Baltimore Orioles. This one had found a feast of eggs or larvae.

    Chasing the Talamanca around finally yielded an acceptable angle for his gorget.

     Then we packed up and were away, headed toward David which would be the last stop of the trip.

    But along the way there would be more stops. At Paráiso we spent several hours at the Birding Paradise Bed and Breakfast grounds.

    Blue-gray Tanager

    Female Scarlet-rumped Tanager

    We photographers grappled with the difficulty of photographing the Scarlet-rumped Tanager. Something about the red. The camera kept capturing orange where we were seeing red. I shoot in RAW, but I still experienced this. Also the red was so bright and the black was so dark that the bird presented lighting challenges. 

    Here we see the male and female Scarlet Tanager together.

    Buff-throated Saltator

    There were plenty of feeders so we had excellent chances to photograph beautiful neotropical birds that otherwise like to hang around high in the trees. Red-legged Honeycreeper.

    Blue-gray Tanager

    Heliconia. The grounds were planted and cared for specifically to appeal to birds.

    The male Lesson's Motmot provided plenty of opportunity to fiddle around with exposures and backgrounds.



    Blue-gray Tanager

    Female Scarlet-rumped Tanager

    Scarlet-rumped Tanager

    Scaly-breasted Hummingbirds abounded and were quite chatty.

    Palm Tanager

    Sue C enjoyed the Motmots


    The crew at the feeders.

    On the road again we saw a Fork-tailed Flycatcher

    and some Ruddy Ground-doves.

    We had the obligatory birding bus break-down at Macho de Monte. Note the "nature cone" placed by our driver to signal our stoppage to other vehicles.

    We all poked around and saw a number of good birds during our wait for the replacement bus.

    Flying out of David back toward Panamá City. 

    There's always a bit of sadness when we have to say good-bye to fellow birders after a fun time together. I am grateful to be able to stay in touch this way.








  • 2020 Utila Family Week

    Last year we really loved our family vacation on Roatan, a Honduran island with awesome snorkeling and diving. This year we decided to go even further afield to a less well-developed, smaller island, Utila. It is still a Honduran island, but about one hour's ferry ride off Roatan. Some of us ferried, but others took a bumpy 45-minute small plane ride from the Honduras mainland to the island.

    Not a huge plane


    Mainland Honduras

    On the friendly island of Utila, we stayed at a lovely vacation rental house named Key Lime Casa (4 bedrooms) with a full kitchen and also rented an apartment in the house next door. Although these photos can't really capture all the different things our family did and enjoyed, especially the restaurants and shops we frequented (Mango Tango, RJs, bakeries and other food stands, grocery stores, golf cart shops, etc), they do capture a lot of the joy we shared and the beauty which surrounded us.

    On the first morning we explored the island on our golf cart.

    Ruddy Turnstones are beautiful when they spread their wings.

    On the way back through town we ran across these guys having pupusas and baleadas.

    And these guys. This guard cat was giving the evil eye to the swamp iguana trying to cross the wall into his back yard.

    At Bando Beach serious discussions were undertaken.

    We had our first snorkel and saw a large octopus and great coral and fishes off the Coral View dock.

    All had a good time.

    Back at the house

     we were settled in.

    Deck seating area

    One of us defies the wind and goes for an exploratory snorkel in front of the house. 

    Someone else joins in, possibly a Russian woman, not sure.

    This is a place for deep thoughts.

    Although we were walking distance from town, the golf cart came in very handy on a daily basis. Some of us took tuk-tuks, but those handle only two at a time.

    Approaching the uninhabited island of Water Cay.

    It was about a 15 minute boat ride from Utila. This is exciting.

    We're here!

    We stashed our stuff on a table that magically appeared.

    It had started as a rainy day, but the sun came out after we arrived.

    Post-snorkeling debriefing

    On the far side of the island was a white sand beach paradise.

    Two friends on a beach

    Action shot

    Love shot

    1104 being interviewed



    Just adorable

    Here's the whole group


    A certain someone couldn't get enough of this water paradise!

    Our boat captain Junior and his wonderful swimming helper, Evans showed us a  great and safe day!

    Back on Utila, this butterfly has a fake head. Zoom in to see.

    Pumpkin Hill climbing day. Here are some views.

    Four of our strongest and most adventurous members kayaked a canal all the way across the island of Utila, and then out to a small island on the reef. There,  they explored and snorkeled the reef. In this photo taken from Pumpkin Hill, you can see that little island far off on the reef. Zoom to see.

    I love this picture of our Pumpkin Hill exploration party.

    That afternoon it was off to Neptune's Restaurant, another short boat ride away.

    After a nice meal, we snorkeled on Neptune's beach.

    On the way back home one of us lost his hat to the wind going over the bridge... and bravely recovered it.

    Although it was a pretty windy and somewhat rainy week, it was one of the best weeks of my life. Good-bye, good Key Lime Casa and Utila.