• 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.


  • Comments on this post (7 comments)

    • Linda Selig Marshall says...

      I always enjoy your photos. This especially with your inclusion of other pictures & details of the trip. Reminded me of my trip to Congo, especially accommodations! We used to see Western Tanagers in RMNP. I have a framed picture of a pair of them that was a gift from my friend Brad following our Colo. trip a few years back. I’m especially drawn to your photo of the Toucan! Do you sell any of your photos in galleries? Mine was purchased in the Denver airport.

      January 03, 2021

    • Mary C Burger says...

      Amazing! Love the virtual travel. Mary Cay

      December 30, 2020

    • Carol Blackard says...

      Thank you, Michael.

      December 28, 2020

    • Michael Bowen says...

      Great photos, as always, Carol. The Toucan was gorgeous. Harpy Eagle more than gorgeous!

      December 28, 2020

    • Linda Stehlik says...

      Carol, these pictures of the Harpy Eagle are wonderful. Our experience, with the pair of them, is never-to-be-forgotten. Thanks!
      And I love all the hummingbirds too.

      December 27, 2020

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