Panama with Susan Foster
Day 1: August 25, 2023
Kathie Holder and I arrived at the Canopy Tower around 4:00. We saw a family of TEN coatimundis on the drive into the compound.
After being greeted by our guide, Alex, we explored the roof views, then decided to sit outside at the hummingbird feeders. We had seven lifer hummingbirds plus Gray-breasted Martins.
My first Panama bird was a Turkey Vulture, and Kathie’s was a Great-tailed Grackle.
Picking up the rest of our crew tomorrow and heading to the Canopy Lodge for five days. Lovely weather and great food.
Day 2: August 26, 2023
Day two of TOS Panama trip 2023. Started the day birding from the tower rooftop. Canopy guide, Alex, helped Kathie and me find 16 life birds before 8:00 am and a Three-toed Sloth.
After breakfast we drove to Panama City to pick up four of our birders and then continued on to Canopy Lodge with our awesome guide, Carlos. We birded the Lodge grounds and ended up with 37 life birds.
The rest of our birders showed up this evening. Carlos and I welcomed the group then had a delicious filet mignon dinner.
We start birding in earnest tomorrow morning. Glad everyone could make it.
Day 3: August 27, 2023
This morning we birded the lodge grounds and then Las Minas Road. We birded Las Mosas Road in the afternoon.
The most fun for me is seeing species I’ve had to chase in the United States. No, wait, the most fun for me are all the mind blowing brilliantly colored endemics. No, the food…or the camaraderie. At approximately 80 life birds so far, and today was our first official outings. It’s all been amazing and magical, and we are going to do it again next year.
Mark your calendars for August 26-September 4, 2024. Best bird so far was Spectacled Owl. I tried not to cry.
Anteater in a tree: https://www.Vimeo.com/manage/videos/860691571/general
Day 4: August 28, Canopy Lodge
Several stars of the show today, including this Three-toed Sloth.
We birded a finca (farm) this morning with a private road, and enjoyed feeders at a private residence this afternoon. More amazing meals and fun with friends. Glad to be sharing it with them.
Tomorrow we head to the Pacific Ocean. Saw Ruddy Ground Doves copulating! Also had eight Smooth-billed Anis, two White-necked Jacobins, Southern Lapwings, Tropical Screech-Owls along the roadside, Tody and Broad-billed Motmots, excellent looks at two Northern Emerald-Toucanets, White-winged Becards, antshrike, antvireos, antwrens, and antbirds as well as antpitta and antthrush, and so much more.
Photos below were digiscoped by our guide Carlos Bethancourt.
Day 5: August 29
Apparently there was a 5.4 magnitude earthquake while I slept last night. I was awakened by it, but I didn’t realize it was an earthquake. It was not close to where we are located though.
We went west today, birding our way to the Pacific. Most of us donned our bathing suits and bobbed in the water. It was very refreshing. We enjoyed arroz con pollo and a lovely shaded yard.
We spent a little more time in the water watching many Frigatebirds plus Whimbrels, and some shorebirds plus some huge lizards in the yard. This is a private residence owned by the Canopy Family.
We birded our way back to the lodge, amassing even more lifers, including a pair of Purple-throated Fruitcrows which proved to be a first for the area. All meals and guides continue to be outstanding. Tomorrow we head to the famous Canopy Tower.
Day 6: August 30
Today was a traveling day. We revisited a few places around Canopy Lodge in the morning where we had great looks at a hopping Black-crowned Antpitta as well as trogons. It certainly was a day for ants: antpittas, antwrens, antbirds, antthrushes, and literally ants in my pants. They find me wherever I go.
We also visited Canopy Adventure where we hiked up to a waterfall and a scoped Mottled Owl. After lunch we drove across the Panamerican Highway to Canopy Tower, crossing the Panama Canal along the way.
On Semaphore Road heading into the Tower, we had a very cooperative anteater and an amazing Black and White Owl which had been spotted earlier in the day by one of the Canopy Family guides.
After settling into our rooms, we ascended to the roof observation deck and had swifts, martins, and hummingbirds. We are currently at FIVE owl species.
What a fun and productive trip, and we are only halfway through!
Day 7: August 31
Yesterday morning we birded the Canopy Tower rooftop observation deck and had Blue Cotinga and Green Shrike-Vireo. Then we moved on to Semaphore Road which is right outside of the Tower.
An awwww moment was seeing mother and baby Howler Monkeys. We also had several Tamarin Monkeys. White-whiskered Puffbird and Broad-billed Motmot were just a couple more of the amazing birds we saw and heard.
Another special moment was seeing a Dot-winged Antwren on a nest just on the side of the road. A Squirrel Cuckoo and Cinnamon Woodpecker were also breathtaking.
After lunch we went to the Ammo Dump Ponds in Gamboa near the Panama Canal. Birds we found there included two Rufescent Tiger-Herons, a Gray-lined Hawk, a Ruddy-breasted Seedeater, and Streaked and Piratical Flycatchers.
The food, staff, and guides are all amazing.
Day 8: Sept. 1
The day started at the Panama Discovery Center where we climbed the 175-step observation tower, which has 360-degree views above the canopy. We then relaxed at the hummingbird feeders where a Long-billed Hermit flew along my arm!
A family of Red-throated Ant Tanagers entertained us, and we had excellent looks at a Purple-crowned Fairy. A Broad-billed Motmot posed for us near the restrooms.
Back at the Canopy Tower for lunch, we had a close King Vulture soaring overhead. In the afternoon we went to the Summit Municipal Park where we enjoyed the beautiful grounds and added Collared Aracari, Lineated Woodpecker, and oohed and ahhed over their captive Harpy Eagle, a very majestic bird.
Day 9: Sept. 2
Our day began on the famous Pipeline Road where we momentarily had an opportunity to don our rain gear. We were all able to get on a beautiful Semiplumbeous Hawk perched in a tree. Carlos, our guide, makes sure that all members of the group are able to get on the bird we are looking at. Capuchin monkeys frolicked in the trees around us. After getting several more target birds, the lightning storm forced us to go to plan B, which turned out to be fabulous.
We drove to Canopy Family’s B&B which is in a beautiful residential area of Gamboa. The yard has lush vegetation and feeders for the birds. We had excellent looks at Gartered and Whooping Motmots as well as various tanagers and hummers.
Next stop was a nearby marina which was teeming with birds including nesting Snail Kites, Greater Anis, a Crane Hawk, and a Striated Heron.
After lunch and a siesta at the Canopy Tower, we spent the afternoon at Summit Ponds where we had many, many amazing birds including seven Boat-billed Herons, Amazon Kingfisher, a White-necked Puffbird posing in a tree, a Gray Cowled Wood-Rail mother and babies crossing the road, a Slaty-tailed Trogan, and a Jet Antbird. A Common Black Hawk sat sentry at the end of the road both on our way in and out. Another truly satisfying day.
Day 10: Sept. 2
Today was our last full day of birding. Back to Pipeline Road again. Had a Bat Falcon perched on our way in. Carlos heard a Gray-headed Tanager so we stopped to look for it. You know you’ve got a good bird by the number of “oh my Gods” Carlos says.
Army ants had attracted a bunch of birds, and we were standing slightly above them watching all the action. We had been hearing Greater Tinamou for the past two weeks, but now two were out in the open, chasing each other around, sitting and posing for us. At one point I saw a Tinamou grab a grasshopper from a Bicolored Antbird. Continuing on down Pipeline Road, we heard a Collared Forest Falcon. While trying to find that, one of our group members, Carter Crouch, located a perched Tiny Hawk (more “oh my Gods” from Carlos).
In the afternoon we headed to the Miraflores Locks at the Panama Canal where we watched an Imax documentary about the history of the canal, then we watched a ship pass through one of the locks and scanned the area for birds.
Last night at dinner I told Carlos how great the food was and how I’d like to take some of the sausage and have it for breakfast. Lo and behold, a special sausage plate magically appeared for me for breakfast.
Everyone associated with the Canopy Family pays attention to the finest detail to make sure all guests are happy.
I highly recommend everyone sign up for next year’s trip. Same itinerary. August 26-September 4, 2024. PM me if you’re interested.
Thanks for reading,
Texas Ornithological Society
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