Saturday, April 21, 2018

2018 Panama Journal - Day 10 - Part 2

Monday 2/19/18 continued.

After lunch we heard that Eli would be going on a walk at 3:00 p.m.  We decided to go along. 

I saw a Jaguarundi running down the trail towards the compost pile.  One of the other ladies in the group saw it but no one else did.

As we headed out we passed by the roost of a Tropical Screech-Owl. Like most owls they do a great job of hiding during the day, so getting pictures is tough.

Tropical Screech-Owl

The Canopy Family owns Canopy Adventure which is a zip line through the jungle.  It’s not too far down the road from the Lodge and we started walking in that direction.  We heard a single whistle from the creekbed next to the road and Eli immediately stopped. He started looking down into the creek and excitedly told us that the call was from a Sunbittern.


Sunbitterns are the single species in this neotropical family of birds. They somewhat resemble herons but are more closely related to rails. We've had poor looks at a couple on past trips to Central America, but we saw this one very well and for several minutes. 


When we arrived at Canopy Adventure there were two trails.  One that led up to the zip line and one that led up the mountain.  We took the mountain trail.

Eli going first over the hanging bridge.

We didn’t know it but the end of the trail led to this pair of Mottled Owls on a perch:

Mottled Owl pair

Like the Tropical Screech-Owl back at the Lodge, these owls did a great job of choosing a day roost that kept them well hidden!

As we walked the trails we spotted two different species of Motmot. Motmots have interesting racquet-tipped tails that they flick from side-to-side like a pendulum. 

Rufous Motmot

Broad-billed Motmot

Broad-billed Motmot

After we came back down the mountain the 2 other people with us left our group and we continued on with Eli.  Eli wanted to walk up the road to another trail to see if there was still fruit on the trees.  We saw lots of birds, including an Emerald Toucanet. As you might guess from the name a Toucanet is a small Toucan. 

Emerald Toucanet

We also saw a different Euphonia species than the common Thick-billed Euphonias we see at the feeding table. This Tawny-capped Euphonia was sharing the fig tree with the Toucanet.

Tawny-capped Euphonia

I addition to the birds we enjoyed seeing some Geoffroy's Tamarins (a small species of monkey) alongside the road.

Geoffroy's Tamarin

Birds seen this afternoon:

Dusky-faced Tanager, Orange-billed Sparrow, Bay Wren, Red-crowned Ant-Tanager, Gray-headed Chachalaca, Bananaquit (H), Rosey Thrush-Tanager, Buff-rumped Warbler, Broadwinged Hawk, Chestnut-headed Oropendola, Crimson-backed Tanager, Tropical Screech Owl, Flame-rumped Tanager, Golden-hooded Tanager, Bay-headed Tanager, Thick-billed Euphonia, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Summer Tanager, Keel-billed Toucan, Sunbittern, Broad-billed Motmot, Blue-headed Parrot, White-vented Plumeleteer, Rufous Motmot, Cocoa Woodcreeper, Mottled Owl, Snowy-bellied Hummingbird, Varible Seedeater, Yellow Warbler.  Agoti, Zebra Heliconia Butterfly, Toas Swallowtail Butterfly, Two-toed Sloth, Green Iguana, Tamarin Monkey, Jaquarundi.

Next time:  Our last full day in Panama.

Friday, April 20, 2018

2018 Panama Journal - Day 10 - Part 1

Monday 2/19/18

Our nice cool weather turned into a warm, muggy night.  We’ve only had one decent nights sleep in over a week!

Our trip today was supposed to be a long drive to the Pacific Ocean beach (10 hours to the beach and back).  We would be in a van with several other people and it was going to be very hot at the beach - in the 90’s.  Around 3:00 a.m. this morning, while tossing and turning, Mark asked me if I really wanted to go to the beach.  My answer was “no.”  We were both pretty worn out and tired of being hot.  It turned out to be the best decision we made!

We got up early to let the guide know we wouldn’t be going to the beach then had a pleasant breakfast.  There was a wonderful couple from South Africa staying here and we spent a lot of time visiting with them.

After breakfast we decided to walk the grounds.  Neither of us remembered the pools and tower from when we were here in 2006.

We stopped by the compost pile first to see what was there. We could always count on seeing an Agouti or two at the pile. This one was enjoying a little corn-on-the-cob!

A few birds were seen only at the compost pile and nowhere else. These were shy birds that liked to stay in the dark forest. One was a hummingbird called the White-vented Plumeleteer. It seems odd that a hummingbird isn't out in the sun, enjoying flowers, but this species likes to stay in the shadows.
 White-vented Plumeleteer

There are many different species of Dove in Panama, and most frequent open areas, but the Gray-chested Dove is difficult to find as they skulk around on the forest floor. 

 Gray-chested Dove

Gray-chested Dove

We walked around the grounds and saw this beautiful hedge of Aphelandras.


There is a nice creek that meanders through the Lodge property.

Mark sitting by the river.

This treehouse has been here a while.  The tree has grown around the metal.

View from the treehouse.

There were lots of flowers and this unusual tree:

Rainbow Tree.  We've seen these trees in Costa Rica too.


We saw several birds around the grounds. The Stripe-throated Hermit is very small, at only 3.5" from the tip of its bill to the end of its tail. In fact, it used to be named Little Hermit. 

Stripe-throated Hermit

One of the most beautiful birds here is the Crimson-backed Tanager. They are pretty common on the grounds and at the feeding table.

Crimson-backed Tanager male

The females looks similar, but lack the silver base on the bill and are not quite as intensely red.

Crimson-backed Tanager female

Another very distinctive bird is the Flame-rumped Tanager. It is often called the Lemon-rumped Tanager which seems to be a better description.

Flame-rumped Tanager male

In this Tanager species the female looks quite different than the male, though she does share the blue-colored bill and a (lighter) yellow rump. 

Flame-rumped Tanager female

We headed back to the Lodge.  While we waited for lunch we watched the fruit feeders.

Putting out fruit.

The large Chestnut-headed Oropendulas will gobble up food in a hurry.

Chestnut-headed Oropendula

Clay-colored Thrushes were common visitors as well. They aren't colorful but are wonderful singers.

Clay-colored Thrush

As Tanagers go the Dusky-faced Tanager is not colorful, but we enjoyed the variety of different species that frequent the feeding table. 

Dusky-faced Tanager

Birds this morning on the Lodge grounds:  Bay Wren, Gray-cowled Woodrail, Cocoa Woodcreeper, Buff-rmped Warbler, Dusky-faced Tanager, Red-Crowned Ant-Tanager, Rufous Motmot, Orange-billed Sparrow, Gray-chested Dove, Gray-headed Chachalaca, Green Hermit, Buff-throated Saltator, Crimson-backed Tanager, Thick-billed Euphonia, Red-crowned Woodpecker, Clay-colored Thrush, White-vented Plumeleteer, Black-and-White Warbler, Bay-breasted Warbler, Blue-gray Tanager, Green Honeycreeper, Rufous-tailed Hummingbird, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Lemon-rumped Tanager, White-tipped Dove, Tropical Gnatcatcher.  Red-tailed Squirrel, Agoti.

Next time:  We go on an afternoon tour.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge

We’re spending a few days in Natchez Trace State Park in Tennessee.  We stayed here previously on our way to Maine in 2011 (See 2011 Blog of April 28, 2011).

It’s a very nice park.  We’ve had all kinds of weather from lows of 34 degrees to highs of 78.  High winds, no wind, cloudy, sunny.  A little bit of everything. 

We finally were expecting a nice day and decided to drive to the Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge, about an hours drive.

Tennessee NWR is 51,000 acres and consists of three units, Big Sandy, Duck River, and Busseltown.  The refuge was established in 1945 and was created as an area for migratory birds.  It is a major wintering area for migrating waterfowl.

Red-winged Blackbird

We were in the Duck River Unit. 


We saw several sub-adult Bald Eagles flying. They take four years to get their well-know white heads and tails, and until then are various shades of brown and white. 

Bald Eagle - Two year old

Bald Eagle - Adult

There has been a lot of rain and flooding in this area, and we saw a few shorebirds.

Pectoral Sandpiper

American Golden-Plover

We were watching this plover when all of the sudden it dropped into a seated position. At that moment a raptor was passing overhead. Good camouflage!

They have very cute informative signs.

We were in the refuge for about 3 1/2 hours and saw lots of birds.  Even with all the flooding the road was in great shape.

We saw a few migratory birds in the wooded areas that told us Spring is slowly, but surely, on the way.

Palm Warbler

Chimney Swift

Black-and-white Warbler
Louisiana Waterthrush

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

As we left the Refuge we saw a chubby Groundhog (Woodchuck) on a path. He headed the other direction so here is a look at his behind!


Birds seen today:  Red-bellied Woodpecker, Brown-headed Cowbird, American Crow, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Tufted Titmouse, Great Egret, Great Blue Heron, White Pelican, Blue-winged Teal, Red-winged Blackbird, Canada Goose, Northern Cardinal, Carolina Chickadee, Red-eyed Vireo, Northern Parula, Yellow-rumped Warbler, White-throated Sparrow, Pileated Woodpecker, Tree Swallow, American Golden-Plover, Common Grackle, Turkey Vulture, Blue Jay, Common Yellowthroat, Red-headed Woodpecker, Bald Eagle, Greater Yellowlegs, Cliff Swallow, Barred Owl (H), Pied-billed Grebe, Belted Kingfisher, Louisiana Waterthrush, Chimney Swift, Swamp Sparrow, Double-crested Cormorant, Brown Thrasher, European Starling, Eastern Towhee, Osprey, Downey Woodpecker, Palm Warbler, Eastern Bluebird, Killdeer, Savannah Sparrow, Northern Mockingbird, American Robin, American Goldfinch, Bufflehead, Eastern Kingbird.