Sunday, December 9, 2007

Panama Trip - Day 2

November 18, 2007

Before breakfast we spent about an hour on the upper observation deck of the Canopy Tower.

It had rained pretty heavily overnight, and it was still pretty foggy in the morning so bird activity was somewhat low. The real highlights of the morning were the mammals, which included a lone male Mantled Howler Monkey very close to the tower.

I even managed to get some pretty decent video of him as he moved around through the Cecropia trees, as he fed on its fruit.

Click here to view video of Mantled Howler Monkey.

Almost at the same time, a Brown-throated Three-toed Sloth was found curled up in a ball near the top of another Cecropia tree. As the mist cleared and it got warmer, he became more active. Well, as active as a sloth can be!

As we continued to watch, he began grooming himself. Since sloths often have moss growing in their fur, and even have moths living on them, we wondered what the point of the grooming was. He began by hanging from the branch first from his two hind legs.

Then from just one hind leg!

After breakfast, we walked down the Semaphore Hill road to where it meets the main road, and the start of the Plantation Trail. On the way down, we encountered yet another mammal, a group of White-nosed Coatis that would be seen daily whenever we drove or walked down this road.

It was a good morning of birding, with only about 20-minutes of rain. We saw many interesting species, including the White-whiskered Puffbird, which is as common here as any puffbird I've seen anywhere.

The most frequently encountered trogon species was the Slaty-tailed, and this nice male posed nicely for scope views and photos.

Two species of manakin, Red-capped and Blue-crowned, were fairly easily seen as well.

During the lunch break and siesta (noon - 3 p.m.) some of us spent time back up on the observation deck, while others spent time observing and photographing the hummingbirds at the feeders on the ground level. Among the hummingbirds visiting these feeders, the most dominant is certainly the Blue-chested Hummingbird.

Not the largest hummingbird here, but very common and very aggressive, they would not hesitate to drive off larger hummingbirds like the fairly common White-necked Jacobin.

They'd even drive off the White-vented Plumeleteers despite them being twice the size of the pugnacious Blue-chested!

Another unobtrusive, and less common hummingbird here was the Snowy-bellied Hummingbird, about the same size as the Blue-chested.

And the smallest hummingbird, but the one everyone really wanted to see, was the Violet-bellied Hummingbird. The challenge with photographing this species was getting one to sit still long enough, and in just the right position, to get that bright green throat and bright purple belly. I only partly accomplished this today.

Rounding out the hummingbirds at these feeders were two species of hermit, the Long-billed Hermit that visited occasionally, and the Stripe-billed Hermit that visited rarely.

Suddenly, someone on the observation deck shouted down to us that they had another sloth. Another species of sloth! We ran all the way up to the top (breathless when we got there!) and saw a beautiful, and close, Hoffmann's Two-toed Sloth.

Once we were up on the observation deck, a nice adult King Vulture was found and we alternated watching that magnificent bird with the "feeding frenzy" of this relatively active sloth.

He eventually decided to just hang out!

After lunch we headed down to the town of Gamboa. At the main road, Diana spotted a large bird sitting in a huge tree, which turned out to be a Great Potoo at its day roost!

We went to a residential neighborhood in Gamboa where they had a fruit feeder that was empty. But, our guide Jose brought a bunch of bananas to stock the feeders (some of us thought they would be a snack for us!). Within seconds of Jose walking away from the feeder, the rather quiet neighborhood was alive with the seething of many Blue-gray Tanagers and Palm Tanagers on the feeder, along with smaller numbers of Crimson-backed Tanagers, Flame-rumped Tanagers, Clay-colored Robins, and Red-legged Honeycreepers, and an occasional Plain-colored Tanager, Tropical Mockingbird, and Red-crowned Woodpecker.

Filling the niche of squirrels, several Central American Agoutis wandered around under the feeders picking up any scraps dropped by the birds.

Along the Chagres River, we saw our first American Crocodile of the trip.

And as dusk was approaching, the common Rusty-margined Flycatchers became more confiding and cooperative for the cameras.


Neil Gilbert said...

Great shots Allen. I love the Snowy-bellied Hummingbird and Rusty-margined Flycatcher shots! Those sloths are neat as well.


Allen Chartier said...

Thanks! I just wish that Blogger was working properly so that you could view the photos full-size. Only two photos are working properly, both from the first day's post. Many more photos to come on days 3-12.