Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Nuevo Progreso Darién

Our final afternoon at Canopy Camp had come and it was a sad time for me.

Above and below:  I should probably save this for my insect post.  As I was leaving our tent to go to the van for our final afternoon of birding in Darién, this large grasshopper flew in front of me.  In flight it had red wings.

We used the bush truck to bird - I think it was called the Pijao area.  It was a quiet afternoon.  A few butterflies and dragonflies distracted me. We did see female Spot-crowned Barbet (Capito maculicoronatus) pretty well, but briefly, as it flitted in the tree canopy.  We saw Golden-collared Manakins again as well as some others we had already seen.

Above and below:  This young Gray-lined Hawk (Buteo nitrides), formerly Gray Hawk, was calling from it's perch.

By all means, our best bird here, and one of our best for the trip, well seen by all but only Matt and Lisa got photos.  The very shy and difficult to find Capped Heron (Pilherodius pileatus) flushed from a tiny patch of water protected by tall weeds when the bush truck drove very close to his perching spot.  I don't think it was quite as colorful as the linked Surfbird photos, but it was pretty spectacular and unlike any heron I've every seen before.

Before heading back to Canopy Camp we stopped at the edge of a little neighborhood on the Panamerican Highway to look for Spectacled Parrotlet (Forpus conspicilatus).

Our Spectacled Parrotlet search was unsuccessful, but we did attract the attention of at least one resident.

And then it was over - there would be another day of birding, but this was our final evening and final dinner at Canopy Camp.  We learned of the Brits success with the Harpy Eagle and saw their photos too.   

Final afternoon of birding in Darién, but first lunch

Comidas in Panama were excellent - for every meal.  That's not to say it was some super special something that you might never have elsewhere.  

It was an excellent selection of well-prepared, diverse, good food with a Panamanian flair.  The main cook's name was Elsa and she and a small staff worked from a small kitchen just off the outdoor dining area.

Following our Lajas Blancas morning, this was the only comida where I took photos of our food.  

Arroz y frijoles are to be expected; esto era arroz y polla.

Above, in the middle, I think these are the best tortillas I will ever have.

Salada every meal.

Polla con clado con vegetales sopa.

The tortilla unwrapped and enjoyed.  I cannot describe how delicious this was.

Each comida was always accompanied by very nice jugo.  This jugo rojo was excellent.  Unfortunately, I can't recall the berry.

Lunch was interrupted by a House Wren singing in the rafter.

A nearby, crazy sounding Chestnut-headed Oropendola (select #15, Peter Boesman's 0.49 sec recording from San Lorenzo, Panama) (Psarocolius wagleri) would also call attention to itself.  These were our lunchtime sounds.  

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Lajas Blancas Road

Now we are down to our final two days.  It's hard to really grasp the end coming of such a great trip.  In addition to being the end of a my vacation, it was a reminder to me that I'd soon be returning to work.

You know the feeling of returning to work refreshed following a vacation?  From our Darién trip I knew that I had built a protective reservoir of memories that continue to insulate me even now nearly two months after our return.  Selecting photos and writing for this blog also keeps the trip real and alive.

We continued to see great birds.  Lajas Blancas Road took us through a variety of habitats.

We crossed the river and parked our van across from the police checkpoint.  Shortly after two dogs from the village came running up behind us.

More about this guy later.

We stopped here to look for a couple of target birds.

Above and below:  Red-billed Scythebill (Campylorhamphus trochilirostris).  The photo above shows the curve and length of this bird's bill; below shows the bill's color - perhaps more pink than red in this photo - both field marks from where the bird gets its name.

Above: the humbly named One-colored Becard (Pachyramphus homochrous).  This was the only one we saw on the trip.

Above:  We saw six woodpecker species on Lajas Blancas Road.  This is the only Golden-green Woodpecker (Piculus chrysochloros) we saw on the trip.  We saw both the male and female.

Above:  the oft-seen Collared Aracari (Pteroglossus torquatus) - definitely not a difficult bird to see in Panama - but always spectacular.

We came upon an attractive village of well-constructed homes.

We stopped across the road from this cluster of buildings.  They appear to be some kind of barracks.  Our focus was the field across from the barracks where Domi was looking for Red-breasted Blackbird (Sturnella militaris).  If the buildings were barracks - an aptly named bird to find here.

But our Red-breasted Blackbird was usurped by another found here.  A story from day one - on our drive to Darién province we drove along fields of pasture land - Rhoda asked Domi if we would see Cattle Tyrant.  He was noncommittal suggesting that this was a hard bird to see in the places we would be visiting.

We were again in the bush truck and I was on the bench facing the fence, not the Red-breasted Blackbird, when I saw the bird below.  I was having a hard time getting Domi's attention (with his back to the fence) as we slowly bounced along the field.

Above and four below:  Cattle Tyrant (Machetornis rixosa).  In his blog entry Matt gave me credit for finding the Streaked Xenops on El Slato road.  I'm pretty sure the xenops would have been called out eventually. But I'll take credit for calling out the Cattle Tyrant.

Domi was completely shocked.  What was a Cattle Tyrant doing here? He never really expected to see one on this trip.

Please don't enlarge these pixelated photos - they are best viewed as shown.  I'm sorry they did not turn out better - we were quite close to this bird - but, by then I already knew I was having plenty of trouble with photo quality.

This was a completely great bird to see so well - cooperative and unobstructed - and the only one we saw on the trip.

I was happy to make a sighting contribution.

The constuction workers above saw us taking photos of the cattle tyrant - in the bush truck we were probably a curious sight to them - and began to whistle and call out to have their photos taken too.

Just beyond the cattle tyrant we entered a forested part of this road. We got out of the bush truck and began walking.

Again, Purple-throated Fruit Crow. 

Above:  Brown-capped Tyrannulet (Ornithion brunneicapillus).

Cuipo tree

This road connected two villages and it turned out to be quite busy.

Above an two below:  Great Jacamar (Jacamerops aureus).  We found this bird after turning on to another lane that did not lead to a village and had no traffic.  It perched on a branch over the road and remained for a prolonged time.

All of my great jacamar photos needed brightening and saturation touch-up.  I tried to do a little without going overboard.

We saw all three jacamars in Panama.  Belonging to the family Galbulidae, I was surprised to see that, despite their similarities, each jacamar belongs to a different genus.  

Above and below:  These two photos were digiscoped with my iPhone and turned out much better than those with my camera.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

To end the day ...

After the Harpy Eagle, a few more birds filled out our day.  We hung around the park buildings for lunch and more birds before heading back down the trail.

Above and below:  Maybe our second craziest looking (after the Great Potoo) bird of the trip, Red-throated Caracara (Ibycter americanus).

Above and below:  I love this little bird - Golden-crowned Spadebill (Platyrinchus coronatus) - my first spadebill and I recall exactly how this bird was perched across the river on a low branch and just barely in the open.

The shallow, stony river running through this part of the park.

Helicopter damsel - one of two we saw during the week.

Chestnut-backed Antbird (Myrmeciza exsul), eastern Darién race.

Basilisk lizard

Snack time while waiting for our rides back to El Real.

A young passenger on our truck without suspension.

River under the road.

Approaching El Real - flower on a fence vine.

Driving through El Real.

Farwells and boarding our canoes.

Returning to Yeviza.

Believe it or not, this is a Savannah Hawk (Buteogallus meridionalis).

Ferry boat.

Perched Common Black Hawk (Buteogallus anthracinus).

Arriving back to Yeviza.

A young family waiting to depart Yeviza.

Yeviza and the happy ending to our day of many moving parts.

I left out a small and sort of insignificant piece in the lead up to this day.  On the day before our Harpy Eagle success, another group that included three British wildlife photographers had left from Canopy Camp for the same purpose early Tuesday morning.  They remained for six hours and did not see the adult female Harpy Eagle.  They did see the Harpy chick.  They returned, exhausted, well after dark.

After our Harpy success, our discussion centered around not gloating about how well we saw the female Harpy Eagle and her chick when we met up with the others at Camp that evening.  For some in that group, Tuesday had been their only chance.  The Brits had arranged to go back on Thursday.  When we returned they wanted to know and, I must say, we did not gloat but at the same time I think we all found it hard to be low-key.  The photos came out and it was lived all over again.  The Brits were successful the following day.