Panama 2014 – part 7

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After a while, I noticed that Violet Sabrewings were coming to the feeder at the gazebo. This gave me an opportunity to try out multiple-flash hummingbird photography for the first time. First, a couple photos taken without flash:

Violet Sabrewing 1 Violet Sabrewing 3


Then I set the flashes up. I tried a few angles, but in the end I preferred having one as mainlight and one coming from behind as a rim light.

Violet Sabrewing 4  Violet Sabrewing 8Violet Sabrewing 10 copyViolet Sabrewing 9

I didn’t have a tripod, but it was still a lot of fun! This was my first time doing this type of photography, and I wanted to do more, but unfortunately I just didn’t have the equipment necessary to allow me to set up just anywhere.  I had to make use of the gazebo structure, and Violet Sabrewings were the only hummingbirds coming to that feeder, unfortunately.

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Panama 2014 – part 6

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April 20th

After breakfast we headed back up the hills to the cloud forest to go for another hike. This time we intended to do another trail on the map we had, but we found ourselves unable to find it. So, instead we put the map away and chose an overgrown path that looked like it might lead somewhere exciting. Not far along the path, we came to an opening blocked by barbed wire. Well, that probably meant we weren’t supposed to go any further, but there were no signs and the other side was just so inviting. The path opened to a small field with a single horse to our left, and a steep hillside going up to our right, edged by flowers. We figured the barbed wire was more for keeping the horse in than for keeping people out, considering how easy it was to get past. Nevertheless, there was nowhere to continue the trail. We sat on the hillside for a while, admiring the forest. Eventually we started seeing Volcano Hummingbirds come to feed on the flowers adjacent to us, and I finally saw an adult male!

Volcano Hummingbird 11

Soon we decided to do some off-trail hiking and really explore up the rest of the hill. We followed the sound of a pair of Prong-billed Barbets, and eventually managed good looks at one of them. At one point a Volcano Hummingbird came and landed at a perch barely more than 5 feet from me, but soon flew off. It was an adult male, and knowing hummingbird’s tendency to return to the same perches, I stood still and waited for it to come back. Sure enough, it did, and I enjoyed a good half hour spending time with this bird.

Volcano Hummingbird 1 Volcano Hummingbird 9

After getting back to camp, I spent time walking around the grounds and found some more photo opportunities.

Slate-throated Redstart 1

Magnificent Hummingbird 1

Scintillant Hummingbird 2 Scintillant Hummingbird?  3 Long-tailed Silky Flycatcher juvenile 1Long-tailed Silky Flycatcher juvenile 2

Continued in part 7…

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Panama 2014 – part 5

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April 18th

We didn’t wake up too early today, in order to get some much needed rest. That said, waking up at 7 AM was sleeping in for us at that point. I walked to the nearby grocery store to pick up some breakfast materials, and on the way I spotted several birds, including a couple new ones: Roadside Hawk and Squirrel Cuckoo. Another highlight was a flowering tree that was absolutely filled with Rufous-tailed Hummingbirds!

Originally we had wanted to take the bus to Cerro Punta, but we ended up continuing on to the small town of Guadalupe, just above Cerro Punta, since that is where the Quetzal Lodge is located. The Quetzal Lodge is a very nice hotel with a number of private cabins located in the forest, which we most certainly could not afford. But, they allow camping in their garden for the much more budget-friendly price of $5 per person, plus $5 to use the hot water.

Because it was Easter weekend, there was a lot happening in town, despite its small size. The Cerro Punta area is well known for its strawberries, and there were many vendors selling a selection of strawberry-based treats, the best in my opinion being the classic strawberries with cream. Later in the afternoon we went up the road to the orchid gardens, where there were a number of species that were familiar from earlier on the trip, but here we had much better looks. Ruddy-capped Nightingale-thrush, Yellow-faced Grassquit, and White-throated Mountaingem:

Ruddy-capped Nightingale-thrush 1

Yellow-faced Grassquit 1

White-throated Mountaingem 1

A few new species were present as well.

129. Roadside Hawk
130. Squirrel Cuckoo
131. Green Violetear
132. Chestnut-capped Brush-finch
133. Scintillant Hummingbird

April 19th

The next day when I woke up, the first bird I saw was a Crane Hawk flying over, which is very unusual considering where we were! After breakfast we headed up to the forest to go for a hike. We took a trail that led us along a series of waterfalls, and we had quite a fun time crossing several streams in the path. At the largest waterfall, there were some nice spots to sit, so we took a rest.

While hanging around the waterfall, we noticed a medium-sized dark hummingbird perching nearby. I identified it as a Green-fronted Lancebill, and I enjoyed the better part of an hour watching him return to the same perch. Soon there were even two of them! I was able to get quite close by approaching the perch when they were feeding elsewhere, but it was difficult to photograph them due to the incredibly low levels of light. In the end, I only ended up with one good photo:

Green-fronted Lancebill 1

Not bad considering what I was working with. With my aperture wide open, I still had to use ISO 3200, and 1/60th of a second shutter speed, and the photo was still underexposed. With a bit of processing magic I was able to make a useable photograph.

Further up the trail, I was happy to see Black-and-Yellow Silky Flycatchers, though they didn’t make it easy for me. When we came back for lunch, I noticed a few Swallow-tailed Kites soaring in the distance, and walking around the garden I found a few more new species, and an adult male Scintillant Hummingbird!

Scintillant Hummingbird 1

Long-tailed Silky Flycatchers:

Long-tailed Silky Flycatcher 1

134. Crane Hawk
135. Tufted Flycatcher
136. Mountain Thrush
137. Black-and-Yellow Silky Flycatcher
138. Green-fronted Lancebill
139. Black Pheobe
140. Baltimore Oriole
141. Violet Sabrewing

Continued in Part 6…

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Panama 2014 – part 4

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The way down from the Volcano was easily one of the best days of birding on the trip. The first few kilometers yielded nice birds such as Volcano Hummingbird, Fiery-throated Hummingbird, Sooty Thrush, and Peg-billed Finch.

Fiery-throated Hummingbird 1 Fiery-throated Hummingbird 2


Sooty Thrush 1

After a short while, we stopped for another food break where we made peanut butter and raisin sandwiches (raisins substitute for jelly surprisingly well…). I’m so glad we stopped there, because a Black-billed Nightingale-thrush came right up to us, giving me one of my favorite photos of the trip!

Black-billed Nightingale-Thrush 1 desktop

Not only that, but a Flame-throated Warbler came to visit, too! I had seen a few yesterday, but they were very high up in the trees. This one came very close and low.


Flame-throated Warbler 1 Flame-throated Warbler 2 Flame-throated Warbler 3 Flame-throated Warbler 5

Just as we were leaving, a Black-capped Flycatcher made an appearance as well!

Black-capped Flycatcher 1

With that and the Yellowish Flycatcher from before, I’ve got both of the empids I really wanted to see on this trip!

Not long after we started walking again, I spotted a Slaty Flowerpiercer piercing flowers to get the nectar!

Slaty Flowerpiercer 1 Slaty Flowerpiercer 2


After another hour or so, I heard a Resplendent Quetzal nearby! There were actually two, but I was only able to locate a female.

Resplendent Quetzal 1

The quetzals flew deeper into the forest, and then a smaller brown bird flew in and briefly perched in the tree right above us, before flying across the trail into a nest hole. But wait, was it carrying a mouse? And that head shape was sort of odd… Luckily, I managed one photograph and was able to identify it as a rufous morph Costa Rican Pygmy Owl!

Costa Rican Pygmy Owl

I never expected to see an owl in the middle of the day, and any owl would be a real treat to see, but this is my first Pygmy Owl, and I saw its nest! I don’t know if I’ve ever learned so much about a bird with just a glimpse. In just an instant, I learned what it looks like, how big it is, its flight pattern, what it eats, and where it nests! If only I heard its call…

We stayed there for a while, hoping it would poke its head out of it’s hole, but we had to move on eventually.  We got to the ANAM station at the base around 1:30 PM, making our hike up and down the volcano almost exactly 24 hours! We picked up the rest of our stuff from Sean and Ada’s place and took the bus down to David, where we stayed the night.

120. Dusky Nightjar
121. Volcano Junco
122. Fiery-throated Hummingbird
123. Peg-billed Finch
124. Black-billed Nightingale-thrush
125. Black-capped Flycatcher
126. Slaty Flowerpiercer
127. Yellow-billed Cacique
128. Costa Rican Pygmy Owl

Continued in part 5…

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Panama 2014 – part 3

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Around 3 o’clock we packed up the tent and got a ride with the ranger in a minivan taxi back to Boquete. We figured we should rest well in a comfortable bed before taking on the Volcano. When we got to town, we found that all the hostels were totally booked or too expensive. Just when it looked hopeless and that we may have to go right back to camping, a nice lady named Ada came up to us and offered to put us up in her home for a very good price. She gave us directions and her husband Sean greeted us when we arrived. Sean runs a bakery and he’s always making fresh baked goods every time we pass by the kitchen downstairs. We bought a couple of slices of Coconut Carrot Cake that were absolutely delicious!

April 15th

We ended up staying two nights so we could have a complete day of rest before taking on the volcano with all of our stuff. In the morning I walked around the area, picking up some new species for the trip.

Flame-colored Tanager 2

103. Flame-colored Tanager
104. Dusky-capped Flycatcher
105. Cherrie’s Tanager
106. Rufous-tailed Hummingbird
107. Mourning Warbler
108. Tropical Mockingbird
109. Scarlet-thighed Dacnis
110. Gray-breasted Martin
111. Brown-throated Parakeet

I left my binoculars and camera in our room and that day we took a bus to Caldera to spend a relaxing day at the natural hot springs there. Well, that was the plan anyway. Things didn’t quite turn out the way we wanted. Everything was going fine when got to the bus stop where we had to walk (estimated by others, one hour) to get to the hot springs themselves. The trail was fairly straightforward for most of the way, and a nearby Fork-tailed Flycatcher was a treat to see. After a while, we crossed a river, and there was a fork in the road. We had been told about this fork. Both directions lead to the hot springs, but the left way was the short way to go, and the right fork added another 3 km to the walk. So, we naturally took the left way, and saw several people on their way back from the hot springs. I don’t want to go in to how, since it’s quite embarrassing, but we passed the turn off for the springs. and we didn’t turn back, since we didn’t want to unnecessarily backtrack in case we hadn’t passed the entrance, and at the same time, we assumed it was a loop trail because of the extra 3 km long right fork from before. So, we stubbornly went onward. Well, let me tell you, it was most definitely not a loop trail.  Despite our blunder, it was an interesting trail with lots of birds, and we met some locals who were nice enough to fill up our water and tell us that the trail just kept on going for almost twenty miles more. At that point we gave up our stubbornness and turned around. We had ended up walking on for an extra hour and a half before turning around, making it a 3 hour detour.  Luckily we still had time to soak in the hot springs, which we did find on our way back, and which felt very good for our poor feet.

112. Great Tinamou
113. Large-footed Finch

April 16th

Originally, we had planned to start the Volcan Baru Hike in the morning, but we got a little extra rest and left in the early afternoon instead.  Ada and Sean let us leave some of our things that we wouldn’t need with them while we were hiking, and Sean gave us some samples of strawberry turnovers before we left that were just about the yummiest thing we had had on the trip so far!

We arrived at the Camiseta ANAM station at the base of the volcano around 1:30 PM, and started on our way up. At the beginning of the trail, the common birds were Slate-throated Redstart, Mountain Elaenia, and Yellow-bellied Siskin. I could see a Red-tailed Hawk riding the thermals in the distance, and I could see this individual was of the resident race of Red-tailed Hawk, rather than a migrant, distinguished by its rufous belly and thighs.  We struggled to get a look at a pair of Spotted Wood-quails around the first bend, but we did eventually get a good look. At a bit higher elevation, the vegetation started to become more lush. Bird activity was picking up as the afternoon dragged on. And then straight ahead of us along the trail, I heard the call of a bird I very much wanted to see. A Long-tailed Silky Flycatcher! We soon found several calling and moving about in a tree above us, but I’ll spare you the photos as they are pretty horrid. I did get some decent photos later in the trip, though. Unfortunately, this day was just not a good day for photography. We hiked on until after dark, and with about six hours of hiking behind us, we finally found a level, softish spot and set up camp 3 km from the peak.

114. Yellow-faced Grassquit
115. Spotted Wood-quail
116. Red-tailed Hawk
117. Long-tailed Silky Flycatcher
118. Sooty Thrush
119. Flame-throated Warbler

April 17th

We woke up early while it was still dark out, wanting to reach the peak before sunrise. About a km into our walk, a great glowing eye in the middle of the trail was reflected back to us from the light of our headlamps. It was a Dusky Nightjar! Suddenly it flew up in the air and alighted on to a rock in the trail right next to us! It sat there, looking from one of us to the other, inspecting us, before eventually flying off further down the path where we came from. I did get a picture, but the light of our headlamps was simply not enough to focus well in, so my one photo is horribly out of focus. Still, though, the image of the nightjar sitting on that rock so close to us, looking at us, is forever burned into my mind. Here’s the bird, anyway:

Dusky Nightjar

As we approached the summit, the sun began to break over the clouds, making for a beautiful sunrise indeed.

Sunrise Volcan

By the time we got to the actual summit, the sun was completely above the clouds, and actually there was a more interesting sight to the west. The volcano was casting a massive shadow over the town of Volcan below us, while the moon could still be seen in the sky.


Pretty much everyone else there had already started back down, leaving us to be the last ones left at the top. We got out some cereal we had for breakfast, and sat below the cross for a while. It didn’t take long before a dark sparrow came hopping. I was very happy to see that it was a Volcano Junco, a very range-restricted species only found on mountain tops in Costa Rica and Panama. And even happier that it let me take many great photographs!

Volcano Junco 9 Volcano Junco 14 Volcano Junco 20 Volcano Junco 24 Volcano Junco 29

Continued in part 4…

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Panama 2014 – part 2

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April 13th

We got up early to get on the bus to David, from which we will then go on to Boquete and camp at the Alto Chiquero ANAM station, at the start of the Sendero Los Quetzales, a trail well known to have Resplendant Quetzals and other great birds. The bus ride would take up the entire day, but I could still look out the window for new birds. I don’t recommend doing this, by the way, as it’s very frustrating and difficult. Nevertheless, I saw a few birds I was able to identify. I saw a silhouette of a Toucan in a far off tree, which I think was a Keel-billed Toucan, and I watched the distinctive silhouette of a Fork-tailed Flycatcher fly over our bus.

54. Great Egret
55. Cattle Egret
56. Fork-tailed Flycatcher

Besides those, the usual suspects were identified as well, such as Great-tailed Grackle, Black Vulture, Tropical Kingbird, and Turkey Vulture. We arrived by taxi to our campsite just before sunset, and we saw a Magenta-throated Woodstar hovering around the flowers near the ANAM station, as well as a Rufous-collared Sparrow and many Blue-and-White Swallows.

57. Magenta-throated Woodstar
58. Rufous-collared Sparrow
59. Blue-and-White Swallow

As much as I wanted to do a night hike on the Quetzal Trail, we’re told by the ranger that it’s not allowed from sunset to sunrise. So, I got out my Macro gear again, and went searching around the station for some cooperative creepy-crawlies. Macro photography is a lot of fun, but getting the eyes of a tiny insect in focus is incredibly difficult. Out of all the shots I took, I only came away with one I liked, but I liked it a lot! This miniscule spider miraculously came out in focus despite being very active.

Tiny Spider Alto Chiquero for print

Eventually I put the gear away and went to bed, eagerly anticipating a great day of birding in the morning!

April 14th

We left camp promptly at 6 AM and were immediately rewarded with a Blue-throated Toucanet foraging in the shady trees!

Blue-throated Toucanet

Further down the trail, we meet a familiar face from the north, a Hairy Woodpecker, though the race in Panama is darker underneath. Around the next bend in the trail, we hear a loud CLANG! In trying to locate the bird making the bizarre sound, I lay eyes on a gorgeous Spangle-cheeked Tanager.

Spangle-cheeked Tanager 1

Prong-billed Barbets are making a racket nearby, and I manage to find one, along with a Black-thighed Grosbeak. CLANG! That sound again… and then, Katy grabs my attention to look at a large bird perched out in the open on a bare tree, and asks what it is. When I fix my binoculars on it, I’m momentarily speechless with excitement! A Three-wattled Bellbird! This bird is the source of the loud metallic clang, and we would hear them constantly for the rest of the hike, along with the Prong-billed Barbets.

Three-wattled Bellbird 2

The next part of the trail crossed through grasslands and pine trees, where we picked up Silver-throated Tanager, White-naped Brush-finch, Yellow-bellied Siskin, and the familiar Acorn Woodpecker. As we continued on, it started to rain lightly, but that didn’t stop the birds. A White-throated Mountaingem gave us good looks.

White-throated Mountaingem female 1

As we moved on, we started to hear a very ethereal song. Katy went on, not wanting to stop in the rain, but I manuevered my way around the brush to locate the source of the sound and found myself looking at a Black-faced Solitaire! This species is not easily seen, but it is a beautiful bird indeed.

Black-faced Solitaire 1

Farther down the trail, after having just watched another Mountaingem feeding at some flowers, Katy looks behind her to see two Great Curassows hurrying into the bushes on the opposite side of the trail! I turn around just in time to glimpse the male jumping in after the female. They were probably watching us and waiting for us to pass so they could cross without being seen. And they almost got away with it!

At this point, the rest of the trail followed a river, and at one point we sat by the river for a break. While there, a number of birds made appearances, including Stripe-tailed Hummingbird, a female Magnificent Hummingbird, and several Torrent Tyrannulets.

Torrent Tyrannulet 1

We later stopped at a table we found for some lunch, and nearby there were Black-cheeked Warblers gathering nest materials!

Black-cheeked Warbler 1 Black-cheeked Warbler 2 Black-cheeked Warbler 3

The Black-cheeked Warblers turned out to be quite a common sight for the rest of the trail, as well as the Yellow-thighed Finches which were perhaps even more omnipresent.

Now it was almost noon and we were getting pretty tired. The loud sounds of the Three-wattled Bellbird and the ethereal song of the Solitaires could still be heard, but few birds were willing to be seen. Then I heard a distinct cooing sound in the distance behind us, and I immediately recognized it as the call of a Resplendent Quetzal! I was so excited I practically ran back, always listening for where the call was coming from.  I played the male’s call on my phone to try luring it closer, and suddenly a huge trogon with a red belly and an all white undertail flew into a low tree maybe twenty feet from where I was standing. It was definitely a male Resplendent Quetzal. Katy caught up to me and I told her where it was. Still obscured by thick foliage, I tried walking around to get a better angle. Just then, it flew off, showing us its full silhouette, the long tail streamers and all.

We eventually got to the lookout point where we had a nice view of the mountains, and then we turned back to return to our campsite. It had taken us six hours to get to the lookout, and it took us two hours to get back to camp. The reason for this is mainly due to the terrain. Going from east to west, like we did, there are many steep steps to climb and the trail is mostly uphill. As a result, going from west to east along the trail is much easier and much faster. The decrease in bird activity was probably a factor too, though. However, that doesn’t mean the return hike was without it’s highlights as well. A flock of Red-faced Spinetails by the river was a treat to see, and when we got back to the grasslands, there was the thrilling experience of Vaux’s Swifts speeding low over the fields and just over our heads. And just before we got back to the ANAM station, a Yellowish Flycatcher gave me a nice photo opportunity.

Yellowish Flycatcher 2

Back at the ANAM station, while Katy took a nap in the tent I birded with the ANAM ranger for a while, and we saw quite a lot of species just around the station.

Common Bush-tanager 1

The ranger showed me a Blue-and-White swallow’s nest from the balcony, and a pair of Elegant Euphonias foraging in a nearby tree. Then, a huge red and green bird flew by, coming to rest high up in a distant tree. It turned out to be a female Resplendent Quetzal!

60. Blue-throated Toucanet
61. Prong-billed Barbet
62. Hairy Woodpecker
63. Wilson’s Warbler
64. Spangle-cheeked Tanager
65. Black-thighed Grosbeak
66. Three-wattled Bellbird
67. Ochraceous Wren
68. Slate-throated Redstart
69. Silver-throated Tanager
70. Acorn Woodpecker
71. White-naped Brush-finch
72. White-throated Mountaingem
73. Yellow-bellied Siskin
74. Yellowish Flycatcher
75. Streak-breasted Treehunter
76. Black-faced Solitaire
77. Yellow-thighed Finch
78. Great Curassow
79. Little Tinamou
80. Stripe-tailed Hummingbird
81. Torrent Tyrannulet
82. Magnificent Hummingbird
83. Volcano Hummingbird
84. Brown-capped Vireo
85. Black-cheeked Warbler
86. Ruddy-capped Nightingale-thrush
87. Swainson’s Thrush
88. Sooty-capped Bush-tanager
89. Gray-breasted Wood-wren
90. Yellow-winged Vireo
91. Olive-striped Flycatcher
92. Resplendent Quetzal
93. Red-faced Spinetail
94. Common Bush-tanager
95. Eastern Meadowlark
96. Vaux’s Swift
97. Elegant Euphonia
98. Band-tailed Pigeon
99. Collared Redstart
100. Ruddy Treerunner
101. Mountain Elaenia
102. Broad-winged Hawk

Continued in Part 3…

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Panama 2014 – part 1

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7

To start off, I want to talk about where we went and how we planned the trip. This trip was very different from when we went to Peru last summer. In peru, we stayed at a couple very nice lodges, and we had a guide (non-birder) for our major 5 day trek to Machu Picchu, as well as a birding guide helping us in Abra Patricia a few times. In Panama, we didn’t use any guides, and we were on a much tighter budget. We brought a tent and two sleeping bags, and definitely made use of them. Our main reason for bringing the tent was to camp near the peak of Volcan Baru in order to see sunrise from the highest point in Panama. On a rare clear day, both the Pacific and Atlantic Ocean can be seen from the peak of the Volcano as well. We didn’t have such luck, but Volcan Baru still turned out to be amazing and well worth the tough 2-day hike. More on that later. An added bonus of bringing the tent with us was that it acted as a safety net when we couldn’t find a hostel or when the prices indicated in our lonely planet book were way off, as they frequently were. Things change fast in the tropics! Having a tent gave us immense flexibility with our journey. The only reservations we made for the entire trip was for the first two nights in Panama City!

For this trip, there was a loose idea of what we wanted to do, rather than a strict itinerary. Those things were: Going to the Panama Canal (100th anniversary this year, by the way.), birding along Pipeline Road in Soberania National Park, Climbing Volcan Baru, going to the beach, hiking in Omar Torrijos park near El Cope, walking the Sendero Los Quetzales, and spending time in Boquete, a small city east of Volcan Baru. But, we also didn’t want to squeeze too many things into one trip and feel like we’re not able to spend any time in the places we like. So we tentatively chose to cut out going to El Cope, as it was out of the way, and everything else was either in the Boquete area or the Canal area.

The books I used for this trip were A Bird-Finding Guide to Panama, by George R. Angehr, Dodge Engleman, and Lorna Engleman, as well as The Birds of Panama, by George R. Angehr and Robert Dean.

April 11th

We arrived in Panama City around 8:30 pm and got a cab straight to our hostel. No birds were seen or heard. We went to bed fairly soon to prepare for an early day of birding at the Metropolitan Nature Park the next day.

April 12th

I awoke at 5 AM to the sound of a Clay-colored Thrush calling outside our room. The first bird of the trip! We made pancakes for breakfast and soon we were off to the park. Around the visitor’s center I found a scraggly House Wren, Clay-colored Thrush, and White-tipped Dove. A group of large parrots also flew over but I was unable to get an ID. As we walked along the trail, we soon came to a small pond, where Tropical Kingbirds were swooping just above the water to catch insects. Besides the kingbirds, White-vented Plumeleteers and Snowy-bellied Hummingbirds were also present, taking dips in the water. We stayed near the pond for a few minutes and found a couple of Bay-breasted Warblers that were foraging near the ground, and two Slaty-tailed Trogons hanging above the pond!

Bay-breasted Warbler 1

Slaty-tailed Trogons 1

As we walked further along the trail, we came across a pair of Thick-billed Euphonias and a Purple-crowned Fairy at eye-level that I was unfortunately unable to take a photo of.

Thick-billed Euphonia 1

Soon, we came to a fork where we took the trail leading up to a lookout. On the way, we saw a pair of Red-legged Honeycreepers, and a Blue-crowned Motmot flew across the trail, flashing it’s bright blue crown and elegant tail feathers.  As we’re looking out towards the city, a butterfly comes flapping it’s way across our view, and suddenly, a large bird shoots straight up from the bushes and snatches it out of the air, flying off to perch on a faraway tree and enjoy it’s meal. It turns out to be a White-necked Puffbird, which is definitely quite a bit larger than I expected it to be. (click to view full size)

White-necked Puffbird 1

We then went back to the fork, going the other direction this time, and found a number of antbirds and other species that follow swarms of ants. This was the first time I got to try out my Macro set-up on live subjects!

Ant 1 Ant 2

By this time activity was really starting to die down, so we headed back, only making a stop at the pond for a snack and some rest. This gave me an opportunity to get a photo of the White-vented Plumeleteer and a Yellow-olive Flycatcher that had a nest nearby.

White-vented Plumeleteer 2 Yellow-olive Flycatcher 1 Yellow-olive Flycatcher nest 1

We went to Casco Viejo for lunch, and I was able to pick up a few more species for the trip list, but mostly it was just the ubiquitous Great-tailed Grackle and Black Vultures.

Black Vulture 1

After lunch we headed back to the hostel for a siesta, and hung out in the city in the evening.

The list for the day:

1. Clay-colored Thrush
2. Great-tailed Grackle
3. Rock Pigeon
4. House Sparrow
5. Black Vulture
6. Turkey Vulture
7. House Wren
8. White-tipped Dove
9. Bluegray Tanager
10. Palm Tanager
11. Tropical Kingbird
12. Yellow-bellied Elaenia
13. Greenish Elaenia
14. Great Kiskadee
15. Social Flycatcher
16. White-vented Plumeleteer
17. Snowy-bellied Hummingbird
18. Bay-breasted Warbler
19. Yellow Warbler (Mangrove)
20. Slaty-tailed Trogon
21. Cocoa Woodcreeper
22. Red-crowned Woodpecker
23. Barn Swallow
24. Common Tody-flycatcher
25. Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher
26. Streaked Flycatcher
27. Purple-crowned Fairy
28. Thick-billed Euphonia
29. Red-legged Honeycreeper
30. Buff-throated Saltator
31. Blue-crowned Motmot
32. Red-throated Ant-tanager
33. Panama Flycatcher
34. White-necked Puffbird
35. Blue-black Grassquit
36. Black-chested Jay
37. Red-crowned Ant-tanager
38. Dot-winged Antwren
39. Rufous-breasted Wren
40. Western Slaty-Antshrike
41. Crimson-backed Tanager
42. Yellow-olive Flycatcher
43. Black-crowned Tityra
44. Orange-chinned Parakeet
45. Ruddy Ground-dove
46. White-shouldered Tanager
47. Long-billed Gnatwren
48. Dusky Antbird
49. Brown Pelican
50. Spotted Sandpiper
51. Royal Tern
52. Southern Beardless-tyrannulet
53. Ochre-bellied Flycatcher

Continued in part 2…

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Peru 2013 – part 10

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The next morning we leave at 4:30, because the road closes at 7:00 for construction. The long drive back to Moyobamba takes nearly all day, so it’s probably better we got an early start. Back in Moyobamba, I see several Smooth-Billed Anis neair La Casa de Seizo. After dropping our stuff off, Katy and I walk over to Waqanki, an Orchid reserve (which also has lots of hummingbirds!). Here I get a couple lifers, Golden-Tailed Sapphire and Fork-Tailed Woodnymph.

150. Smooth-Billed Ani
151. Golden-Tailed Sapphire

Golden-tailed Sapphire

152. Fork-Tailed Woodnymph

Fork-tailed Woodnymph

I also manage to get some better photos of the Rufous-Crested Coquette.

Rufous-crested Coquette 2 Rufous-crested Coquette 3

On the way back to Seizo’s, we spot some Tufted Woodpeckers in a tree.

153. Tufted Woodpecker

Once again Seizo prepares an excellent dinner for us. It’s fried Tilapia in a Tonkatsu style over rice. Hands down it’s the best fried fish I’ve ever had. The breading is light and crisp, and the fish is fresh, soft and flavorful.

The next morning at Seizo’s I’m able to add a few more lifers.

154. Band-Tailed Oropendola
155. Black-Faced Dacnis
156. Pale-Legged Hornero
157. Long-Tailed Tyrant
158. Rufous-Fronted Thornbird (just how many birds have “Rufous” in their name?)

Back at Waqanki, we go to the orchid gardens first, and although most aren’t blooming, there are still many strange insects and flowers!



Hermits seem to be especially partial to the Heliconia, and I commonly saw Long-Tailed Hermit feeding from them.

Back at the hummingbird feeders, I finally get a decent picture of a Long-Tailed Hermit.

Long-tailed Hermit

Swallow-Tailed Kites fly overhead, and I also get a new species of Hermit, Black-Throated Hermit.

Black-throated Hermit

159. Swallow-Tailed Kite
160. Black-Throated Hermit

Black-Throated Hermit was my last lifer in Peru. After this last bit of birding at Waqanki, we headed off to the airport in Tarapoto and back to Lima.

Our last day we looked at some sights in Lima. I highly recommend going to the Iglesia de San Francisco if you ever find yourself in Lima. It has beautiful architecture, a surreal and gorgeous library, and tons of skeletons in underground catacombs.

Thanks for reading!

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Peru 2013 – part 9

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When we arrived at the museum, a big international birding competition that had been taking place was just leaving, and I witnessed a group of birders add the Spatuletail to their lists. It was also crazy just how many cameras and people were there. After the crowds were gone, it was just Katy and I staying at Kentitambo. The owner, Dr. Adriana Von Hagen, was very kind and the food they provided for us was delicious!

That day I added:

143. Cinerous Conebill
144. Brown Violetear
145. Purple-Throated Sunangel

Purple-throated Sunangel

146. Rainbow Starfrontlet

Rainbow Starfrontlet

147. Speckled Hummingbird

Speckled Hummingbird

The next morning before breakfast, Katy spots one of my favorite hummingbirds for me, the Sword-Billed Hummingbird!

148. Sword-Billed Hummingbird

Sword-billed Hummingbird

Later that day we go to the Leimebamba Museum just across the street. The museum itself is quite interesting, especially the last room where you can look in at a room that is just filled with mummies from chachapoyan ruins! Just outside, though, a female Green-Tailed Trainbearer makes an appearance.

149. Green-Tailed Trainbearer

Green-tailed Trainbearer

I also get some very close shots of some woodstars.

White-bellied Woodstar Male Little Woodstar

There were some pretty incredible moths at Kentitambo as well.

Long-tailed Skipper

Unidentified Moth

To be continued in the next post…

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Peru 2013 – part 8

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The next day the guide gave us a ride down the road a bit to the Royal Sunangel Trail. It’s not far to the spot where the hummingbird is seen, and right away when we get there a different, but awesome bird makes an appearance! The Bar-Winged Wood-Wren.

Bar-winged Wood-wren

Soon the Royal Sunangel makes an appearance, and we wait in that spot for quite a while, watching the Royal Sunangel come and go.

Royal SunangelRoyal Sunangel Flight copy

A couple times it came very close to us, even letting me get a pretty decent picture!

Royal Sunangel 3

133. Bar-Winged Wood-Wren
134. Royal Sunangel
135. Scaly-Naped Parrot

A Booted Rackettail also flew by, but I only saw a dark blur shoot by me. The guide identified it.

Getting back to the lodge, some Red-Billed Parrots flew over us. So we got ready to leave so we could move on to Huembo, and as I sat by the hummingbird feeders waiting for Katy to shower, a Bronzy Inca shows up.

Bronzy Inca

As I said before, this day the birds were being much more cooperative for my camera.

Sitting by that feeder I also had several more White-Bellied Woodstars come by, including males. The highlight, though, was a Male Long-Tailed Sylph. I also got some good pictures of the female, too.

Long-tailed SylphLong-tailed Sylph female

136. Red-Billed Parrot
137. Bronzy Inca

Our guide kindly gave us a ride to a nearby town where we got a taxi to Huembo. The man working there welcomed us at the gate and took us right to the first group of feeders. I have never seen so many hummingbirds in my life! Besides the abundant Sparkling Violetear, there were many other species as well.

138. Violet-Fronted Brilliant
139. White-Bellied Hummingbird
140. Little Woodstar
141. Andean Emerald

In about 10 minutes, the star of the show showed up! An adult male Marvelous Spatuletail!

Marvelous Spatuletail Adult Male copy

142. Marvelous Spatuletail

Soon it was chased away by the violetears, though . We then went to another group of feeders, where we saw it again, although mainly it was just a silhouette due to the heavy shade. Still, seeing those crazy tail feathers bounce around as it flies is so bizarre! We also saw a young male, but no females. It started to rain, so we went inside the museum and paid our entrance fees. We decided to wait for the rain to die down before going back out, but after waiting an hour, the rain only got stronger, so we ran back to our taxi (our driver waited for us). We spent that night in Chachapoyas and the next morning we went on to Leimebamba.

To be continued in the next post…

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