Trip Report

Amazon Kingfisher -Darien, Panama Birders on Pipeline Road -Canal Zone, Panama<br/> Boat birders -Darien, Panama Green and Rufous Kingfishe -Darien, Panama Harpy Eagle -Darien, Panama Starry Night Cracker -Darien, Panama
  • Amazon Kingfisher -Darien, Panama
  • Birders on Pipeline Road -Canal Zone, Panama<br/>
  • Boat birders -Darien, Panama
  • Green and Rufous Kingfishe -Darien, Panama
  • Harpy Eagle -Darien, Panama
  • Starry Night Cracker -Darien, Panama


Panama Diary- December 1 – 8, 2018



Saturday 1 December
Several of us had spent the last few days at the wonderful Canopy Tower where we had the opportunity to get ourselves familiar with some Panama’s birds ahead of the start of our week at Canopy Camp. We got to the Riande Hotel at the Airport in the late afternoon with enough time to walk around the grounds for a little while. While the trip had not officially started we had a nice list with Tropical Mockingbird being an addition to our pre-trip tally.
The rest of the group arrived after dinner and after a good night’s sleep we arranged to meet for breakfast and an early start down the Pan-American Highway.

Sunday 2 December
We picked up a few supplies at the supermarket in Panama City and then hit the road with our super local guide, Elisier, at the wheel. Our first birding stop was across the bridge at Bayano Lake where we started the list with a few waterbirds including Cocoi and Great Blue Herons, Osprey and a pair of dark-phase Short-tailed Hawks. A basket of fish recently caught in the lake was fascinating as most of the catch seemed to be Armored Catfish. A stop at the Rio Mono Bridge was very good and we managed (eventually!) to get great views of our target White-eared Conebill. There were plenty of other birds at the bridge including White-winged Becard, Rufous-winged Antwren and Red-rumped Woodpecker. Lunch was in the small town of Torti, which conveniently had hummingbird feeders near the dining tables. What more do birders want than a good lunch with an ongoing hummer show? The most obvious species were Scaly-breasted and Snowy-bellied Hummingbirds, and White-necked Jacobin; a beautiful Long-billed Starthroat also made a couple of appearances. It was then straight to the Camp with a brief stop for Pearl Kite along the way.
After introductions at the Camp where the new manager, David, told us the ropes about living in the rainforest, we spent the rest of the afternoon wandering the grounds. This was the best way to get accustomed to the birds around the camp with Boat-billed and Rusty-margined Flycatchers in the trees; White-tipped Dove and Ruddy Ground-Dove on the grass and Red-crowned and Black-cheeked Woodpeckers coming to the banana feeders. Dinner was outdoors, but very pleasant once the heat of the day had subsided. A glass of wine helped the fit the sundowner image and a Crested Owl growled from way up into the forest.

Monday 3 December

After breakfast we spent time exploring and birding the camp and grounds.  Well planted with flowering shrubs and tall trees, there were birds everywhere. Hummingbird feeders attracted Sapphire-throated and Scaly-breasted Hummingbirds, while Bay-breasted Warblers (the most abundant “North American” warbler) fed in the taller trees. A colony of Chestnut-headed Oropendolas was very close to the dining room and the platform feeders (when stocked with bananas) brought in many birds as well as Joffrey’s Tamarins, Red-tailed Squirrels and White-faced Capuchins. The forest loop was fairly quiet, but we had pretty good views of White-breasted Wood-Wrens and only glimpses of Scaly-breasted Wren. After lunch we drove down the Pan-American Highway all the way to its terminus at Yaviza. A stop at the gas station was particularly good and it was here that we had great views of the very cute Spectacled Parrotlet. The Panamanian military seemed to be having changeover day today and there were truckloads of personnel arriving and loading while we drove through town.
The Camp is happy to cook food for both vegetarians and even vegans with everything being freshly prepared in the Camp kitchen. All of the staff are very personable and seem to be very eager to answer all and any questions we have.

Tuesday 4 December

Today was the day to visit the Harpy Eagle nest this morning, but a last minute (early morning!) phone call caused us to change our plans and postpone the Harpy until tomorrow. After a couple of extra hours in bed we drove to the nearby El Salto road. This road is largely forested, although some large teak plantations now dominate the end closer to the river. It was easy birding along the road where we tried to coax out some very uncooperative antbirds! Some Black Antshrikes did allow themselves to be seen and one may have snacked on a small tarantula that was trying to flee an army ant swarm. As the heat and humidity increased a few birds of prey started to appear including Black Hawk-eagle and Gray-lined Hawk. Lunch was back at the Camp where we caught up on the birdlist before having a brief rest in the shade of our cabins. The afternoon was across the road on the road to Lajas Blancas. It was surprisingly busy with trucks, motorcycles and horses passing us as we were birding, but thankfully the birds took little notice of the traffic. A pair of Golden-green Woodpeckers showed very nicely, as did Black-cheeked and both Lineated and Crimson-crested Woodpeckers. The views over the countryside were spectacular with the huge Cuipo trees standing like sentinels above the canopy. Unfortunately a lot of the surrounding forest had been converted to cattle pastures with only remnant patches of forest in the gullies and along fence lines. Later that evening a Mottled Owl called into the night, although it never seemed close enough to be seen.

Wednesday 5 December

Today was Harpy Eagle day and an early start with a 4 AM breakfast. It was an hour drive to Puerto Limon where we caught the dugout canoes on the Chuqanaque River. The canoes could hold from 5-7 passengers and we were very comfortable in the low seats for the 2 - 3 hour ride. Birding was good in the misty early morning with Little Blue, Striated and Cocoi Herons feeding along the muddy shores. The river level must have been a lot higher quite recently as we kept having to route ourselves around logs and shallows. A family group (?) of Chestnut—fronted Macaws was a nice sighting, along with a pair of White-fronted Nunbirds that were perched in a tall Cecropia tree. After a snack it was then an hour walk to the Harpy Eagle nest deep in the forest. We could never glimpse the young chick in the nest, but the female was perched nearby and allowed us great scope views – what a magnificent and powerful bird! It was tough to tear ourselves away for the walk back for a picnic lunch. The local people (Embara and Guyaran) seem to value the Harpy and seemed genuinely pleased to welcome us to their land. It was then the return trip along the river back to Puerto Limon where all manner of food and supplies were being loaded into boats for the journey upriver to the local villages. A real surprise was groups of non-Panamanians being held by the police on the banks of the river. Apparently they were from Bangladesh, Somalia and Congo and had flown to Brazil, crossed into Colombia and walked for 6 days through the forests across the Darien Gap. An incredible trip only to be arrested by the Panamanian police. Of course they were trying to get to the US. A brief stop was made to watch an Aplomado Falcon attempting to hunt over the nearby rice fields and then it was back to the camp – a long, but great day and we all fell into bed after dinner.

Thursday 6 December

A late breakfast this morning (6:30 AM!) before we took a forested walk along the trails at the nearby Fundacion Tierra Nueva- a school with a large tract of protected forest. The shady paths were quite good for the normal selection of forest birds, as well as Great Jacamar, A heard-only Semiplumbeous Hawk and Black-faced Antthrush – which cooperated at least a little bit as it walked through a semi open area in the heliconia thickets. Apparently this patch of forest burned a couple of years ago resulting in a dearth of army ants and the associated birdlife. After lunch most of us decided to head for a nearby wetland – accessed by a dirt road with some rather impressive rocky gullies which thankfully we managed to avoid. Unfortunately the wetland (which sometimes stretches to Yaviza) was inaccessible due a very muddy field – and where vehicles had been stuck on earlier birding expeditions. We ended up birding the road which was pleasant. A Royal Flycatcher stayed out of sight for the most part, but a Great Potoo on the return trip was very impressive.

Friday 7 December

Time for another boat trip today and a trip on a tributary of the Chuqanaque.  This time we were in one canoe as we motored up the Rio Tuqesa. The forest along the banks looked a little impacted and had probably been heavily logged as there were very few large trees and no “forest giants”. The birdlife along the river was typical with small numbers of herons and egrets, kingfishers and birds of prey. Our first stop was a garden area of banana, coffee and manioc with surrounding large trees. Our target was the rare Dusky-backed Jacamar which we soon found, along with nesting Long-tailed Tyrants and a pair of Orange-chinned Parakeets feeding on termites in a nearby tree. It was minutes before we were to board the canoe that Elisier heard the rapid churring songs of a pair of Double-banded Graytails. It was tough to see these little guys as they fed amongst the leaves, but eventually all of us had pretty good views of this unusual furnarid. A walk from the nearby Embara village took us to a quiet backwater, where Moyo and the girls from Massachusetts had both Green-and-rufous Kingfisher and the very shy Agami Heron. It took us a while, but we also managed to see both of these uncommon birds, as well as a pair of Neotropical River Otters which were sunbathing on a log over the river. It was a walk of only 1KM to the river, but the heat and humidity were both oppressive and it was a relief to get back to the shade for lunch. The local ladies from the village had been busy making baskets and masks to be sold, so some of us ended up with some treasures from the local “mall”! Apparently all of the dyes and plant materials used in the weaving are from the forest, including from leaves of the Chunga or Black Palm.
It didn’t take us long to get back to the boat dock and back to camp – hot and tired and most definitely in need of a shower (and a beer!)

Saturday 8 December

It was off to Panama City today with some folks leaving around 4 PM and others spending the night near the airport for an early morning departure. Of course, with a winter storm moving through the southeast all flight schedules were up in the air.
Our first stop was back at the hotel in Torti where the hummers were still buzzing around the feeders. Vultures were starting to thermal overhead and an immature Broad-winged Hawk was utilizing the thermals at the same time. A drive down to the Rio Torti was very profitable with a pair of the newly-colonizing Carib Grackles. This spot has had at least one pair in the last few months and they were sitting in the front garden of a nearby house and a Blue-headed Parrot was poking its head out of a hollow in a nearby palm tree.


 Simon Thompson 

Birds seen or heard & Animal List for Canopy Camp, Darien, Panama
December 1-8, 2018



Little Tinamou (Heard)
Black-bellied Whistling-Duck
Gray-headed Chachalaca
Rock Pigeon
Scaled Pigeon
Pale-vented Pigeon
Ruddy Ground-Dove
Blue Ground-Dove
White-tipped Dove
Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Squirrel Cuckoo
Greater Ani
Smooth-billed Ani
Striped Cuckoo
Lesser Nighthawk
Common Pauraque
Great Potoo
Common Potoo
Band-rumped Swift       
Short-tailed Swift
Lesser Swallow-tailed Swift
Rufous-breasted Hermit
Pale-bellied Hermit
Scaly-breasted Hummingbird
White-necked Jacobin
Black-throated Mango
Violet-bellied Hummingbird
Sapphire-throated Hummingbird
Rufous-tailed Hummingbird
Blue-chested Hummingbird
Snowy-bellied Hummingbird
White-vented Plumeleteer
Purple-crowned Fairy
Long-billed Starthroat
Gray-breasted Crake (Heard)
Gray-cowled Wood-Rail
Purple Gallinule
Southern Lapwing
Wattled Jacana
Spotted Sandpiper
Solitary Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper
Wood Stork
Neotropic Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Cocoi Heron
Great Egret
Little Blue Heron
Snowy Egret
Cattle Egret
Striated Heron
Green Heron
Agami Heron
Boat-billed Heron
Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture
King Vulture
Gray-headed Kite
Pearl Kite
White-tailed Kite
Crane Hawk
Semiplumbeous Hawk (Heard)
Common Black Hawk
Savanna Hawk
Roadside Hawk
Broad-winged Hawk
Gray-lined HawkShort-tailed Hawk
Zone-tailed Hawk
Harpy Eagle
Black Hawk-Eagle
Barn Owl (Heard)
Mottled Owl (Heard)
Crested Owl (Heard)
White-tailed Trogon (Heard)
Gartered Trogon
Black-tailed Trogon
Whooping (Blue-crowned) Motmot

Ringed Kingfisher


Amazon Kingfisher
Green Kingfisher
Green-and-rufous Kingfisher
White-necked Puffbird
Pied Puffbird
Barred Puffbird
Gray-cheeked Nunlet
White-fronted Nunbird
Spot-crowned Barbet
Collared Aracari
Keel-billed Toucan
Yellow-throated Toucan
Olivaceous Piculet
Black-cheeked Woodpecker
Red-crowned Woodpecker
Red-rumped Woodpecker
Golden-green Woodpecker
Spot-breasted Woodpecker
Cinnamon Woodpecker
Lineated Woodpecker
Crimson-crested Woodpecker
Red-throated Caracara
Crested Caracara
Yellow-headed Caracara
Laughing Falcon
SLaty-backed Forest-Falcon (Heard)
American Kestrel
Aplomado Falcon
Bat Falcon       
Blue-and-yellow Macaw (Heard)
Chestnut-fronted Macaw
Spectacled Parrotlet
Orange-chinned Parakeet
Brown-hooded Parrot
Blue-headed Parrot
Red-lored Parrot
Mealy Parrot
Great Antshrike                  
Barred Antshrike
Black Antshrike
Black-crowned Antshrike
Moustached Antwren (Heard)
White-flanked Antwren
Rufous-winged Antwren
Dot-winged Antwren
Dusky Antbird
Jet Antbird
Bare-crowned Antbird (Heard)
White-bellied Antbird
Chestnut-backed Antbird
Spotted Antbird
Black-faced Antthrush
Double-banded Graytail
Plain Xenops
Plain-brown Woodcreeper (Heard)
Cocoa Woodcreeper
Streak-headed Woodcreeper
Red-billed Scythebill
Yellow-crowned Tyrannulet
Forest Elaenia
Yellow-bellied Elaenia
Brown-capped Tyrannulet (Heard)
Ochre-bellied Flycatcher
Southern Bentbill (Heard)
Common Tody-Flycatcher
Black-headed Tody-Flycatcher
Olivaceous Flatbill
Yellow-margined Flycatcher
Yellow-breasted Flycatcher
Golden-crowned Spadebill (Heard)
Royal Flycatcher
Ruddy-tailed Flycatcher
Acadian Flycatcher
Olive-sided Flycatcher
Eastern Wood-Pewee
Long-tailed Tyrant
Piratic Flycatcher
Rusty-margined Flycatcher
Gray-capped Flycatcher
Social Flycatcher
Great Kiskadee

Lesser Kiskadee


Streaked Flycatcher
Boat-billed Flycatcher
Tropical Kingbird
Fork-tailed Flycatcher
Rufous Mourner
Choco Sirystes
Dusky-capped Flycatcher
Panama Flycatcher
Great Crested Flycatcher
Bright-rumped Attila
Blue Cotinga
Purple-throated Fruitcrow
Golden-headed Manakin
Golden-collared Manakin
Masked Tityra
Black-crowned Tityra
Cinnamon Becard
White-winged Becard
Russet-winged Schiffornis
Yellow-throated Vireo
Scrub Greenlet
Lesser Greenlet
Green Shrike-Vireo
Black-chested Jay
Mangrove Swallow
Gray-breasted Martin
Southern Rough-winged Swallow
Barn Swallow
Black-capped Donacobius
White-headed Wren
Black-bellied Wren
Isthmian Wren
Buff-breasted Wren
House Wren
White-breasted Wood-Wren
Scaly-breasted Wren
Song Wren
Long-billed Gnatwren
Tropical Gnatcatcher
Clay-colored Thrush
Tropical Mockingbird
Yellow-crowned Euphonia
Thick-billed Euphonia
Fulvous-vented Euphonia
White-vented Euphonia
Red-breasted Blackbird
Crested Oropendola
Chestnut-headed Oropendola
Black Oropendola
Yellow-rumped Cacique
Orchard Oriole
Yellow-backed Oriole
Yellow-tailed Oriole
Baltimore Oriole
Shiny Cowbird
Giant Cowbird
Great-tailed Grackle
Carib Grackle
House Sparrow
Northern Waterthrush
Golden-winged Warbler
Prothonotary Warbler
Tennessee Warbler
Mourning Warbler
Bay-breasted Warbler
Yellow Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Summer Tanager
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Gray-headed Tanager
White-shouldered Tanager
Flame (Lemon) rumped Tanager
Crimson-backed Tanager
Blue-gray Tanager
Palm Tanager
Golden-hooded Tanager
Plain-colored Tanager
Blue Dacnis
Red-legged Honeycreeper
White-eared Conebill
Variable Seedeater
Blue-black Grassquit

House Sparrow




Red-tailed Squirrel
Central American Coati
Mantled Howler Monkey
White-faced Capuchin
Geoffroy’s Tamarin
Brown-throated Three-toed Sloth
Hoffman’s Two-toed Sloth

Neotropical River Otter


Reptiles and Amphibians:

Spectacled Caiman
Common Basilisk
House Gecko
Yellow-headed Gecko
Four-striped Whiptail
Green Iguana
Black-and-green Poison dart frog
Little Toad
Rainforest Rocket Frog


Insects etc.:

Leafcutter Ants
Army Ants
Bullet Ant
Giant metallic ceiba borer
Helicopter Damselfly
Tarantula (2-3 species)

Blue Morpho and a many more incredible butterflies and moths, including:
Banded Peacock
Starry-night Cracker
Cracker sp
Owl Butterfly
Helisonids – various
Cattle Heart (Swallowtail sp)