Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Looking for lifers in Darien province. Part II

After an exciting morning finding Bicolored Wren and many other eastern Panama specialties at the town of Yaviza (central Darien province), we were on our way to our next destination... the Canopy Camp.  After a short drive from the town of Metetí, we found ourselves at the entrance road to the camp.  Right at the gate, we started to find new species for the trip, like this cooperative Long-tailed Tyrant (member of a pair).
Long-tailed Tyrant
We got early in the afternoon to the Canopy Camp and Abel, part of the staff, showed us the installations and our tent... and WOW!!!, what a tent.  Certainly it was the biggest and most luxurious tent that Gloriela, Gabrielle and I have ever seen.  Every detail was covered, and the terrace overlooking the central main area was excellent.
Gabrielle at our "tent"
While Gloriela and Gabrielle settled in the tent, I started to walk along the property with my camera... but it was hot and the activity low; however, I recorded several common species, plus some eastern Panama specialties... for example, both Sooty-headed Tyrannulets and Yellow-breasted Flycatchers were calling from the main area.
Sooty-headed Tyrannulets 
Yellow-breasted Flycatcher
I know these are not the best shots... but Darien province is the only place where you can see these  species in North America... just like my next objective.  After taking a snap, Abel showed us the exact place where a rarity has been appearing religiously every evening for some time.  Although Abel told us that the bird did not appear until after 5:30 pm, we started to wait before 5:00 pm.  Eventually, my friends Alexis Sánchez and Domiciano Alveo (both professional bird guides of the Canopy Family) showed up too with a group of foreign birders and also started to wait.  The place was full of Verbena bushes (Stachytarpheta sp.) and hummingbirds... in fact, we saw at least six different species visiting the purples flowers... then, Alexis warned us... he just saw THE bird... first, a dark silhouette:
A dark hummer... but what a nice reddish tail!
Then, all the binoculars and scopes pointed the beautiful creature: an adult male Ruby Topaz!!!  Lots of WOWs and AHHs of course!  Eventually, the hummingbird had confidence and began to feed closer to us.  The fading light was a problem... but I got some nice pictures after all.
Ruby Topaz (!) 
Ruby Topaz
Ruby Topaz
What a treat!  We clearly saw its glittering ruby-red crown and golden-yellow throat... and the reddish tail as well.  There are only few records for this species in Panama, most of them females and immature males, so seeing and adult male in all its glory was sublime!  We barely managed to eat our dinner and fall asleep due to the excitement; however, the tranquility of the place, and the calls of Mottled and Crested Owls in the distance helped.  Early the next day, we all gathered at the main area for breakfast.
Canopy Camp main area
The dawn chorus was simply great, and the birding right there was exceptional as well.  We got common species and specialties just hanging around and walking along the trails.  Personally, I recorded 80 species that morning just around the camp and the trails (eBird list here), with some highlights like Red-rumped Woodpecker, Royal Flycatcher, Barred Puffbird, Spot-crowned Barbet and Golden-headed Manakins.
Red-rumped Woodpecker
Golden-headed Manakin
A normal trip to the Canopy Camp includes visits to many other special sites around... but we were short of time.  Reluctantly, we left the camp after lunch and started the long way back to Panama City.  We want to thank all the staff of the Canopy Camp, especially Carlos Bethancourt, who always cared about making our visit as pleasant as possible.  I'm pretty sure this was not our last visit to that magical place nor to Darien province!


  1. Así es Siu! Fue lo que me motivó a irme hasta allá en primer lugar, jejeje.