Tuesday, March 20, 2018

2018 Panama Journal - Day 4 - Part 1

Tuesday 2/13/18

Breakfast was at 5:30 this morning.  We were leaving the Camp for El Salto Road.  El Salto Road is about 4 miles north from the Pan-American Highway and ends at the Rio Chucunaque.  It is surrounded by dry forest.

Adjacent to El Salto Road is the property of the Tierra Nueva Foundation.  Fundación Tierra Nueva is a non-profit organization whose main mission is “working towards the sustainable development of people of the Darién Rainforest.”  The property is the home of a technical school focusing on applications in agriculture. We were able to walk the trails of this large forested property.

We had an unusual set of trucks and vans taking us out every day.  This open-air truck was great for birding but not for driving on the highway. 

It also did not hold everyone.  This truck held 11 people in the back, one guide and a driver in the front cab.  There was another truck that held 3 birders and one guide/driver.  The people in the open-air truck rode in a van until we got to our destination then transferred to the open-air truck.  Sound complicated?  Not to Mark and me.  We always road in the 4 person truck.  There was always one person from the other group in our truck.  For some reason they could only get 5 people on one side of the open-air truck and 6 people on the other side.  I think we had the best situation because 1: We weren’t all squashed together 2: We weren’t sitting out under the blazing sun and 3: We had air conditioning!  The open-air truck and our truck were 4 wheel drive.  The van was not.

Once we got to El Salto Road everyone was out walking.  

Birding El Salto Road.

We started our morning with a couple different species of parrots.

Brown-hooded Parrot

Red-lored Parrots

There are several different types of doves and pigeons in Panama. We saw this Scaled Pigeon as we walked along the road.

Collared Aracari's are members of the Toucan family. They are on the small side, but just as colorful.

Collared Aracari

We saw a couple of different species of Trogans this morning. 

White-tailed Trogan male

Black-tailed Trogan female

Oscar was the driver of the van and also the driver of the open-air truck.  As we walked and birded and got farther from the vehicles, he would run back to the truck and drive it to us then run back to the open-air truck and drive it to us.  He did this many times during our walk.

We didn't just see birds. The forests are full of mammals as well, with some being easier to see than others. Sloths are really tough to find, and we had to rely on our sharp-eyed guides to spot most of them.

Although from this picture it looks like one claw has 3 toes and the other has 2 toes, the black back saddle makes this a male Three-toed Sloth.

Three-toed Sloth

Howler Monkeys tend to make their presence know with both noise and movement. This group had a couple of babies on board. 

The "other" sloth is the Two-toed Sloth, which is a little bigger and much hairier. 

Two-toed Sloth

As we continued to walk and look we saw plenty more birds. Some were easy to spot, while others were small and sneaky. This Broad-winged Hawk sat quietly along the side of the road, giving us great looks.
Broad-winged Hawk

This Black-crowned Antshrike, on the other hand, stayed back in the bushes, appearing only briefly in openings here and there. Very tough to get a good picture when they're doing that!

Black-crowned Antshrike male

When it was time to head back, the trucks were there once again and we just hopped in.  When we got back to a major road, the people in the open-air truck had to get out and get back into the van.  We just stayed in our nice, air conditioned truck. 

Yet another Three-toed Sloth smirked at us on our way back. Doesn't he look pleased about something?

After a long, bird filled morning we got back to Camp for lunch about 12:30.

Next time:  Day 4 (afternoon) continued.

Birds seen on El Salto Road:

Brown-hooded Parrot, Blue Dacnis, Great-tailed Grackle, Red-lored Parrot, Black-tailed Trogon, Roadside Hawk, Scaled Pigeon, Blue-chested Hummingbird, Brown-capped Tyrannulet, Black-throated Trogon, White-tailed Trogon, Shiny Cowbird, Collared Aracari, Broad-winged Hawk, Keel-billed Toucan, Bananaquit, Bay-breasted Warbler, Streak-headed Woodcreeper, Forest Elaenia, Crested Oropendola, Blue-headed Parrot, Plain-colored Tanager, Mealy Parrot, Pale-bellied Hermit, Black-bellied Wren, Cocoa Woodcreeper, Olivaceous Piculet, White-shouldered Tanager, Black-crowned Antshrike, Ruddy-tailed Flycatcher, Plain-brown Woodcreeper, Marbled Wood-Quail (H), Squirrel Cuckoo, Rufous-winged Antwren (H), Turkey Vulture, Black Vulture, White-necked Puffbird, Black Antshrike, Gray-headed Tanager, Yellow-rumped Cacique, Brown Pelican, Blue Cotinga, Yellow-backed Oriole, Cinnamon Woodpecker (H), Crane Hawk, Purple-throated Fruitcrow, Blue Ground-Dove, Band-rumped Swift, Smooth-billed Ani, Orange-chinned Parakeet, Double-thoothed Kite, White-tailed Kite, Dusky Antbird, Choco Sirystes (H), Tropical Gnatcatcher, Boat-billed Flycatcher, Long-tailed Tyrant.


  1. What great pictures! Zooming in gives great detail. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Mark got some fabulous pictures.