Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Panama Canal II - 20 Mar 2016

We decided to grab a quick breakfast before our day-trip in Panama. We would be taking a boat (tender) from the ship to the shore of Ghatun Lake where we’d then take a bus through the Parque Nacional Soberania where the Canopy Tower resides and a boat ride on the Chagras River to Monkey Island. From the bus I spotted an Ani sp. (Smooth-billed or Groove-billed) on a fence post.

We arrived at our destination and got off the bus. Before getting on the boat I ran around the trees trying to get some pics of the nearby birds. A Great Kiskadee pair were displaying to each other in a mango tree hanging over the water. A Common Tody-Flycatcher, with gold edges to the wings and tail, dark cap, yellow chest and white eyes made several momentary appearances.

A female Yellow Warbler also appeared.

As we got into the boat I spotted a flock of Black Vultures on the mud flats across the inlet. Among the birds were several Glossy Ibis, a Limpkin, several Common Gallinules, and a Southern Lapwing!

More Magnificent Frigatebirds appeared as we motored out into the river and past navigating freighters.

We stopped near Monkey Island and Michelle ( our guide) and Jose (our boat captain), attempted to call some monkeys into view. Soon a White-faced (Capuchin) Monkey, appeared overhead on the branches. They tossed pieces of banana to it and we photographed its attempts at trying to catch the food (unsuccessfully). Nearby an Iguana rested quietly on shore. We moved onto a second spot and saw several more Capuchin Monkeys and a pair of Howler Monkeys in the trees overhead. This time we watched as a Capuchin came aboard the boat and ate pieces of banana just inches away!

The Howlers were sleeping, but when Jose roared the engine they began to ‘howl’ in unison in response to the boat’s engine noise.

Nearby, several Green Herons were spotted, as well as several Limpkin.

Someone spotted a hawk on the overhanging branches, and it turned out to be one of several Snail Kites that were feeding in the area! Note the white rumps and vents that separate it from similar-looking Hook-billed Kites that have striped tails and a blacker appearance.

We would cruise a bit further and spot a juvenile Snail Kite. They can easily be mistaken for Osprey until you see their heavily-hooked beak.

As we motored back to the dock a flock of Black Vultures were kettling overhead. We had seen them all day, but this time one bird looked like an inverted Turkey Vulture in terms of coloration, but had the shape of a Black Vulture: A King Vulture! Woo-hoo! I would be unable to photograph it from the moving boat and would have to settle for nice binoc views.

Not to be outdone, a Yellow-headed Caracara was on shore and in beautiful light. I managed a few captures from the moving boat.

When we arrived back at the dock I ran around and photographed more birds before we would leave. A Black Vulture posed nicely, while
Tropical Mockingbird was perched in low light. A Streaked Flycatcher was also nearby.

Folks were starting to get back onto the bus after a bathroom break, so I only had a minute or two to get any last pics in before heading out, so I ran past the bus toward the back of the lagoon. A Wattled Jacana flew into shore and started foraging just a few feet away from me. I got nice pics of its huge legs.

Nearby a large Caiman was resting in the shallows. Everyone got nice looks at it.

Just as I had gotten settled onto the bus and started eating a sandwich the guides called to me and pointed to a photographable toucan: a Black-mandibled Toucan! They are considered Near-Threatened in the region. Yes! What a way to end a great tour!

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