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Birds of Panama - Jan-Feb 2015


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Some of regular readers might remember my promise to post a trip report from our 2-week visit to Panama. Yes, a visit it was, more like a travel, and I am still not ready with a final version of trip report (are there anyone interested in reading one?).


In the meantime, I do have some bird photos on the web already, so why not share those with the rest of Safaritalker's :) .


I have high expectations, after having a decent success using 300f4 lens on D7100 in Namibia last year. Unfortunately, photographing small birds in rain forest is still too complicated, and thus below photos are more for documentary purposes.


Identifying birds is tough for me, but luckily I do have friends that helped me. For those birds without ID, or wrong ID, any assistance will be welcomed.


We have spent 2 weeks in Panama. First 4 and last 2 days in Panama City, 4 days in Bocas del Toro (Caribbean coast) and 5 days in Bouquete (highland). I will divide the post according to these three locations.







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Panama City was a big surprise for us. It is such a modern city; yet one could find also many birds. We have not been prepared for so many birds in such a modern city. Having only one body, we did not use the birding lens much So not many photos from Panama City. Also we really should take a day to visit the Parque Metropolitano, if not Gamboa and the famous Pipeline Road. Well, there is always a next time.




Brown Pelican (RBBIF = Really Big Bird+d In Flight)






Brown Pelican (What a poser!)






Turkey Vulture (another RBBIF)






Laughing Gulls (probably at us trying to get those BIF)






??? Parakeet (from our hotel room, 7th floor)



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OK, vote #1. I need at least 2 more (not too difficult, eh, and they could come from the same member :D ). But all will need to wait for my wife to review her other photos.

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Does my vote count as 2, being the boss and all? ;)

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Even 2 and 1/2, boss! So the Panama trip report is coming, just be patient. You see, I am not a hard negotiator :P .

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Even if it´s no longer necessary - another vote, very interested in this! :)

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OK, will forward you interest to my wife, to prepare the photos. Next week, probably.


Now to continue with birds.

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Bocas del Toro is an archipelago on the Caribbean side of Panama, close to the border with Costa Rica. It is also close to the mainland so wildlife, specially birds, should be plentiful.

Unfortunately out of 4 days there we have had 3 days of rain. Luckily, on the sunny day I went out with local birder Pat Wade whom I found through BirdingPal community.


We have seen more birds but I was able to take photos only of a couple of them.



Red-lored Amazon (early morning at our lodge)





Double-toothed Kite





Almirante Manakin (a subspecies found only on Bocas)





Black-crowned Antshrike (aka Slaty Antshrike)




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Lovely! More please!

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One more vote for a full TR and support in general. We are planning on Costa Rica next January, but I am interested in learning about other areas in Central America.


After time in the Peruvian Amazon last October (I'm stale in my TR, so I guess I have no right to pester you for yours), I also know just how difficult it is to capture decent photos of birds (anything?) in the rainforest. I'm on the brink of upgrading to a D7100 myself, so any tips/challenges you can share in this respect would be greatly appreciated!

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I found that a good flash unit was needed for photographing in deep cover. With birds on the edge of the forest then ambient light should suffice, especially if you have a camera that performs well at high ISO, I use Olympus so need a bit of help! :P

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@Alexander33: I am more experienced in Costa Rica (3 visits) so will gladly answer any question. Send me a PM. As for D7100, it really is an excellent crop body. However due to its high MP count on crop sensor, the technique is crucial. In good light it performs really good, while in low light I am not so pleased. As I will probably get a FF body soon (D610) I could be more knowledgeable then. Until that time, what I have learned from the web, Nikon D7000 might be just a notch better for wildlife photography. Less MP but bigger buffer and also (according to others) a slight edge when shooting in low light.


@kittykat23uk: since those birds were just too far away for built-in flash I did not bother. However a good flash with Better Beamer might have saved many photos.

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BOUQUETE / around the house and in the garden



Bouquete is well known for its great climate and a lot of expats and locals have their second homes there. Its altitude also provides for a different set of bird life. As we have stayed there for 5 days, I will divide those photos in 4 subgroups.


Our host in Bouquete (my distant cousin), she made a great job by making (herself) a nice bird feeder platform.



Clay-Colorer Robin at breakfast (Costa Rica's national bird)






Blue-crowned Motmot (nickname The Boss)








The telephone wires provided for nice rest ... and photo opportunities.



Tropical Mockingbird






Blue-Bray Tanager






Fisher's Lovebirds (a fugitive)



Edited by xelas
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BOUQUETE / Bob's place



15 min walk was a great bird viewing location, on top of a deep ridge. We named Bob's Place after a birder we met there.




Tropical Kingbird





Acorn Woodpecker





John Doe (looking to be ID-ed)





Yellow-faced Grassquit





Olivaceous Woodcreeper





Red-crowned Woodpecker





Red-legged Honeycreeper





Bay-headed Tanager



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Next I would like to share a few words about our birding guide in Bouquete. After some research, and reading several trip reports found mostly on specialised birding sites, the name Jason Lara pops out. Some more googling and revealed his email address. I have sent him an email, an received an immediate reply. Liked what I saw I have booked 2 days with him. And boy, have I stroked the gold! Not that he can provide the birds if they decided to be shy or elsewhere. But if they are around, Jason can hear them, he can spot them and lastly, point them to me (us). Excellent English, very communicative, and above all, very professional. I am old school, German type, being 5 min before the agreed time means a lot. Well, Jason betas me in that department. He was both time early. 10/10 in my book. So, if anyone is looking to go birding in Bouquete, Panama, this is Jaso Lara email: jthunder12@yahoo.com phone: +507 6718 6279 . Use him, he is that good.




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BOUQUETE / Los Quetzales Trail


El Sender de los Quetzales is regarded as one of the best trails in Central America. Having Volcan Baru as its centrepiece it connects east side Bouquete with west side Cerro Punta. It is also one of the best birding trails. This first day it was Jason and me alone. Luckily, because the weather was not on our side. heavily overacted when on the trail, and with prolonged rain periods, it kept birds and light away.


Although these photos are all signed as Zvezdana's, you can easily spot another, much less skilful photographer was operating the camera.



Acorn Woodpecker





Yellowish Flycatcher





Not much, eh?! We have seen many other birds, including a male quetzal yet the photos are or not existing (for a man, it is difficult to operate simultaneously several activities: holding an umbrella, looking through binoculars and taking photos; I have heard women are much better at multi-tasking) or not good enough to be posted. On our return the weather has improved, and we stopped at Finca Lerida Coffee Plantation. There is also a hotel on same property, and gardens are very nicely done.




Flame-colored Tanager, male





Flame-colored Tanager, female





Scintillant Hummingbird, female





Green-crowned Brilliant, female



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@@xelas - thank you for this brilliant TR. Great to see a new location and such exceptional photography.


It's hard to tell without seeing the wings but if I had to guess the parakeet in your 5th photo might be a Orange Chinned Parakeet. Happy to be proved wrong though.

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@ImSA84: Thanks for taking time to read, and for kind words.


Here is another shot of that parakeet, far away and heavily cropped. Maybe it will help with ID:






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BOUQUETE / Pipeline Trail


On our second guided birding day we have had much better weather. The Pipeline Trail is on private property so there is a fee to be paid, $2 per person. They have invested a lot in building a couple of iron bridges over the streams so no more wet feet. This time my wife was back where she belonged, behind the camera.




Elegant Euphonia, male





Elegant Euphonia, female





Flame-colored Tanager, male





Resplendent Quetzal, female






Another stop at Finca Lerida was again very productive.



Green Violet-ear, male





Rufous-tailed Hummingbirds





A series of Scintillant Hummingbird, male











And for the finale the photo I liked most (one day I will ask an PS expert to clone out the branch in the foreground).


Scintillant Hummingbird, female



Edited by xelas
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@@xelas - thanks for the additional photo - it's almost certainly an Orange Chinned Parakeet - the brown on the shoulders is key.


Your wife is incredibly talented. What lens do you use?

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@ImSA84: Thanks for ID. I will forward your words to her ... and yes, I do think the same. Not an easy fact to accept :rolleyes: .


We have used D7100 with Nikkor AF-S 300 f1/4 with TC-E 14II. I love this lens!! Before we have used AF-S 70-300VR and it is such a huge step in IQ, specially at 300 mm.


Your words came at right time; to boost her more into photography I have just bought a FF body, D610 and Nikkor AF-S 20mm f1/1.8G ED.

This combo will come into play for star skies in Namibia (April 2015) and landscapes of Azores (August 2015).

Edited by xelas
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