My Christmas Present to myself was a trip to Canopy Lodge, a top class birding lodge, in El Valle Panama. They were able to squeeze me in from the 27th through noon on the 30th - between two Birding tours. For me it is a wonderful restful place and so, so different from my usual occupations - the Girls' Home, St. Pauls .... I was an avid birder in my late teens and onward into college and then again while living in Philly.
That is even how I came to Panama for the first time: with an Earthwatch trip in 1984 helping with research on birds on Pipeline road here in Panama.
You can view any of the birds that I mention by typing the name in Google Images. The Rufous Motmot is spectacular and there were up to three each morning at the feeders eating bananas.
Just being there is relaxing. I can relax in a hammock or sit in comfortable chairs watching hungry tanegers and other come to feeder where bananas are put out for them.
Guide lead birding trips are part of the visit. My guide, Tino, (shared with two interesting women, twins, who grew up in Mississippi), was very good. One of his top talents was whisteling bird calls and then having conversations with the birds who often flew in close to see us and be seen in our binoculars. My last day, Saturday, he had long conversations with a Black Throated Trogan and also a Blue Crowned Motmot - but neither came close enough for us to see. He had a good sense of humor too. We were lucky to see two Silver Bellied Gas Hawks.
When I arrived on Wednesday I mentioned that I would like to see kingfishers. Right around 3PM two Green Kingfishers showed near the rushing stream that runs right by the lodge and they stayed there well ove one hour - allowing me wonderful views.
I also wanted good looks at a Smooth Billed Ani - a neat black bird with an interesting beak and a floppy tail - and we saw a lot of them very close on the second day. Also I had been day dreaming about seeing a trogan and although the Blacked Throated didn't come in close enough we did see the Orange Bellied Trogan with spectacular views after almost an hour or Tino's calling and being answered!!
We went to a garden which is around the owner's house. Tino put bananas on the two feeders and in about 2 minutes there were a lot of tanagers and clay colored robins gobbling them up. Some of the tanegers are really spectacular: Crimson Backed Tanager, Lemon Rumped Tanager, and the Thick Billed Euphonia. WE also saw Red Legged Honeycreepers at the feeders. The highlight of the garden visit was very close views of Rufous Crested Coquette (a hummingbird). There were two males and they were sometimes as close to us as 18 inches!
At birding lodges almost all of the guests have a common interest in birds, so it is easay to introduce yourself and have a chat with interesting people. I had a wonderful half hour visit with a very interesting couple. If you would like to hear the story of that leave your name in a comment and if I don't have your e-mail leave that.
Happy New Year to all.