Paul Pratt and myself arrived in Panama a day before meeting our group at La Estancia bed and breakfast. We birded the Rainforest Discovery center and tower along Pipeline Road before the and did some scouting there. Among the highlights were an incredibly co-operative White-whiskered Puffbird which sat at eye level for nearly twenty minutes!
To start off the trip we returned to the beginning of Pipeline Road. Here we had great looks at several species of antbirds, Bright-rumped Attila, fruit crows, and several great encounters with trogons, including a female Slaty-tailed Trogon.
Another good find was this male Black-throated Trogon, one of several yellow bellied trogons present here.
On day four of the trip we moved to Canopy Tower where we will spend three nights. Our guide Carlos Bethancourt proved to be superb. In addition to a great sense of humour, his knowledge of birds and nature and his enthusiasm made him an outstanding guide. We also benefitted from the official hawk watcher at the tower Dan Berard, who was extremely helpful in pointing out birds and other critters such as Canopy Lizard. On our first full day at the tower we enjoyed no fewer than three male Blue Cotingas including the one below which perched for over ten minutes in clear view with the scope!
On our second full day at the tower we returned to Pipeline road. This was truly a fantastic day with highlights including a perched Collared Forest Falcon in clear view, a Great Tinamou standing on the road to Semaphore Hill, and SCOPE views of Rosy-Thrush Tanager male gathering nesting material for ten minutes in clear view (!). This time we did the area beyond the gate. One of our main targets was the Streak-chested Antpitta - a secretive and local specialty of this area. Incredibly the ENTIRE group of twelve got to see the bird very well. I was even lucky enough to secure this photograph of the bird.
A little farther down the road Carlos picked up on the call of a Great Jacamar. After some tense moments the bird swooped low through the canopy and perched up so we could enjoy scope views for ten minutes.
After all this it seemed almost greedy of us to want to see an army ant march, but we joked with Carlos that were hoping to see one. Not half an hour later and there they were right beside the road. The swarm was attended by many Bicolored and Spotted Antbirds, two Black-faced Antthrushes, Barred, Black-striped and Plain-brown Woodcreepers, Gray-headed Tanagers, and at least six Occellated Antbirds. Here is an image of one of the Occelateds. All in all, a truly spectacular day of birding!