This is an early post for tomorrow. I leave in the middle of the night for 13 days (with travel) in South Africa, in Kruger National Park, where I am not certain at all I will have wifi or internet, so this may be the last post for a while, or posts may be intermittent. I promise to catch up when I get home. 🙂
The island of Bestimeno, where Tranquilo Bay Lodge is located in Bocas del Toro, Panama, has only the red/orange variety of Poison Dart Frog. Just across the bay, on Popa, they have several varieties: ranging from orange with blue legs to yellow with turquoise legs, all the same species (so far)…and even another species altogether which is black with yellow stripes. There is a Smithsonian study going on right now to determine the pattern of genetic variation in the Poison Dart frogs of Bocas del Toro. This shot was taken on our first afternoon hike at Tranquilo…using the flash on the camera.
Sony RX10iii at 600mm equivalent field of view. 1/60th @ ISO 200 @ f4 with on-camera flash. It was considerably dark under the canopy in the rainforest, Processed and cropped slightly in Lightroom.
We saw hundreds, maybe even a thousand, of these spectacular migrating moths while in Panama. They were everywhere, from the Continental Divide at 4000 feet, to flying out over the bays of Bocas del Toro at sea level. It is the Urania Swallowtail Moth…a moth, despite looking very like a green and black swallowtail butterfly, and despite flying during the day. Of the huge number I saw, this is one of only two I saw perched. The other was at night on the ceiling of my cabin porch, next to the porch light. Interestingly, by the light of my flashlight or the flash on my camera (and I suspect any light striking the back of the moth near the perpendicular) the “green” is bright metallic gold.
Sony RX10iii at 600mm equivalent field of view. ISO 800 @ 1/250 @ f4. Processed and cropped slightly in Lightroom.
You have a pretty good chance of seeing at least 5 of the 6 possible Kingfishers for Panama along the banks of the Snyder Canal in the Changuinola district of Panama. And the 6th is at least a possibility…but it is only seen occasionally. On our trip there last week we saw Ringed, Green, Amazon, and Pygmy…but no Green Rufous Kingfisher…for 5 out of 6. The American Pygmy Kingfisher has to be one of my favorite birds. It packs more attitude into its tiny body than birds 10 times it size 🙂 Along the Snyder Canal we are in bigger boats so a close approach is not always possible, but I am happy with this shot from further out.
Sony RX10iii at 600mm equivalent field of view. 1/250th @ ISO 800 @ f4. Cropped and processed in Lightroom.
We were stopped along the canal to photograph another bird when our sharp-eyed boatman spotted this Keel-billed Toucan almost right overhead. It was pretty well buried in the foliage but by squirming around in the boat I managed a decent shot. This is closer to a Toucan than any other sighting in Panama by a factor of 50, so I am happy with it.
Sony RX10iii at 600mm equivalent field of view. Program Mode. Processed and cropped in PhotoShop Express on my Android tablet.
Before we got to Swan Island and the Red-billed Tropicbirds yesterday, we spent most of the day motoring quietly along Snyder’s Canal… the first Panama Canal…built to move bananas from Plantation to port. It was only used for about 5 years before the United Fruit Company built a railroad that was much more efficient. Along the shores of the old canal today you can get close views of many of the lowland and forest species. This Passerini’s Tanager came right out to the edge to take a look at us as we floated a dozen feet off-shore.
Sony RX10iii at 600mm equivalent field of view. Program Mode. Processed and cropped slightly in PhotoShop Express on my Android tablet.
At the end of a long day in a boat in the Snyder Canal in Bocas del Toro, Panama (as part of the ZEISS VICTORY SF Experience at Tranquilo Bay Lodge) we chanced the off-shore waves to go out to Swan Island to the Red-billed Tropicbird rookery. Sea bird rookery is more accurate as Brown Boobies and Magnificent Frigatebirds also nest and roost there. The Tropicbirds, however, are certainly the stars of the show. Super elegant, graceful, impressive in every way. Today there had to be a hundred birds circling the island and the nests in holes in the cliffs. It had clouded over but there was still enough light for effective photography.
My Sony RX10iii actually did a pretty good job with the fast moving birds…better than I expected. My custom bkrds-in-flight mode…ISO set to auto, minimum shutter speed 1/1000th, and wide area focus to pick up the birds against the background. This shot was processed in PhotoShop Express on my Android tablet.
There are two reliable lecking areas quite near the cabins at Tranquilo Bay Lodge in Bocas del Toro, Panama where we enjoying birds, butterflies, reptiles, etc etc. This is a Golden-collared Manakin. I sat and perspired for an hour in the rainforest before two males came 🙂 They did not do their lecking dance, probably because there were no females nearby.
Sony RX10iii at 600mm equivalent field of view. Program Mode. Processed in PhotoShop Express on my Android tablet.
There are two species of Poison Dart Frogs here in Bocas del Toro, Panama. Most are small and various shades of red, orange, and light yellow. This is the other species 🙂 It is maybe three times the size of the little ones. No two frogs have the exact same pattern of green and black. We found lots of these frogs near the bases of trees and in the litter under the low cocco trees and the tall Rainforest canopy at a shade grown cocco Plantation… Green Acres Chocolate Farm on the mainland across from Tranquilo Bay Lodge.
Sony RX10iii at 600mm equivalent field of view. Program with auto flash. Processed in PhotoShop Express on my Android tablet.
One of the surprises of Tranquilo Bay and Panama, for me (though it should not have been a surprise, considering I was there April at the height of migration) was the number of what we think of as North American warblers passing through on their way north. I could very well see this same Blackburnian (one of my favorite warblers) at Megee Marsh this week while I attend the Biggest Week in American Birding. I will certainly be looking for him!
Nikon P900 at 1800mm equivalent field of view. 1/250th @ ISO 400 @ f6.3. Processed in Lightroom.
Okay, so whoever named the Blue-grey Tanager either 1) had never seen one close up, or 2) had NO imagination. To call this bird blue-grey is simply the worst case of understatement ever! Of course they are hard to see close up. They flit through the rain-forest well above eye-level, and never sit still for long. You can, however, get a good look at them from the deck around the lodge at Tranquilo Bay, or, even better, from the Canopy Observation Tower up on the hill. The tower provides a unique perspective as the birds feed at mid-level, so you are looking down from above. From that angle you can really appreciate the splendor of the blues, blue-greens, and blue-greys in this bird. All part of the service at Tranquilo Bay Lodge.
Nikon P900 at 2000mm equivalent field of view. 1/200th @ ISO 400 @ f6.5. Processed in Topaz Denoise and Lightroom on my Surface Pro 3 tablet.