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PANAMA

31 October–10 November 2020

Join us on this fantastic new tour to Panama, which has the richest avifauna of any Central American country – around 976 species. We will search for some of the country’s most sought-after birds and highlights may include Slaty-tailed Trogon, Stripe-cheeked Woodpecker, Lance-tailed Manakin, Blue Cotinga and Rosy Thrush-tanager together with the indisputable star of the show – the majestic and unforgettable Harpy Eagle!

Day 1 Flight from London to Panama City, followed by a transfer to a comfortable hotel close to the airport for an overnight stay.

Day 2 Making an early start, we will spend the morning birding in Nusagandi/Guna Yala province where we will look for some of Panama’s most sought-after birds. In the mountains along a trail we will look for the highly-localised Spiny-faced Antshrike. Another elusive species here is the Sapayoa, a bird of uncertain taxonomy found in the understorey. Other species found in this bird-rich habitat include the endemic Stripe-cheeked Woodpecker, Swallow-tailed Kite, Semiplumbeous and Broad-winged Hawks, Slaty-backed Forest-falcon, Spotted Woodcreeper, Spot-crowned Antvireo, Dull-mantled Antbird, Black-capped Pygmy-tyrant, Northern Schiffornis, Tawny-faced Gnatwren, Bananaquit, Green and Shining Honeycreepers and Dusky-faced, Tawny-crested and the near-endemic Sulphur-rumped Tanagers. We will stop for lunch in Tortí, roughly half way to Darién on the Pan-American Highway. Most of the afternoon will be spent birding along the Tortí River in search of Little Cuckoo, Jet Antbird, Red-billed Scythebill, Red-breasted Meadowlark, Green Ibis, Double-toothed Kite, Short-tailed Hawk, Muscovy Duck, Striated, Cocoi and Capped Herons, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, White-necked, Black-breasted and Pied Puffbirds and Red-rumped Woodpecker before driving on to Metetí, our base for the next four nights.

Day 3 An early morning departure will see us heading towards the village of Vigía, home to an indigenous community of 105 Emberá families. In the forest around their village we will search for Dusky-backed Jacamar, Golden-green and Spot-breasted Woodpeckers, Agami Heron, Orange-crowned Oriole, Black Antshrike, Grey-cheeked Nunlet, Crane Hawk, Spot-crowned Barbet, Olivaceous Piculet, Plumbeous and Grey-headed Kites and roosting Crested and Mottled Owls. We will have a choice between a packed lunch and sampling the local Emberá food.

Day 4 Today will undoubtedly be the highlight of the trip for many people – the whole day will be dedicated to the magnificent and near-mythical Harpy Eagle. We will visit a remote Emberá community on whose land there is an active Harpy Eagle nest; reaching it requires a 4-hour canoe ride up the Chucunaque River plus a 1½-hour walk through mostly level forest terrain. The canoe ride offers some excellent riverine forest birding, with Black Oropendola, Great Curassow, Red-throated Caracara, Stripe-throated Hermit, Band-tailed Barbthroat, Striped Cuckoo, Greater Ani, Grey-cowled Wood-rail and Southern Lapwing all possible. We will spend enough time at the Harpy Eagle nest site to secure the best possible views of the adult birds as they feed and tend to their chick before we return to the hotel in time for dinner.

Day 5 Early this morning we will drive along Salto Road, a gravel road through some excellent secondary forest next to the Chucunaque River. Target species for us will include local specialities like Double-banded Greytail, White-eared Conebill, Rufous-winged Antwren, White-headed Wren and Blue Cotinga together with Savanna and Grey-lined Hawks, Purple-crowned Fairy, Black-tailed and Gartered Trogons, Scaly-breasted and Snowy-bellied Hummingbirds, Band-rumped, Short-tailed and Lesser Swallow-tailed Swifts and Rufous-breasted and Pale-bellied Hermits. After lunch at Metetí we will drive to Yaviza, the last stop before the end of the Pan-American Highway, where we will search for Bicoloured Hawk, Bicoloured Wren and Spectacled Parrotlet.

Day 6 We will leave Metetí this morning and begin our drive back to Panama City. Along the way we will stop at the San Francisco Reserve, where birds we hope to see include the endemic Yellow-green Tyrannulet, White-fronted Nunbird, Black-and-white and Black Hawk-eagles, King Vulture and Barred Puffbird. The reserve is also one of the few places in Central America where the critically-endangered Brown-headed Spider Monkey can still be seen. We will have lunch at nearby Tortí, where hummingbird feeders regularly produce Long-billed Starthroat, Black-throated Mango and the restricted-range Sapphire-throated Hummingbird. Overnight in Panama City.

Day 7 We will devote the whole of this morning to birding the Metropolitan National Park. Here, the forests are much drier than around Gamboa and consequently they support a different range of species. The beautiful Rosy Thrush-tanager is common here, as is Red-throated Ant-tanager. Other birds we may see include Grey and Roadside Hawks, Squirrel Cuckoo, Lineated Woodpecker, Streak-headed Woodcreeper, Boat-billed, Sepia-capped, Streaked and Yellow-olive Flycatchers, Dusky and White-bellied Antbirds, Lance-tailed Manakin, House, Isthmian, Rufous-breasted and Rufous-and-white Wrens, Tropical Mockingbird, Southern Beardless-tyrannulet, Yellow and Yellow-crowned Tyrannulets, Common and Slate-headed Tody-flycatchers, Golden-fronted and Scrub Greenlets, Tropical Gnatcatcher, Yellow-backed Oriole, Crimson-backed Tanager and Ruddy-breasted Seedeater. On our way to the Gamboa area we will stop at the Miraflores Locks on the Panama Canal to visit the Canal Visitor Centre. The next three nights will be spent at the Radisson Summit Hotel in Gamboa, putting us in the heart of some of the best birding in Panama.

Day 8 The Pipeline Road extends for 18 kilometres and has nearly 400 species to its credit! We will look out for swarms of Army Ants while searching for some of the more localised species along the road and in the adjacent forest: Little Tinamou, Pale-vented and Short-billed Pigeons, Mealy Parrot, Garden Emerald, Long-billed Hermit, Black-cheeked, Cinnamon and Crimson-crested Woodpeckers, Plain Xenops, Black-striped, Cocoa and Wedge-billed Woodcreepers, Collared Aracari, Yellow-throated (Chestnut-mandibled) Toucan, Slaty-tailed and White-tailed Trogons, Broad-billed Motmot, Pheasant Cuckoo, Southern Bentbill, Black-faced Antthrush, Streak-chested Antpitta, Chestnut-backed Antbird, Checker-throated, Dot-winged and White-flanked Antwrens, Fasciated and Black-crowned Antshrikes, Black-crowned and Masked Tityras, Rufous Mourner, Dusky-capped, Ochre-bellied, Ruddy-tailed and Sulphur-rumped Flycatchers, Purple-throated Fruitcrow, Golden-collared and Red-capped Manakins, Bay, Buff-breasted and Song Wrens, Brown-capped and Mistletoe Tyrannulets, Black-headed Tody-flycatcher, Blue-grey, Golden-hooded, Palm and Plain-coloured Tanagers, Blue Dacnis, Red-legged Honeycreeper, Fulvous-vented and Thick-billed Euphonias, Scarlet-rumped and Yellow-rumped Caciques and Crested Oropendola. At Gamboa Pond, Least Grebe, Rufescent Tiger-heron, Limpkin, Purple Gallinule and White-throated Crake can all be found. Our next stop will be the Rainforest Discovery Centre, where we will enjoy spectacular views of Soberania’s vastness while watching canopy bird species. Standing above the canopy, we will witness the flight of Keel-billed Toucans, Red-lored Parrots and the silent and stealthy movement of Mantled Howler Monkeys. The visitor centre is a 140-square-metre open structure with a terrace, hiking trails and a 32-metre-high observation tower with spiral stairs and a rest platform roughly every 7.5 metres.

Day 9 Our first destination today will be the Summit Ponds, where Boat-billed Herons nest. On the way, the road passes through a variety of habitats where Blue Ground-dove, Great Antshrike, Great and Lesser Kiskadees, Black-tailed and Royal Flycatchers and Northern Scrub-flycatcher can be found. Moving on to the Plantation Road, close to Canopy Tower, we will look for a great variety of species including Great Tinamou, Tiny Hawk, Marbled Wood-quail, Great Jacamar, White-whiskered Puffbird, Olivaceous Flatbill, Bay-headed Tanager and Slate-coloured Grosbeak. We will also be on the lookout for a swarm of Army Ants, with which we have a good chance of seeing Northern Barred-woodcreeper, Plain-brown and Ruddy Woodcreepers, Spotted and Ocellated Antbirds and Grey-headed Tanager. Golden-crowned Spadebills are regular around the creek, while White-breasted Wood-wrens are also easy to see. If we are really lucky we may find the shy Sunbittern. Hummingbirds can be found along the road and we may encounter White-necked Jacobin, White-vented Plumeleteer and Blue-chested and Violet-bellied Hummingbirds. If we have not already done so during our stay, we will spend this evening looking for owls, nightjars and nocturnal animals. Possibilities include Black-and-white Owl, Choco Screech-owl, Common Pauraque and Common and Great Potoos. Mammals may include Two-toed Sloth, Kinkajou and Rothschild’s Porcupine.

Day 10 There may be some time for early morning local birding before we return to the airport to catch our lunchtime overnight flight back to the UK, with arrival on Day 11.

General Information The climate can be hot and humid in the lowland rainforests and some rain is possible. The tour pace is moderate with generally easy walking. There are some health requirements, which should be referred to your GP. Insects can be a problem at times and repellents are recommended. Visas are not required for EU citizens.

Group size Minimum number for tour to go ahead: 8; maximum group size: 10 with 1 leader.

Harpy Eagle

Harpy Eagle

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