Panama Day 2: Torrential Rains And A Visit To Summit Botanical Gardens And It’s Famous Harpy Eagle

Panama Day 2: Torrential Rains And A Visit To Summit Botanical Gardens And It’s Famous Harpy Eagle

Panama Day Two afternoon birds (14 of 34)
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After our morning hike near the Canopy Tower eco-lodge in Panama  we gathered to discuss  the birds and other animals we saw on our walk and add them to a very elaborate check list provided by the lodge . It was a very informative experience. We  the enjoyed  a nice lunch. Soon afterward the skies clouded up and  torrential rains began to fall shortly.  Well I was in a rain forest so I wasn’t surprised. I watched the heavy rains from my balcony.  The howler monkeys in the forest didn’t seem to like the rain. They howled loudly as it fell and even louder when there was an occasionally rumble of thunder.  It rained for a couple of hours which gave me time to edit photos and call my office back home in Pennsylvania.  When the rains stopped we climbed aboard our Birdmobile,   a truck we would use often to transport us to our birding adventures. 

We were on another birding adventure We  drove about five miles under the cloudy skies to the  Parque Municipal Summit.  

This park was a botanical gardens created in 1923 under  the United States occupation of Panama. It  is  now a part of the Soberania National Park. It  also  has a small zoo with rehabilitated animals who can not be reintroduced into the wild. It is also home to many native and migratory bird species living in the  trees  growing in the botanical gardens and surrounding rain forest. 

The skies were cloudy with and  an occasional light drizzle when we entered the gardens late in the afternoon, not the most ideal conditions for bird photography. The park was closed to the public but we were allowed in because of the relationship the gardens had with Canopy Tower. 

It didn’t take long for Jorge to introduce us to the many birds that live in, and visit the gardens.  We soon saw a yellow rumped calique,

a pale-vented pigeon, 

a red-lored parrot

a black vulture   and

a flock of orange chined parakeets in the tree tops of the tall palm trees near the entrance. 

Nearer to the ground we saw a red crowned woodpecker.

We walked through the grounds of the botanical gardens under the many large and exotic trees, 

and past many beautiful flowers,  including many bird of paradise flowers, 

and, I believe, these are coffee flowers.  

Since my travels to Africa, the Antarctic and other parts of our planet, and seeing animals living free in the wild I  do not like to visit zoos anymore. It is sad to see animals captive in small enclosures. While many zoos do try to make the homes of their captive animals as close to their natural environments as possible, I still don’t like seeing these animals trapped in cages, however  large they may be. However, I do visit wild animal rehabilitation  centers on my travels. Here you can see animals who are injured and will be rehabilitated and returned to their natural habitat. And, sadly there are some animals who are unable to live in the wild again. Such was the case of this most beautiful creature, the national bird of Panama, this magnificent harpy eagle. 

The harpy eagle is one of the largest raptors on the planet. It can easily swoop and carry off a howler monkey. It once roamed the skies from Mexico to Argentina but is now extinct or endangered in most of it’s former range. Fortunately hundreds still survive in the vast and remote rain forests of Panama. 

The harpy eagle sat on a perch  moving it’s large plume crested  head  from side to side,  seemingly, as much interested in us as we were in her, ( I am pretty sure it was a female bird). It eyes were piercing.

It seemed to possess  wisdom and understanding. Like our bald eagle, I can clearly understand how the Panamanians made it their national bird. 

I could have spent hours admiring this beautiful creature, but Jorge had more of this wonderful place to show us and so we continued our walk through the botanical gardens , 

passing more of the many flowers  blooming along the trail including shell ginger flowers, 

and  crepe ginger flowers. 

We also saw some more  interesting animals in the gardens,  ranging from insects such as this large millipede, 

an amphibian, I believe this is a South American common toad, and a few mammals 

a white nosed coati, 

and a few Central American agoutis. They were everywhere, especially as it got closer to sunset.

We were on a birding adventure and our guide made sure we also sawte the overcast and rainy conditons,  a few more birds, including a crimson backed tanager,

 a yellow headed caracara, 

a pretty great kiskadee,

a rusty margained flycatcher, all new birds to me, 

and this one, one I have seen hundreds of back in my home in Northeastern Pennsylvania, a common house wren. 

We walked though the gardens and made  our way to see one more exotoic, buty captive animal, a jaguar. It was asleep behind some trees so we couldn’t  get good photos but it was another beautiful creature that still rooms the rain forest of Panama. Near the jaguar cage I found these large fruits on the ground. They were heavy and solid and I learned they were the fruit of the cannonball tree. They really looked and felt like cannonbals.  They are rare in the rain forests of Panama but have been domesticated to feed to pigs and other live stock. Monkeys love them too. I cracked one open and it had  the most interesting aroma, sweet, earthy and putrid would be a way to describe it. 

 It was now getting dark, the sun sets around  6 p.m. in Panama, so we made our way out of the botanical gardens. On the way Jorge spotted another beautiful  this magestic great black hawk  on a tree branch.  

And we would see one more bird , in a tree top as we left the park. not as magestic as the harper eagle or great black hawk, but  interesting and exotic,  a chickenlike gray headed chachalaca.  We ended our short but amazing birding adventure seeing many more native birds then I expected. I already was completley satisified with making this trip to the rain forest of Panama and staying at the Canopy Tower. Here is a link to a gallery on my blog website with more photos of the birds I saw at the botanical gardens.  Panama Day 2. Summit Botanical Gardens birds October 17 2023. 

We drove back to our lodging, and soon meet to go over our checklist and discuss the birds and other plants and wildlife we saw on our adventure. 

A delicious inner was served soon afterwards and we had a visitor join us a Central American Wooly Opposum. Here is a link to a galley with more photos from my visit to the botanical gardens.  Panama Day 2  Summit Botanical Gardens October 17 2023. 

After dinner I returned to my room and enjoyed some time on my balcony , edited some photos and was soon asleep, looking forward to another day of exploring these magical rain forests of Panama. 

Sublime harpy eagle sits in a tree. Beyond divine is his majesty.

To abyss not continuity. Is connected his destiny

His surreal yet physical form. Stands like proud warrior before the storm…

Harpy Eagle  Patrycjusz Kopec 

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