Panama Day 4: Canopy Tower: A Morning Hike On Plantation Road In Soberania National Park

Panama Day 4: Canopy Tower: A Morning Hike On Plantation Road In Soberania National Park

Panama Day Four Canopy Tower morning plantation (24 of 45)
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It was another overcast morning when I awoke at the Canopy Tower in the Soberania National Forest in Panama. It was  Thursday ,  only  my third  morning at the ecolodge, but I already felt at home. Once again I was  up before the sunand soon   on the rooftop of the abandoned U.S. military radar facility.  Like the previous days I wasn’t the first one there. Our guides and  a few of the other guests were already up enjoying the views of the mist shrouded rainforest surrounding the tower and looking for birds and other wildlife in the trees below.  I  joined them, enjoying the freshly brewed coffee provided by the lodge. 

The clouds obscured the sunrise, but it didn’t take long to see more of the beautiful and exotic birds that live in the rainforest.  Our guides quickly pointed out a pair of beautiful keel billed toucans in the treetops.

It is an  amazing experience to watch these fbirds  in their native environment.  I wondered how they could  fly with their large  cumbersome  bills but they did, and maneuvered through the trees of the rainforest quite easily. 

There were more tropical birds in the trees near the tower, including a pair of  pretty blue dacnis.

a female scarlet tanager

a  few common palm tanagers and 

a new lifer for me , a  golden hooded tanager. 

I also saw a bird I am familiar with, and often see on my hikes in the Summer in Northeastern Pennsylvania, a great crested flycatcher.

After about an hour of bird and wildlife watching  on the rooftop we had another hearty breakfast. Three members of our small group of  visitors to the lodge where leaving and we were joined by two new couples. We we also joined by a group of howler monkeys in the trees near the lodge,

including a mother with her baby. Here is a link to a gallery on my blog webpage with some more photos of the toucans and other birds I saw on the rooftop of the lodge. Panama Day 4. Canopy Tower morning October 19 2023. 

After breakfast, and our early morning monkey watching, I was off  to Plantation Road, another great nature and birding  area in the Soberania National Park. Only two others joined me on this new adventure a fellow visitor at the lodge, Monet,  and our guide Igua. I really enjoyed this  adventure and learned so much about the rainforest. 

The Plantation Road was one of the first paved roads in the interior of Panama. It was built  to contect the former town of Empire to an old cocoa, rubber, coffee and banana plantation during the construction of the Panama Canal. It’s entrance is at the bottom of the long winding hill leading  to the Canopy Tower. It is an excellent place to see birds, mammals insects and the many trees and flowers native in a tropical rainforest.  

We parked at the entrance and began our hike under mostly cloudy skies with warm temperatures and high humidity. The Plantation Road was narrower and more overgrown than the Pipeline Road we hiked the previous day. Unfortunately there was less bird activity too. We saw or heard very few birds at the beginning of our hike.

 The trail followed a small creek and it was moist under the thick canopy of tree. We saw many  frogs and toads, including what I think were leaf toads, 

and a few other species of  frogs,

which Igua our guide  identified for us but I have  forgotten . 

A few  anole lizards,

 scampered along the trails. Again, I do not know the exact species. 

There were also a lot of exotic insects along the trail including stingless bees, 

some type of cricket or grasshoppers ,

and a few species of flies and 

other insects.

We  crossed many trails of eaf cutting ants on our walk.

We also saw this critter  , a daddy long legs spider, which looks like a spider but actually are not related to them.  There are thousands of species of insects in the Panamanian rainforest and you would have to be a specialist to know even a few of them. I enjoyed just seeing their   many shapes and colors. All life is wonderful in it’s own way. 

There were also many species of beautiful  and exotic tropical ferns, 


and other tropical plants growing along the trail.  Living things seemed to be everywhere in the hot humid tropical conditions of the rainforests. I loved it here.

Our guide led us through the thick jungle  as we followed the trail along the stream,

under tall native trees, some covered in large vines, 

and came to a small waterfalls and pond. 

As we conintued further on the trail we did see some birds including  a slaty tailed trogon, 

a plain brown woodcreeper, 

a   crimson crested woodpecker

and a olivaceous flatbill.  It is such a wonderful experience to see  these exotic and colorful birds in this remarkable wilderness.

We had walked for about a 1 1/2 mile on the trail when we  began our walk back.  In addition to enjoying the lush beauty of the rainforest, which I have already come to love, we also saw some more frogs, insects and birds on the return hike. 

A pair of spotted antbirds fluttered near the ground along the trail, 

the female has the brown  breast feathers, 

We also saw another pair of birds,  a male and female broad billed motmot.  Here is a link to another gallery with more photos of the birds we saw on our hike. Panama Day 4.  Soberania National Forest Plantation Road birds October 19 2023. 

The keen eyes of our guide also pointed out this snail and  

caterpillar on plants along the trail. 

He also spotted this delicate rusted clearwing-satyr butterfly on a leaf on the trail near the end of our hike. .

It was a perfect way to end this wonderful morning exploring the beauty the Panamanian rainforest.  We drove back to the lodge where we  went over our checklist of the birds we saw on our hike. before enjoying our lunch.  I was loving my stay and this  wonderful place. Here is a link to another gallery with more photos from  our hike. Panama Day 4.   Soberania National Forest Plantation Road birds October 19 2023.

“The time has come to link ecology to economic and human development. When you have seen one ant, one bird, one tree, you have not seen them all. What is happening to the rainforests of Madagascar and Brazil will affect us all.”
Jamie Murphy and Andrea Dorfman

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