Birds photos at Finca Ceriana Natural Reserve, Volcán Chiriquí, Panama, Part 1

Another long weekend due to national holidays was coming so I was preparing a four day trip to Panama's western Provinces. Then my friend Guido told me about this natural reserve that could use some good pictures for promotion and suggested me to talk to them. I already heard about the place but since it was close to Janson Coffee Farm which I visited in October (please see this previous post) I  was planning to go to other places like Fortuna and Rambala. So, I gave it a thought and decided to try Finca Ceriana Natural Reserve. I contacted its owner; Luigi González de la Lastra, and we arrived to an understanding. I received the assignment to make as much photos of the species that occur in this "finca" or farm, employing two full days for that matter.



About Finca Ceriana

Finca Ceriana is a private protected property that is part of the biological corridor that hosts the famous Volcán Lakes (Lagunas de Volcán). Apart from being an important migration zone for birds is vital for the wellbeing of the protected areas of La Amistad International Park and Baru Volcano National Park. 


The farm offers its visitors easy and clean trails; honestly, the best ones I've been in Panama. All trails have very well constructed steps, and even large zones like stations in which you can stop and easily configure your tripod. It also has an unique canopy platform plus a picnic area with a tent, and a sugar cane mill in open areas. Bottom line, this place beyond being excellent for birdwatching, is "photographer friendly". The total area accounts 10 hectares of protected land and nearly 3 kilometers of nature trails that go from open areas and forest edge, to all three levels of forest up to canopy. In one of the trails there's a semi-clear area of forest where a most of the activity was recorded both days.

If you want to know more about this place and their rates you can contact them here:
www.fincaceriana.com
luigi@fincaceriana.com
(507) 6438 6874


You can also follow them in Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Fincaceriana


The trip


I headed to Chiriquí with new plans. The first day was mostly spent traveling and getting lost in Volcán when I found the main road was closed due to a parade. I arrived to Hotel Dos Ríos and procured a cabin beside the hotel, the cheapest lodging in the hotel since I was going to spend most of my time outside working on my pictures, but I liked the place because it has a stream that crosses their garden in the backyard.

By the way, this day was Black Friday and after almost being hit by a Black Vulture in the road, the first birds I find in the hotel's backyard were Black Phoebes, what a coincidence.


The Black Phoebe (Sayornis nigricans) breeds from southwest Oregon and California south through Central and South America. It occurs year-round throughout most of its range and migrates less than the other birds in its genus, though its northern populations are partially migratory. In Panama it's fairly common in foothills and highlands. Often perches on rocks along or in streams. The subspecies present in Chiriquí is the darkest subspecies with less white on abdomen.



The Elengant Euphonia (Euphonia elegantissima) is found in Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Panama. In Panama it's fairly common in western foothills and highlands, as well as in western Panama Province. It's found in middle and upper level of forest. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist montane forests and heavily degraded former forest. They occur usually in small groups.



The Cherrie's Tanager (Ramphocelus costaricensis) is an endemic resident in the Pacific lowlands of Costa Rica and western Panama. This bird was formerly known as the scarlet-rumped tanager, but was split as a separate species from the Caribbean form, which was itself renamed as Passerini's Tanager. This bird is called Cherrie's tanager to honor the memory of American naturalist, explorer and adventurer George Cherrie, who accompanied former USA President Theodore Roosevelt in the famous 1913 exploration of the River of Doubt, in the Brazilian amazon basin, which was later named Rio Roosevelt. It's very common in second growth, shrubby areas and gardens.


Pictures from the platform

The next day arrived, Luigi picked me up on time, and drove me to Finca Ceriana, explaining me everything about the project on the way. Our first day of tour started in the canopy platform and later we walked the rest of the trails, Luigi was very generous inviting lunch at his house. After a mid-day  break  I returned to Ceriana, and to the platform where I stayed almost to dusk. Below are the best pictures from that day but please bear in mind that we observed a lot more of birds.




 Hummingbirds' food




Fiery-billed Aracari (Pteroglossus frantzii) breeds only on the lowlands of Pacific slopes of southern Costa Rica and western Panama, and is therefore another regional endemic. It's uncommon in Chiriquí and southern Veraguas and found in middle and upper levels of forest, usually in small groups.



Female Green Hermit

 Male Green Hermit

Male Green Hermit

The Green Hermit (Phaethornis guy) is a large hummingbird that is a resident breeder from southern Central America (Costa Rica and Panama) south to northern South America (north-eastern Venezuela and Trinidad, and the northern Andes of eastern Peru). It's common in foothills and lower highlands on both (Caribbean and Pacific) slopes, it's rare in lowlands of Caribbean slope. 


Pictures from the trails (and roads)


Wilson's Warbler (Cardellina pusilla). It's breeding habitat is fairly open woodland with undergrowth or shrubs and thickets in moist areas with streams, ponds, bogs, and wet clearings. Wilson's warbler breeds in northern Canada and the western USA. At all seasons, it prefers secondary growth, riparian habitats, lakes, montane and boreal forests with overgrown clearcuts. It is a very rare vagrant to Western Europe. It's a very common winter resident occurring in foothills and highlands from Chiriquí to eastern Panama Provinces becoming progressively rarer eastward.



The Dusky-capped Flycatcher (Myiarchus tuberculifer) breeds in forest and other woodland from southern Arizona, as well as Texas, south to northern Argentina and on Trinidad. It is resident in most of its range, but USA breeders retreat to Mexico in winter. Common on both slopes, most numerous in foothills.




Olivaceous woodcreeper (Sittasomus griseicapillus). It breeds from southern Mexico through tropical Central and South America to northern Argentina and Uruguay, and also on Tobago. Panama subspecies is the only woodcreeper with uniformly gray head and breast. In Panama it's uncommon on Pacific slope, and rare on Caribbean. 



The Scale-crested Pygmy Tyrant (Lophotriccus pileatus) is a species in the Tyrannidae family. It was given its name for the small crown-like ring of feathers on the top of its head. It raises these feathers both to attract a mate and to seem larger when frightened. It is found in Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Panama, Peru, Venezuela, and possibly Honduras. In Panama it's common in foothills where it's found in lower levels of forest


Dusk arrived while we were leaving the farm in the car, and to my surprise we found several Pauraques resting in the road that goes through a coffee plantation. I had tried so much times to photograph this species before in my house at El Espino, and they have always been so elusive, doesn't matter if it was in the night or in the day when they are supposed to be sleeping. In Finca Ceriana they were still, didn't move, didn't even blink an eye, even when the car was feet away from them. They were reluctant to move to the point that were about to get squashed before they fly away from the incoming car. So, I had to ask Luigi to let me stick myself out the window with my heavy lens handheld, and that way I was finally able to properly picture this species with no other illumination than the car's headlights, but I still hope to find an individual in the light of day that collaborates for pictures.


The Pauraque (Nyctidromus albicollis) – also called the Common Pauraque is a nightjar species, the only bird in the genus Nyctidromus. It has two colour morphs, the plumage being variegated greyish-brown or rufous-brown. (The individuals I've seen in my house are greyish as far as I can tell).  It is long-tailed and has broad rounded wings. The buff eyering and facial stripe contrast with the reddish sides of the face. The adult male pauraque has a white band near the wing tips and the outer tail feathers are mainly white, both features were diagnostic when observed in flight.

The breeding range of the common pauraque extends from southern Texas to the lower Paraná River region. Most populations are all-year residents, although the USA breeders may winter in eastern Mexico. There are seven subspecies of the pauraque, differing in size and greyness. It's common in lowlands and foothills where it's found in open and scrubby areas, clearings, forest edge, and woodland. This species is more terrestrial than most of its relatives. If disturbed, it will sometimes run rather than fly, and it frequently rests on roads and tracks. In general it prefers mixed habitat which offers densely vegetated hiding places – ideally forest – for the day, as well as open landscape – perhaps even rivers or wetlands – to hunt at night. The pauraque is nocturnal, like other nightjars, and starts to fly at dusk. It feeds on insects caught in flight, usually by flycatching from a low perch, but also by foraging over open ground.