A visit to Summit Park (Parque Municipal Summit) Pt. 1

You may recall that some months ago we visited Parque Municipal Summit to photograph the King Vultures and we promised to return to make more pictures and help them promote their work. In case you missed that post, let us re-introduce the Summit Park, a zoological and botanical garden managed by Panama Municipality, located in Omar Torrijos Avenue in the way to Gamboa, outside Panama City. 

You can visit Summit Park all days from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm, and it's extremely cheap: children under 5 years old enter for free, students and retired $1, locals and residents $2, and foreign visitors $5.

We do not endorse zoological parks neither pictures of animals in captivity, and  try to make all our photos in the wild but in this case we worked in conjunction with the park to get pictures of certain mammals that are not easy to find in the wild. Other photos, like birds and flowers were made in the park grounds and are free range wildlife.


The Neotropical River Otter (Lontra longicaudis) is an otter species found in Central America, South America and the island of Trinidad, and is a member of the family Mustelidae (weasels).

They are physically similar to the northern and southern river otter, which occur directly north and south of this species' range. The length of the neotropical otter can range from 90–150 centimetres (35–59 in), of which the tail comprises about a third.

This otter is found in many different riverine habitats; including deciduous and evergreen forests, savanna, llanos and pantanal. In Panama, we have been able to watch them in Gatún Lake. They prefer to live in clear fast-flowing rivers and streams. They are a relatively solitary animal and feed mostly on fish and crustaceans.

Since 2008, this otter has been classed as Data Deficient by IUCN but is considered as threatened by habitat degradation associated with: agriculture, soil compaction, pollution, roadways, and runoff. Also, when forests are cleared for cattle grazing, heavy vegetation (which is the otter's preferred habitat) near streams is also cleared or trampled by cattle. This species is a very important ecological indicator because they prefer ecologically rich, aquatic habitats and have a low reproductive potential. 

 
Baird's Tapir (Tapirus bairdii), also known as the Central American Tapir, is a species of tapir native to Mexico, Central America and northwestern South America. It's one of four Latin American species of tapir. It's commonly known as "danta" in several areas but in Panama it's called "macho de monte".

Baird's tapir is named for the American naturalist Spencer Fullerton Baird, who traveled to Mexico in 1843 and observed the animals. However, he was not the first naturalist to document the species.

It is in danger of extinction, currently classed as Endangered by IUCN. There are two main contributing factors in the decline of the species which are poaching and habitat loss. Though in many areas the animal is only hunted by a few humans, any loss of life is a serious blow to the tapir population, especially because their reproductive rate is so slow. This male individual known as Bayano was successfully born in captivity at Summit.

Baird's tapirs average 2 m (6.6 ft) in length but can range between 1.8 and 2.5 m (5.9 and 8.2 ft), not counting a stubby, vestigial tail of 5–13 cm (2.0–5.1 in), and 73–120 cm (2.40–3.94 ft) in height. Body mass in adults can range from 150 to 400 kilograms (330 to 880 lb). With these dimension it is the largest land mammal in Central America, and only large adult American crocodiles and adult jaguars are capable of preying on adult tapirs (but more likely to fail than to succeed on it).

In Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Costa Rica, and Panama, hunting of the Baird's tapirs is illegal, but, restrictions against hunting do not address the problem of deforestation.

Tayra (Eira barbara), is an omnivorous animal, also from the Mustelidae (weasels) family, it's native to the Americas and the only species in the genus Eira. Tayras are also known as "tolomuco" in Central America, "motete" in Honduras, "irara" in Brazil, "viejo de monte" in the Yucatan Peninsula.

They range from 56 to 71 cm (22 to 28 in) in length, not including a 37 to 46 cm (15 to 18 in) long bushy tail, and weigh 2.7 to 7 kg (6.0 to 15.4 lb). Males are larger, and slightly more muscular, than females.

They are found across most of South America east of the Andes, except for Uruguay, eastern Brazil, and all but the most northerly parts of Argentina. They are also found across the whole of Central America, in Mexico as far north as southern Veracruz, and on the island of Trinidad. They are generally found only in tropical and subtropical forests, although they may cross grasslands at night to move between forest patches, and they also inhabit cultivated plantations and croplands. Tayra populations are slowly shrinking due to habitat destruction for agricultural purposes. However, the species is listed as being of Least Concern.

In Panama we have observed wild Tyras in Chucantí, Darién but making a photo was imposible. Tayras are playful and easily tamed, so we were able to approach this female kept in captivity to make a photo with a 180mm macro lens.


Black-tailed Flycatcher (Myiobius atricaudus) is a species in the Tyrannidae family, found in Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Panama, Peru, and Venezuela. Their natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests and heavily degraded former forest. They are usually found alone or in pairs, but may join flocks of several species. In Panama it's uncommon in lowlands on both slopes, found in lower levels of forest, gallery forest, forest edge, and woodland.


Blue-gray Tanager (Thraupis episcopes)


Costus speciosus or crêpe ginger, known locally as "caña agria" is a plant native to southeast Asia and surrounding regions, from India to China to Queensland that has been introduced and naturalised in several areas including the West Indies and Central America.


 Crimson-backed Tanager (Ramphocelus dimidiatus) - male


Gartered Trogon (Trogon caligatus) - male
The head and upper breast of the male are blue and the back is green, becoming bluer on the rump. A faint white line separates the breast from the orange-yellow underparts. The undertail is white with black barring, and the wings are black, vermiculated with white. The complete eye-ring is yellow.


White-shouldered Tanager (Tachyphonus luctuosus) - female

White-shouldered Tanager (Tachyphonus luctuosus) - male

White-shouldered Tanager (Tachyphonus luctuosus) is a resident breeder from Honduras to Panama, South America south to Ecuador and southern Brazil, and on Trinidad, occurring in forests and woodland. In Panama it's common on entire Caribbean slope and on Pacific slope from Canal Area to Darién, and local in western Chiriquí.

They are long-tailed and with a mostly black stout pointed bill. The adult male is glossy black, apart from white underwing coverts and a conspicuous white shoulder patch, the most obvious difference from the similar but larger white-lined tanager, in which the smaller white area is rarely visible except in flight. Females and immatures have olive upperparts, yellow underparts and a grey head and neck.

These are restless birds which eat mainly insects but will occasionally take fruit. They often associate with other insectivorous birds in mixed feeding flocks.