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Birdwatching at Summit Hotel

Some time ago our photographer Miguel “Siu” spent a weekend at Summit Hotel & Club Golf (, and of course, instead of spending time with clubs and balls, he took his tripod and camera and went searching birds on the trails and forested areas surrounding the facilities.
Suddenly, Siu heard a raptor whistle call that he immediately recognized as a Black Hawk-Eagle (Spizaetus tyrannus). He had heard it so many times while watching this bird soaring high, but to his surprise this time it was perched on a cecropia dead branch, just looking to the golf course. It only took seconds to draw this large bird’s attention and get a decent shot before it decided to soar to a farthest perch.

The Black Hawk-Eagle (Spizaetus tyrannus) is a large, black raptor of Neotropical forests. It has a prominent crest, is blackish with narrow white barring below, and broad gray bars on the tail. This hawk-eagle occurs in both open and dense forests. Individuals often soa…

Back to the Pipeline Road for Wildlife Photography

As we were driving to the Pipeline Road we spotted this male Brown-throated Three-toed Sloth (Bradypus variegatus) close to the Gamboa Bridge. We know it was a male due to the characteristic black stripe surrounded by orange fur on its back. This patch has scent marking glands that attracts female sloths. So we stopped on the side of the road to get these shots.

Brown-throated Three-toed Sloth (Bradypus variegatus) - male

Brown-throated Three-toed Sloth (Bradypus variegatus)

The day was sunny and warm, and not many animals were seen around but we spotted some hummingbirds roosting inside the thickets of the lower level of forest. Light conditions and vegetation made the pictures very hard.

Stripe-throated Hermit (Phaethornis striigularis)

Band-tailed Barbthroat (Threnetes ruckeri) 

Later we heard rumble in the trees, and found out it was due to this female Slaty-tailed Trogon (Trogon massena) catching a prey, a very large Stick Insect (Phasmatidae). This is the second time we observe this species eating these huge insects, and the first time we thought it was eating an actual stick. Like its congeners, Slaty-tailed Trogon diet consists of fruit, arthropods as caterpillars, katydids and grasshoppers, and perhaps even small lizards.

Slaty-tailed Trogon (Trogon massena) - female

You might recall this kind of insect from one of our nocturnal macro adventures:

Then we had great oportunities with a male Chestnut-backed Antbird (Myrmeciza exsul) one of many secretive forest understory species that is far more often heard than seen, and if seen the species generally prefers dense vegetation (vine tangles, streamside thickets, etc.).

Chestnut-backed Antbird (Myrmeciza exsul) - male

Chestnut-backed Antbird (Myrmeciza exsul) - male

The Chestnut-backed Antbird is a medium-sized (14 cm, 5.5 in) understory antbird with a slate black head and conspicuous bare blue skin around the eye, chestnut brown upper parts (including the tail), and underparts that are dark gray (male) or various shades of brown (female).

As usual the Pipeline Road is a great place for all things wildlife, so even though we were carrying long (super telephoto) lenses we had chance to photograph butterflies and flowers too.
Butterfly (Lepidoptera) on Heliconia’s (Heliconia sp.) flower

Ginger's flower (Renealmia cernua)

Lastly, we encountered this female Red-capped Manakin (Ceratopipra mentalis).

Red-capped Manakin (Ceratopipra mentalis)
Female Red-capped Manakins are superficially similar to female Manacus manakins (Golden-collared Manakin also found in Pipeline Road); but female Manacus have orange feet and a yellower belly. The female of Blue-crowned Manakin (Lepidothrix coronata) is smaller than Red-capped Manakin, and is much brighter green, especially on the upperparts.