Saturday, July 13th: My trip began at 5:45am when Brian picked me up. We stopped to get Bob and Alice, then drove over to the Moreland's. David joined us there as we all piled into the Moreland's van to go to the airport. While waiting at the Moreland's, about 18 Swallow-tailed Kites flew overhead. We then left for the airport arriving in plenty of time for our 9:45 flight. There was no line to drop off my bag, and security was pretty quick. I got to the gate 2 hours ahead of time. The rest of the group gradually showed up, including four others who didn't come with us in the Moreland's van.
The flight was not close to full, and the business class section was downright deserted, only 3 people — two of us headed to Canopy Tower. The plane seemed to be a new 737, with the upgraded cabin.
We soon found our driver once the whole group had cleared customs. While waiting for him to get the van, I noticed a couple of Great-tailed Grackles. Pretty soon, the driver returned with the van and we headed off to Canopy Tower. It took the better part of an hour to get there (traffic). I saw several species on the way including Neotropic Cormorant, Rock Pigeon, Black Vulture, Ruddy Ground-Dove, Tropical Kingbird (of course!) Tropical Mockingbird, American (Great) Egret, and Turkey Vulture.
As we drove up the entrance road to Canopy Tower, we found Ann birding along the road. A Blue-chested Hummingbird was working the feeders at the base of the tower. After putting our stuff in the room, most of us soon found our way to the observation deck. It overlooks the Panama Canal, and you can see Panama City in the distance when it is clear. We spent most of the rest of the day birding from there.
David and I got up there first. Besides the vultures, we found a Short-tailed Hawk soaring. We didn't seen many other birds at first, and a Piratic Flycatcher soon put in an appearance. We had heard the others talking about a Collared Aracari. A couple of them were in a cecropia. We eventually saw at least 4. Another hawk flew by, but we never got a solid ID. It may have been a Bicolored Hawk.
The Keel-billed Toucans are always a favorite. Eventually, a feeding flock started to appear, starting with Green Honeycreeper. A Band-rumped Swift overhead provided a brief distraction as more birds joined the flock: Plain-colored Tanager, Palm Tanager, and Golden-hooded Tanager. A smaller bird turned out to be a female Fulvous-vented Euphonia.
A little later on, we noticed a Swallow-tailed Kite overhead, and some Gray-breasted Martins. Our guide Carlos had joined us by then and pointed out a Scarlet-rumped Cacique right in front of us.
Our last group member had arrived, and we went downstairs for orientation. Later on, we added Tropical Gnatcatcher and Mealy Amazon to our list. It was very pleasant to be on the tower as the day ended. Some sort of very large bat was flying around, perhaps a Jamaican Fruit-Bat.
We had dinner, and some of us decided to turn in early.
I ended the day with 25 species including 2 lifers.