Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Ricardo Moreno and his mission to protect Panama’s Big Cats

Wednesday, November 1st, 2017


Ricardo Moreno is a wildlife biologist who is dedicating his studies and career to saving the jaguar and other big cats here in Panama. He is director of Yaguara Panama an organization whose mission is to study the status of jaguars in Panama, educate the public and long term advise public policy toward the preservation of this magnificent animal. Ricardo is associated with the Smithsonian Institute and was named this year by the National Geographic Society as an emerging explorer to remedy some of the biggest challenges facing our planet.

Ricardo came to Mount Totumas Cloud Forest in August and we walked some of our trails, set up camera traps and reviewed more than 4 years of photos we have documented here with our trail cameras. Bordering directly La Amistad NP and being neighbors to cattle farmers in the area, we are in the critical buffer zone and contact area where these big cats roam.

We understand the challenges Ricardo is facing in educating the public regarding the protection of jaguars and mountain lions. Here in the Rio Colorado valley we are the first presence of eco tourism in the area and during 8 years here we have discussed with many of our neighbors the importance of protecting Panama’s natural heritage. Many local farmers, like in many parts of the world, view the big cats as a threat to their economic interests when they occasionally kill livestock. This is the core issue in solving the problem in protecting these top predators.

Ricardo’s enthusiasm and energy is remarkable and all the more so because the challenges facing these big cats is daunting. He is an important ambassador for these magnificent top predators and is having a positive impact.

During Ricardo’s visit we were fortunate to find a fresh track of a big cat. And we made a plaster cast and determined that this was a mountain lion



12280168 When Ricardo reviewed our photo’s we were thrilled to find this immature jaguar image that we had previously thought was an ocelot. This was back in 2014. We are interested to place our camera traps in some of the ridge lines that descent from La Amistad NP to see if we can capture more images.

20170902_152018 Ricardo Moreno giving talk to the public In Cerro Punta in August 2017 in his effort to educate the public on his mission to preserve the big cats. His enthusiasm is contagious!



Ricardo wearing the most recent version of the “hummingbird hat”. It’s not just the big cats that puts a smile on Ricardo’s face!

Summer of Entomology 2017

Saturday, September 16th, 2017

This summer we had a series of entomological visitors… Here are some highlights starting with an awesome video taken by Pierre-Olivier Ouellet. Pierre is from Quebec and is quite well known for his entomological exhibitions and works with public schools there with his mobile insect museum.

Roy Alain Roy Alain from Quebec was with us in June during an amazing stretch of warm rainy nights with excellent conditions on the moth light.

martin chris Martin and Chris setting up their morning laboratory on the deck of the Bellbird Lodge after a night of collecting.

martins beetles

chris 1 Chris Guay holding a Sematuridae moth Sematura luna

beetle drawing Jen Zalewsk drawing beetles

beetle drawing (2)

Anton Anton Klein from Germany taking photos at the lights.

_DSC6171 Anton in bug heaven

Petra Petra protecting herself from swarms of flying moths as she assists Anton with his photography

_DSC6955 A beautiful skipper butterfly. Photo by Anton.

Albert Thurman Albert Thurman on the sheet down at Catalina, a new collecting site down the road 4km from the lodge.

marpesia sp. Chris Guay’s great pic of Marpesia marcella

dynastes 1 Spodistes batesi Photo by Chris Guay

chrysina 1 A new chrysina beetle for Mount Totumas, Chrysina chrysargyrea . Photo by Chris Guay.

Phryxus sp. Sphynx moth Phryxus sp. Photo by Torben Bille

Antheraea godmani
Close up of Antheraea godmani. Photo by Torben Bille.

geometrid leaf imitator
Torben’s photo of a leaf imitating geometrid moth

Homoeocera gigantea
Torben Bille’s pic of
Homoeocera gigantea

Going fishing to stock our restaurant

Monday, August 21st, 2017

Spent the night in Pedregal with Jon and Phyllis and left at 6am the next morning to go fishing in the vast inshore mangrove and bay habitat that supports an abundant fishery right near David..

Franklin throwing a cast net to catch the bait

20170819_072934 John is a master with the cast net.

20170819_074403 Picking up the bait to put in the live well.

20170819_074907 This little guy was released back in the sea.

20170819_064050 Red Mangroves as tall as 40 feet… No hurricanes or tropical storms to knock them down! You would never see Red Mangroves this tall in Florida. .

20170819_064147 Volcan Baru in the distance

18320424_10154598677872686_8030634598697490875_o Snook (from an earlier trip)

20170819_082615Yellow Snapper

20170819_104452 Goliath Grouper, he was released back to the sea to grow up to be 200 lbs!

20170819_133900Mangrove Snapper

20170318_182142 Karin with Red Snapper and Snook ready to filet. This pic from earlier this year.

20170820_114142 Fresh Snapper filets

20170820_115358 Vaccum sealed.

20170820_114627 Ready for the freezer and the high season when local fish will be on the menu at our restaurant!

Beautiful Illustration of Bothrieches lateralis by Randy Babb

Friday, August 18th, 2017


Randy Babb visiting Mount Totumas earlier this year as part of Albert Thurman’s group. They were fortunate to find a beautiful specimen of a juvenile Bothrieches lateralis on their 2nd day and Randy placed this viper in a secure container and proceeded to illustrate it during the next 24 hours. The result is stunning.

The viper was released where it was found afterwards.

Mammals of Mount Totumas Cloud Forest

Thursday, July 6th, 2017

Here is a composite video captured by our game cameras mostly on The Big Tree Loop Trail. We often see the scratch marks of Mountain Lions who have marked their territory and fortunately we captured footage of a big cat actually marking his territory. Mother with cub, Tayra, possum with prehensile tail carrying leaves, coati, agouti, peccaries, armadillo, marguay, paca and a spotted wood quail.

Common Opossum

Monday, June 19th, 2017

Here are a couple of video captures from one of our game cameras on the Big Tree Loop. The first image is of an opossum. Notice the long snout. This does not look like a Common Opossum and yet there are no other candidates I can come up with on the mammal books we have.

The other images is of a Common Opossum carrying leaves with its prehensile tail. Probably busy building a nest. Interesting to see this prehensile tail actually functional!

Guest Pictures; Toby Bissels

Tuesday, June 6th, 2017


Toby and Patrick were here at Mount Totumas at the end of May and wandered our trails. Toby mentioned that he enjoys moving into nature without any specific goal or agenda and allowing the secrets of the forest to reveal themselves. Here are some of the images he was able to capture. The above photo of a Violet Sabrewing is gorgeous, the bird is in sharp focus with whirling wings.

Mantled Howler

P1130302 (2)
Spider Monkey

P1130412 (2)
Female Resplendent Quetzal with bambito fruit.

P1130824 (2)
Male Resplendent Quetzal. Photographed on The Quetzal trail.

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Glass Frog on The Cascade Trail.

P1130517.1 Track of a large cat on The Bajareque Trail. Probably a Mountain Lion since this was on the border of pasture and forest. This track is very defined because the cat stepped squarely onto a cow patty!

Thank You Toby and Patrick!

Mountain Lion on The Big Tree Loop, May 2017

Monday, May 22nd, 2017

This video of a Mountain Lion (Puma concolor) was taken May 2017 with our camera traps at the junction of The Big Tree Loop and Cenizo Trails. Probably the same individual, he passed both night and day. Many of this cat’s prey was also captured by the light trap; Agouti, Paca, Spotted Woodquail, Possum.

Collared Trogon at Nest Cavity

Wednesday, May 10th, 2017

trogon male 2 -1782

trogon male -1364 (2)

Thank You Polina Vishkautsan for these amazing photos of a Collared Trogon. Polina is a photographer who was part of Albert Thurman’s last group visiting Mount Totumas in April. The trogon nest was up at 1950m and Polina and I set up a blind the day before. The following morning Polina headed up at 6am and waited patiently several hours in the blind in order to capture these two images.

Albert brought a group of amazing photographers and artists. More pics and drawings to follow!

Lodge to Lodge Hiking

Sunday, April 23rd, 2017

Here is a video and pics. of a recent Lodge to Lodge hike that starts at Finca Hartman then on to Cotito Lodge and finishing at Mount Totumas Cloud Forest. This is a 10 mile hike where you can combine staying in all three lodges. Elevation range 1400-2000m Great tour for trekkers and bird watchers.

Thank you Jorge Lopez for putting together this video. Jorge works as a wilderness guide for Baru Expeditions.

Lodge to Lodge route1