Archive for August, 2010

Who that cap fits…. let them wear it!

Saturday, August 28th, 2010

You want up close and intimate hummingbird eye candy? Slip on your cap, powerful reading glasses and attachable feeder and sit back and be literally blown away as the wind from the wings of these hummers gently caress your face. Inches away in sharp focus these glittering jewels hover and feed in full splendor. Inter species territorial fighting can happen just inches from your nose as sabrewings, mountain gems, green crowned brilliants, stripe-tailed and magnificent hummingbirds all vie for their turn to dazzle you with their acrobatic dances. Really, in spite of your predatory stereoscopic eyes just inches away magnified by the reading glasses you are no more than a lamp post for these dudes……….

Timber Harvest at Mount Totumas Cloud Forest

Saturday, August 21st, 2010

We have harvested some timber on site. We got a permit from ANAM to cut two dead oak trees, each one at least 250 years old. The timber will be used for the first two cabins we will start in January 2011. Mr. Noe Vega who works miracles with a chainsaw and a chalkline felled the trees and cut the timber to the dimensions listed below. Everyone around on site came out to see the trees drop. The photos of the epiphytes are plants that were living on the dead branches of the trees. We harvested some of these and attached them to the hummingbird displays on our deck. Check out the photos below.

Roble (Oak)
QTY Dimension
1X 2X4X4
1X 2X4X5
1X 2X4X6
3X 2X4X8
2X 2X4X12
2X 2X4X14
3X 2X6X4
2X 2X6X6
2X 2X6X8
5X 2X6X10
4X 2X6X12
1X 2X6X16
1X 2X8X6
1X 2X8X8
1X 2X8X12
1X 2X8X16
1X 2X12X8
2X 4X4X14
7X 4X6X12
4X 4X6X14
5X 4X6X16
1X 4X8X10
1X 4X8X12
12X 6X6X12
15X 6X6X14
12X 6X6X16
1X 8X8X4
8X 8X8X12

Peak of Mount Totumas Revisited

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

Today we left (a group of eight) the homestead at 1907m and climbed to the peak of Mount Totumas at 2630m. This is an elevation change of 700m (2100 feet). The hike is very steep, arduous and just a game trail. The effort is worth it for what you find at the peak, a virgin oak bamboo forest. The moss covering all the old growth oaks is orange apparently a protective adaptation to high levels of UV light found at this altitude. The orange moss is the dominant color in the forest canopy and when reflected by daylight the forest takes on an ambient warm orange color. It’s magical.

Ornate Hawk Eagle

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

Tom Danny and I went for a late afternoon walk following a heavy rain. Wet and dark green landscape with white clouds hanging in the valley outlining individual emergent trees. We were at the site where we dropped the old dead oak by the road which is in one of the main wildlife corridors that extend uninterrupted from the peak of Mount Totumas. From within the forest a large bird emerged and perched on a dead snag that was created when the oak tree fell. An Ornate Hawk Eagle. One of the most regal birds of prey in the new world tropics, the first for Mount Totumas Cloud Forest. Not since a visit years ago to Manu National Park in Peru have I seen this bird. We all had good views through the binoculars but amongst the three of us the only camera available was a point and shoot Canon. Two poor shots but even through the mist and poor resolution of these cropped images this noble bird can still inspire.

Wasp Moths

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

Wasp Moths comprise a subfamily (Ctenuchinae) of the Tiger Moth family (Arctiidae). They are mostly diurnal but readily arrive at our bug lights. Many species are toxic and they imitate wasps to avoid predation. Imitating a whole suite of Hymenoptera from yellow jackets to wasps to bumble bees, the wasp moths as a group practice Mullerian mimicry. Check out the diversity here at Mount Totumas Cloud Forest

Visita Flor

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010


Violet Sabrewing (male)

Colibri is the Spanish word for Hummingbird. The locals here in Chiriqui refer to them often as Visita Flor, or flower visitor. In Brazil they are Beija Flor or flower kisser. Their beauty transcends the names we give them. The three feeders on the deck here at Mount Totumas Cloud Forest attract a variety of species. Some are breathtaking in sunlight when feeding only inches away.

Green-Crowned Brilliant (female)


Stripe-tailed Hummingbird


White-Throated Mountain Gem (female)


Green-Crowned Brilliant (male)


Magnificent Hummingbird (male)


Green-Crowned Brilliant (male)

Violet Sabrewing (male)


Violet Sabrewing (male)


Green-Crowned Brilliant (male)


Stripe-tailed Hummingbird