Archive for May, 2015

Eumorpha labruscae (The Gaudy Sphinx)

Sunday, May 31st, 2015

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Cruising in to our lights around 4:00am in the morning the Gaudy Sphinx is active in the predawn hours. A beautiful moth, both in form and function. Barely a day goes by without a new secret revealed with the rich biodiversity here at Mount Totumas Cloud Forest.

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Collared Peccaries

Friday, May 29th, 2015

Collared Peccaries are common on the trails here at MTCF. They are wary and hard to see but not hard to smell. A musky smell on the trail means peccaries have just past by.

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Mother with two babies

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They are both diurnal and nocturnal

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Their main predator, the Mountain Lion, here scratching his face on a branch. If you look at the surrounding vegetation you will notice this is the same location as the image of the peccaries above.

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The game camera picks up images of both peccaries and mountain lions on most locations.

New Quetzal Trail at MTCF

Monday, May 25th, 2015

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The new Quetzal Trail is a short and varied .5 km trail that starts at the Homestead and is the quickest way to access mid to upper canopy views of 2nd growth forest. The trail is designed for bird watching and night walks and for guests who prefer a shorter less strenuous trail.

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The trail accesses great views of 2nd growth forest in a corridor where Resplendent Quetzals are often seen. Other birds commonly seen are Spot-Crowned Woodcreeper, Black-Faced Solitaire, Grey-Breasted Wood Wren, Chiriqui Quail Dove, Black Guan.

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Semi open area near forest edge is a great spot for forest birds like the Spot-Breasted Wood Quail.

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The trail continues into riparian habitat and meanders over small stream crossings.

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The trail eventually emerges from the forest on to an open field where we have placed a bench that provides a great view of the forest edge. The early morning light falls on this patch of forest and sitting patiently on this bench will yield many birds.

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Over a boggy section of the meadow we made an elevated walkway from left over planks of wood from our recent construction. This path leads into another riparian zone.

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Here we made a winding trail through big elephant ear aroids. Great spot on the night walk for spotting frogs and nocturnal insects.

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The nest site of Resplendent Quetzals. We have an active nest site at the moment and we have had to close a section of the Quetzal Trail as the birds are now incubating. You know when the male is incubating because his long tail feather extends out of the nesting cavity.

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A heliconid butterfly

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A pioneer composite plant in full bloom.

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A tree fern by the trail side.

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Beautiful native heliconia by the stream.

Day Hike to Romulo Vega’s Homestead

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015


Our closest neighbor here at MTCF is Romulo Vega. He is 78 years old and his property lies within the boundary of La Amistad NP. Unlike national parks in the US, here in Panama old homesteads are grandfathered in once national park boundaries are established. Mr. Vega cleared his forests with an axe long before the park was established in 1985 and today his “finca” is a beautiful homestead surrounded by forests within the park. A day trip visiting Mr. Vega is a journey to Panama’s rural mountain past. His cabin has no electricity, just a transistor radio. He cooks on an open fire pit inside his cabin.

Coffee Pot preparing hot water for coffee

Mr. Vega tending the fire

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Coffee steeping in a wire rimmed cloth sack.

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Timeless space hanging in the cabin sharing stories of jaguars and the misty mountains.

The walk from MTCF to Mr. Vegas homestead is about 2 hours and passes through beautiful mountain scenery.


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Timo on the trail.

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Bromeliads in full bloom

Alma and Jeff holding orchid flowers from a fallen orchid.

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MTCF on Google Earth

Friday, May 15th, 2015

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Google Earth just updated their satellite image of Western Chiriqui here in Panama and you can now see all the structures here at Mount Totumas Cloud Forest; employee cabin, The Cabin, Homestead, Workshop and The Bellbird Lodge.

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Here is another image that includes areas of the reserve and La Amistad National Park. On the lower left hand corner you can see the buildings of Mount Totumas Cloud Forest. Just left of center is Mount Totumas itself at 2630m shrouded in primary forest. This image allows you to see the immensity of highland cloud forest wilderness that you have access to when visiting. The pasture lands right of center are inside La Amistad National Park and where grandfathered in when the park was established in 1985. The owner still grazes a few cattle here. This is a beautiful destination as the pastures are bordered on all sides by old growth forest and the views of the surrounding mountains are stunning.

Here is link with Google Maps to MTCF,-82.68377,3281m/data=!3m1!1e3

MTCF Coffee Flowering

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015

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Two weeks ago we had our first heavy rains of the year. That’s what our coffee trees were waiting for. This triggered an explosion of flowers and our whole coffee field is alive with honey bees busy pollinating the flowers. The trees on this photo are Tipica variety.

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The blossoms smell sweet.

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Alma with her Panama Hat smelling the blossoms of a Cataui variety

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Doña Alma anticipating next years harvest.

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We have 1800 tree seedlings that will be planted this month that will start right below the beginning of the Puma trail. That will bring the total number of coffee trees to close to 5000 which is our target.

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Here is the field that we cleared for the new grove. This was former pasture about 15 years ago that was abandoned and there are now some nice shade trees already in place for the new seedlings.