Archive for September, 2016

Harvesting Timber from the forest floor; Mexican Elm “Cenizo”

Saturday, September 17th, 2016

One of the emergent trees in the canopy of 2nd growth and old growth forests here is the Mexican Elm Ulmus mexicana. When an ancient tree falls to the forest floor the timber remains intact for decades as this tree is very rot resistant and very hard. When you mill the wood in dimensions smaller than 4×6 beams it tends to warp which is why these trees were not harvested years ago when this valley was timbered. The Mexican Elm is an excellent wood however for joists and columns.

We are now building again, starting our last structure here at Mount Totumas Cloud Forest. So we are harvesting the wood of this ancient Mexican Elm.

Opening up the ancient trunk reveals clean solid wood




See this big slab? We’ll come to this in a few months and show you where this will end up!


Lepidopteran Dreams

Monday, September 5th, 2016

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Meet Albert Thurman. He has been coming to Panama for almost 40 years doing research on Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths) and he organizes entomology nature tours 3-4 times a year. This is his 6th trip to Mount Totumas.

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Meet John McDonald. He has joined Albert on many of his trips and is an expert on the moths of Panama. John arrived a couple days
early and spent invaluable time going through our collection and correcting all the misplaced specimens!

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Meet Margarita, a student from Ecuador who is attending Mississippi State University and is focusing her studies on micro moths.

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Patience and a steady hand required!

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Bill and John looking at specimens

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At night our restaurant gets converted into an impromptu lab and freshly caught specimens are examined.

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Margarita on the left and Ana on the right. Ana is studying entomology at the University of Panama.

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Meet Tatiana. She currently lives with her husband Brian in Boquetee. They are both entomologists who come up and stay with us when
Albert visits. Tatiana creates beautiful original paintings of fauna of Panama and she has done a series of lepidoptera of Panama.
This painting is of a geometrid moth first collected here at Mount Totumas by Charles Covell of the McGuire Center in Gainsille Florida.
This species is new to science and is currently being described.

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New geometrid species from our collection.

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Alma and Tatiana displaying Tatiana’s work.

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The following images are from the collection here at Mount Totumas. All the insects displayed were only collected here at this single
location. This collection is a window revealing the immense biodiversity here in the cloud forest.

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Eribidae with Eulepidotinae (right hand columns)

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Sphingidae of Mount Totumas

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More Sphingidae of Mount Totumas

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Saturnidae of Mount Totumas

More Saturnidae of Mount Totumas

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Eribidae; Catocalinae of Mount Totumas

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Sematuridae and Uraniidae of Mount Totumas

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Eribidae; Arctiinae of Mount Totumas

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More Arctiinae

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Geometridae of Mount Totumas

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More Geometridae of Mount Totumas

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Display of diverse beetles and other insects of Mount Totumas

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Misty new moon warm nights with no wind and this is what happens when you put up black lights and mecury vapor lamps.

In The Field Spotting Birds

Friday, September 2nd, 2016

Some times you have to step back from spotting the birds and observe the observers. Here are some fun shots of friends and guests in the field spotting birds and helping each other locate them.


David La Puma, Director of from Cape May Bird Observatory, on a recent visit digiscoping with and Iphone

Mike Lanzone and family in the background. Fruiting mistletoe was drawing in Ochraceous Wren, Golden Browed Chlorophonia and several tanagers.

Cleveland Natural History Museum visit

Birding from our safari landrover

Volcan hiking club spotting a Respledent Quetzal.



Male Three Wattled Bellbird spotted!


Tatiana, Alma and Reinaldo on the Quetzal Trail.

MOULTRIE DIGITAL GAME CAMERA Little girl looking into our game camera on the big tree loop trail.