Archive for the ‘Gran Azul Blog’ Category

Introduction to our interviews of Daniel Saenz. February 2020.

April 12th, 2020

It is all coming together

We spent three full days with Daniel Saenz in GranAzul-Cobachon:the 15th, 16th and 17th of February, 2020. The days were filled with his observations on birds, monos and tortoises.  Daniel, Diana and Hector also went on long hikes.

Marco Bueninck made the photos, Diana Moreno took notes, Hector Barria de los Santos held the voicerecorder and I, Anja van Ditmarsch , was just happy.


George R. Angehr

The Birds of Panama
A Field Guide

Diana Moreno

Diana Moreno

Daniel, Hector Barrias de los Santos and Anja

That first day – Saturday 15th – we used a voicerecorder (held by Hector) to document all of Daniel’s observations while Diana made notes in Angehr’s Field Guide to keep track. It will take a while before we have transmitted all the information in a proper way and for now some photos.




Checklist Angehr

One of the many checklists

Daniel used the checklists in Angehr’s Field Guide and I am trying to think of a way to show all those 30 pages on this site.


Before I continue to the second day, the 16th of February, I would like to emphasize that the transcripts of the voicerecordings and the translation of the diaries will take some time.  Also Diana and Hector hiked for many hours with Daniel and  we will publish  their photos and annotations  when ready.   The videos we took are too large for this website and as soon as they are on youtube we will let you know.


Now on to the Monos. There are four species in GranAzul: the Howler monkey (Alouatta Palliata trabata) in Panama also known as GunGun; the white headed Capuchin ( Cebus capucinus capucinus)  in Panama known as mono Carito or Cariblanco; the  Arana or spider monkey ( Ateles Geoffroyi azuriensis ) in Panama known as Charrao and the mono nocturno panameno know as Jujuna.

Our main interest goes to the Aranas or spider monkeys. Over the years their number has grown from 4-5 to at least 14 and  maybe more. Diana and Hector on their last hike the 17th were lucky to see two Arana’s and they will tell more about this encounter when we get their information.

Here some photo’s of Daniel’s diaries which will be translated in due time.

Daniel on Aranas

Learning which trees monos like to forage from

Monos aranas y monos nocturnos


Saturday night ( February 15) around 10 pm there was a great excitement on the beach. A Warana ( Olive Ridley) turtle was spotted laying its eggs. Daniel could keep all the curious onlookers (visiting  Cobachon because of the long summer holydays) and their flashlights at bay and made sure the turtle could more or less quietly lay its eggs. Jaime noticed that the turtle had a fishing hook in its flesh and managed to remove it. The next day Daniel told us about his experience with turtles. And as always the biggest threat being : man and sometimes dogs. Daniel also told us that this turtle was unusually early as most of the time they come to lay their eggs in August – September. As there are only 13 hours to remove the eggs to place them in a safe place he decided to let them be and hope for the best


We do have videos of the turtle laying its eggs and once we put those on youtube we will let you know.

How a little drawing can be an inspiration

January 24th, 2020

The last time I visited Granazul and Daniel in his dwelling in Cobachon (when he spoke the famous words:  “no me gusta este flycatcher, muy complicado y pequeno. ”)  was in 2016.  To explain to me the geographical situation of the farms between Cobachon and the Cerro Hoya Daniel wanted to draw me  a little map.

While he was looking for an empty piece of paper  I noticed that there were several fully written pages laying around. “What are those. Daniel?”I asked. A bit reluctant and with a shy smile he answered me that those papers were his observations of birds, animals and even trees. “How long have you made those notes?”I asked.  “Por muchos anos,” he answered.

The map Daniel drew, in  all its coarseness, gave me a good idea what was happening in the areas between Cerro Hoya and the Pacific Ocean.  And to be more specific where Daniel wrote ” Sander” on his map that is Granazul – the land our familly owns. And next to ” Sander” you see ” F Panama” wich is the conservation area of Fundacion Panama, bought through the IUCN some years ago.

The realization of Granazul’s  unique location so close to the Cerro Hoya together with Daniel’s important knowledge of Azuero’s flora and fauna, inspired me  to play a humble role in documenting and possibly conserving Nature in and around Granazul.

Map Cerro Hoya - Granazul

Daniel’s map of land between Cerrro Hoya and the Pacific

Back in Chitre where I stayed with the Morales family I asked  my friends to help me with a letter to the ornithologist Francisco Delgado, discoverer of the Painted Parakeet of Azuero.  I thought professor Delgado might know of Daniel Saenz  as he is mentioned by  George R. Angehr in “ A bird finding Guide to Panama.” In my letter  I explained  to professor Delgado my ideas and plans to interview Daniel.

Professor Delgado did not response to my letter and for some years I chose not to think about  interviewing Daniel . Yet  the idea did not reallyl leave me ..

Until … well …untill  last year summer when I met with my beloved cousin Marco, who was visiting the Netherlands form Mexico where he has lived for the last twenty years.  Marco just turned seventy and being 8 years his senior,  I thought we would make an excellent duo for my expidition to Granazul- Cobachon. And so did Marco!

Azuero Parakeet

Azuero Parakeet endangered . Only in SW of Azuzero Peninsula


First I contacted Ruth Metzel  of the Azuero Earth Project, now Azuero Eco Project who I had met many years ago in Pedasi. Ruth greatly approvevd of my plan to document Daniel’s diaries and brought me in contact with Sandra Vasques – working in Pedasi. Sandra and I agreed that we would wait until January – a month before Marco and I were scheduled to come to Panama, to go over the details of our trip and to find the right interns to come with us to Granazul – Cobachon.


Knowing that the land next to Granazul was bought many years ago by the Fundacion Panama, through the IUCN in the Netherlands, I decided to contact their office in Amsterdam. I was very fortunate to meet with Marc Hoogeslag who, when I told him about Daniel, said the following:


“It is easy to become cynical when you work in conservation for two decades, but men like Daniel give us hope again. To document all the information Daniel can share is of crucial importance.”