Saturday, March 28, 2020

Costa Rica- Green Paradise and Bajo del Tigre (Day 12, final day)

On our last day we woke up to howling wind.  I had the worst time sleeping the night before as it was rattling the whole house.  Birding expectations for the day were very low.  We had coffee and watched Brown Jays coming to the fruit feeder Caroline made out of random stuff in the yard.

While we were watching them I noticed a bird wander out of the shrubs into the entrance road.

Gray-cowled Wood-Rail!  Once lumped with the Russet-naped Wood-Rail (called Gray-necked Wood-Rail) we had seen previously, they were split in 2016.

Caroline had thrown some fruit in what looked like a compost pile and the wood-rail actually went over there and scrounged.

We braved the wind to walk around the trails by our Airbnb and it was kind of unpleasant.  This tiny lizard was cool:

iNat suggests a kind of anole

 Pale-billed Woodpecker with stick over its face

 Rufous-capped Warbler

Eventually we packed up to leave and go birding at Bajo del Tigre in Children's Eternal Rainforest, "Costa Rica's largest private reserve." (Says many internet sites).  The fellow working at the little entrance station/gift shop was very friendly and warned us that the wind could make conditions dangerous.  He said if branches started falling down we should turn around.  Ok.

Birding was slow to begin with and I remember we made a very low target number for species.  15?  We were not expecting much.  The first bird I photographed was a hummingbird perched in the sunlight, a Blue-vented Hummingbird.

 We had good looks at a Yellow-throated Euphonia here.

 Our species count slowly grew with the addition of a new trip bird, Red-crowned Ant-Tanager, and many more common birds. We managed to walk far enough that we were even out of the wind for awhile.


This awesome lizard was sunning itself on a leaning tree.

The guy at the entrance station looked up the lizard for us in a book, it's a green spiny lizard (aka emerald swift).

Ruddy Pigeon

Jacob found this fancy feather on the ground:

We had been hearing a Three-wattled Bellbird all morning as we had heard several times before on our trip.

It's a great sound and I enjoyed hearing it but seeing one would be amazing.  As we walked we heard one getting louder and louder till we were sure it was close by.  Someone finally got eyes on it and we were able to watch it actually make that crazy sound.

 Holy crap!  What a bird!!

 Those wattles!  That sound!  I'm sure he does well with the ladies, though wattles can grow even longer than his.  He turned around after a minute.

Amazing!  It wasn't too long after this that Caroline saw some kind of Mottled Owl/squirrel encounter that caused the owl to fly to a very distant but exposed spot.  I failed to see it several times as it kept moving, but finally I saw it.

After hearing one several times and seeing them poorly it was redeeming to get a decent view.

Continuing with our good luck a few minutes later, someone noticed this Long-tailed Manakin moving around.

It coughed up something that looked like a seed and spit it out.

Not the fancy mating dance it is known for but still an interesting behavior.

Whatever it coughed up falling down


We passed this large tree limb on the walk back that was not there earlier...


Back at the entrance station we enjoyed the jaguar statue where Jacob and I posed for our only photo of the trip.

Complete checklist from the windy morning here.

We stopped for lunch in town before heading out on the long windy nauseating drive back to San Jose.  The road passes briefly by the Gulf of Nicoya where we decided to stop for some trip birds like Magnificent Frigatebird, Brown Pelican, Willet, and Laughing Gull.  A random birding tour group arrived shortly after us and Steve enjoyed disagreeing with their leader on gull ID.  A major highlight was seeing this Scarlet Macaw fly over:

Inca Dove on the beach, my final bird photos of the trip

Complete checklist from this spot here.

 We finally arrived at our final Airbnb for the night, a cute little spot close to the airport.  Some people, not me, saw a Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl and Cinnamon Hummingbird in the yard.

Overall it was an amazing trip!  I was shocked to have almost 250 lifers out of my 371 trip birds.  I think the group tally was around 400.  Many many thanks to Steve for organizing and to Caroline for being able to see birds so well!  Good times!!! 

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Costa Rica- Curi Cancha or Curicancha or Curi-Cancha Reserve or Refuge (Day 11)

On the eleventh day of our trip we had breakfast at Stella's Bakery which has some feeders, then headed to Curi-Cancha Reserve (or whatever variation of the name you prefer).


 Olivaceous Woodcreeper

 Curi-Cancha has agoutis and Olivaceous Woodcreepers, sure, but it is known for something far grander.  A bird that causes little old ladies to run up hills and old men to hug their guides with tears in their eyes.

The Resplendent Quetzal.  So grand.  So wild.  So ridiculous.

The misses is a bit less ornate but still lovely in her own right.

We happened to see a guide point these birds out, then mentioned a better view up a hill and to the right.  This lady took off running faster than you might expect:

Caroline stole my phone to take a photo of her because she loved her so much

The birds seem used to the crowds, thankfully.  At some point in the middle of quetzal excitement someone called out a Gray-crowned Yellowthroat.  I tore my eyes away for a minute to look at it and take one horrible photo.

We left the quetzal party to explore more of the trails.

White-eared Ground-Sparrow

 Cabanis's Wren

 The best Zonotrichia?  Rufous-collared Sparrow

 Slate-throated Redstart

 We came across another guide (same guide?) with a group looking at a Mottled Owl.  Views were not great but you can kind of tell it's an owl...

We stopped by an array of hummingbird feeders attended by Magenta-throated Woodstars, among others.

The feeders got crowded so we migrated over to a patch of porter weed nearby. I don't remember this next bird at all but I think it's a young male Yellow-crowned Euphonia.

Pereute charops, pretty sure

We headed back into the darker forested trails, looking mostly for ground birds.  At one point I saw a leaf move.  It was windy though so it took a minute before I confirmed there was a bird in there and it was moving leaves.  Leaftosser!

 Gray-throated Leaftosser, I promise you

Red-faced Spinetail, another bad photo of a good bird

At another point we heard movement on the ground but it was just a Black Guan creeping around super close to us.

We saw some interesting bugs on the ground which I think are adults and nymphs of pale red bugs, Dysdercus concinnus.

Mountain Thrush

 Golden-browed Chlorophonia

At some point we came across some birds acting strange.  Turned out to be an ant swarm!  Heading our way!  We had high hopes for interesting birds.

Lesson's Motmot

Ruddy Treerunners with leg bands

 Yellowish Flycatcher

 Black-headed Nightingale-Thrush

Unfortunately no real antbirds showed up but it was still a fun experience.  That Lesson's Motmot, though.  It was running around our feet catching insects fleeing the ants.  At one point I saw a bug near my feet, pointed at it and told the motmot to get it, and it did.

Watch the whole video for the excellent commentary from Steve.

After awhile of watching the ant swarm approach and no new birds showing up we decided to move on.  One more round of quetzal party...

Checklist from the day here.

We headed back into town for lunch (pizza) and dinner (pizza to go) and supplies (cookies).  While Jacob waited for the pizza to go, the rest of us wandered over to the market with natural foods, oreos and nutritional yeast.  As we were waiting to pay I looked through the window and saw a person placing their small child in a tree.  I thought it was strange, then saw them grabbing the child out of the tree while the child screamed.  Dummy parent was trying to get a photo of their kid with a monkey.  Ugh.

The monkey jumped from the tree to the roof and dangled around causing quite a pile-up of tourists which is not evident in the photo above.  Here's a good video of one such tourist:

After bringing everything back to the house we went over to the hummingbird feeder spot at Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve.

The feeders here are well attended and we had Green Hermit, Lesser Violetear, Green-crowned Brilliant, Purple-throated Mountain-gem, Magenta-throated Woodstar, Violet Sabrewing, Stripe-tailed Hummingbird, and Coppery-headed Emerald.

Female and male Purple-throated Mountain-gems

 Weird shot of a Green Hermit

 Purple-throated Mountain-gem and Stripe-tailed Hummingbird

 Violet Sabrewing

 Green-crowned Brilliants, Bananaquit, Lesser Violetear

 I had no idea the violet "ears" on the violetears would flare out when angsty

One last video for a more accurate depiction of the number of hummingbirds visiting these feeders:

 Another solid day of birding, only one more to go!!  Good times!!