Monday 11 April 2022

Costa Rica - Day 5 – 17th March 2022

We awoke before dawn to the already constant background hum of the cicadas and the going to bed sounds of the Pauraque and as the Clay Coloured Thrushes slowly woke and were joined by the House Wrens, Guans, Toucans and Tanagers, we ambled out for a pre breakfast look.  The priority was to check on the Sicklebill Heliconias which were of course lacking fancy HBs.

The Brown Hooded Parrots came down low and showed well and White-crowned and Red-lored passed over along with a flock of 15 Olive-throated Parakeets. The Verbena bank was next and I stopped to listen watch a Green Hermit and it almost cost me my first Brown Violetear as it zipped around and then off up into the trees.  There were also Blue-throated Sapphire, Black-crested Coquette, Voilet Headed, Scaly-breasted, Rufous-tailed and Stripe-throated Hermits in attendance.

Stripe-throated Hermit

What followed was a somewhat traumatic five seconds. Someone said ‘what’s that with the white head?’  Steve shouts ‘Snowcap by the red bush’ I latch onto the red bush and see no gleaming white spot. There are ‘ooohs’ and ‘ahhs’ and then ‘there it goes!’ The horror…  it has gone and I had missed it.  I try to smile and say ‘oh well’ but inside I am going ‘NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!’ Quite simply, apparently the red bush was in fact the green one and I was looking the wrong way.

The scene of Snowcap distress

Steve assured me not to worry and that that he had things in hand; I would just have to be patient.  I promised not to mention the species from then on and trusted Steve to remedy my loss!

Packs of Baltimore Orioles moved into the forest with a couple of Black-cowled Orioles and a few commoner Tanagers in tow and four Collared Aracari were alongside the road as we ambled back up for breakfast where a Rufous Winged Woodpecker was obligingly poking around a trunk and showing off the pale eyes.

Rufous Winged Woodpecker

The Barred Antshrike joined us in the building as part of his morning cut through circuit and a female White-vented Euphonia was with the Yellow-throateds on the tables with some glorious Golden Hooded and Passerini’s Tanagers. A Yellow-bellied Elaenia dropped in briefly and a Common Tody Flycatcher actually stopped in the open for more than a second.  That bill is strangely big and wide when seen from a selection of angles!

Barred Antshrike 

Barred Antshrike - Ken Copleston

Golden Hooded Tanager

Golden Hooded Tanager

Golden Hooded Tanager

Passerini's SCTanager

Red-legged Honeycreeper

Variable Seedeater

Yellow-bellied Elaenia

With a smidgen of time before we were due to depart on our next walk, I ventured back down to the Verbena in the hope of a large slice of luck but to no avail although I did see the Bay Wrens very well as they collected nesting material. To compound my Hummingbird horrors, Julie had the Sicklebill appear briefly in front of her just after I moved on.  It was beginning to feel like one of those days but there would be solace in the jungle.

Bay Wren

We started off with some serious hard stares from a group of Capuchins in the same roadside fruiting tree as yesterday before descending once again into the ravine. 

White-faced Capuchins

White-faced Capuchins - Andy Reid

This time we conducted a full circuit with a similar suite as the afternoon before but with a little bit more in the way of reward. Scale Crested Pygmy Tyrants put on a great show and a Bentbill (another odd little flycatcher) came in for a look and stopped for just two seconds before flicking away once again. Both species have very strange songs.  The Carmiol’s Tanagers were noisily moving through and the Pied Wagtail-like ‘chiswick’ of Lesser Greenlet was at last pinned on the bird.  Wedge-billed Woodcreepers were seen going up trunks but were not the only climbers with two Alfaro’s Pygmy Squirrels also noted.  There were the usual Warblers, Orioles and Tanagers moving through the canopy and we also picked up a female White-ruffed Manakin that posed long enough to check for salient features as well as a dusky Grey Chested Dove that crept across the forest floor. Others could be heard mournfully ‘whoooing’.

White-ruffed Manakin

There were quite a few flowers and berries to be found and while looking at the impressive red Passionflowers we were interrupted by two inquisitive White Breasted Wood-Wrens.

Anthurium consobrinum 

Centropogon solanifolius 

Faramea suerrensis

Notopleura uliginosa

Passiflora vitifolia

A party of bird moved through the slope below us but you had to be really quick to get onto them and it was impossible to see everything but thankfully the two new species lingered just long enough with a Spotted Barbtail (a Furnarid) at the base of a tree and a pair of dinky Stripe-headed Ant-Vireos just a few meters away.  Further down a Northern Shiffornis (a type of Manakin) was sadly singing and a pair of Green Honeycreepers were found investigating a mossy tree in the sunlight where a Helicopter Damselfly and a stunning Glass-wing Butterfly were also found. As we neared the road once more we could hear Collared Aracaris and the Lemon Meringues and a pair of Olive Backed Euphonias were feeding quite low down.

Green Honeycreeper

Green Honeycreeper - female - Andy Reid

Green Honeycreeper - male - Andy Reid

Quite possibly Long-tailed Helicopter - Mecistogaster linearis

Wow - Andy Reid's camera picked up a few extra details in the low light!

A selection of leaf mines

Back home I would have had a look inside this careful leaf roll... mmm...

Looking back at the Lodge

Distant wasp nest

The Bay Wre
ns followed us back to the hotel and several Pale Vented Thrushes were back in the fruiting tree. Another fine lunch that was interrupted by a King Vulture soaring across the valley and a pair of Masked Tityras in a large tree way down the gardens. Another few spare minutes for the Snowcap – still no luck but I did miss the Sicklebill again! Three Gartered Trogons counter sang from the trees behind and a Squirrel Cuckoo perched up in the open for me as I stared at purple flowers.

Black-cheeked Woodpecker

Gartered Trogon

Golden Hooded Tanager - Andy Reid

Grey-capped Flycatcher with Soldier Beetle

which went down the wrong hole...

King Vulture

Squirrel Cuckoo

Yellow-throated Toucan

Chancing our Motmot luck we now headed down the valley and then back up to Finca Verde where access permissions were negotiated. The route around the gardens and dry forest was slightly different than before but as it was we ended up hearing the tiny Tody Motmot in almost exactly the same spot as last time and with patience everyone was able to get some very nice views and I was actually pleased that there are no pictures because everyone concentrated on actually looking at this most prized of birds. With a showy Lesson’s Motmot a few minutes before were on our way to once again notching up all six species. Lemon Meringues showed well after some hard work (Jacqui saw then at last!) and Wood Thrushes, White-tipped Doves, Orange-billed Sparrows and Northern Waterthrushes kicked around the leaf litter where a quite chunky brown Lizard (not a Basilisk) was doing likewise. Dusky-capped Flycatchers were on the woodland edge and I found an amazing little butterfly with not only a fake head but two movable ‘antenna’ tails and a general wing shape that was completely back to front although it refused to wiggle them in my video.

Lesson’s Motmot

Dusky Capped Flycatcher

Lemon Meringue - aka White Collared Manakin

Etlingera elatior 

Phaius tankervilleae - a non native

I may have called it the Testicle Tree (Tabernaemontana donnell-smithii).
The Spanish name of Huevos de caballo (Horses Eggs) suggest I was not too far off!

Termite nest

Dad smooching a fine buttress...

If Mr Messy did leaf mines...

The Back-to-Front Butterfly

We had a coffee and then headed back up the valley stopping at another Verbena garden that we check in 2020.  They may not have been Snowcaps here either but there were Rufous Tailed and Stripe-throated Hermits as well as Blue-Black Grassquits and a singing male Large-billed Finch that came in for a closer look. Grove-billed Anis moved across the pasture and as usual were invariably in groups of three while Swallow-tailed Kites spiralled above and Crested Guans, Toucans and Red-lored Parrots could be seen up the hill side.

Large-billed Finch

Chill out time pre-dinner – umm no… back to check on the flowers where the Violet Headed HBs were particularly showy and as I walked back in the low light a sharp ‘tsik’ drew me to a male Blue-Black Grosbeak in the same clumps as I saw the Bays Wrens in earlier.

Blue Black Grosbeak

Steve was already out with his bat detector with Argentine, Hoary and Desert Red (a widespread and highly migratory species) all being picked up as they flew around the hotel lights while two heavyset Short-tailed Nighthawks drifted over like slow flying bats before we headed back in for dinner. A deep barking ‘whoo’ was heard as we convened and Steve and Gina kindly added Crested Owl to the list and after dinner most of us went out for a listen and soon heard the bird woofing at the end of the drive. Ten minutes later we had this mighty Owl in the light and showing marvellously. Such amazing eyebrows. He soon dropped back onto cover and we left him be. An American couple (extreme runners) had tagged along and had never seen an owl before – they were so impressed.

Crested Owl 

Almost all my early morning memories of Snowcap trauma were swept away…

New Birds: * = life tick ** = new to Costa Rica but previously seen elsewhere

19: Brown Violetear HB *

20: White-vented Euphonia *

21: White-ruffed Manakin *

22: Northern Shiffornis *

23: Spotted Barbtail *

24: Stripe-headed Ant-Vireo*

25: Crested Owl *

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