Monday, 23 March 2020

Costa Rica: 2nd March 2020



2nd March:

I had a lie in till just before 5am and headed out into the Villa Lapas Howler filled pre-dawn.  Angie was already outside having made a determined effort to hear the Spectacled Owls and we set off up river on a pre pre-breakfast walk. Mealies and Macaws were up early and down by the river the Buff Rumped Warblers were in full song again and Northern Waterthrushes, Chestnut Sided and Yellow Warblers added variety.

A black bird landed in front and I thought White Shouldered Tanager but the proportions and bill were wrong and there was no white.  A quick phone search and Blue Black Grosbeak found its way onto our lists.  A chunky species with a very metallic call.

Time was short before the others assembled but there was still time to find and catch the most enormous and beautiful Buprestid I have ever seen.  When I scurried back and asked Dad for the pot I resisted saying ‘We’re going to need a bigger pot...’

Buprestid


It only just went in but was confined for only a short time until I could show it to the others and Phil in particular. It posed nicely on a leaf after release and you would see why they are called Jewel Beetles.

Mealy Parrot

A Lineated Woodpecker got things off to a good start and the Blue Black Grosbeak showed again for everyone else which was good.  I found a Sulphur Rumped Myiobius whilst they were looking at the Grosbeak and this time the glowing rump was seen well too and the Attilas were singing well once again.

Villa lapas gardens

Lineated Woodpecker

A White Whiskered Puffbird was perched up not far from our first sighting and a male Gartered Trogon hooted way up the slope where a Great Crested Flycatcher became our first new FC of the day.

White Whiskered Puffbird
We walked further than last time intent on finding Northern Royal Flycatcher but there was no response but it was not a wasted walk with another river crossing discovered where a Crested Guan crashed into the canopy and we had our first glimpse of a White-nosed Coati as he crossed a log bridge. 



Shaky first Coati encounter

A Northern Bentbill sang and showed off his Gonzo briefly and Buff Rumps flashed across the rocks. We stood quietly and Summer Tanagers appeared and the cicada soundscape washed over us.

Buff Rumped Warbler

Buff Rumped Warbler - Steve Cullum

Summer Tanager

The Long-tailed Manakins were displaying near to the path as we returned and a couple of males showed superbly.  Those tail streamers are simply magnificent!  

Long-tailed Manakin

Long-tailed Manakin

Long-tailed Manakin - Steve Cullum

We hit a hot patch at this spot with a couple of hefty Northern Barred-Woodcreepers galloping up the trunks with noisy Red-crowned Ant-Tanagers with two Grey-Headed Tanagers crashing through the lower storeys.  The Long-tailed Hermits were near but not at their lek and a Streaked Flycatcher watched us from a bough.

Northern Barred-Woodcreeper
 
Northern Barred-Woodcreeper - Steve Cullum
Ramon then called that he had seen an interesting flycatcher and as if by magic the Northern Royal appeared right in front of us and gave a great low level display. No, it did not raise that ridiculous regal sidewise crest but you could see the anvil shaped head plumes in which it lives.

Northern Royal Flycatcher

Northern Royal Flycatcher

Northern Royal Flycatcher - Steve Cullum

Cherrie’s Scarlet Rumped Tanagers and Common Tody Flycatchers followed us on the final stretch to breakfast.

Cherrie’s Scarlet Rumped Tanager

Common Tody Flycatcher
 
Grey-capped Flycatcher- Steve Cullum
One of the two slinky cats in the breakfast area - the only two we saw all trip
Time to move on. Our journey took us back to San Jose and then up and out the other side past Coffee plantations and then into rolling lush upland pastureland with cattle.  Urban House Sparrows, Grackles, White Winged Doves and Ruddy Ground Doves were seen and Grey and Zone-tailed Hawk were both noted before Eastern Meadowlarks appeared on field posts with their yellow breasts shining in the sun and a single Chestnut Headed Oropendola became our first of this tribe.

Coffee hillside

Meadowlark country

Lunch was booked for a hillside cafe called Cinchona overlooking a distant cascading waterfall. It also happened to have our first proper bird tables and hummingbird feeders. The next couple of hours either side of a hasty repast were an emotional blur of in your face bird action. I simply did not know which way to look.  Seventeen new species were added at stupidly close range. 



Hummingbirds battled over the feeders which unfortunately were mostly in the shade with huge (in hummer terms) Violet Sabrewings decked out in gleaming purple livery with snow white tails, aggressive Rufous taileds, hook billed Green Hermits with the tell tale tail streamers, shining Green Crowned Brilliants, tiny Coppery Headed Emeralds with white tail sides and even smaller (if that is possible) Green Thorntails where even the females are eye catching. 

Violet Sabrewing

Violet Sabrewing

Violet Sabrewing

Violet Sabrewing - Steve Cullum
Rufous-tailed HB

Green Hermit

Green Hermit

Green Hermit

Green Crowned Brilliant

Green Crowned Brilliant

Green Crowned Brilliant

Green Crowned Brilliant

Coppery Headed Emerald

Coppery Headed Emerald

Green Crowned Brilliant and two
Coppery Headed Emeralds

Green Thorntail

Green Thorntail

Green Thorntail

Green Thorntail - female

Green Thorntail - female

A voice called out ‘Fancy seeing you here!’ Charlie and Anna had dropped in for lunch at the end of their own three week tour.  Charlie took me on most of my mid-to late 1980’s first twitches often with Ian Lycett and Nik Borrow including the Northern Parula and Swainson’s Thrush following the Great Storm of ’87.  It was nice to see them both.   

They were particularly after a missing Hummer – Black-bellied, but unfortunately it waited till after they had left to come into the feeders and land right in front of me. It was a coal black little beast with green uppers and a tiny patch of rufous visible in the closed wing. Sorry folks!

Black Bellied HB

Black Bellied HB

Black Bellied HB

The fruit boards were slathered in a multitude of Tanagers with gleaming Silver-throateds in the majority.  The yellows in the plumage were astonishing and they shared their grub with the familiar Palm, Blue Grey and what appeared to be Cherrie’s Tanagers except for from here onwards they would become Passerini’s Scarlet Rumped Tanagers.  The males are identical but the females are remarkably different being drabber without any of the orangey in the breast or rump.  It would seem that, for the time being, these two have been lumped but I will call them Passerini’s from here on for correctness.


Silver-throated Tanagers with Blue Grey Tanager & Baltimore Oriole

Silver-throated Tanagers

Silver-throated Tanagers

Silver-throated Tanagers - Steve Cullum
 
Blue Grey Tanager

Blue Grey & Silver Throated Tanager

Passerini’s Tanager

Passerini’s Tanager

A couple of male Summer Tanagers joined in and the very heavyset Crimson Collared Tanager was a bully whenever he dropped by.  Smaller, compact Common Bush Tanagers fed around the edges and the two species of Barbet visited a few times with the very strikingly marked female Red-headed and the front heavy Prong-billed. The latter does indeed have a little protrusion from the lower mandible overlapping each side of the upper.

Summer Tanager

Summer Tanager

Crimson Collared Tanager

Crimson Collared Tanager

Crimson Collared Tanager

Crimson Collared Tanager

Common Bush Tanager

Common Bush Tanager
Baltimore Orioles and Buff-throated Saltators battled it out with Clay Coloured Thrushes but everyone moved out of the way of the Blue-throated Toucanets.  Three visited and wolfed down any fruit they could find with a casual flick and head toss.  

Baltimore Oriole

Baltimore Oriole

Baltimore Oriole

Baltimore Oriole - Steve Cullum

Buff-throated Saltator

Buff-throated Saltator & Tanager buddies

Clay Coloured Thrush & Tanager buddies
 
female Red-headed Barbet

female Red-headed Barbet

female Red-headed Barbet

Prong-billed Barbet - avec prongs!

Prong-billed Barbet

 
Blue-throated Toucanet








Blue-throated Toucanet - the light kept changing and so did their colours!

Mr Bird and a Toucanet

I think it was as much the riot of colour that assaulted my senses as the sheer variety of new birds. The clashes between the electric blues of a Red-legged Honeycreeper against the yellow, silver, blacks and reds of the tanagers, the oriole oranges, toucanet greens and shining greens and purples of the hummers quite literally fried my head.  I was shaking and grinning inanely (again).  

Red-legged Honeycreeper & Silver-throated Tanager

Four species mash up!

.. and five in this one
But there was more. Bananaquits zipped in and out to the hummer feeders but also found a single banana flower to visit and Tennessee Warblers snuck in for a snack while a whopping great big shiny Black Guan with a blue face and red eyes devoured an entire plank of nailed fruit in minutes!

Bananaquit


Tennessee Warbler

Black Guan

Black Guan

There was chance that we might see Buff-fronted Quail-Dove and after a short while one walked below us through the herbage showing the purpley back and greyish front half.  Fortunately there were further sightings and my rubbish pictures show that they were two birds – one being much neater and better marked and even showing the buff front above the bill.  

Buff-fronted Quail-Dove

Buff-fronted Quail-Dove - both of these are of the scruffy one

All this looking down resulted in a nice Wood Thrush and a very splendid Chestnut Capped Brush-finch which bounded around in shades of olive, black, white and orange.

And we must not forget the greedy Variegated Squirrel!

Variegated Squirrel




Lunch was great and I did remember to have a brief look at the spectacular waterfall cascading off the escarpment!



We all boarded the bus in a bit of a daze and continued on our way before a long layby and a fine view halted our progress.  A vast wooded valley ran alongside us below and at least seven Swallow-tailed Kites glided in lazy circles over the distant tree tops while White Collared Swifts careened past us with scarcely a wing beat. A Bat Falcon watched us the whole time from a snag and gave excellent scope views but we were all somewhat distracted by the troop of female and young Coatis that appeared out of the grass to scavenge on the bunches bananas obviously left out for them.  Further down the layby some locals were foolishly trying to hand feed them. They were inquisitive but more intent on looking for food than worrying about  what we were doing.

There be Kites down there!


Bat Falcon

A better Bat Falcon - Steve Cullum

White Nosed Coati




Large red ants scissoring through the dumped 'nanas - look at the left hand two!

Ian, Ramon, Steve C and a Coati

Onwards to our Lodge at Selva Verde. We arrived in the humid gardens and wended our way through to our raised up Lodges. It was time to explore before dinner.  Manakins were whip cracking in the tree within our compound and Steve casually mentions White-collared.  A male soon sat up in a blaze of white, yellow and black. An excellent start to proceedings followed swiftly by two Collared Aracaris in the same fruiting tree along with two Green Honeycreepers and a Black-cheeked Woodcreeper.

I thought that we were done for bird deluge for the day but I was wrong.  They just kept on coming on our short walk around with Great Green Macaws lumbering overhead with smaller Finch’s Parakeets with red underwing patches whizzing through. Streak Headed and Northern Barred Woodcreepers clambered around and Yellow-throated Toucans were heading off to roost while a solid ginger flycatcher became a Rufous Mourner which confirmed its id by responding accordingly. A Stripe-throated Hermit and several Rufous-tailed Hummers whizzed around the garden blooms.

Northern Barred Woodcreeper

Lobster Claw

And Capsid bug

Orange Billed Sparrows were confiding in the flower borders and these beds even held a Chestnut Backed Antbird. Some raucous chattering gave us our second Ant-Tanager of the day with Red-throated and two male Black-cowled Orioles were involved in the beginnings of a palm fibre nest strung up under a banana leaf and were completely unconcerned by our presence.

Black-cowled Oriole

Black-cowled Oriole

Our little party headed for the suspension bridge high over the river and scanned for water loving birds but had to be content with Spot Sands, Snowy Egrets and a Little Blue Heron.  In fact there was one new species here with a silky, white throated Louisiana Waterthrush picking flies out of an eddy.  More Toucans and Macaws drifted over.





Starfruit

Not sure
Whilst investigating under the lodges (to get to the river bank!) we found no snakes but hundreds of Ant Lion pits

Back for dinner passing two huge Green Iguanas in a tree on the way. Even dinner provided us with some wildlife with two Hawkmoths, a huge Harlequin Long-horn Beetle and a very large species of Darner Dragonfly inside the dining room and several House Geckos on the outside wondering how to get to the crunchy delights within.

Green Iguana

Green Iguana - my, what a huge dewlap!

Mayan Evening Darner (Neuraeschns maya)

A post dinner walk for nightlife gave me our first proper blue striped Red-eyed Tree Frogs with several males in a ginger including a pair in a romantic clinch.  Cane Toads hopped around but we still could not find a Fer de Lance!  The moth sheet was rubbish and had only attracted a few little beetles, some nano-moths and one rusty scarab type but I did find an Owl Butterfly cat and a spiky Tiger-type cat on the path.

 
Scarab

Red-eyed Tree Frogs

Owl Butterfly cat

Tiger-type moth cat
 
Skeletal looking Millipede
A couple of Crickets with amazingly long antenna were found and a Wood Thrush was roosting up above our heads.  Another couple out frogging asked if we had seen the Great Potoo... umm... no, we said.  We followed them up the bridge and there in our torches was the long-tailed ovoid shape of my first Potoo illuminated against the starry sky.

Wood Thrush

Great Potoo and Orions Belt! I suspect the two have never appeared in a sentence before

If this was not a perfect way to end the day then the Nine-banded Armadillo that the Night Porter pointed out to Dad and I as it snuffled and grumbled its way through the undergrowth below our veranda certainly was!

Nine-banded Armadillo - crunchy on the outside - soft in the middle

It was very hot and humid and the glassless windows merely had fretwork shutters which meant that the grumpy barking House Geckos sounded like they were having  shouty conversations with each other in your head as you were trying to doze off but with so much to relive, sleep came easy.


2 comments:

  1. Imagine if the travel ban had kicked in and you had to stay in Costa Rica for 12 weeks!!

    Enjoying the escape from isolation in sunny Norn Iron

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great blog. This is the quote of the week :
    When I scurried back and asked Dad for the pot I resisted saying ‘We’re going to need a bigger pot...’ Classic :-)

    ReplyDelete

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.