Saturday, 28 March 2020

Costa Rica: 4th March 2020



4th March:

It dawned grey and murky and the plan was to head out and do the La Selva approach road before breakfast and with all the crew assembled we headed off down the road. The first back road we tried felt very birdy but Ramon was a little dubious about taking the bus down it so we only had a short poke about but it reaped rewards with the margins of some fields and paddocks holding Blue Black Grassquits and our first new species of the day with a pair of energetic Olive-crowned Yellowthroats bouncing around a boundary fence and in and out of the grasses. It was all a bit grey out there and a group of Black Vultures were sat up in a bare tree waiting for things to improve.


Olive-crowned Yellowthroat

Olive-crowned Yellowthroats - not great but you get the idea!

Black Vultures
A flycatcher demanded attention and quickly resolved into a dusky capped Tropical Peewee while squawking Amazons turned out to be pretty Red-lored Parrots who were sharing their tree with some very noisy Montezuma Oropendolas who were out looking for fibres for nest weaving.

Red-lored Parrot

Montezuma Oropendola

Orb Weaver
Doubling back we hit the main entrance road for an hour.  Steve was hoping that it would have been better but there was a lot of staff traffic in and out but we were all very happy with the results. Pigeons and Doves were a feature with Pale Vented Pigeons going over, snub faced Short-billed Pigeons singing from the wires, Grey Chested Doves plodding up a ride and a smart Scaled Pigeon serenading no one in particular from a tree top. 

Short-billed Pigeon

Scaled Pigeon

Grey Chested Doves
A pair of nicely barred Fasciated Antshrikes came to see us and Rufous Tailed Jacamar, female Black-throated Trogon and a tail-less Broad Billed Motmot adorned the lichen covered roadside cables.  

Black-throated Trogon - Steve Cullum

Broad Billed Motmot - Steve Cullum
Slaty-tailed and Gartered Trogons were also seen along with a couple of raucous Squirrel Cuckoos who seemed to be in the company of a Red-tailed Squirrel most of the time.  I am not quite sure where they get the name from? 

Squirrel Cuckoo
Yellow-throated Toucans sung a morning duet and a noisy Cocoa Woodcreeper showed nicely as it clambered upwards. The same tree also hosted a Woodpecker and with a bit of work we were able to confirm (with the white eyes) that it was a Rufous Winged. 

Rufous Winged Woodpecker
Lower down Red-throated Ant-Tanagers quite literally crashed through the vegetation and House Wren, Green Honeycreeper, Olive Backed Euphonia, Common Tody Flycatcher and White Collared Manakin were also picked up.  Chestnut-sided Warblers moved through the canopy and a Buff Rumped Warbler sang from a ditch.

Red-throated Ant-Tanager
It was almost inevitable that we would hear a Bright Rumped Attila but unlike every other day we actually saw this chunky flycatcher very well this time as it hunted up and down the drive way trees. Rufous-tailed Hummer and Long-billed Hermit fed avidly near the main gate and just before we left Gina found our final Puffbird – a White-necked sitting atop a dead tree much in the way of the Pied she found yesterday. All too soon breakfast beckoned.

White-necked Puffbird miles away!
Breakfast was interrupted by the bird table being stocked with fruit and the Passerini’s and Blue Grey Tanagers hastily arrived with Clay Coloured Thrushes. Red-throated and Summer Tanagers joined in and even came up onto the balcony to see if we had left them any titbits. 

Passerini’s Tanagers

Blue Grey Tanager

Red-throated Ant-Tanager

A ludicrously bright male Summer Tanager - Steve Cullum


Red-throated Ant-Tanager


Interesting fish near the dining room
There was time for a look off the bridge  but there was no Phoebe to see and only several Southern Rough-winged Swallows but the Bay Wrens were still in the same spot and I found a definitive Bay Breasted Warbler in the trees above. A Crowned Woodnymph dazzled us and a female Blue-chested Hummer was searching for insects actually on the bridge itself and even landed to search on foot on several occasions!

Bay Breasted Warbler

Blue-chested Hummingbird


Just for Steve - the Yellow Shrimp Plant

Tiny Wasps in a tiny paper nest

We said goodbye to the Rufous Motmot, Black-cowled Orioles, Orange Billed Sparrows and Aracaris and headed west.

The first part of the journey took us through farmland dominated by the sterile acres of glaucous Pineapple fields with not a blade of anything else green showing in the bare soil around them.  There were birds to be seen including the regular doves, pigeons, vultures, martins and flycatchers but it was generally a quiet trip punctuated by odd moments of excitement.
Swallow-tailed Kites, Broad-winged, Grey and our first Roadside and Harris’ Hawks were all seen along with a very nice hovering White-tailed Kite as we did a 360 to go back for a male Red-breasted Blackbird on a wire.

Harris’ Hawk - nice to see one without jesses

White-tailed Kite - like a bigger Black Shouldered Kite

White-tailed Kite

Red-breasted Blackbird
 
This dapper chap flew across the road and joined a female and a couple of Red-winged Blackbirds while the pasture was alive with low flying hirundines of four species.

As we entered La Fortuna we nabbed Feral Pigeon at last for the list before pulling up at a spot that looked like any other bit of town frontage. Common Ground Doves and Tropical Mockingbirds greeted us on the wires as we got off the bus.

Tropical Mockingbird

This was the privately created and managed nature reserve called Sendero Bogarin and we were warmly welcomed with fine Costa Rican hospitality and coffee.  It is still a work in progress and the ‘pond’ by the entrance area had a chap building a wall below us but the birds were flocking in.  


We had two sessions before and after a walk around the jungle grounds which allowed us to get incredibly close to some of the usual players including Passerini’s, Palm and Blue Grey Tanagers, Red-legged and Green Honeycreepers, Great Tailed Grackles, Hoffmann’s Woodpeckers, Buff-throated Saltators, Yellow-throated Euphonias, Tropical Kingbirds, Kiskadees and Clay Coloured Thrushes.  

Passerini’s Tanager

Passerini’s Tanager

Passerini’s Tanager -Steve Cullum
 
Blue Grey Tanager


Blue Grey Tanager

Palm Tanager

Red-legged Honeycreeper

Red-legged Honeycreeper
Green Honeycreeper

Green Honeycreeper
Clay Coloured Thrush
Clay Coloured Thrush - Steve Cullum

Kiskadee - Steve Cullum

Kiskadee

Great tailed Grackle

Great tailed Grackle

Great tailed Grackle

Yellow-throated Euphonias
Hoffmann's Woodpecker

However, there were additions with long-tailed chicken-like Grey Headed Chachalacas that popped in and out and took over the fruit bar and down below around the pond a dinky White-throated Crake slipped in and out of the edges. Adult Green Basilisks basked in the damp edges.

Grey Headed Chachalaca

Grey Headed Chachalaca - 'Mum told me to be careful where I stuck my head...'

Grey Headed Chachalaca

Grey Headed Chachalaca - Steve Cullum
 
White-throated Crake - Steve Cullum


White-throated Crake

Green Basilisk

Green Basilisk

Green Basilisk
Hyped on a coffee or two we set off for a circular walk.  The owner had told Steve that he had Keel-billed Motmots as well as the very shy Uniform Crake (no, it is not dressed up as a Policeman or suchlike). We started well with a Brown Throated Three Toed Sloth with a youngster watching us from the canopy and just a little further on a Hoffmann’s two Toed Sloth did likewise but without an infant attached.

Brown Throated Three Toed Sloths

Hoffmann’s Two Toed Sloth
Yellow-throated Toucans crashed about and a Golden Olive Woodpecker showed well if briefly. Steve played the call of the Keel-billed Motmot and got an immediate response. A Broad-billed appeared right in front of us followed immediately by the Keel-billed! Apparently not only do they sound almost identical but are often found together. But this is a very tricky species to connect with and you could tell Steve and Gina were as pleased as us.

Keel-billed Motmot

Keel-billed Motmot

Keel-billed Motmot - Steve Cullum
Keel-billed Motmot - Steve Bird

No orange tones on this species with shades of green and blue making it even more adept at blending into the foliage. 

Broad-billed Motmot

Broad-billed Motmot

Broad-billed Motmot
We could hear the Uniform Crakes singing but they would not come into the open so we pushed on and discovered a pair of Barred Antshrikes complete with punky crests and a Black Vulture let us walk right past it on a log where presumably it was waiting to hop down after something dead!

Black Vulture

Black Vulture


Black Vulture - Steve Cullum - just realised that this is not the same bird as my one! Must have missed the second bird!


Just around the next corner the Uniform Crakes started singing again and this time by hunkering down on the path and remaining still and silent we were able to get everyone onto this, well, uniformly ginger and brown unmarked crake with a pale bill and glowing red legs.
White Collared Manakins snap crackle and popped at us on the last stretch and some Morelet’s Seedeaters greeted us as we got back for our packed lunch that Ramon had magically procured. 

The feeders gave us more chance to marvel at the exuberance of Costa Rican birdlife while I got distracted by two more White-throated Crakes on another pond around the back where a Marshish looking Vaillant's Frog also lurked along with some damselflies.

White-throated Crake
White-throated Crake - Steve Bird

Vaillant's Frog
Red-striped Rubyspot (Hetaerina miniata)

Pacific Wedgetail (Acanthagrion trilobatum) - Steve Bird

Racket-tipped Rubyspot (Hetaerina occisa) - Steve Bird
Green Honeycreeper

Green Honeycreeper - Steve Cullum

Red-legged Honeycreeper - Steve Cullum

Red-legged Honeycreeper

Red-legged Honeycreeper

Red-legged Honeycreeper

Red-legged Honeycreeper
Passerini's Tanager

Passerini's Tanager - Steve Cullum

Steve gave me ten minutes to go explore again before we left and I followed a funny song that sounded awfully like a tinny Reed Bunting. I looked up and a Scaly Breasted Hummingbird was looking down at me and singing with all his might with his white tipped tail fanned wide for all to see. 

Scaly Breasted Hummingbird
All the Tanagers and Thrushes were kicking off in the undergrowth but I could not see the predator that was freaking them out but I was soon distracted by being face to face with the Three Toed Sloth and youngster from earlier. She had obviously been down for her weekly ablutions and was already about three feet back off the ground.

Brown Throated Three Toed Sloths



Brown Throated Three Toed Sloths - Steve Cullum
I jogged back to the group and sent everyone off for a look but without telling them what for. What a real privilege to encounter this gentle creature at ground level.

Enlivened by this productive stop (and more coffee) we moved on with Arenal looming in the cloud in front of us.  Every now and then a bit more of it would appear alongside but i do not think any of us quite expected where we were actually staying.
Several more Swallow-tailed Kites drifted by and our first Southern Lapwings paraded in a paddock with some truly enormous sheep – so big in fact that there was actually a discussion about what else they could have been!

Arenal in the cloud

Southern Lapwing

Southern Lapwing - Steve Cullum
Another brief stop gave us a couple of chunky Thick Billed Seed-finches – like another hitch in the pointy bit scale from Blue-Black Grassquit through Variable Seedeater both of which were also seen alongside the road.  Two Grey Crowned Yellowthroats fortuitously appeared on the same fence line and even hopped down into the road for us to see better.

Ramon told us when we turned onto the road to Arenal proper and we checked the verges for life but only picked up another Roadside Hawk and a couple of Coatis before a stop at gushing river added Black Phoebe for everyone else and a fine Fasciated Tiger Heron (like the Bare-throated but without the well.. you know). They prefer fast flowing clear water which is why we had not seen one prior to this.

Fasciated Tiger Heron



American Poke Berry

American Poke berry - loved by warblers in the autumn on Lesvos
A glance on the other side as we pulled away added another one standing motionless in a tributary streamlet.

Fasciated Tiger Heron
 
Up we climbed and soon we were at the Arenal Observatory LodgeAOL. I could see through to the veranda overlooking a pole covered in Oropendolas and a big black thing flapped across for half a second... Curassow my brain said but I was being good and did not run off.
Dad and I trundled our bags down slope to our lodge with a balcony overlooking the gardens, rain forest and the mighty Arenal Volcano. Oh my word...





I did not unpack but dumped the bags and scuttled (sorry, but I did) back up to the veranda by the dining room to be greeted by a female Great Curassow perched up on the bird table in all her barred chestnut glory!  She put up her regal curly crest in black and white and hopped back down to join three more underneath in the company of a whole boisterous troop of Coatis.  Grey Headed Chachalacas, Crested Guans, greedy Collared Aracaris, a posse of Brown Jays and acrobatic Montezuma Oropendolas clambered around the branches of the high fruit feeder. Quite how the branches took all this big bird mass I do not know. 

Great Curassow

Great Curassow - shaking her head in disbelief that the 'nanas had run out

Great Curassow with Coati buddy
 
Crested Guan


Crested Guan - Steve Cullum

Grey Headed Chachalaca - Steve Cullum

Collared Aracari

Collared Aracari

Brown Jay -  youngster I think

Brown Jay 
Montezuma Oropendola

Montezuma Oropendola - building up to display

and over he goes in full other wordly blowing bubbles mode

down and under then back up again


Montezuma Oropendola - Steve Cullum

Montezuma Oropendola - Steve Cullum
The male Great Curassow now strutted in with his oily black plumage and even curlier head plumes that gleamed like he had applied a surfeit of old style pomade (like my Grandad Stan used to) to a 1980’s Lionel Ritchie perm. To be honest I reckon that his harem had better looks.

Great Curassow- 'Hello, is it me you're looking for?'

Great Curassow - like a Black Scoter jammed into a Wild Turkey
It feels bad to say ‘the usual Tanagers’ but you know which ones were all in attendance but amongst them were several smart Golden Hooded and a pair of gleaming Emeralds.  It was now raining lightly but it did not deter the birds with Black-cheeked Woodpeckers, Yellow-throated Euphonias, Red-legged and Green Honeycreepers and Baltimore Orioles dropping in to feed.

Golden Hooded Tanager



Golden Hooded Tanager - love this against the coroded copper feeder baffle

Golden Hooded Tanager - Steve Cullum

Emerald Tanager - Steve Cullum
 
Emerald Tanager


Emerald Tanager

Black Cheeked Woodpecker

Black Cheeked Woodpecker

Yellow-throated Euphonia
Red-lored Parrots flew over and a Masked Tityra sat high in a tree top while below us in the flower beds were Rufous tailed, Green and Stripe-throated Hermits and several Bananaquits foraged and House Wrens were singing.  A big sparrow hopped out – olive with a black and grey stripy head – Black Striped – the twin of Olive Sparrow that we saw on the first full day.

Red-lored Parrot

Red-lored Parrot

Black Striped Sparrow

Black Striped Sparrow


A local craft beer moment..
And a quite large and well jawed metallic Wasp sp

A splendid little Dolichopodidae sp

There was time for a pre-dinner walk around the gardens and in between showers we did very well with Summer and our first Hepatic Tanager around the Reception area and a selection of Hummers feeding on the Verbena beds with the gleaming Violet Headed and an immature male Black Crested Coquette with a white bum band as well as more Rufous-taileds.  Scaly Breasted Hummers were picked up singing from little bare twigs and I do not think that I saw one feeding for more than a few seconds at any stage during the trip. 

Black Crested Coquette

Black Crested Coquette

Violet Headed HB - nice post ocular spot

Scaly Breasted HB after a rain shower
Red-billed Pigeons were seen well at last although yellow-billed would be more apt and Melodious Blackbirds poked about the lawns.  This is a fast colonising species in Costa Rica and it was the first time Steve and Gina had seen them up here.

Social and Grey Capped Flycatchers hunted from the wires and a Black-cowled Oriole put in an appearance before it was time to head back for dinner. I can't say that I remember the log - again. Quite a day.

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