Friday 27 May 2022

Costa Rica - Day 13- 25th March 2022

Everyone was up early today for a pre-breakfast trundle up the road at Savegre to the spot where we first had Resplendent Quetzal in 2020.  They were nesting in the same general area and several tour groups were already quietly on the road waiting for their first glimpse.  The light was poor but it did not make any difference because a Quetzal glows with an inner green regardless of the light conditions. The male soon arrived and worked his way in for the first nest change of the day. He did not go in as she exited though and sat around looking rather non-plussed.  There was the sound of camera machine guns all around but to be honest it was a savour with your bins type of morning.

Essence of Greenness

There were other birds to be seen with Ruddy Capped Nightingale-Thrushes hopping around and Long-tailed Silky-flycatchers and Sooty-capped Chlorospingus were collecting moss.  I heard a call that I knew to be Mountain Elaenia (although funnily enough I could not describe it to you now) and found two of this soft and subtle flycatcher in the roadside bushes with a smart skull capped Wilson’s Warbler for company.

Ruddy Capped Nightingale-Thrush

Long-tailed Silky-flycatcher

Sooty-capped Chlorospingus

It was quite cool and coffee and waffles was calling (me at least) so we came back before our trip up through the jungle to a more elevated start point.  It is amazing what you can see between breakfast and an 8.30 meet time! Spotted Wood-Quails were being very vocal but refused to do so anywhere near me and kept just out of sight up slope. The gardens were as superb as I remembered them with Long-tailed Silkies almost always on view or calling over like oddly proportioned trilling Waxwings. Mountain Elaenias and both Mountain and Clay Coloured Thrushes were around and I found four Rose-breasted Grosbeaks including a couple of females feasting on tiny berries and a smart little Black-throated Green Warbler was gleaning under leaves in the same tree.

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

 Black-throated Green Warbler

Cecropia moth sp

Hawkmoth sp

The Hummingbird feeders had Rufous and Stripe Tailed, White-throated Mountain Gems, Green Violetears, Talamanca, Volcano and Scintillant. Baltimore Orioles and Flame Coloured Tanagers moved through the bushes where Slaty Flowerpiecers were doing what they do best to the Cannas.

Green Violetear

Green Violetear nest with two monster young!

White-throated Mountain Gem

Up above there were Collared Swifts and Blue and White Swallows and a small flock of Sulphur Winged Parakeets hurtled across the valley. Swallow-tailed Kites joined a small kettle of Broad Winged Hawks and Steve and I saw a stunning local race Red-tailed Hawk that had got its eye on the curious large grey, big eared,  bounding rodent that we were hastily following in front of some chalets! Some Googling suggests that it could only have been a Big Eared Climbing Rat which was a new one on both of us!

Slaty Flowerpiecer doing what she does best

Slaty Flowerpiecer

Long-tailed Silky Flycatcher

Long-tailed Silky Flycatcher

Blue & White Swallows

A sky dotted with Broad-winged Hawks

 Red-tailed Hawk

Melodious Blackbird and Tropical Mockingbird were both singing from high points down near the garden centre and Acorn and the dark dirty looking local Hairy Woodpeckers briefly shared the same tall snag.

Tropical Mockingbird

Our jeeps arrived and we all piled in for the ride up the slope through the jungle to a better starting point. A Northern Tufted Flycatcher greeted us when we got out along with gangs of noisy Acorn Woodpeckers. Seeing such a lot of white in the wing of a Woodpecker in flight takes some getting used to.

Northern Tufted Flycatcher

We started up the trail with Grey Breasted Wood Wrens on either side and we even got some excellent views and then a rather smart Buff Fronted Quail Dove just walked across the path in front of us with his little head bobbing away which was a nice bonus. Black-faced Solitaires were mournfully singing but finding small stuff was tricky as most of it seemed to be way up in the canopy. We could hear Ruddy and Band-tailed Pigeons and eventually saw both while a Yellowish Flycatcher stopped for a while and fed around us.

Conopholis americana I think

Fuchsia paniculata

Yellowish Flycatcher 

Once again we barely went beyond the big tree across the path but it felt quiet so we retraced our steps but we did find Collared Whitestart and discovered that the song of Ochraceous Wren is very similar to it. This Wren is like a yellow-buff version of our own. A Solitaire was seen quite high up and Golden Browed Chlorophonia was heard whistling.

A fairly random call peaked Steve’s interest and he suggested Lineated Foliage-gleaner and then promptly found it on the other side of the gully – a big Furnariid with plain russet wings and tail, a pale throat and cream streaks.  It put on a good show for us as it poked around under the big leaves.

Spot Crowned Woodcreepers were found a little lower down and the singing of a male Quetzal drew us to splendid specimen on a big bare branch. His tail was amazingly long and moving with the breeze. A Sooty Capped Flycatcher popped up just in front and then I spotted a large Furnariid in the next tree where it was poking around in some Bromeliads. I put my bins up and although I knew what it was, in my excitement I could not get the correct words out in anything like the right order.

Resplendent Quetzal 

Sooty Capped Flycatcher

Hence this most wondrous of birds with such a special name became a Tufty F#*&ing Buffy F*@” Cheek or words to that effect in a similar order.  I may have even stamped my feet like a five year old in my frustration but I did get everyone onto the right spot and then went and hid at the back. Unfortunately the Buffy Tuftedcheek will always be known thus – but at least we all saw it and everyone had a good laugh!

From here we descended onto the lower loop trail that would take us down to the little river running down the slope.  We immediately found ourselves in a fast moving flock of birds with obliging Ruddy Treerunners just above our heads along with Black-cheeked Warbler and several Sooty Capped Chlorospingus.

A slime mould I think

Another Fuchsia type?

We tried to find a juvenile Bare-shanked Screech Owl but the directions were not specific enough but as we descended into the gully we found another group of mixed Tanagers and Chlorospingus along with Tropical Parula and Tennessee Warblers and Yellowish Flycatcher again.

A Zeledonia was heard next to the path and I was fortunate enough to move to just the right spot to follow the slow movements through the brush and get point blank views once again of this enigmatic spherical bird.  The orange central crown was particularly vibrant.  I am not sure if anyone else got on to it which was a pity. Silvery-throated Tupaculo was heard just beyond this point (in fact where we heard both species in 2020) but there is quite simply not the time that you need to spend with such a bird in order to see one. There will be more trips I hope!

Begonia sp

Another large Furnarioiod landed at eye level next to us but almost on the ground up the bank.  It was plain chestnut with a prominent plain dark crown and face and rich buffy throat with streaks down onto the breast – our first Streak Breasted Treehunter.

Just before we re-joined the main gravel track down to the lodges we found another party of feeding birds including several new trip species with the striking Flame Throated Warblers, Yellow-winged Vireos and a Barred Becard.  Add in Philadelphia Vireos, Buffy Treerunners Tropical Parula, Collared Whitestart, Sooty-capped Chlorospingus, Black-cheeked, Black-throated Green and Black and White Warblers and it was a wondrous jumble of colours.

Barred Becard

Sooty-capped Chlorospingus

Sooty-capped Chlorospingus

Collared Whitestart

Another Black faced Solitaire sang from a fruiting tree and actually came out and showed very well. It is such a distinctive sound of the cloud forest. I lingered at the back as everyone marched back for lunch. To be honest I was feeling exhausted and having had a rough night suspect that the altitude was getting to me. I added a Blue-throated Toucanet and a Black-capped Flycatcher near the orchard where, as I hoped there were both Lesser Goldfinches and Yellow-bellied Siskins feeding on the grasses and an Osprey flew up valley as I reached the very bottom.

Flame coloured Tanager

Thin Graceful Brown Snake - Rhadinaea calligaster - Thanks to James Adams

Black-capped Flycatcher

Black-capped Flycatcher

Time for lunch and then another walk back up to the Goldfinches where both species were again found with some Variable Seedeaters and Yellow-faced Grassquits for company. A Swainson’s Thrush popped up on a log and a pair of Ruddy Capped Nightingale-Thrushes put on a show for me while back near the chalet there were two Yellow-winged Vireos in the Verbena and the Flowerpiercers were doing a very competent job on the Cannas.

Lesser Goldfinches

Lesser Goldfinch

Lesser Goldfinch

Yellow-bellied Siskin

Yellow-bellied Siskin

Yellow-bellied Siskin

Yellow-bellied Siskin

Yellow faced Grassquit

Swainson’s Thrush

Yellow-winged Vireo

Slaty Flowerpiercer

Slaty Flowerpiercer

Slaty Flowerpiercer

Ruddy Capped Nightingale-Thrush

A ‘tacking’ Wilson’s Warbler appeared near my feet and fed unconcerned near the ground and Yellow-thighed Finches clambered around at eyelevel – often poking a head out to see if you were still there.

 Yellow-thighed Finch

Wilson’s Warbler

Tennessee Warbler

Heliconia wilsonii I think

Hibiscus tiliaceus I think

Volcano HB

Green Violetear

Green Violetear

Talamanca HB

White-throated Mountain Gem

Volcano HB


Stripe tailed HB - female

Stripe tailed HB - male

Three o’clock came and our second walk down the road along side the river began.  Would we at last see American Dipper? Of course not!  It was a pleasant enough walk although the road back up seemed to go on for ever! The hoped for Torrent Tyrannulets did not disappoint and flicked in between the bubbling waters and mossy covered rocks but to be honest it was the pair of Resplendent Quetzals that we discovered near a nest hole that took most of the attention.  The light was incredibly poor but the male still blazed with a fierce greenness that defied the conditions.

Torrent Tyrannulet

Torrent Tyrannulet

Torrent Tyrannulet

Resplendent Quetzal

Resplendent Quetzals

A large climbing Begonia

Black-throated Green, Wilson’s and Tennessee Warblers were seen and a Louisiana Waterthrush was down on the river while I was very pleased to find two smart Spangle Cheeked Tanagers – a striking species that we had failed to find on the earlier walk.

Long-tailed Silky

Rufous Collared Sparrow

Back in the gardens a slightly dozy male Scintillant HB was found nodding on a twig although catching his almost orange throat blaze was tricky as the light was on the fade. Nevertheless a fine end to the day.

Scintillant HB - a hint of orange

Scintillant HB

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

76: Spotted Wood-Quail*

77: Buffy Tuftedcheek*

78: Streak-breasted Treehunter*

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