Friday 10 June 2022

Costa Rica - Day 15 - 27th March 2022

Our last brief morning at Savegre but still time for a scoot around before and after breakfast. I started in the dark below the chalets where I could hear Ruddy Capped Nightingale-thrushes and Chestnut-crowned Brushfinch sang although the latter’s squeaky notes do not really add up to much in the vocal department! The rattling wings of a Black Guan allowed me to follow it into the tree right alongside and I watched it in the half-light walk slowly up a main branch before setting off once more with machine gun quills. I followed some Spotted Wood-Quail up the other side of the road but once again, although they were calling noisily (confusingly a bit like ‘whip or will’ to me), I failed to find them. 

Black Guan

Red-tailed Squirrel

Mountain Elaenia

Mountain Thrush

A tiny Passion Flower - Passiflora sexflora

Fuchsia paniculata and Bumblebee

Tropical Mockingbird

Collared Whitestart and Torrent Tyrannulet were beside the river and I found Philadelphia Vireo and a family of recently fledged Yellowish Flycatchers in the gardens.

Yellowish Flycatcher

Yellowish Flycatcher

The ‘usual’ Hummers were zipping around and Grey-breasted Wood-wrens were foraging right alongside the road while a couple of small flocks of Sulphur-winged Parakeets rocketed overhead.

Even though I can't see the throat I think it is a White-throated Mountain Gem

Black-eyed Susan

Bomarea costaricensis

A quick look at a few moths and it was time to get on the road for the drive back over the top towards San Jose and our stops this side of the capital. 

The expected roadside birds were encountered on our way to Paraiso and we got stuck behind a little old biddy in an old car with the boot open who was trying to use as many lanes as possible. After navigating the centre of town we found the recreation square and within a few minutes we had two Tropical Screech Owls in view and spent a few minutes watching them and showing them to the appreciative locals.  We saw them here last time but failed to find the American Barn Owls but this time luck was with us as there was a pair of these chunky Tyto – one light and one dark – roosting up under the eaves of the main church where a service was underway.  We did not linger and after a look at some urban Finsch’s Parakeets and House Sparrows (Steve still managed to avoid seeing them) we moved on again towards our last proper base of the trip.

American Barn Owls

Tropical Screech Owls

Tropical Screech Owls

Tropical Screech Owls

Finsch’s Parakeets

Another stop just off the route failed to find us the hoped for Cabanis’s Ground-Sparrow but we did see a Canebrake Wren, close views of a Chestnut-crowned Warbler and a couple of Chestnut-headed Oropendolas.  A Wood Stork circled a distant lake and when we drove over the dam there was a little flotilla of Least Grebes and a Great White Egret.

Our lodge – Quelitales -was at the very end of the road at the top of the valley and we were warmly greeted by Jose in Chef Whites who seems to hold every role in his hotel. We were shown to our individual chalets and ours had a pond complete with several Odonata species, a Green Basilisk and the head of a Terrapin.  Kiskadees came down to drink and I could see Passerini’s and Crimson Collared Tanagers, Yellow-faced Grassquits , Violet Sabrewings jousted and a Brown Jay flopped through before heading up for a sumptuous lunch.

A 'small room' with a view...

Brown Jay

Crimson Collared Tanager

Green Basilisk

Going to go for Bronze Rubyspot

Buff-throated Saltator, Masked Tityra, House Wren and Yellow-bellied Elaenia were seen while feasting before we ambled up the hill to the base of the waterfall.  It had been beautifully set up with a screened, covered viewing area that looks down at the waterfall pool and up to a cleared area of steps that Jose has been attracting a selection of somewhat difficult species.

There were some great butterflies around and a Blue Morpho came in to sup on a squidgy banana.

Rusty Tipped Page (Siproeta epaphus)

Waiter Daggerwing  (Marpesia zerynthia)

Brazilian Skipper (Calpodes ethlius)

Blue Morpho

There were quite a few Hummers zipping around the banks of Ginger and Verbena with Stripe-throated and Green Hermits, Green Violetears, Sabrewings, Green Thorntail (only our second), Rufous-tailed HB, Stripe-tailed HB and a couple of brief visits by a male Black-bellied HB.  The waterfall pool is a good spot for the localised Green-fronted Lancebill (it even has its own special perches) and Dad decided to stay behind and look for it in his own diligent fashion.

Green Violetear

Dad stealthily waiting for Lancebills...

The food was not put out till 3pm so we opted for a circular walk up into the hillside. As usual with all forest trails it was quite a task to keep the group together and get everyone onto all the species that moved through and we tried our best to keep up with the fast moving flocks.

Yellow-throated and Philadelphia Vireos were seen with Tennessee and Yellow Warblers and a full male Blackburnian made quite a sight decked out in orange, black and white. A Slate throated Whitestart added more colour and there were Common Chlorospingus, Silver-throated, Emerald, Speckled and Blue Grey Tanagers in the canopy along with the first Spotted Woodcreeper of the trip and another completely new species with the noisy and peculiarly bi-coloured Olivaceous Woodcreeper. 

Speckled Tanager

Spotted Woodcreeper

Olivaceous Woodcreeper

Flocks of Barred Parakeets whizzed overhead and were occasionally glimpsed in the canopy gaps and we could hear Yellow-throated Toucans singing in the distance while popping flocks of Chestnut-headed Oropendolas moved down the valley.  A male White-vented Euphonia was in song and Tawny-capped Euphonias were with the Tanagers and White-breasted Wood-wrens were foraging in the damp areas.

Barred Parakeets - top right!

Chestnut-headed Oropendola

There were a few spots in the air as we carefully walked back down. Steve wanted more from this place but we were happy but I can only imagine what else might have been found with more time.  There were still a couple more treats in store though with a female White-bellied Mountain Gem adding herself to the growing Hummingbird list and as we reached the bottom Dad proudly announced that the Green-fronted Lancebill was on his perch but only those at the front got to see him before he zoomed off.  Thankfully we did not have to wait long and this seemingly all dark Hummer came back in to his perch.  The bill is very long and thin and in fact ever so slightly turns up along its length.  The lack of any colour other than dark green was, as usual, misleading as when the crown caught the limited light it blazed turquoise blue (not even vaguely green!).  It would occasionally dart off and snatch a flying morsel over the water more in the manner of a Flycatcher than HB and at one stage was joined by a female.

White-bellied Mountain Gem - Ken Copleston

Green-fronted Lancebill

We now settled in to wait for the main event but disappointingly the only Ground Sparrow or Brush Finch to come in was the now familiar Chestnut-capped but things perked up when two Black-breasted Wood-Quail appeared silently at the feeding steps.  They did not stay too long and soon melded back into the undergrowth.

Black-breasted Wood-Quail

Chestnut-capped Brush-finch

Jose now told us that he was going to call in Lulu and off he went up the path to put down some worms to entice her out.  This Scaled Antpitta now knows Jose and comes in late in the day to the sound of him playing her call, loudly calling ‘Lulu’ and banging the food tub!

Amazingly, about ten minutes after he did this and returned to us, she appeared and hopped around, wolfing down worms for a few minutes before bounding back off the path.  I am not sure where the name comes from as it looked wholly ginger-brown with a grey crown and no real marking of any note.

Scaled Antpitta - Ken Copleston

And a short video of Lulu that the Quelitales owner Jose Alvarez sent me subsequent to our visit.  

It was time for dinner which after the mega burger at lunchtime was an omelette but we all had Jose’s famous Bailey’s crepes…

Some mothing followed back up at the waterfall and a few species were already in along with some Beetles, Lacewings and a Praying Mantis. Up in the woods a Mottled Owl called and despite being the most widespread species in Costa Rica, I have yet to see one and a Crested Owl was moving around a way up but would not come in.


 Praying Mantis


This Anthurium species was slightly umm, well, 'surprising'
looming up out of the dark in the torch light...

We fell into our beds…

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

85: American Barn Owl*

86: Olivaceous Woodcreeper*

87: White-bellied Mountain Gem*

88: Green-fronted Lancebill*

89: Scaled Antpitta*

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