Tuesday, March 12, 2013

actually there was Snow in Costa Rica

Snowcaps that is.

The rain lightened (but didn't stop altogether) as the morning wore on.  We back-tracked back up the highway to a site by Braulio Carillo that we'd bypassed on our way to La Selva due to the rain, a former butterfly garden that failed commercially and had been abandoned.  The vervain flowers are still there however, and a number of specialties could be found.

I ended up putting the camera into the sleeve of my raincoat to keep the lens and body dry from the mist and sprinkles.  The low light didn't help the auto-focus and I ended up manually focusing for almost all the pics; the birds just zoomed back and forth too fast at various distances for it to lock on.

Rufous-tailed wasn't a specialty though.  It's one of the most widely distributed hummers in the tropics.

Violet-crowned Wood-nymph is also pretty common.  I didn't quite manage the shot I wanted of it (though Mindy got an incredible one that she showed me after the trip).

Red-footed Plumeleteer was another species that we saw best at this site (it was the only time I saw it well)

The stars of the show though, were some of the smaller species.  Black-crested Coquette was an amazingly patterned plumed hummer.

We had mostly distant looks at Green Thorntail, first the female, then the narrowly swallow-tailed male:

Finally the star of the show, Snowcap.

The white caps of the males glowed in the overcast.  They reminded me somewhat of fireflies.  They were fairly pugnacious, aggressively chasing females and even trying to intimidate larger hummers like the female wood-nymph in the background.

At least some of them had some olive feathers in the back, I'm guessing that it's a first year bird, but that's purely a guess.
The females were very plain, similar to a small ruby-throat but with even less of a facial pattern.

I would have enjoyed spending longer than the hour we had here, but further birds awaited us, and onward we had to go.

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