Thursday, March 14, 2013

Enter the BABY bird

Following the hummingbird spot Steven led us to some random two track that led off the main road as we dropped back into the muggy lowlands.  It was somewhat open second growth, at other times quite a bit thicker.  Predictably the habitat/elevation change led to a good species diversity though it was somewhat difficult birding.  With humid overcast the canopy birds were very backlit and the skulkers had extra shadow to work with.  A number of wrens (the trip once again reinforced the lesson that if you're just going to learn a couple songs, start with the wrens) called prominently but were difficult to see.  White-shouldered tanager and Black-headed Tody-fly were new for the trip.  There was a decent mixed flock above our heads but aside from a Squirrel Cuckoo they were very difficult to identify up backlit up in the canopy.  Wedge-billed Woodcreeper probably outnumbered all other woodcreepers on the trip combined.

We worked hard to eventually get reasonable looks at Chestnut-backed Antbird and just as hard to get less than glimpses of Long-tailed Hermit.  The highlight of the walk though, was a puffball of a flycatcher, probably less than the length of a crayon, Black-capped Pygmy-tyrant, affectionately christened the BABY bird.
Apparently there's another pygmy-tyrant in Brazil that's smaller, other than it, this was the smallest passerine type bird in the Americas if I had it right.

With that it was time to backtrack back past our motel and head for Arenal, a 3 or 4 hour busride.  I switched to my 50mm lens (way too soon, I would have had great shots of light morph Short-tailed Hawk and Rufescent Tiger-heron if I'd left the real lens on one stop longer (that I'd forgotten about after lunch)) but I took a few scene pics from the moving bus.
There aren't true highways in Costa Rica.  This view was a common experience, our bus in the middle of the road passing a woman pushing a stroller with an oncoming 18-wheeler in the center of the road passing a man leading a burro.  Note the distinct lack of lines on the road.

About sundown we arrived at Arenal, a mid-elevation (fairly famous) site in the north-central part of the country.  The bus stopped for a White-throated Magpie-Jay on a wire on the side of the road.  Of course when it was called out no one mentioned it was on the wire, it was just endless repetitions of "right there! On the left side of the bus! Right there!"  Of course that's little good if you're on the right side of the bus with the angle such that you can't even tell the existence of a wire.  Fortunately they're well fed and a group came in to accept snacks.  These birds (the cover bird on the Howell Mexico guide) are starting to colonize more of Costa Rica apparently; I had no idea we'd be in their range.  This is probably one of my 5 favorite photos of the trip.

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