Saturday, March 2, 2013

Sacrifice to a Quetzal

Day 3 found us in the Savegre highlands with the main target not just another Chiriqui endemic, but arguably the sweetest bird in the New World.  The relative ease (most years apparently) of seeing Resplendent Quetzal in Costa Rica was the biggest reason to choose Costa Rica over Panama at least imo.  A number of guides had their tours strung out along the main road into Savegre and one down the road soon found a pair of quetzals.  Calls went out and before long about 100 people were working to find relatively unobstructed sight lines at the birds about 50-75 yards off the road being blown about in more wind than I'd have liked.
 I was crouched in a catcher's stance craned to my left and shooting when the wind would push the branch clear.

A lot of people moving around led to some confusion.  The bird here looks over at a sickening "cr-runch" sound when a van runs over a tripod protruding a little too far into the road.  Reportedly the scope and the van were ok;  the tripod, not so much.

Rhoda re-found it briefly perched in the sun with its back to us but it flew again for good before I could get better shots.

With the pressure temporarily off our guides we went to breakfast.  Following that we took the Los Robles trail, an even higher elevation track into a tall (primary?) oak forest.

We spent some time tracking down an Ochraceous Pewee, apparently quite a rare bird in Costa Rica, though no less new to most of us than the Ochraceous Wren or a Golden-bellied Flycatcher.  The Pewee is looking up and to the right on the little diagonal branch in the middle of the pic.

Costa Rican Pygmy-owl was my first pygmy-owl of any kind.  This (admittedly quite cropped) pic's grainier than it ought to be and after I down-loaded the camera that night I spent most of the rest of the trip shooting in full manual settings for birds in the shade to keep the F-stop more in the lens' wheelhouse.
  There was a mixed flock of birds a little downhill of the owl, our first Tufted Flycatcher, Flame-throated Warbler, and either Streak- or Spot-crowned Woodcreeper (can't remember which is the high elevation version) among others.

Our driver Vernon functioned as another guide on those days where there wasn't a ton of driving.  He knew the sounds probably better than I know the ones in SW Michigan.  He found a pair of Spotted Wood-quail in some deep gloom.
I didn't even bother learning the wood-quail since I never thought we'd see one.  The above pic is shot at 1/40th of a second on pretty close to max ISO (12800) and brightened from there.  In other words, it was dark in its little thicket.

Finally a Torrent Tyrannulet, a little ball of fluff that would fly-catch in a dipper's habitat.

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