Monday, March 18, 2013

Searching for the flocks

In a lot of forested Costa Rica, the bulk of the songbirds travel in mixed flocks in search of food and protection.  It feels a lot like warblers in May in that regard.  We took a walk after breakfast down a trail along a river in Arenal in the hopes of running into a decent flock but struck out with this.  The birds came as individuals though, and while there wasn't great numbers there was good quality.  A Scale-crested Pygmy-tyrant teased us, most of the group got only glimpses of it at the start of the trail.  Before too long Steve got on a Spotted Antbird that he coaxed in for excellent views.  It perched up in the gloom and sang a few times giving great looks.  I was back to the old refrain of 1/60th of the second using the tripod as a monopod.
On a couple of my shots the bird looks entirely green as I was shooting directly through leaves in the foreground.  If you tried enough levels up and down though you could usually find a window.

We heard some wrens and then a little pocket of activity held a Tawny-capped Euphonia.  I confess when the bird was called out I confused it with just another Olive-backed Euphonia, a dull green bird whose female has a tawny forehead.  It took me a few seconds to realize I needed to start looking for the bird, but it perched up nicely as luck would have it.  I ended up seeing a few more later during lunch as well.

Warren spotted a fairly dug in female Orange-bellied Trogon (most of the red-bellied trogons I've seen in my life have been females for whatever reason) and then a Rufous Mourner perched up, a bird we'd seen more distantly at La Selva.

On the way back out we had glimpses of leaves reportedly moved by Tawny-faced Gnatwrens.  Not many people actually got a view of the bird though.  We walked back towards the lodge for breakfast (with Steven not arousing a lot of reaction for an apparently very rare and local (for Costa Rica) flock of Tree Swallows) passing through some landscaped areas on the way.  Vervain was in flower here as well and attracted some nice hummers.  A Black-crested Coquette perched up somewhat distantly.
White-necked Jacobin actually revealed its white neck.
The jacobin was high on my list of birds I wanted to see, and I think is still on the better-view-desired list.  It'd be hard to get a better view of Violet-headed Hummingbird though.

We worked a few trees that had fruit, hoping for various tanagers.  There were a few Dacnis about, as well as a Yellow-throated Euphonia and some Crested Guans again.  At one point I looked up at a bird I didn't recognize, it looked like some giant female tanager.
I walked over to where Steven was getting the group on Scaly-breasted Hummer, one that a few of us had seen at lunch a few days before and asked him what my pic was.  He was puzzled looking down at the LCD screen in the glare and asked me how big it was.  I said pretty big and that it was perched 10 yards away.  Another closer look revealed it to be a female Bellbird.  I hadn't expected to do any better than to hear a male, I don't think I'd more than glanced at the pic of the female in the book (which for the record doesn't look very much like this bird at all).

With that the overcast turned to drizzle which turned to rain and we headed up for lunch.

1 comment:

Jeff Schultz said...

Hi Matt,

I enjoyed reading your posts from your Costa Rica trip. Makes me miss the tropics more than I alreay do now.

I especially liked the bellbird. I was in Panama in September (my second trip there this year), where my guide and I found a female bellbird. It was the first recorded individual for this species in that area. Certainly a surprise find!!