Saturday, February 22, 2014

Leaving the Highlands

... but not without birding them some more!

Vernon was targeting some specific birds on our last morning in the highlands. We had nice looks at Spot-crowned Woodcreeper on the way to the trail.
 We walked up a narrow trail along a small stream (Mike Mahler and I walked it last year at midday and didn't see much), Vernon was listening and occasionally playing tapes for Spotted Wood-quail, Zeledonia and Silver-fronted Tapaculo.  Long story short, most of the group had a brief look at the Tapaculo and we heard the Zeledonia once but neither remotely approached coming into the open.  We actually had some brief looks at more Quetzals when they flew high over the trail.  The female perched directly above us at one point giving up what Mike Sefton termed the Proctologist View.

It wasn't until we were practically back to the cabanas when Vernon heard the Wood-quail scratching at the bottom of a ravine.  There ended up being about 5 birds.

Just like last year on our last walk Emerald Toucanet showed well over the cabanas.
 This bird's odd vocalization stopped Dea and me.  It couldn't have been more than 15 feet away, though the back-lighting/shade left something to desired.

Barred Parakeets feed on seeding bamboo and commute up and down the valley from their roosts to their feeding areas.  Last year I wasn't really prepared for the parakeets; this year I'd listened to Sulphur-winged and Barred and knew to look for the presence or absence of yellow in the underwing.  In this case absence.

We drove away from Savegre, but had 2 stops to make.  The first was a highland specialty I'd been asking Vernon about (actually one of four), and he allowed he had one spot where it might be reasonable, Barred Becard.  Immediately when we got out of the bus an Ochraceous Pewee, of all things, called.  It was followed by a little mixed group, mostly Black-cheeked Warblers and Ruddy Treerunners.
 The Becard started calling soon after and we tracked it down in the canopy of a large tree, an odd bird to say the least.

After that we headed even higher, to the paramo, an above-the-treeline (about 10-11,000 feet) sagebrushy habitat with a few specialties.   They didn't cooperate at all in the bright sun.  We very briefly saw a dull brown female Peg-billed Finch, once heard a slightly more patterned Timberline Wren, heard no more Zeledonias, and with a lot of effort eventually saw a couple Volcano Juncos.
 I will definitely return to Costa Rica, but I don't plan on returning to the paramo again, too few birds, and all of them skulkers.  To add insult to injury some of our group got altitude sickness.

With that it was time to head down lower to the southern Pacific lowlands, a new area for me.
We saw a last Rufous-collared Sparrow at a roadside snack break and with that, went down the mountain.

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