Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Carara River Trail

Carara National Park, located near the central Pacific coast, was the focus for day 6.  As it was created as a preserve for breeding Scarlet Macaws, and likely given that the macaws would be a target for poachers there's only 2 trails in the entire national park, and they're along the perimeter.  Even so, Carara is widely regarded as one of the better places to see some of the forest interior birds.

One of the first birds we came upon was a female Royal Flycatcher.
 She was building her nest directly above the trail.  Lathe had to duck to not walk into the long pendulous structure (think Altimira Oriole nest if you've been in the Rio Grande Valley).

You can see a hint of the rarely-seen crest

Birds came in dribs and drabs, a pair of tody-flycatchers here, a tropical gnatcatcher there, some scattered Tennessee and Chestnut-sided warblers;  Vernon heard a yellow-billed cotinga but we couldn't track it down.  A few mammals were more visible, first a coati,
 as well as a sleepy white-faced capuchin dozing in the steadily building lowland heat.

We had to work (it felt like harder than it should have been) to find a Yellow-throated Euphonia that was singing away.

A series of skulkers came next.  A Rufous-breasted Wren at the southern extent of its breeding range provided fleeting glimpses.  A Black-faced Antthrush was calling away, but gave even less of a view...

We finally found a small group that was more cooperative.  Prothonotary Warbler, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, Streak-headed Woodcreeper, and Rufous-tailed Flycatcher were seen by all.  The only Barred Antshrike of the trip was attracted to Vernon's tape.
 Right next to it was another view of Turquoise-fronted Motmot, in a much more picturesque setting than the bird on a wire we'd seen in the morning by the lodge.
Conspicuous by its absence was Orange-collared Manakin and either cotinga.  I had expected the manakin at Esquinas (and indeed we did see 2 females), but we were starting to get frustrated by not finding a male.  We spent some time at the end of the trail scanning first along the river, and then in a bare tall fruiting tree for cotingas without success.

We saw a few groups of Lesser Greenlets, stocky vireo-class birds that moved more at the pace of the more active warblers.

Our group got spread out somewhat, those of us in the back got good looks at Purple-crowned Fairy, a somewhat odd hummingbird.
 A few of us had glimpsed this bird at Esquinas, but they don't tend to forage very long at any given flower, and didn't seem to perch close to where they feed.  They were pretty easy to ID with the brilliant white underparts.  The short bill of the perched bird contrasts with the long tail.

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