Monday, July 25, 2016


We only stayed one night at our 3rd motel (I should have made reservations sooner than I did) and I was awake before sunrise to walk the trail down to the river.  A paraque was attracted to the light along the drive up to our room (I should have gotten up sooner to check for other buglight birds, a solid low- and mid-elevation strategy in the tropics; there were a few ant-tanagers about as well).

It was mostly edgey second-growth stuff so I didn't have a lot of hope for an antbird, but after about half a mile I heard a Thicket Antpitta singing.  Unlike at Arenal, it wasn't dug into utterly impenetrable vegetation, this jungle was merely dense.  With a nice slope down from the trail I knew I couldn't get lost and I started creeping down, one step at a time.  The bird was very difficult to locate and somewhat ventriloquial, I was having a lot of time judging how far it was.  However, the vegetation seemed to thicken further in and I assumed the bird would probably be amidst it.  I continued an extraordinarily slow approach; the only way I could have gone slower was if it could have shot back.  At one point an Ant-tanager abruptly flew up with every apparent intention of landing on me, between the adrenaline of an oh-so-close antpitta and the non-zero possibility of encountering a venomous snake instead, I was so keyed up it felt like I jumped a foot.  The feargasm doubled my heartrate for a few seconds for sure.

Suddenly the antpitta worked its way past, mostly concealed by the leaves and disappeared.  I picked it up again a little further in and maneuvered with difficulty between leaves to get a mostly clear shot.  It was hand-focus only; too dark and too much vegetation in the foreground for auto-focus to work, but I did end up with one manageable image.

After the Panama Streak-chest Antpitta, this made the 2nd visualized antpitta for the year, the only two in my life.

With some combination of relief and elation I made my way back to the family for an open-air breakfast.
 A few Orange-billed Sparrows were working about, and Scaly-throated Hummingbirds were about, a plain species whose ID was difficult for me the first few trips to Costa Rica.
It's a relatively big hummingbird with a fairly short bill and some pale edging to the throat.

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