Tuesday, August 9, 2016


I've been fortunate to have seen a lot more hummingbirds over the last 5 years than I would have predicted.  Some are very common, some less so.  Generally though, if you go to the right elevation, the hummer you're looking for will be there if you put some time in at the feeder or floral landscaping.  There's some exceptions, mostly some of the hermits that don't visit feeders, but the Sicklebill (and I suppose the Lancebill too) take this to another level.  You not only need to be at the right elevation, but you have to be at the right flower.  They're just not easy to find.  On our very first trip our guide Steven heard a couple as they zipped past making their rounds from one isolated heliconia at just the right stage of past-its-prime to another.  No one came close to seeing one that trip though.

On my last full day I left the family to relax at Hotel Bog and drove to Braulio Carillo National Park.  It was a big contrast from some of the much more touristy waterfall locations that feel more like themeparks.  Where La Paz had concrete sculpted fencing crafted to look like a boutique wooden fence, Braulio had naked cliff edges.  It was really green though and it's large enough that the possibility for uncommon forest birds exists.  I found a few tanager flocks, mostly Emerald and Carmiol's but didn't have a ton of luck initially.  After a few hours of circling the trails occasionally playing a Lattice-tailed Trogon tape I was phone in hand when a curve-billed fairly long-tailed hummingbird flew up to some heliconia next to the trail and disappeared.  It was really dark and with the phone in one hand I couldn't pick up the bird one handed.  I started jamming stuff into my pocket to scan better and then another hiker, the first I'd seen all morning, appeared.  The bird suddenly flew off and I realized it had been perched on the flower the whole time.  SHOOT.  That's what sicklebills do.  I settled in hoping it would come back.  15 minutes passed.  Then another 10.  Another hiker appeared, and this time they flushed the bird from its hidden perch to one I could see.  Sure enough, a sicklebill.

 This was probably the most memorable bird of the trip for me.  Its call actually was fairly distinctive, somewhat of a cross between a Red-breasted Nuthatch and a Rubythroat.

There were a few other interior forest birds about, this is a Ruddy-tailed Flycatcher.

Stripe-throated Wrens were very common and it took me a while to get a handle on their highly variable vocalizations.  They're very much of the typical stay-in-the-tropical-gloom flavor of wren.

Braulio Carillo was a fun place to visit; I would be very curious to see how much turnover there is in the birds one you visited repeatedly.

No comments: