Saturday, March 28, 2015

Costa Rica ... the End

We spent our last morning of the trip on the grounds of the Trapp hotel very close to the airport.  As was the case last year, Cinnamon Hummingbird was the highlight.

It was around the 20th species of hummingbird for the trip.

House Wren on the other hand wasn't new, though it was the first time I photographed one.
The Costa Rican version sounds very distinctive from ours, but my understanding is that it's a clinal change.  I think everyone was able to see a Rufous-naped Wren as the other addition to the triplist, though they were a lot less photogenic this year; last year they were doing a lot of displaying.  No problem with seeing Inca Doves though.

Tanagers were well represented on this trip focusing on mid-elevations.  Blue-gray was the only of our 15 or so trip species in the central valley that morning though.

I think we totaled around 275 species although certainly no one saw all of them.  Some, such as Sunbittern, Green Ibis, Speckled Tanager, and Barred Hawk, were birds that I was really hoping to see.  A few from that list, most notably Elegant Euphonia, Green-fronted Lancebill, and any visualized antpitta, will require a return trip.  I ended up with a little over 30 lifers and I really couldn't have been happier with the trip overall.  The hour we spent with the chlorophonias in the Savegre orchard was not an experience I ever expected.

The last pic of the trip, a butterfly of course.  Pura Vida.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Leaving Rancho...

After spending some time at the hummingbird feeders waiting for it to get brighter the group ventured into the woodland trails.  We had somewhat mixed results.  Vernon got onto a small group of birds at one corner of the trail with a Plain Xenops and Russet Antshrike that Rhoda and I had found on our own during the lunchbreak the day before.  In the dense forest the group was spread out along the narrow trails and had difficulty getting on the birds.  Vernon moved on to a more open area where we had our best looks at Squirrel Cuckoo and Mr. Froot Loops

We birded an orchard which was a lot more open.  There were no trouble with seeing a teed-up Golden-olive Woodpecker.

We heard a Thicket Antpitta which had no intention of showing itself though a White-crowned Parrot popped into view with a Dusky Antbird pair and a Slaty-capped Flycatcher providing considerably briefer views.

The day got warmer and my lifer White-vented Euphonias joined some warbler groups though didn't offer up much for pics aside from the collared-dove view at their namesake anatomy which I'm sparing you.  We had a pair of Green Honeycreepers and a Yellow-olive Flycatcher as a group then I think another Yellow-olive that a couple of us had from the balcony once we got back.
It looks dark-eyed backed off in the frame but if you zoom in, the light eye is easy to see.

We had a little bit of time before lunch and Rhoda and I headed back up into the forest, taking a higher trail than the group had earlier.  Aside from numerous Chestnut-sided Warblers it was pretty quiet until we got into a group of larger birds, Brown Jays, Oropendolas, Masked Tityras (making their loud insect like buzzes) and a couple Aracari toucans.
 We found a little mixed flock, honestly one of the best mixed flocks we got onto, heralded by a couple Plain Xenops again.
Amongst the Chestnut-sideds there were a couple Slaty- and likely a couple Checker-throated Antwrens, a Streak-crowned Woodcreeper and best of all a Brown-billed Scythebill that was too dug in even for a record pic.

With that we headed back to San Jose after lunch.
Vernon stopped for a Jacana on the way back

Monday, March 23, 2015


Last dedicated hummingbird post of the trip...

Hermits are aptly named solitary hummingbirds that attain their greatest diversity in the jungle lowlands.  Two species however were present at Rancho's mid-elevations.  I actually took a few pics of this orchid or bromeliad or whatever it is planning to photoshop a bird in at some point.  This Stripe-throated (formerly known as Little) Hermit took the authentic route a few minutes later.

Another view of the long hermit tail...

I actually got better (or at last more natural) pics of Green Hermit 2 years ago at Arenal hanging gardens.  They would come in to Rancho's feeders sporadically.  It was another bird that would have benefitted from another day's shooting.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Rancho feeder fare

Rancho didn't just have hummingbird feeders, they did the fruit feeders common at mid-elevation places as well.  I didn't really take any photos of Montezuma Oropendolo this trip, but when a Chestnut-headed Oropendolo landed on the feeders I was pretty excited, never having had a close look at this species.

Tanagers were mostly represented by three common species, Blue-gray,


and Passerini's (this one is a female).  I didn't get a great shot at any of the black and red males though last year managed one of the essentially identical Cherrie's tanager.

I forget whether this is a White-shouldered or a White-lined Tanager.

There were a couple species of saltators around, as well as more Bay-headed Tanagers and a few Green Honeycreepers, but neither of the latter two came in to the fruit.  Gray-headed Chachalacas would however.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Small and sexy

Green Thorntail is another fun hummingbird at Rancho, one that doesn't come in to the feeders.  This is the northernmost member of a typically South American group of hummers.

 From behind you can see the fairly thick shafts to the feathers that would support their typically upright posture

The females and young males weren't quite as adorned.

Snowcap is one of the highlight species at Rancho.  I'd seen it before, but never as many individuals.

 They were fairly shy, and didn't come in to the verbena if a person was too close.  I think all of these pics are taken from the balcony looking down.

Monday, March 16, 2015

the forest Bathing pools

Another one of the unique ways (like bug lights) to see some of the inner forest specialties is to watch slow little streams in the late afternoon or early evening where birds will come to bathe and cool off after the heat of the day.  Last year we watched manakins, antbirds, quail-doves and a tinamou coming into a slow shallow stream at Carara

Rancho has an overlook over a series of pools in a little forest stream that we took advantage of on the evening of our full day there.  Hummingbirds are the main attraction, though other birds appear, such as Wood Thrush or this Kentucky Warbler.

The hummingbirds came in slowly as individuals to plunge into the pools, sometimes submerging entirely, other time dunking their breasts like this Green Hermit.

Wood-nymphs were the most common, but a few snowcaps were fairly steady visitors.

We waited about an hour for a Buff-throated Leaftosser to show up, the first member of this skulking group for me.

It's not much to look at, but not a bird that's easy to see.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Purple hummers

Purple isn't a color you find in nature a lot aside from flowers.  Crowned Wood-nymph is an exception to that pattern.
 At dusk of our first evening at Rancho the Wood-nymphs actually outnumbered the Jacobins that would dominate the feeders during the day.  They were a lot less common during the day.  With another day or so I might have been able to get some flight shots, but the perched ones will have to do for now.

Violet Sabrewing was the other purple hummingbird at Rancho.  I believe they're the largest hummingbird in CR (though Long-tailed Hermit probably is longer).
 These large hummers weren't super common at the feeders and seemed to avoid the more heavily visited feeders preferring to dart in when they were unoccupied.


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Sunbittern Canyon

In the afternoon of our full day in the Rancho area Vernon took us out in the bus stopping at various points picking up different target birds, White-throated Flycatcher in a grassy drainage, and a walk down a dirt road paralleling a small canyon.

A Masked Tityra teed up quickly.

We'd walked about halfway down the road when Vernon stopped abruptly and set the scope up.  A sunbittern was standing on a large branch.  It had a baby that disappeared quickly and invisibly into the parent's breast feathers.
The bird settled down providing beautiful walkaway scope views.  Sunbittern was easily in my top 5 most wanted for the trip.  Unfortunately another bird possible here that we'd missed at Tapanti also in that category, Lancebill hummingbird, proved to be a no-show.

We walked further down encountering a Blue morpho
I didn't wait to try to photograph the blue wingflash of this enormous butterfly to catch back up with Vernon who soon spotted another Sunbittern, this one foraging slowly at stream's edge for tiny aquatic life.

A couple of us lagged behind the group and were rewarded by the bird taking flight.
Unfortunately in the dark of the canyon I was shooting probably 1/100th or 160th of second or so, way too slow to freeze a bird in flight.

A couple of Bay Wrens played hide and seek in the thick brush that was undeterred by the rocky edges of the canyon

A last look at the very picturesque start of the trail