Sunday, November 13, 2016

Cloud forest is awesome

I went back to Costa Rica this last week.  For a conference.  You know, higher learning.  I might have gone a day early to fit in the Monteverde Cloud Forest, a location I've never birded.  The roads getting there are mountainous and treacherous, but I managed to arrive just at dusk.  Dawn came slow.  But arrive it did and I took a trail relatively at random and immediately started seeing birds.  There were a lot of little flocks, most commonly led by Gray-breasted Wood-wrens.
 Bursts of their snappy songs (often duetted between a couple individuals) rang out frequently.

Also very common were groups of Three-striped Warbler.
 These confiding little crosses between a kinglet and a worm-eating frequently foraged at close range.  Despite the book stating they're one of the core species of mid-elevation mixed flocks I'd never seen one before, but here they were very common.  Clearly they have a pretty limited elevation band that hosts the bulk of the population.  Perhaps because of neatly demarcated ranges, Three-striped Warbler was split into 3 species and the form in Costa Rica technically now is called Costa Rican Warbler.
 One group was accompanied by a White-throated Spadebill, another lifer.

Common Bush-tanager is the other species that the book notes is a core mid-elevation flock species.  And they are common in a lot of places.
 Spotted Barbtail is another restricted elevation species that I've only seen a couple times.  Similar to the warbler, they were quite common here and would associate with the little flocks.

Black-faced Solitaire has arguably the prettiest song of any bird I've heard, kind of a merger between a veery and wind chimes.
 The birds are very hard to see when singing, but were much more obvious when moving about foraging.

This was my best look at Slate-throated Redstart, one of my favorite neotropical warblers.

Finally a pic of Olivaceous Woodcreeper.  Ironically this was one of the first woodcreepers that I ever saw (in Belize over a decade ago), but one I've rarely (if ever?) seen since.

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