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April 18 - Costa Rica in search of the Resplendent Quetzal (1 Viewer)

Andy Adcock

Well-known member
England
Enjoying this David, seems so long ago for us but it was only a year ago!

The Cotingas are still regular, we managed to see a few, you just have to be there really early and wait. They can be distant though and tricky to pick up if they're not flying.


Andy
 

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dandsblair

David and Sarah
Supporter
Possibly

Enjoying this David, seems so long ago for us but it was only a year ago!

The Cotingas are still regular, we managed to see a few, you just have to be there really early and wait. They can be distant though and tricky to pick up if they're not flying.


Andy

Danny's info was from a couple of months ago but they seem to be missing from the bridge area - breeding a little further away?. It wasn't just us who missed them.
I heard a guide speculate they were now frequenting the mangroves but 2 groups who did the boat trip didn't see them either.
 

dandsblair

David and Sarah
Supporter
Cerro Lodge to Savegre via coastal route.

Cerro Lodge to Savegre via coastal route.

As we were not doing the boat trip, we had a little more time, so we had a short explore of the area, the usual stuff, Turquoise Motmot, Hoffman’s Woodpecker, Rufous-naped Wren, Blue-Grey Tanager, Yellow-headed Caracara, Cinnamon Hummingbird then we added Black-headed Trogon and tried calling the Ferruginous-pygmy Owl and I found the cute little owl down the bottom of the trail a little distant for anything but a record shot but we did give the information to the Japanese birding group who were still around trying for decent photos when we left.

After breakfast we headed down the coast past the river Savegre and turned inland via San Isidro de el General then into the mountains on Highway 2 to San Gerardo de Dota, situated high in the mountains of the Talamanca mountain range, at an altitude of 2.600 meters above sea level, in the middle of the Upper Montane Cloud Forest.

First we had a last check for the Cotinga but without success, then we stopped at a Golf Course in Jaco and added Northern Jacana, Grey-headed Chacalaca, Least Grebe, Great-tailed Grackle, Black-bellied Whistling Duck and Black-crowned Tityra. We stopped for lunch just as the road climbed and added Charming Humminbird, Magenta- throated Woodstar, Roadside Hawk and Black-throated Blue Warbler at this mid elevation spot. Danny did well in recommending lunch / coffee stops nearly always with a few birds to see.

Our next stop was about hour before San Gerado at a garden with loads of feeders run by an expat Canadian, he also has rooms and some cottages and just charges a small fee US$5 towards the cost of fruit and provisions. I think we were just below 6000ft. We were after a few target species here, the easiest to see was Cherries Tanager, spilt since we were last in Costa Rica, to be honest while the female looks very different I couldn’t differentiate the male from Passerini’s. There were lots of Swallow-tailed Kites flying around but the real stars were the hummers; different species at each feeding area and area of the garden, there was Lesser Violetear, White-throated Mountain Gem, Violet Sabrewing, Talamanca Hummingbird(was Magnificent) and Stripe-tailed Hummingbird. There were also Silvery-throated tanagers and a Golden-bellied Flycatcher. Just when we though this place was perfect the mist and drizzle set in and you could see almost nothing – so we gave up and drove onto the lodge, without stopping as the paramo area was cloudy, wet and unwelcoming at this time.

We arrived at Savegre Hotel & Spa around 15.00 with just a little mist and agreed to meet up at 16.00, we were in room 122, a bit of a trek up the hill but it meant we had a good walk every time we went for a meal and we found a couple of really nice life birds Ruddy-capped Nightingale Thrush and Long-tailed Silky Flycatcher on our way down to the feeders, these were regular in this cut through. In the garden we managed to photograph a Volcano Hummingbird and then I caught a glimpse of brilliant colour as a Red-headed Barbet flew into a berry bush almost too close to snap, this was a bird Sarah particularly wanted having missed it in Colombia.

When Danny joined us we were on a high but then the heavens opened and we just birded from the coffee lounge adding Large-footed Finch, Flame-coloured Tanager, Spangle-cheeked Tanager and Wilson’s Warbler.

On the walk back to the room, we flushed a Nightjar, almost certainly a Dusky but as neither of us got it in our binoculars or flashlights we still haven’t added it to our list, although it does appear that it is the only one that occurs here even though White-tailed is in theory possible, also we saw a dark bird not one with an obviously white tail. Danny reckoned Dusky is common here but couldn’t rule out possibility of other nightjars.

Over dinner we agreed we would join others from the lodge at the roadside Quetzal watch at 05.30, so we would leave the room about 5.00 and meet at reception at 5.15.
 

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stuartvine

Well-known member
David, re 'Dusky-headed' Tanager, I assume you mean Dusky-faced?

Hadn't realised that King Vulture was a tough bird to see? Although we only saw one in CR, we have seen them elsewhere, e.g Venezuela.

Put this in your 'bird porn' folder Stuart until you nail one!

Venezuela 2015, I was probably a bit ripe at the time, it may have thought I was dead from the smell.....:eek!:


A

I'm not sulking about all these King Vultures, no, really I'm not, not at all! ;)
 

Andy Adcock

Well-known member
England
'Talamanca Hummingbird (was Magnificent)'

It's the first time I've heard this name David, the race spectabilis is known as Admirable now by most.

We didn't get BtB Warbler or Gb Flycatcher.



A
 
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dandsblair

David and Sarah
Supporter
AOCR Taxonomy

'Talamanca Hummingbird (was Magnificent)'

It's the first time I've heard this name David, the race spectabilis is known as Admirable now by most.

We didn't get BtB Warbler or Gb Flycatcher.



A
In the AOCR "La list official de las aves de Costa Rica 2018" it is Eugenes spectablis - split from Eugenes fulgens (page 143 of guide) interestingly is still Magnificent in Spanish - ie Colibri Magnifico in this AOCR publication.
 

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dandsblair

David and Sarah
Supporter
In search of the Resplendent Quetzal

In search of the Resplendent Quetzal

Since missing the Resplendent Quetzal all those years ago, (we also tried unsuccessfully in Mexico) we have seen Crested, Pavonine, Golden-headed and White-tipped Quetzal in South America but it was an annoyance that part time birders like both of Sarah’s brothers asked “have you seen that Quetzal yet” and lots of friends just on a wildlife tours to Costa Rica had seen and even photographed the bird.

It was my birthday today and I wanted to put that right, fortunately it didn’t take long; as we arrived by the roadside I spotted a female quetzal, not a great view and 3 or 4 guides who were around weren’t even interested, then I saw why when a male Resplendent Quetzal flew across the road and into a fruiting avocado tree. The bird was fairly high and the light not great but even in the early morning light the crest seemed to glow and the tail looked great as the bird showed fully with his back to us. The bird was actually quite flighty and soon flew into the deeper forest and although the light was better on this side of the road the only way of getting a decent shot of the bird front on was by Digiscoping – which I did a couple of times.

It turned out that these were probably a pair nesting right by the roadside but because of photographers going too close to the nest hole and being noisy and disturbing the birds, the lodge owners had erected a huge bamboo blind to give the birds privacy. The only other birds we saw before heading back for breakfast were Large-footed Finch, Yellow-thighed Finch, Ruddy-capped Nightingale Thrush and White-naped Brush Finch.

We now wanted to see the Resplendent Quetzal away from the crowds, there were about 40 people by the roadside, so after breakfast we had arranged a visit to a local farm/lodge, Danny / Veronika had checked a few places to ensure an active nest area where we could just sit a bit away from the road and watch birds coming and going, the Los Vueltas Lodge (1KM up a steep trail - almost opposite the bustop at KM17 on Highway 2) had a pair of nesting birds. The American family who own the place charge US$10 per person to access the farm and that includes coffee and home-made biscuits.

The daughter and her two small kids, the youngest wanted to carry the scope but couldn’t even lift it and her lovely dogs, they just sat quietly with us on the grass for 90 minutes while we watched the birds come and go, took us to the nest area in a dead tree in the middle of a field; so easy to just sit hidden from the birds behind some bushes and watch the area.

We were told that the birds were changing over every hour or two, so probably on eggs, but within 20 minutes the female left the nest and then both the male and female were returning with food on regular basis, it looked like small fruit seeds, so obviously there were now young in the nest to feed.

After a very enjoyable morning we headed back but not before adding Fiery-throated Hummingbird, Band-tailed Pigeon, Acorn Woodpecker, and a rare Slaty Finch.

Later the lodge asked if they could use my photos on their facebook page as they gave a good feel for what people can really see and I was delighted to see them used; we also told a few couples and guides about the place and they also enjoyed the experience.

Lunch was taken at Miriam’s a nice restaurant with feeders, good chance to photograph, Slaty Flowerpiercer, Flame-coloured Tanager, Volcano Hummingbird and Large-footed Finch albeit it chucked it down; so going out on the balcony required an umbrella or getting wet.

It was still raining when we got back to the lodge so we agreed to meet up at feeders around 16.00 in the hope that it would be drier. It wasn’t much better, so we just went to a local garden (Melville’s is free), with some cover and then walked around the hotel trails, we added Collared Redstart, Black-faced Solitaire, Long-tailed Silky Flycatcher, Sulphur-winged Parakeet, and a female Purple-throated Mountain Gem, not a very regular bird in this area I think.

It was then time to head to the bar where Sarah had a bottle of fizz on ice.

Excuse the quetzal overdose
 

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Andy Adcock

Well-known member
England
All this just makes me want to go back....

If we get back, I want spend more time in the Pacific region and the NW, even in a month, it's hard to do all that you want to and a few compromises were made.



A
 

dandsblair

David and Sarah
Supporter
Last Day at Savegre Lodge

Last Day at Savegre Lodge

We had given ourselves an extra day in case we struggled with getting good views of the Quetzal. After a short walk before breakfast, usual birds, although it seems weird to dismiss;Log-tailed Silky-Flycatcher, Black-faced Solitaire and Ruddy-capped Nightingale-Thrush and Volcano Hummingbird in that way; we were off to the paramo of Cerro de la Muerte.

There was a fairly good turn off on the right on the edge of Los Quetzales NP and we stopped there. We saw a small flock of Long-tailed Silky-Flycatcher, female Black-and-yellow Silky-Flycatcher, a posing Black-capped Flycatcher, Volcano Hummingbird, and then a Volcano Junco, we tried calling Timberline Wren but in the end got only glimpses of movement it just wouldn’t play ball. Only other birds up here were Sooty Thrush and Mountain Elaenia.


After that we did a short walk on the waterfall trail, Collared Redstart, Sulphur-winged Parakeet, Flame-coloured Tanager, Mountain Thrush and Acorn Woodpecker were seen.

For lunch we went to Café Kahawa, it appeared an attractive location right on the river and with some feeders outside, however the feeders were bare and a noisy couple of drunks (7 beers each that we saw them drink) and their uncontrolled kids who made more noise than a whole playground, pretty much ensured no birds hung around and we were glad to get back to the hotel.

We were expecting more rain this afternoon and so decided to go to Batsu Gardens, I think it is hugely overpriced at $20 per person or $25 with transport but Sarah wanted to do it and at least it is sheltered and as it was officially closed this afternoon, we did have the place almost to ourselves, just a couple of French photographers who we there when we arrived and soon left.

I was hoping for a few decent birds. The first a Scintillant Hummingbird – was not long in showing and in flight or from behind was easily told apart from the superficially similar Volcano. Common birds were Silvery-throated Tanager, Rufous-collared Sparrow, Long-tailed Silky-Flycatcher, Sooty-capped Chlorspingus, Acorn Woodpecker, and White-throated Mountaingem.

We also saw what AOCR has as Northern Emerald Toucan, but Danny referred to it as Blue-throated Toucanet but in either case split from more southern Emerald (White-throated) Toucanet, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, and a nice Black-banded Woodcreeper..

We heard a couple of Prong-billed Barbets calling but they did not come in when I played the call. What we did hear was Costa Rican Pygmy Owl, I played the call but Sarah said “what are doing – playing an Owl call at a feeding station”, I said this was first bird we had heard and thought it was worth a shot, Danny sort of sat on the fence and was non-committal on whether I should continue but when one more try only brought in some hummers looking to mob the Owl, I decided that Sarah was probably right and stopped calling. In hindsight I should have just walked away from the feeding area below the car park and tried there but I didn’t and did get another sniff of this owl.

That was pretty much it for the day as the rain put any thoughts of a night walk to bed.
 

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dandsblair

David and Sarah
Supporter
Savegre Lodge to Rancho Naturalista via Turrialba

Savegre Lodge to Rancho Naturalista via Turrialba

It was a wonderful cloud free morning with great visibility, sods law I suppose, weather is pefect as we were leaving after breakfast, to drive to the Rancho Naturalista, set on the Caribbean slope in the Cordillera Talamanca. The lodge is located ½ hour south east from the town of Turrialba and offers stunning views over the Volcano Irazú and Volcano Turrialba and as seen as we climbed to the highest point on the road we could see the Volcanoes.

Last walk of the grounds gave us Long-tailed Silky-Flycatcher, Black-billed Nightingale Thrush, Rufous-tailed Hummingbird, Flame-coloured Tanager, Sulphur-winged Parakeet, Volcano Hummingbird, Blue-and-White Swallow, Golden-bellied Flycatcher and Sooty Thrush.

No sooner had we set off when I said what’s that in the road, it was a slightly stunned looking male Black-and-Yellow Silky-flycatcher, sitting in the middle of the road. Danny stopped as soon as he could and reversed back hoping to move the bird to safety but some motorbikes going the other hit and killed the bird. Very sad and it caught us asking ourselves as we had seen the bird while it was still alive would we have ticked it if we hadn’t already seen a female earlier. I said “yes” as it was clearly alive and moving when I spotted it, Sarah said “no” as she only glimpsed it as we passed and then it was dead when we came back. It could have been a moral dilemna.

We had just one brief stop beside a river / dam before Rancho as we had Lunch as our first meal in an all-inclusive package here. At the stop we had Hoffman’s Woodpecker, Lesser Scaup, Southern Lapwing, Plain Wren, Violet-headed Hummingbird and Yellow-crowned Euphonia.

It was unseasonably hot when we arrived at Rancho Naturalista (over 30 degrees C) fortunately the forecast was for cooler days to follow. At check-in we were delighted we had room 1. This room has its own balcony and feeder and you can also overlook the garden and see the main balcony feeders while sitting in a rocking-chair. We threw our stuff in the room had lunch and then had an hour on the balcony before walking the first trail.
From the balcony we saw Crowned Woodnymph, White-necked Jacobin, Green Thorntail, Green-crowned Brilliant and Rufous-tailed Hummingbird.

Our first walk was down the road then up through the old irongate and to the forest entrance we did not walk the full manakin trail, as it looked like the heavens were about to open so we retreated to the balcony for some coffee and to see what was around the garden. Despite not walking very far we did see Grey-headed Chacalaca with chicks, female Snowcap, White-breasted Woodwren, Clay-coloured Thrush, Eastern Wood Pewee, Collared Aracari, Green-breasted Mango, Roadside Hawk, and Blackburnian Warbler. In the garden we added Brown Jay, Yellow-throated Toucan, and Speckled Tanager although by this time the light was really poor.

The rain had eased off by dinner, excellent food served at shared tables and we agreed to try for Mottled and Crested Owls but despite hearing both birds distantly, we couldn’t coax them closer.

Maps of Savegre and Rancho attached for information
 

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Andy Adcock

Well-known member
England
David,
note the new treatment of Plain Wren in the report I sent you, I'm afraid you'll have to work out which one it was from your location, I'd tentatively suggest that it's Canebreak Wren here?



A
 

birdmeister

Well-known member
United States
Fantastic flight shot of the Silky-flycatcher! Congrats on the Resplendent Quetzal, too.

Nice report, I've really enjoyed your write-up and photos.
 

dandsblair

David and Sarah
Supporter
David,
note the new treatment of Plain Wren in the report I sent you, I'm afraid you'll have to work out which one it was from your location, I'd tentatively suggest that it's Canebreak Wren here?



A

Andy

Thanks again. Yes it was greyish Caribbean bird we saw near Turrialba which used to be Canebreak Wren and obviously now is again. I need to go back through previous trip report to see if it was Zeledoni we saw last time or if this is a new bird. I don't know how I missed that one as it is split in AOCR list as well now.
 

dandsblair

David and Sarah
Supporter
Rancho Naturalista and Surrounds


Rancho Naturalista and Surrounds


We decided to do some birding with Cali, a local guide this morning. We met up at the insect light at dawn and the Mottled Owl was still calling but we couldn’t find him or later on his day roost. Instead we started with Red-throated Ant-tanager, then added the first of the main targets I gave Cali; the range restricted Tawny-chested Flycatcher, going up the trail to the forest hummingbird feeders we added White-ruffed Manakin before catching a mixed flock near the feeders with Black-headed Saltator, Ochre-bellied Flycatcher, Stripe-throated Hermit, Streak-headed Woodcreeper and then another one of my targets Checker-throated Antwren – we walked to the end of the closed Roble Trail where we finally saw a Buff-throated Foliage-Gleaner we heard many, and then on the creek crossing we added Eye-ringed Flatbill.

We checked a few spots for roosting Owls but without success before exiting the forest at the Pasture Mirador where we saw a Bright-rumped Atilla. Cali had did well with my targets of the forest birds and he suggested I try the Hummingbird pools in the afternoon for Dull-mantled Antbird.

We headed back to the lodge and had Danny drive us to Cali’s village (turn left out of Rancho and then right at first town where behind the local school is a fast flowing river. We saw Black-crowned Night-heron, Green Heron, Black Phoebe and Spotted Sandpiper before Cali pointed to a tree, where almost totally obscured was a Sunbittern. I did manage to manoeuvre myself to get a record shot of the bird.

Our final stop was at a garden belong to Lynda (the lodge owner’s) mother. We had no sooner arrived than we quickly added Garden Emerald and had plenty of opportunities to photograph Snowcaps a few of which came out whenever the Crowned Woodnymph and Rufous-tailed Hummers moved off.

In the afternoon we headed over to the Hummingbird Pools, I wasn’t expecting to see the birds bathing as they did, there was Green Thorntail, Snowcap, White-necked Jacobin, Green-breasted Mango, Violet-headed Hummingbird and Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer taking turns to effectively fly in the pools. One Japanese photographer must have fired off about 12000 shots while we were there.

I played the call for the Antbird and lo and behold the Dull-mantled Antbird showed almost immediately although only fleetingly, he then took a bath in the pool below and showed once again before going into the forest. Danny was a bit surprised I tried for the bird here until I mentioned that Cali had told me it was a good spot.
Thanks for that one Cali.

There were also a few other birds bathing - Carmiol's Tanager, Swainson's Thrush and Orange-billed Sparrow.

Cali had also mentioned that a Bi-coloured Hawk was nesting nearby and when we went to the area we found a likely tree and saw the male flying in with food and then he sat in a nearby tree before going out hunting again.
On the way back to the lodge we saw the White-ruffed Manakin and a Golden-winged Warbler.
 

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Andy Adcock

Well-known member
England
More good birds and several we didn't get,

Tawny-chested Flycatcher, White-ruffed Manakin, Checker-throated Antwren were not seen by us, we didn't do that well for large Owls either with only Spectacled seen.

I don't want to start getting on your nerves with my pedantry but I think you mean Dull-mantled Antbird rather than 'Dusky-mantled'.

You seem to have stayed at more up market places than we did, Rancho Naturalista is on the list for next time!

Will you be producing an annotated species list at some point?


A
 
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