Monday, April 02, 2018

Costa Rica - Day 1 - Alls of Montezuma

March 5, 2018 - This was our second time to go birding in this beautiful country. Back in 2015 we only stayed in one place - at the high altitude environment of San Gerardo de Dota. Our primary target there was the Resplendent Quetzal which we got quite easily, along with many other lifers.

This time we planned for two different locales: one in mid-level elevations and the other at the lowlands near the Pacific coast.

We arrived at Rancho Naturalista, a lodge located in the Turrialba mountains and a popular destination of birders, around noon. After settling down and having a quick lunch, we began our birding activities right next to the dining area. And immediately got our first lifer: The Montezuma Oropendola.

It turned out that this noisy bird was the most common in this area along with the Grey-headed Chachalaca (which we already saw when we went to Panama in 2016). It seemed that the Montezumas "own" this place. They were always there anytime of the day.

The target of the birders here was the Snowcap, a species of hummingbird that has a white forehead contrasting against its rufous body. It was actually the iconic logo of Rancho Naturalista. Consider it luck that I was the first one to see it. I yelled "Snowcap!" and pointed the tiny flitting bird to the other birders. That was lifer number two for us.

Our third lifer, the Passerini's Tanager, was very skittish and we weren't able to get a good photo until our last day here. Soon lifer #4 came barging into the area. Several individuals bullied the other partakers on the feeders. The Brown Jays, typical of their family, were noisy and brazen.

A couple of hours later, Cynthia and I decided to explore the area outside the lodge grounds. We tried the unpaved road that led to the lodge. Across was a deep ravine with several tall flowering trees. On top of those trees a flock of White-crowned Parrots perched screaming loudly. Unfortunately they were so far off that we only got documentary shots of our 5th lifer.

On the way back we noticed a wooden bench by the roadside. As we stood by it, my wife heard a lot of bird calls. Then she pointed at one of the sources of those calls. Lifer number 6 was a White-collared Manakin.

Returning to the lodge, we chalked up lifer #7 - the Olive-backed Euphonia.

At the bird bath we got number 8, the Rufous-capped Warbler. Strange that every time we see this species, it was always at the bird bath.

That evening, while having dinner, we made an arrangement with Rene, a local guide, to take us to the Sunbittern place the following day.

We went to bed tired but happy that we got a number of lifers in just half a days birding. Looking forward to tomorrow!

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