Week Two continues.......Day 14, Wednesday, Oct 12, 2016- Back to the Pacific Slopes, Foothills and Coast, Mangrove Boat Tour with Rafa, "Father of the Monkeys"!- Yesterday, Beny made arrangements with another friend who owns a Mangrove Monkey boat tour in Quepos, a small fishing town south of Jaco. This area has the largest Pacific Mangrove Estuary in Costa Rica at Damas Island. He arranged the tour for 11:00 am since that would be the time of high tide. Because the mangrove estuary is shallow, you can only access this vast estuary at high tide. Beny also arranged with Rafael "Rafa" (the owner) that birds are the main target that I was looking for. And since it was off-season and I would be checking out this tour for next years tour schedule, Rafa was very accommodating!
Since the boat tour was set for 11:00 am, which allowed plenty of time in the morning for birding. My plan was to leave early and go birding just after first light at the private Estate in Orotina. After the tour we would have breakfast at the Turu ba ri restaurant and then take a leisurely drive down the coast road to Quepos and bird along the way.
Jen was working again today, but it was the last day of the Life Science Trade Show. At 5:00 am there was a knock on our Hotel room door, it was Jim. He told me that Pam wasn't feeling great and was up all night coughing from her sinus congestion. He said that he was going to stay with Pam today, and that was completely understandable. I suggested that I stay behind, but he said there was nothing that I can do. Jen had a great idea, she called Beny's daughter Dr. Amanda, and she was happy to come by and make a "hotel call" for Pam. At 5:30 am, Beny showed up in his van, and Vanessa and Dr. Amanda following in her car. Dr. Amanda prescribed antibiotics for Pam....."She is going to be just fine, just a sinus infection". She suggested Pam rest the day away and take her Meds!
With that, Beny suggested we get going! In a little over an hour, we were at the guard gate at Turu ba ri, We again needed to pick up Gabo whom I requested to again guide us through the private estate. At the bottom of the estate road where it levels off to the long driveway road lined with Palm Trees, I met one of the owners, Guillermo (right in below image) who was birding and was set up with his camera. I told him how much I appreciated his generosity, and was so Thankful for the opportunity to bird on his land. He told me that I was welcome anytime!-
While we were chatting and getting acquainted, Gabo looked over to the right and said "Long-tailed Manikin"! I squinted and looked hard in the thick dark vegetation, and saw one of the tail streamers from a male twitch.......I see them! I never expected to see this species, this made my morning!-
A short walk down the road, and the adult Spectaced Owl was perched in the same tree branch it was three days ago. I told Gabo that I didn't want to bother the Owlets again, and was happy with a quick look at the adult. -
Another (Violaceous) Gartered Trogon-
I am fascinated with the Strangler Fig tree! I think if this tree as the rainforests natural sculpture. There were many of theme here, so I photographed a few of them.....absolutely fascinating!-
Well, anyone that knows me and my art thought process, knows (maybe not understands) my life-long passion with colors, color harmony, and color dynamics. This palm frond is about as clear a study in what I believe with color as can be naturally explained. This would make a great painting!
While we were walking down a side path on the right side of the road, we came across a stream and this small waterfall. Since I was alone this morning, and I knew that this a perfect habitat for a reptile on my wish list, I asked Gabo and Guillermo about the Fer de lance (aka Terciopelo). They looked at me and said that we were in prime territory for this snake in this area of the Pacific, and along this waterway, but they are not as easy to find as you would think. We searched around (carefully) for ten minutes, but no luck! Muchas gracias for trying, back to birds!! :^)
Northern Barred Woodcreeper-
Not sure about the ID of these yet.........waiting for identification.- (Updated Nov 11, identified as Red-crowned Ant-Tanagers- Thank you Guillermo)
Ironic, a few White-faced Capuchin Monkeys glided through the branches-
I said Good-bye to Guillermo, and Thanked him so much again for this wonderful opportunity, and he said he would see me next year for more birding! Gabo, Beny and I drove slowly down the road since he wanted to show me a path that may have different birds there. We just turned the corner, and Gabo pointed to a Palm Tree on the left....he said "Carpentaro".....meaning Woodpecker. There climbing up the tree trunk was the unmistakable silhouette of a Lineated Woodpecker....gem #3 this morning! -
The woodpecker few a short distance to a nearby tree but with a better angle and lighting!-
After the woodpecker flew off, Gabo took me down the trail that he wanted to show me. There were some birds moving there, but most went unseen in the thick vegetation. But not the Motmots.....there were quite a few of both Blue-crowned and Turquoise-browed-
A Red-legged Woodcreeper flies in and lands close for a few shots before it flies off-
Grail Bird Conversation- Before saying good-bye to Guillermo, I was telling him that I had four Costa Rican "Grail Birds" that I wanted to see and experience in the wild in Costa Rica. Grail bird #4- To take great images of the Common Pauraque both on its roost and flying shots.....diurnal shots, not under a light at night. I keep missing photo-ops of this bird. #3- Ornate Hawk-Eagle in the wild, perched and flying. #2- Magnificent Frigatebirds up close and perched on tree branches, boat rigging's, etc........just perched, simple as that. And my #1- COMMON POTOO! Unequivocally, the bird that I want to experience the most! I want to find this bird perched and doing its "hiding" posture up close and spending quite a bit of time admiring and studying it!
When I got through saying that to Guillermo, he looked at Gabo and said why don't you take Keith to the one on the trail by the office?! I was really excited by that! He told me as of a week ago, the Potoo is seen every day roosting on a broken branch a few feet off the trail. And further more, you can get real close to it, it won't spook and fly away. Talk about exciting, let's go!!
I was real anxious to get back to the office area. When we did, I couldn't contain myself, I wanted to get going! We walked down the trail for about five minutes, and Gabo told me to walk slowly and quietly; the tree roost is just a few meters ahead in this small clearing-
We were almost there when he whispered to me to look up to the left and find that broken branch, the "estaca" (stick bird) will be perched there. I could hardly compose myself, my heart started beating fast (just as it is now as I write this)........I found the branch.....in the uneven light of the thick vegetation, was that it? Maybe not? How about that?-
Gabo looked at me and said "Estaca is not there"! Man, what a disappointing let down! He looked on the ground below the broken branch perch (where the Potoo had been) and he didn't find any tell-tale whitewash! The bird had left. He told me that estaca had raised a single young bird here and they were both here up until a week ago when he last checked. He thinks that the young bird fledged and the parents left the area. Oh well, at least I am getting closer! I did see a perfect perch where estaca was! That's exciting in itself!-
Well, since I didn't see the Common Potoo, I thought I would put an image of the one I carved here........leaves a little to the imagination!! :^)-
We continued walking down this trail, which looped around to the main road by the office. We hadn't gone far when we heard more Carpentaros hammering on the trees. I spotted this male Hoffman's Woodpecker just off the trail-
Well fate can strike twice just a few steps apart! As I was walking carefully (looking and watching where I put my feet being careful for snakes) I wasn't paying attention out ahead of me. Gabo said that he saw two (he thought about the birds names in English) jump up and land a few meters ahead. While he struggled for the names we slowly walked in that direction. A few steps later we flushed a pair of Pauraque! I said Pauraque, and Gabo said, "Si, that's what they are"! Of course I wasn't expecting them, so I didn't get one picture as they crossed a few yards right in front of me.
The pair of Pauraque flushed rapidly two more times, and that's right. I didn't get one picture! Between watching where I was stepping and trying to get the lens to focus, I did have good quick looks at them as they flew through the rainforest only yards in front of me! Since I didn't get one picture of them, I thought I would post a picture of one of my Pauraque decoys....seemed appropriate here!! :^)-
The last bird of the trail was a single Streaked Flycatcher that lead me down the trail to the main road to the office!
Well in a distance of a few meters apart.....two Grail Birds; one almost, and one with many missed opportunities! I know where I am spending a lot of time next year on this tour! Maybe I will be lucky then! After breakfast with Gabo, Beny, and Ricardo who joined us, I said Thank You and "We'll see you next year" to Gabo and Ricardo; Beny and I headed down to the coast!
On the coast road between Tarcoles and Jaco- We still had an hour and a half before we were scheduled to leave the boat dock in Quepos. Beny said we had plenty of time to look for birds along the road. Its always fun trying to photograph birds from the moving van through the windshield or open side window. Usually, the images turn out really bad. But this one of a Crested Caracara flying by came out OK....less the cropped wings! :^)-
Just down the road, the Jaco rice fields were started covering the coastal landscape. A sharp-looking Gray Hawk flew across the road..........
......and landed in a tree. Lucky for me because we had stopped a few moments earlier because there were some Wading Birds in the rice field which was being harvested. So I took the opportunity to observe and study this magnificent Hawk before checking out the birds in the field.-
The Hawk tolerated me and my camera for a few minutes before flying off over the pasture and into the woods-
and the unique and cool looking Wood Stork-
There were several Bare-throated Tiger-Herons in the rice field and standing on the fence posts like this one-
On the right side of the rice field, a Mangrove Black Hawk was being harassed by several Crested Caracara-
The reason was obvious when the Hawk took off showing that it had caught a Rodent-
The Hawk eventually flew off into the woods with five marauding Crested Caracaras chasing it-
Part Two Continues..........Day 14, Wednesday, Oct 12, 2016- Damas Island/Quepos Mangrove Monkey and Bird Boat Tour with Rafa "The Father of the Monkeys"-
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