New England Coastal BIrds

New England Coastal BIrds

Monday, October 24, 2016

Krausman's Woodcarving Studio 2016 Costa Rica "Pura Vida" Birdcarving Extravaganza!!

                                      Part 2- Krausman's Birdcarving Studio's 25th Anniversary

                                                            Costa Rica!!!!!

     Continues..........Week Two, Day 11, Sunday, Oct 9, 2016, Pacific slopes, lowland and coast-

       We woke up early this morning with plans to drive down to Puerto Limon on the southeast Caribbean coast to the Sloth Sanctuary ( ).  Jen and I have been wanting to go here for many years.....but time never allowed. Because of the long week at Savegre, we all mutually came to the same conclusion......that we really didn't want to drive four hours this morning! Without going to the Sloth Sanctuary, I suggested a more "relaxed" day together......which sounded good to Pam, Jim and Jen! My thoughts would be to travel to the small Pacific slope Town or Orotina where Jen and I have been to many times. In the center this lovely town, is a small park which has proven in the past to be a good place to go birding at a slow pace, also enjoying the many park benches to sit and relax in the shade.

                                                                   Orotina (blue arrow)

      Orotina has many Pacific slope bird specialties, and the town park is especially famous for their resident pair of Black and White Owls. Jen and I have seen them on two other occasions, but not in 2014 when we were there last. The Owls nest and raise their young in the Palm Trees in the park. Last time we were there, the Owlets fledged and the birds left. We were told by the Park keeper that we had missed them by two weeks.-

           One of the Orotina Black and White Owls which I photographed in early Oct. 2010

       The other resident of the Park is a Two-toed Sloth (Perizoso dos dedos) which is always easily seen in the trees in the center of the small Park. This is that Perizoso which I also photographed next to the Owl and on the same morning.-

         It was early in the morning and as Beny pulled down that little side street where the park became in view, we could see that the park was nearly empty of people. "Sunday morning" Beny said.....everyone is sleeping in or at church. And also Sunday is family get-together day in Costa Rica, after church everyone would be preparing food for family day!

         When Beny pulled up alongside the curb on the southeast corner of the park a few Great-tailed Grackles walked past us.  Also as usual, the loud raspy screeches of dozens of Orange-chinned Parakeets were nearly overwhelming. The noisy Parakeets always greet you when you come to this park!-

       If you want to see and study White-winged Doves up close, Orotina Park is an excellent place to do this......they are as numerous and tame as Pigeons are here in our city parks-

                                         Also a good place to see Inca Doves up close-

      There weren't too many birds and bird species in the park this morning, they must have been sleeping in too! There were a few Rufous-naped Wrens foraging around the light poles.....probably looking for moths and katydids-

             I am fascinated by the multiple colored fur levels of these Variegated Squirrels.-

      We looked around the near vacant park (from people and birds) but could not find the Owls or Perizoso. If the Owls are in the large Palm Trees in the northwest corner of the park, and not perched in the large open trees in the middle of the park, they are hard to find. But the Sloth is usually right out in the open, but none of us could spot it. A man walked into the park with his morning newspaper and sat on one of the benches. I politely greeted him "Buenas dias" (good morning), "perdon" (excuse me)  I asked him two words: "Lechuza" (Owl)  and "Perizoso" (Sloth)!? He pointed up to the trees for the "Lechuza", and then he said "No mas, Perizoso"! He tried to explain to me tat the Sloth was Beny got the whole story from him. Sadly, last year, the Sloth fell out of the tree one rainy and stormy night and died when it hit the sidewalk! That was very sad.....Jen and I have seen that Sloth every time we visited this Park; it will be missed!

       We all looked around a while longer for the Owls but with no luck. A local man who just walked into the park noticed us looking up into the trees. He asked me if we were looking for the Owls and I told him we were. "Sorry" he said, "The Owls left the park about two weeks ago"! Oh well, a little late again this year! I thanked him and we decided it was time to leave.

     Now where do we go? I had planned to spend an hour and a half in the park which is usually busy with birds, we sat down on one of the benches to figure out what to do next. Beny seeing that we had struck out in the park for the Owls and Sloth, pulled out his iphone and made a phone call. He talked for a few minutes, and hung up his phone. He told me, "C'mon, I have a surprise for you.....something that you will really be happy about"!

     I asked him where are you taking us, and he told me that I already knew the place, but to a different area that you have never been to! So off we went driving southeast. As we were driving, I told Beny that we have been on these roads before, Beny with his usual smile on his face and quick response said "I know"! He told me that we were going someplace that was really special; to a private Estate, and I would be really happy when we got there! I know Beny well, and his surprises always turn out fantastic! As we got closer to the place, I told him that I think I knew where he was taking us....and he just smiled! We were on the Pacific slopes right in the middle of Mango country! And since I am  "Mango loco" according to Beny, I was happy!

       Beny slowed down, and put on his left turn signal. Jen and I knew exactly where we were. We had been here two years ago when we were in Orotina. Beny pulled up to the gate house for the Turu ba ri Park, the zip-line and adventure park that I had wanted to schedule in our tours last week. It is located on the lower slopes near the foothills southeast of the town park in Orotina. Turu ba ri is an amazing park which features: gondola cable car rides across the Rio Tarcoles gorge, and the incredible "Superman" zip-line ride across the gorge! Amazing! They also have guided bird and wildlife tours, horseback riding and a full restaurant facilities for breakfast, lunch and dinner! It is an fabulous place! ( )  (orange arrow)-

      I was really glad that we were coming here, besides showing Pam and Jim a great place to have a day tour for next years class, the place was very "birdy". But I still had to ask Beny why he was taking us here......and again he said, "Its a surprise"!! He smiled and told me that he was going up to the office to pick up a guide for us, and then we were going to the private estate on the other side of the river to go birding and to see something he knows would make me, Jen, Pam and Jim very happy!

     Beny told me he knows the owners of the Estate and the Adventure Park and we were invited to go into the private area to go birding, and to see that special thing! And if we liked this area, we could add it to our day tour next year for our class......and it will be a private tour only for us! That was unbelievable! Their names were Guillermo Saborio Vega and Rodrigo Saborio Vega and this was a very special, kind and generous gift that they were giving us.........what a privaledge! Muchas Gracias!!

     The entrance road to the Adventure Park is a half-mile long dirt and gravel road with many birds seen along the road. We stopped a few times to take quick looks at birds, but I was anxious to start private birding tour on that private Estate land.......what an amazing privaledge! They had over 300 hectares (around 750 acres) of absolute prime Pacific foothills land with a long list of endemic and regional species. I had dreamed about birding here when Beny pointed to it last time we were here! We arrived at the office and met our guide for the morning. His name was "Gabo" (Gabriel), and he was anxious to get started.-

       We drove back up the road and then down the road a short distance. There was a locked gate, and Gabo having the key, unlocked it. We drove through the gate, Gabo locked it behind us, and then we drove down the steep dirt and gravel access road. There were birds buzzing back and forth across the road, but with the incline, Beny couldn't stop.

     Soon we got to the bottom of the access road, and the property leveled off. There the road became smooth and it was lined by huge Palm Trees along both sides of the was amazing! The road continued for a long distance and then you could see it made a sharp turn to the right. On both sides of the road, the area was covered with the most lush, dense and spectacular tropical Pacific rainforest that was beyond imagination. It was just awe-inspiring!. All that we could hear was endless bird many to properly identify. White-tailed Deer crossed back and forth across the road-

      The first bird that was visible just off the side of the road was a Blue-crowned Motmot.....and then another.....and another!!-

           And then a Squirrel Cuckoo flew in, but it flew right out, no pictures! Than we spotted another Motmot fly in, but this was a Turquoise-browed......Holy Motmot! This is the first place that I have been in Costa Rica with those two species together in the same area, Other birds continued, and then more White-tailed Deer crossed in front of us, all we saw were the "white flags"!-

           Gabo told us to stop and be extra quiet. He motioned to all of us to walk slowly up to him, and get in behind this large Palm Tree trunk. He carefully pointed slowly up towards a small dark area in the branches to the left of us about twenty feet off the ground. As our eyes adjusted to the small dark area......... it materialized into a Spectacled Owl! Wow, what an amazing bird! This is the first Spectacled Owl that I have ever seen, what a wonderful gift! Jen loves Owls and she was absolutely thrilled to see it. Pam was also excited and commented on how beautiful it was, Jim was like me, taking picture after picture!-

      Even though we were all very quiet and careful not to disturb the Owl, it wasn't happy with us being there, so it took off.........

      .......and flew across the road in front of us into the dense rain forest.-


                What a truly magnificent rivals the majesty of our Great Horned Owl!-

       We were all really happy having an amazing, yet brief encounter with that Owl. Gabo  said for us to follow him up a path into the left side of the rainforest. He told us to be very quiet and to walk slowly. We followed behind him on the path and were very careful not to crunch any crisp leaves on the ground.

     All the time we were slowly creeping up this path, I could hear an Owl calling not too far ahead of us. I was thinking it was the other adult Spectacled Owl, Gabo stopped and carefully pointed slightly upward to the right, he motioned to us to be very quiet and move slowly. The reason for his caution became suddenly was a Spectacled Owlet! It was perched on a branch twenty yards out and twenty feet off the ground. This was really exciting! I think we were so captivated by this Owlet I didn't even realize that this Owlet was the source of the "hooting" I was hearing. Thinking all the time it was the other adult; never considering it was an Owlet.    

     After spending five minutes absorbing as much of this exciting event as we could (and as many pictures as we could take), we decided to leave the Owlet alone and not upset it and its parents! When we got back out to the road, Beny asked me if I was happy with his "surprise"! The big hug I gave him gave him my answer!! :^) Beny knew of the Owlet a few months ago when they were very young and small. Actually there are two Owlets in this clutch, the other one probably a short distance from this one this morning. He showed me pictures of both Owlets when they were small puffs of white down plumage with big, bright yellow eyes! The encounter was absolutely amazing......Beny my friend, you came through again!

     We walked a short distance back down the road and were startled a bit by a big woosh of wings......the other adult Spectacled Owl which was watching us from the higher branches of the trees, flushed away from us. I am sure it was relieved that we had moved away from its Owlet.-

         As we slowly walked down this road, we saw many birds, but most were quick looks in the dense vegetation such as this unidentified Seedeater.- (Updated Nov 11, identified as a Variable Seedeater- Thank you Guillermo)

                                               Good looks at a Dusky-capped Flycatcher-

       A little movement in the branches over my head made me look up. Just ten feet over my head I spotted a bright yellow patch of feathers......which belonged to a stunning Violaceous Trogon.-

         The Trogon shifted on the branch a bit, and then flew off to the other side of the road which actually gave us better looks being more in the open, and the sun was in a better location for better photos.-

            It came to my attention later by a renowned Ornithologist and birder in Costa Rica, that this bird has been renamed to "Gartered" Trogon......something about the subpecies differences and its range split on the Pacific coast. I told him I appreciated that information and will make note of it.....But, since I am old school and an artist not an Ornithologist, I always prefer the "romantic" and "artistic" name! I'll stay with Violaceous Trogon, more of an appealing name for this bird! :^)-

                  Many of the Palm Trees had nest holes used by Woodpeckers, Parakeets, Amazon Parrots, Trogons, Aracaris and Toucans. Gabo told me that they have a few Keel-billed Toucans here; which is very uncommon for this species to be on the Pacific slopes.-

             Woodcreepers of several species were common in the trees along the road such as this                                
                                                             Spotted Woodcreeper-

                                  And yes, Iguanas were just about every where you looked!-

                                                    A U.S. migrant; Yellow Warbler-

           After an amazing two hours birding on this magnificent private estate, we drove back to the main area of the Adventure Park to have breakfast. Under the eaves of one of the buildings were a small huddled group of roosting Bats-

          Surrounding the restaurant were Hummingbird feeders and a beautiful Butterfly Garden that was very active with feeding Butterflies-

     Over breakfast Pam, Jim, Jen, Beny and I started discussing the plans for the tour for next years class. We come up with a great idea for the day......Have an early breakfast at the Hotel in the San Jose area and then leave for Orotina. Go directly on the private birding tour on this fabulous private estate. When the birding walk is over, everyone will take the cable trams back across the Rio Tarcoles gorge to the main buildings. Back at the main area, there is time for horseback riding, or more riding on the cable trams, and of course the famous "Superman" Zip-Line!!! WOW!! After that, we all have lunch in the open-air restaurant and head out to the next location....what an amazing morning!!

                                      The cable Tram across the Rio Tarcoles-

         Jen and I, Pam and Jim would like to personally Thank Guillermo and Rodrigo for your generous gift for sharing your beautiful property, and your gracious kindness for us to enjoy! 
Muchas Gracias!! 

       After a wonderfully hardy and very delicious Tico breakfast, we said adios con mucho gusto to Gabo and the others, what a great morning. We are now heading down for a nice relaxing drive on the coast road starting at Tarcoles.-

       Tarcoles- when we crossed over the "Crocodile Bridge" which goes over the Rio Tarcoles, I thought it would be nice to take a short stop at the beach behind the small town of Tarcoles. This beach (Playa Tarcoles) is an "off-the-beaten-path" place to stop and go birding. The beach is located south of the mouth of the Rio Tarcoles. The beach is behind the old soccer field and there is only one small road that ends at the beach. There is a small parking area under the Beach Almond trees which may hold a handful of cars. 

        Today, we were in luck. The wind was blowing strong and steady on shore from the west. For anyone who sea watches for seabirds, this is the ideal scenario. The winds blow birds off the ocean, and in this case the Gulf of Nicoya and closer to shore. 

       Beny pulled his van under the almond trees and I couldn't wait to open the doors. As I was waiting to help everyone out of the van, Jen pointed out the open side sliding door and said, "Turn around, look"! I turned around just in time to see a Mangrove Black Hawk land on the beach only thirty-five yards in front of us!

     Jim and I quickly grabbed our cameras, and started taking auto-wind was busy! What an amazing opportunity!-

          After five minutes, the Hawk grew tired of us taking so many pictures of it, and then flew off down the beach..........

          .......and disappeared into the almond and palm trees along the shoreline. To be honest, for me, this up-close and personal experience with the Mangrove Black Hawk rivaled if not surpassed the Spectacled Owl sightings. I really love this species of Hawk. The faint barring and markings in primaries and secondaries of the black wings and the white bands on the black tail is quite spectacular!-

                                                               What a beauty!!-

         While I was watching and photographing the Hawk fading into the trees, I could hear Jen yelling to me from the van "Look up, look up, look up"!! And when I did.......I was again stunned! Magnificent Frigatebirds were gliding down the beach only twenty yards over our heads! I couldn't believe it! I looked over to Jim, and he looked at me said "This just gets better and better"!! This was spectacular! This is my absolute favorite Seabird species, and now they are literally tree-top level over my head! While I was standing there in that one spot on the beach, my (possibly) favorite species of Hawk and my favorite Seabird species at only a few seconds apart! I couldn't believe it!

        We stayed at the beach for nearly an hour, and the birds never stopped flying! A steady procession of Brown Pelicans, Magnificent Frigatebirds, Neotropic Cormorants and Black Vultures passed by in a steady procession of flight using the west winds to carry them south out of the Gulf of Nicoya and into the Pacific Ocean.-

                                                                  Brown Pelicans-

                                                         Neotropic Cormorants-

                                  Many Royal Terns were flying by, and of course..........

                             ...........being chased by the marauding Frigatebirds.-

                         Plenty of Shorebirds: Western Willets, Semi-palmated and Western Sandpipers, Spotted Sandpipers, and Ruddy Turnstones, -


                                                              Many Wilson's Plover........-

                                          ................and Semi-palmated Plover-

                                                 Wilson's Plover and Snowy Egret-

                                                                      Wilson's Plover-

                                  Wilson's Plover (left) and Semi-palmated Plover (right)-

                                  And a continuous movement of Black and Turkey Vultures-

          It was a very productive and exciting time on the beach, we decided to head down the coast towards Quepos and take advantage of any opportunities that were presented. As we left, the Frigatebirds continued..........

          Part 2, Day 11, Sunday, Oct 9, 2016, Pacific slopes, lowland and coast CONTINUES......

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