Week two Continues.....Day 13, Tuesday, Oct 11. 2016, Back up to the Caribbean Highlands and the Hummingbird Mirador- Met Jim at breakfast this morning, Pam has come down with the early stages of sinus congestion and a cold so she decided to stay in today and rest. Jen is working at the Trade Show, so it will be Beny, Jim and I this morning. While we were getting in Beny's van, a male Hoffman's Woodpecker apparently wanted its picture taken by landing on the Palm Tree trunk right in front of Beny's van......and I was happy to accommodate him! :^)-
After the Woodpecker photo shoot, we drove out of the parking lot headed for the Hummingbird Mirador. An hour and a half later, we arrived at the mirador and anxiously hurried to the outside deck. On the way through the restaurant we said Buenas dias to Senora Elizabeth and she greeted us with a big smile. She asked me "El chocolate caliente" (Hot chocolate)? I smiled and said "Si, gracias"!
We walked onto the deck with cameras ready, and the Hummingbirds were very active buzzing the feeders. chasing one another, while others were perched quietly on the natural vegetation. The first Hummingbird that caught my eye coming to the feeder on the left was a very uncommon species which I have only seen once before at LaPaz. It has become a favorite Hummingbird species of mine; the Green Thorntail!-
Female Coppery-headed Emerald-
The stunning (and large) Violet Sabrewing-
Female Violet Sabrewing-
While we were totally engaged with the Hummingbirds, other birds were coming and going through the open area in their garden......including this North American migrant; Summer Tanager-
Even though there was a light rain falling, the clouds were still hovering over the peaks and hadn't descended which would spoil the view. The view from the deck down the valley across to the other side was clear, impressive and astonishing! What an awe-inspiring back drop for bird watching and photography!-
Male Passerini's Tanager-
Female Passerini's Tanager
A nice surprise flew into the opening......a Slate-throated Redstart, the first one that I have ever seen.-
The birds slowed down a bit with no new species joining us. The Hummingbirds continued at their usually high-strung pace. The Emerald Toucanets were a no-show this morning and Senora Elizabeth told us that she hadn't seen them this morning before we arrived. She also mentioned that she or Senor Jorge haven't seen the Red-headed Barbets in a few weeks.
Jim and I decided to take a ride down to the Caribbean foothills and see what we find (if anything) there. We could spend an hour or so there and then come back here to the mirador for lunch and birds. We told Senora Elizabeth that we would see her for lunch. She told us that she will make us her Beef Stew and it would be ready and hot when we came back......sounds good to me!! :^)
We had only driven a short distance from the mirador and just starting downhill, when Beny looked to the right and said there is a big white bird in the top of that tree. Since I couldn't see where he was pointing, my first thought was a King Vulture perhaps? Beny pulled off on to that very narrow dirt and gravel shoulder where only a few yards away was an incredibly steep and seemingly bottomless drop-off which was beyond hair raising! Now I could see the bird.......a gorgeous White Hawk! This image taken from the "edge" of the pull-off.......you can see the deep valley below-
We watched and photographed this magnificent Hawk for ten minutes than decided it was time to drive down to the foothills and look around if we want to be back by lunchtime. Just like anywhere you go in Costa Rica, the spectacular views are never ending......the Caribbean foothills-
I asked Beny to take us to another area that we hadn't been to before. Beny chose farm country which was an area a little northwest of Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui. The area was a little different than I was use to seeing made up mostly of pastures and intermittent forests, woody patches and some riparian forests near streams and creeks.
The birds were a little sparse and spread out, but we were driving and "road-birding" so that would be expected in this new area. But we did see quite a few of the usual species in the fields, trees, fences and power lines such as Doves, Pigeons, Kingbirds, Flycatchers, Grackles, Black and Turkey Vultures, Cattle Egrets, a few Kingfishers, small passerines, and others. We also saw a few Montezuma Oropendola, Roadside Hawks, other unidentified Hawks and of course a few others that warranted stopping and taking a few images such as this Crested Caracara that Jim spotted in a tree in a pasture-
We also had a few quick looks at a very distant White-tailed Kite-
And a very low flying migrant Broad-winged Hawk-
Another "first" for me; a White-shouldered Tanager preens on a barbed-wire fence-
Quick looks at a single Keel-billed Toucan just off the road on private property-
and a pair of Orange-chinned Parakeets in a tree over the Rio Guayabo-
This new country on the Caribbean foothills and lowlands that Beny took us to was worth the time we spent. The landscape was so different than I was use to; something new to experience. After a fuel stop, time to head back up to the highlands and the Hummingbird mirador!
Forty-five minutes later we had reached the highlands just a few minutes from the mirador with lunch and birds (hopefully) waiting for us! We were exactly at the tree where Beny stopped for the White Hawk, and I saw (what I believe to be) a Highland Tinamou, run across the road and then disappear into the grass and vegetation at the edge of the steep downward incline cloudforest.
Beny stopped the van, and I got out and walked across the road nearly stepping on a small dead snake (about a foot long) in the road. This was only the second snake that I have ever seen in Costa Rica (and I have looked for them) both being road-killed. I was standing along the edge almost in the exact spot where Jim and I were earlier photographing the White Hawk. I heard a little rustling in the grass and vegetation below me. Thinking it was the Tinamou (or maybe a covey of Tinamou) I patiently listened and watched as the tall grass moved below me. They were getting closer! I stayed very still thinking that the Tinamou would appear from the grass at any second....I got my camera ready.......then they appeared out of the grass; a bunch of Coati!! They started walking right towards me, and more came out of the grass and also came towards me. These Coati were very curious and followed me as I turned and walked away.-
More came and joined the others-
Time for a little play time and grooming-
The whole bunch of them followed me around, and often would be walking over my feet and laying down next to me......weird, just call me the Coati whisperer!! :^)-
Finally, they grew tired of me and walked over to Beny's van.........
Where Beny and Jim had perfect photo-ops from the open windows of the van-
When they became bored with the van, they walked off up the hill on the other side of the road and disappeared into the cloudforest! Interesting encounter!! :^)
Beny pulled his van across the road to where I was standing. In all the excitement, I never noticed the Chestnut-mandibled Toucan that was perched in a distant tree across the road, Beny found it and pointed it out to me. He than gave me a little friendly jab; "Not like you to miss a Toucan, my friend"!! :^)-
The Toucan flew off after a few minutes just in time for a Hawk to land in the same tree that the Toucan was just in.-
Another migrant Broad-winged Hawk-
Another waterfall from a different angle, but clearly demonstrating the steep and deep slopes of this cloudforest valley-
I told Jim and Beny that I was hearing Toucans calling; maybe a small flock. The calls were coming from up the road. Jim and I walked up the road while Beny followed in the van. We walked about a hundred yards and the calls were very clear and audible; Jim heard them also. I started looking in the many Cepcropia Trees that were extensive below us, and sure enough, there was a Chestnut-mandibled Toucan in the open in a single Cecropia Tree right in front of us about fifty yards down the slope-
It hopped around in the tree branches and called constantly-
I told Beny and Jim that I hear at least four different birds coming from all directions below us. Beny spotted the second Toucan much farther down the slope and in the top branches of a large tree.-
The Toucans called constantly, until two of them either stopped calling or flew away. But these two Toucans remained in vocal contact with each other for another ten minutes. At one point the first and most vocal Toucan hopped up higher in the Cecropia Tree, grabbed a bean .........
.......and dropped down the tree into flight. You can see part of the bean in its bill.-
When this Toucan flew off the other one joined it! Very nice encounter!-
Another Broad-winged Hawk flies over the area-
We walked into the restaurant and just as Senora Elizabeth promised us, her Beef Stew was piping hot and ready for us-
This home-made Tico traditional Beef Stew was so delicious! It was served in a unique way: a big bowl of hot broth, a bowl of rice and a bowl of boiled meat and vegetables including carrot, potato, pumpkin, yucca root, breadfruit, casaba root, and squash. Just delicious!
To go with the meal, Beny's wife Vanessa made some of her unbelievably delicious cornbread! Thank You Vanessa!! :^)-
While we were eating lunch, we were constantly distracted by birds! There were many Warblers passing through including this beautiful Blackburnian-
This adult male Coppery-headed Hummingbird landed close to us and I was able to get a few good close-ups. This is a really beautiful Hummingbird!-
Silver-throated Tanagers enjoyed the papaya-
After lunch, Jim and Beny were looking at the many posted pictures in the restaurant of the birds that were photographed here, and many pictures of the house and restaurant that was half-destroyed by the earthquake. I was on the deck looking at the images on my LED screen on the back of my camera when I looked up (as I do often) to make sure I'm not missing anything. And good thing that I did, because just as I looked up a female Emerald Toucanet landed on the feeding platform ten feet away! I yelled to Jim "TOUCANET" (as I was snapping off images). Jim didn't believe me at first because he and Beny played that game on me before when I was "indisposed" in the men's room. Lesson.....Never cry "Toucanet"!!:^)
I reassured him and told him I wasn't kidding and he better hurry up. I think he believed me this time because I heard him behind me uttering something about "this keeps getting better and better" as his camera shutter auto wind was cranking! The light was perfect and the bird cooperated fully!!-
The Toucanet was happily feeding on Banana on the feeding platform, when I saw a movement in the bushes behind the feeding platform.....another female Toucanet!-
And in the single Guava tree below (that has been so "birdy"), the male Toucanet had just flown in-
That was a great way to end the day. But now it was late afternoon and Beny suggested we head back to the Hotel to avoid the traffic. It was hard to leave this mirador. Jim and I missed a few other shots of birds because they didn't sit long enough to photograph them.....including a Squirrel Cuckoo, Rufous Motmot and a few others. I really want to Thank Senor Jorge and Senora Elizabeth for their warm hospitality in their home, preparing delicious food for us, and spending time talking with us. Senor Jorge while we were here was constructing a beautiful birding observation platform with a roof which is below the platform deck which he will have ready for next year. He asked me about this platform and appreciated any ideas and input regarding how it would be best built which will offer the best unobstructed observation and views. The way he described this to me, it will be fantastic! I appreciated that he took the time to listen to me and my input.....Muchas gracias! PS.....Look at that view!!-
We were packing up our camera gear, when Senora Elizabeth said that it was too bad that we were leaving.......every day at around 4:30 pm, a big White Hawk lands in the tree below their deck and spends the night.......figures!! :^) When we were walking out we told the both of them that we would be back next year, we definitely want to make their mirador part of our tours for our seminar. We parted ways with a warm hand shake from Senor Jorge, and a hug and kiss on the cheek from Senora Elizabeth. Mucho gusto and Hasta luego!!
As we were driving away, I couldn't help to think just how friendly and warm these two people were, just like all the Costa Ricans I have met! A little higher up and the clouds once again engulfed the hills; I will really miss this place!-
Bird List, Caribbean Highlands, Slopes, Foothills and Lowlands- Highland Tinamou, Anhinga, Bare-throated Tiger-Heron, Green Heron, Little Blue Heron, Great Egret, Cattle Egret, Green Ibis, Great Blue Heron, Spotted Sandpiper, Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, White-tailed Kite, Broad-winged Hawk, Swainson's Hawk, Zone-tailed Hawk, Roadside Hawk, White Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, Semiplumbeous Hawk, Crested Caracara, Mangrove Swallow, Violet Sabrewing, Green Hermit, Long-billed Hermit, Green-crowned Brilliant, Rufous-tailed Hummingbird, Coppery-headed Emerald, Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer, Purple-throated Mountain-Gem, Green Thorntail, Violet-headed Hummingbird, Red-bellied Pigeon, Ruddy Ground-Dove, Crimson-fronted Parakeet, Olive-throated Parakeet, Orange-chinned Parakeet, Mealy Amazon, Squirrel Cuckoo, Groove-billed Ani, Rufous Motmot, SLaty-tailed Trogon, Green Kingfisher, Keel-billed Toucan, Chestnut-mandibled Toucan, Collared Aracari, Emerald Toucanet, Hoffman's Woodpecker, Cinnamon Woodpecker, Barred Woodcreeper, Cacao Woodcreeper, Tropical Kingbird, Great Kiskadee, Social Flycatcher, Slaty-backed Nightangale-Thrush, Dusky Antbird, Blackburnian Warbler, American Redstart, Slate-throated Redstart, White-lined Tanager, Passerini's Tanager, Blue-gay Tanager, Palm Tanager, Summer Tanager, Great-tailed Grackle, Montezuma Oropendola, Baltimore Oriole, Yellow-crowned Euphonia
Week Two Continues........Day 14, Wednesday, Oct 12, 2016, Back to the Pacific slopes, foothills and coast......Mangrove Bird and Monkey Boat Tour with Rafa, "Father of the Monkeys"-
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