Monday, March 4, 2013

Virgen Del Socorro Part I

















After 4 days and nights of birding the Sarapiqui lowlands and Quebrada Gonzales (which was amazing...so amazing that I couldnt even take bird pictures because the mixed flocks were so intense...go there!!!) it was finally time to move on to a new hotspot and get some different birds. We decided to bypass birding the Tirimbina Biological Reserve and instead headed to Virgen Del Socorro, a steep canyon that held great habitat and also happened to have a little-traveled road going down one side and up the other, perfect for birding.

After picking up Torrent Tyrannulet from the bridge below the turnoff for the road, we stared furiously at a distant black and white raptor that may have been a dark Hook-billed Kite or a Black Hawk-Eagle (both species would appear, conclusively, later in the trip). Staring furiously at the bird was ultimately fruitless, but shit really hit the fan when a White Hawk appeared over a ridge on the other side of the canyon and flew over the road. Goddamn, what a fine bird that was...a species I had literally dreamed about seeing. Of course, when I went to check my photos, I saw I had a "bumped wheel" and everything I had just shot was pretty much worthless. Not stoked. After we parked our hilariously small and poorly powered rental car, we proceeded down the canyon, where I could hear a loud, repetitive, high-pitched call. Luckily the culprit was sitting in plain view...a juvenile White Hawk!


Barred Hawks showed up shortly after we parked; there were multiple individuals soaring above the canyon for much of the time we were there. Although an easy find at La Virgen, we did not find them anywhere else.


Barred Hawks are big birds with ridiculous proportions; broad wings, a long neck and stubby tail. This shape isn't uncommon in larger tropical and subtropical birds of prey though.


Unlike Barred Hawk, who do not dare to occupy lands north of Costa Rica, Short-tailed Hawk is common in much of Central America.


I think all the Short-taileds we saw were light morphs. They superficially resemble Swainson's Hawks but never form kettles and are much shorter-winged, proportioned more like a Red-tailed Hawk; they often prefer hunting over forests to open country and agricultural lands.

Howler Monkey is a landmark animal of Costa Rica...common, widespread and the loudest land mammal on earth, their iconic bellow resonates from many a forest. If you haven't heard one before, there are a few words I could use to describe hearing them..."visceral" "thrilling" and "terrifying" come to mind. I think this is a Mantled Howler Monkey?


Despite the fact that it wasn't very close, this is one of my favorite Howler images from the trip. I'm not obsessed with monkeys by any means, but that face is pretty precious. Ticos call howlers "Congos".


Blackburnian Warbler, one of many species of North American warblers that winter in the country. All of the "familiar" warblers down there are "eastern" warblers, I assume all of the "western" warblers winter further north. Of course, there's a number of awesome tropical species as well.


A female Violet-crowned Woodnymph, one of the cooler looking female-plumaged hummingbirds we saw. White, green, black, blue...a winning color combo. This one was a brainbird, all of us pretty much drew a blank when we first saw it.


Leafcutter ants are always busy. Yes, they created that dark path themselves...more like a freeway than a path I guess.

13 comments:

  1. Mantled howler monkey is correct.

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  2. Riveting raptors and marvelous monkeys.

    That White Hawk is crazy cool.
    I must admit, I've been waiting to be bombarded with Honeycreepers but they haven't materialized yet. I mention this not to complain, but out of a curiosity now that they weren't around that area?

    I saw a few in Belize long time ago and assumed they'd be in Costa Rica as well, but tropical birds are finicky, esoteric things.

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    1. Honeycreepers are all over the place down there for sure, I posted a few photos already. I'm just going in chronological order with this CR stuff, I think there are a couple large gaps when I didnt get any good shots of them. We saw 3 species, I only got pics of 2 though.

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  3. White Hawk is a sweet bird, amazingly on my second visit to Costa Rica, with my dad we nailed this bird as almost the first we saw on the trip in the vicinity of Barrio Carrillo I think.

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    1. I dreamt I saw one in San Antonio once. It was not a realistic dream.

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  4. Goddamn, I spent an embarrassing amount of time trying to figure out how that first monkey was a bird that resembled a Swainson's Hawk.

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    1. It's interesting to see who puts captions above their photos and who does it below. It's probably very telling about something important.

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  5. YOU'RE KILLING ME! I mean, in the good way!

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