Monday, June 3, 2013

High Elevation Lifers at Volcan Poas

After a day of birding La Virgen and La Cinchona, we found ourselves shrouded in fog at Volcan Poas, looking for high elevation birds. We ended up only birding the road up to the communication towers, which has the benefit of lacking tourists and an entrance fee. While not incredibly birdy, we all got a number of crippling life birds...this confiding Black-thighed Grosbeak was my personal favorite. Poas, as far as I know, is the closest quality high elevation site to San Jose, and fit in perfectly in our driving tour. Some of the other (unphotographed) lifers we picked up here included Flame-throated Warbler, Collared Redstart, Black-cheeked Warbler, Volcano and Fiery-throated Hummingbirds, and Sooty-capped Bush-Tanager.

This is a species that people standing next to me at Quebrada Gonzales got to see but I completely missed. Sweet sweet redemption was obtained at Poas, where we got absolutely pornographic views of a couple, as you can see. The size of this bird's bill was intimidating.

We met Black-capped Flycatcher for the first time on this morning as well. They are neat little Empidonax flycatchers, one that you will definitely see if you get to bird any Costa Rican mountain sites for very long.

Our first nightingale-thrush of the trip! Black-billed Nightingale-Thrushes have beautiful songs (similar to Hermit Thrush, actually) and bounce around on the ground being charming and adorable. Another fairly common high elevation bird.

It actually took a couple days to realize the flutey thrush songs we had been hearing were nightingale-thrushes, not vocally-challenged Wood Thrushes (which we saw a number of). Yup, it's going to be a while before my stats for the Costa Rica League (of the Global Birder Ranking Scale) are anything to brag about.

We only saw a handful of Purple-throated Moutain Gems on the whole trip. Turned out the best play to see them was at the feeders of the random cabina we stayed at in Poasito. We never saw any of the facemelty males, but the females were colorful and charismatic in their own right.

Why hello Black Guan! Yet another awesome Poas lifer. We eventually saw quite a few of these birds at various sites, who always seem mildly-annoyed to be seen by people. Observations generally consist of watching the guan slowly retreating into the foliage while casting a wicked hate look toward the birders present.

Any legendary birding trip must have its share of human weirdness as well. We spent New Year's Eve at a pretty nice cabina in Poasito and raged as best we could. After enough rum, tequila and beer was consumed, Dipper Dan divulged his foot fetish and begged us to let him pleasure our disgusting feet. We let him go for was New Year's Eve after all, we all needed to get some action.

Of course, it was only a matter of time before the debilitating shame set in. How embarrassing.

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