Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Bringing The Stoke At El Paraiso

This Black-billed Nightingale-Thrush was one of many birds at El Paraiso that left me with the kind of stoke that you rarely get after birding for many years. Definitely a place I would recommend, and would love to visit again.

It doesn't seem like seven months ago when I was slaying life birds day after day in Costa Rica. Despite the amount of beer and tequila and cuba libres consumed in those three weeks, it all still seems fresh and new to me...which is probably why I'm still posting about the trip seven months later.

All of today's shots are from El Paraiso Del Quetzales, in the Talamancas. I blogged about El Paraiso in another post, but the quantity of good birds there compels more coverage.

One of the reasons I wanted to go to El Paraiso was the exceptionally high chance of seeing this you can see, we did not leave disappointed. I am happy to say that I now stand among the ranks of people who have been fortunate enough to see an adult male Resplendent Quetzal...the mind reels. This is one of the most facemelting, absolutely crippling birds in existence, a legendary bird that leaves the observer dumbstruck. If you are not familiar with this species, yes those are it's tail streamers that hang down to the bottom of the frame.

They weren't exactly the most confiding birds I've seen, but who cares? If you need this bird, El Paraiso is practically a sure bet. Finding them was almost anticlimactic; the guide (a very accomplished birder) knew exactly where to look. Victory is so, so sweet.

Collared Redstart was a bird that produced a lot of drool as I studied my field guide in the weeks before the trip. Luckily for everyone it's a pretty easy bird to get, and they are not exactly prone to skulking and lurking like a lot of tropical birds. Total crippler.

This is a Sooty Thrush, one of a number of species in today's post that are endemic to Costa Rica and Panama. When I saw them, I typically just thought about how striking their resemblance is to European Blackbird, another yellow-billed black thrush from across the Atlantic. Evolution is fun.

Buffy Tuftedcheek! These are pretty big birds who seem to spend most of their time with their heads engulfed by bromeliads, or thrashing around in the canopy mosses.

As their name implies, they do have tufted cheeks, something that seems pretty unique in the bird world. No idea what they're for...anyone care to enlighten me?

Barred Becard is one of my new favorite birds. The smallest Costa Rican becard, they are uncommon in high-elevation cloud forests. Compared to the other becards, they are much stubbier and are more likely to migrate into your heart.

Knowing that the world is still safe for creatures like Barred Becards is a very reassuring thought when the night is dark and full of terrors.

Black-and-yellow Silky-Flycatchers were numerous on the Zeledonia trail below the lodge. They are not shy, but apparently do everything in their power to avoid direct sunlight. And if you are wondering, yes, Stilt, Frank and Dipper Dan all got to see Zeledonia on the Zeledonia Trail. Stupid Seagull Steve did not.

The somewhat more economically-plumaged female. I was more than happy to not have to struggle to see these birds...but we dipped on Long-tailed Silky, which left me devastated.

Gratuitous hummingbird photo! Green Violet-Ear. Why it's not a Green Blue-Ear is a question I can't even begin to ponder...maybe its best to just focus on the facemelt.

Whoever named the Green Violet-Ear was clearly not the same person who described Fiery-throated Hummingbird, which is an outstanding and very descriptive name. This bird has its throat flame turned down slightly.

This is another bird that we were happy to have our guide point out; the one and only Ochraceous Pewee we saw on the trip. I was so high on quetzal adrenaline that I completely forgot this shitty (but identifiable) picture of this local and semielusive species.

Speaking of bird-driven adrenaline, I just want to say for posterity that there were many, many times on this trip when we hit such intense flocks of good birds that everyone in our group could barely cope with the reality of it. One of us would invariably acknowledge these moments by simply announcing "it's happening again" and we would all silently agree. Those moments are one of the things that will eventually drive me south of the border again.


  1. Christ. Just stop.

    Having tail streamers in a dense (or so it seems) forest can't be... what is the word I'm looking for... uh... smart? Necessary? Useful?

    1. Hahaha. Sorry FJ. Quetzals typically spend a lot of time not moving that much, so thats probably why they can get away with it. More importantly, it makes lady quetzals want to grind cloacas with them.

  2. Woa! What great finds! One day, I'd love to visit...