Thursday, December 24, 2015

Costa Rica: Hammering Lifers at Las Alturas, Grit Blazing In Golfito

With winter here and another big trip coming up imminently, this is a good opportunity to do what I think is best...bust out another Costa Rica post. The finish line is finally in sight. More than a few of you will probably heading to places like Costa Rica, Panama, Honduras, Belize, and Mexico in the next couple of months, so lets get those salivary glands flowing with some tropical goodness.

I'll pick up right where I left off, at Las Alturas, on the South Pacific Slope east of San Vito. It was a very birdy day, too bad we didn't have more time to spend here. We'll start with a Purple-crowned Fairy, a canopy-loving hummingbird that typically scoffs at feeders.

I prefer to crush birds, but when that is not possible, I make them Art. You are currently beholding Art. That's why it's almost impossible to understand what is going on with this Fairy. It is Fairy Art. There is no singular truth to this hummingbird. It is a subjective hummingbird.

Shortly after the Purple-crowned Fairy departed, Dipper Dan and I gazed upon a Long-billed Starthroat, which was a LIFE BIRD. This is a damn good hummingbird, one that I'd been hoping to see. They are large and wonderful, two traits I am drawn to in hummingbirds. This would be the only one I would see on the trip, but it was heck of confiding.

Here is a more familiar bird. In fact, I've seen hundreds of thousands of them, but I will always keep looking at them. Broad-winged Hawks are common and widespread winter residents in Costa Rica, one of the most abundant raptors you will encounter in winter months.

Quite unlike Broad-winged Hawks, Torrent Tyrannulet is a habitat specialist. This wee flycatcher is strictly found along fast-flowing creeks and rivers, mellowing them with its two slaty colors and preference for perching on boulders. We dipped on two other birds that specialize in this habitat, Sunbittern and Fasciated Tiger-Heron...I'll just have to go back and try again, too bad for me.

If you haven't birded south of Texas or Florida yet, you may not know that tropical birding is an exercise in getting gripped off. You are always going to miss birds other people in your group see. It is inevitable. White-whiskered Puffbird was a major gripoff for me early in the trip, back at Quebrada Gonzales, but redemption was had with this cooperative bird sitting out in the open above a road.

How about another life bird? This is a Sulphur-winged Parakeet, an easy ID up close with the red cheeks. Sulphur-winged Parakeet is one of the less abundant parakeets in the country, so a solid bonus bird for us.

This was kind of a random sighting...Dipper Dan spotted it very close outside the car, quietly lurking under the canopy. How very unparrot. It would be our final lifer at Las Alturas.

Lets keep the lifers coming! This is a Bran-colored Flycatcher. This doesn't seem to be a bird that gets photographed a lot or even thought about, so here is a mediocre image for your edification. We talked about this bird a lot before we finally saw one, due to its phenomenally bland-sounding name. I believe this was at Lagunas San Joaquin, near the airport at San Vito. We didn't get a Masked Duck here (which is always my luck), but there are no eBird records of any here since 2008. You are better off checking Finca Cantaros, south of town.

Here is Lagunas San Joaquin, where you too can see a Bran-colored Flycatcher. You can also see an albino river otter here. Masked Ducks...not so much.

After leaving San Vito, Dipper Dan and I lurked back to the west coast for our final few days of slaying tropical birds. Our first stop was Golfito...this was a mistake. What we should have done was bird Las Cruces OTS/Wilson Botanical Garden again. It is a famed birding spot after all, so I feel like a bit of a wanker for only birding it one day. Why was this a mistake? The Golfito site I had picked out to bird was dead that morning. Hella boring. No flocks. Not rad. However, there was some redemption with this lifer mammal! We briefly hung out with a troupe of squirrel monkeys above Golfito, which was most mellow.

We were in some good habitat, but we ended up hanging out on the side of the road blazing grits with somebody's dog. Birding was slow. Obvi.

A lifer Mealy Parrot was nice. Why is it called a Mealy Parrot? Anyways, I can assure you that it was green. This Broad-winged Hawk was very, very confiding though...I have not met such a friendly member of its species before or since.

Here is the view of Golfito Bay from up on the hill. Heck of scenic.

Happy Festivus to all of you. I wish you much luck with the Feats of Strength, if you are selected. Of course, this follows the annual Airing of Grievances, and since you are a birder you probably have much to whinge about. Let the hate flow through you. 

1 comment:

  1. Merry Christmas and a great new year in 2016 for you and your family,
    many beautiful motives and stories ...
    greetings Frank