Thursday, February 13, 2020

Bound For Tranquilo

Seven years. It's been seven years since I have had my face melted off by Resplendent Quetzal, seven years since being crippled by an appropriately large and diverse rainbow of tanagers. Seven years since my bones have felt the BONK of a Three-wattled Bellbird. Seven years since I experienced pura vida.

Going so long without pura vida is excruciating. I have been withering, on the inside and out. Luckily, MAX REBO BIRDING TOURS has seen fit to send me back to Costa Rica in a few days, with a focus on Caribbean slope birds. The itinerary is mainly composed of sites we did not get to previously, though some sites are too good and too conveniently located to pass up again.

Target birds will be many and varied for our group. Speaking for myself, I have plucked most of the low-hanging fruit already, but the number of potential realistic lifers that await is well above 100. Bare-necked Umbrellabird and Yellow-eared Toucanet are certainly too rare to expect (but expected enough to look for), so other than those Sunbittern, Agami Heron, Snowy Cotinga and Ocellated Antbird definitely come to mind as top targets that could induce facemelt/cripple/seizures/spontaneous combustion/final birdgasm if seen. But who am I kidding, there is a good chance less-hyped species like Uniformed Crake, nunbird and Song Wren could leave me in a state of catatonic wonder.

And then there is the Collared Plover, my Neotropical nemesis. If you ask me, we have a better chance of finding 27 Rufous-vented Ground-Cuckoos than a single Collared Plover, which are documented to be 50,000,000,000 times more common and easier to see for any other birder. It's embarrassing and shameful to admit, but at the same time the only birder without a nemesis is a dead one.

Sorry, I can't help but get a touch dark when Collared Plover comes up. A number of other living legends like This Machine, Coolidge (who is a person, not just a Descendents song), and BB&B's own Cassidy have recently just stumbled out of the steamy jungles of Costa Rica or are still there, sweating and lurching and having chunks of superheated face slough off their heads from constant exposure to great birds. It's the place to be this winter.

The owl highlight of the previous Costa Rica Trip was this Black-and-white Owl, which remains the only one I've ever seen. It was shown to us by Moncho, a security guard at Cerro Lodge. This time we have an owling trip lined up at Cano Negro with the near-mythical Chambita, so fingers are extra crossed for Striped Owl and other night lurkers.

Love geri birding? So does Max Rebo Birding Tours! I think on this trip I'm going to try to take photos of birds that are obviously on feeders instead of attempting shots of birds that don't have feeders or fruit in the frame. La Cinchona has excellent geri birding that features Emerald Toucanets, and we will be checking in on them soon.

Geri birding can often reward one with excellent looks at Green Honeycreepers, a bird that needs to be seen up close, and let me tell you I am ready to sit on my ass and watch a Green Honeycreeper eat a goddamned banana. This one was attending a geri station at Talari Mountain Lodge.

I actually don't expect to see Flame-colored Tanagers on this trip, but I do expect to see other fantastic birds doing unexpected stuff like hopping around in parking lot rubble with the wariness of a Safeway Brewer's Blackbird.

BB&B will be back in March. Until then, take care, and be wary of stringers.


  1. No better place than Costa Rica! Enjoy!

  2. Ptaki z raju! Znam je tylko z książek! Piękne zdjęcia!

  3. Why couldn't you have put THESE birds on the quizzes?! I can't wait to not be able to identify anything.

  4. "BB&B is not the type of place to just throw up a picture of some common bird, recite some well-known piece of trivia about it copied and pasted from allaboutbirds and wait for those sweet, sweet likes to roll on in. "

    Ouch! BUSTED.