Monday, March 5, 2012

Costa Rica Day 1

Back in Costa Rica!  And, appropriately enough, it is raining.  :-)  Well, I'm going out anyway!  We flew in last night and stayed overnight at Hotel Bouganveilla, which is the first-night hotel for tons of birding tours.  The room was fine, and I went out to the garden to reintroduce myself to the birds here.

Sadly as it was raining, the pictures are mostly rubbish. But I did see a gorgeous pair of pairs of Baltimore orioles, several hummingbirds (including one exciting and chattery 4-bird chase), some cute sparrows that I can't remember enough about to ID, and a few warblers.  Including my very first sighting of a rufous-capped warbler, who is gorgeous but apparently a bit camera-shy.  Also blue-grey tanagers, a few white-winged doves, and this guy:
Buff-throated Saltator
 One of the hummingbirds slowed down briefly - just long enough for me to get this picture - and then it was off again!
Rufous-tailed Hummingbird
 Jack came down and came into the garden with me, and he found this gorgeous motmot.  What a great way to start the trip!
Blue-crowned Motmot
 Below the mot-mot, this hummingbird was doing some serious preening.  You know it's a good time when your directions to one bird are, "Okay, start at the motmot and go straight down and a tiny bit to the right."  :-)
Rufous-tailed Hummingbird
 Then it was up for breakfast and packing, getting ready for the drive.  We were incredibly lucky, we told our driver that we like nature and especially birds, and it turns out that he loves birds also.  First stop, Crocodile Bridge, which lived up to its name.  There were at least a dozen lounging about and more in the water, here is a small sample:
 We also saw a snowy egret, an anhinga, great egret, black-necked stilts, some sort of sandpiper, and this gorgeous fellow:
Purple Gallinule
 There were swallows flying just over the water, it was interesting to get this angle on them from the bridge.  I don't know what kind of swallow it was:
Mystery Swallow
 Next stop, scarlet macaws!  The driver spotted them flying ahead of us, and we pulled over to try to take some pictures of them flying.  No dice.  However they landed near us, which made the pictures much easier to take!  These two are involved in something that looked like a dispute of some sort.  It went on for a little while.
Scarlet Macaw
 Then one of them leapt over to another branch, and it was apparently settled.
Scarlet Macaw
 Too busy being gorgeous to squabble!
Scarlet Macaw
 Next stop, a pond near the roadside that hosts many herons etc.  My first look at a tiger heron!  This one was right by the fence, it was great.
Bare-Throated Tiger Heron, crest raised
 This tree had lots and lots of birds in it.  Clockwise from top left there is a wood stork (well only half of it made it into the frame), a roseate spoonbill, a little blue heron (just to the right and a tiny bit down from the anhinga), anhinga, and a snowy egret.  Later the tiger heron was in there too and I didn't see it fly it, so it might be hiding in there somewhere, but I don't see it.  It was quite a tree!
Wood Stork, Roseate Spoonbill, Little Blue Heron, Anhinga, Snowy Egret
 This yellow-headed caracara was hanging out there under a tree, too far away for a decent shot, but it left and flew quite close to us.  The wing pattern doesn't look quite right for yellow-headed caracara to me, but the underparts were all white, white head and neck, dark line behind the eye....... I certainly could not find a better candidate.
Yellow-headed Caracara
 We looked back over our shoulders and a group of about 6-8 scissor-tailed flycatchers were making they way through!  The rumors are true.  Costa Rica is heaven.
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
As we were leaving, a pair of roadside hawks came over and stubbornly refused to get into any light that was remotely useful to a camera.  Next time, guys........

 Back to the drive, where we made good time until I spotted this kingfisher on a cable over a river.  It never moved so we never saw its front, so I don't really know if it was a ringed kingfisher or a belted kingfisher.  It struck me as quite large, but of course that's not super-reliable.  Look at that beak!
Ringed Kingfisher or Belted Kingfisher
 At last we made it to our resort.  We got up to our room, plopped our bags down, and settled into the deck chairs.  Our first visitor was this guy - a nice welcome!
Rufous-tailed Hummingbird
 Then the tanagers started coming by.
Blue-grey Tanager
 Not a great picture of the woodpecker, but how often do you get a shot of a woodpecker with the ocean in the background?  Almost never!  Awesome!
Red-crowned Woodpecker
 Jack spotted teeny somethings, which turned out to be yellow-crowned euphonias.
Yellow-crowned Euphonia
 See?  It's a full yellow cap, not a half cap.  Thanks for showing us!  What a great first day.  :-)
Yellow-crowned Euphonia

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