Friday, May 10, 2013

Costa Rica - Day 3 (Part 1) - March 18, 2013

Today was our last morning at Cerro Lodge and although none of us wanted to leave, we were also anxious to explore more of the countryside. We woke up fairly early (around 5:30am) to get as much last minute birding in as possible around the lodge and along the road. Some highlights from that early morning birding included Scrub Euphonia, Fiery-billed Aracari, Black-crowned Tityra, and Masked Tityra.

Fiery-billed Aracari

Fiery-billed Aracari throwing back some Papaya

Fiery-billed Aracari eyeing up his/her audience
Fiery-billed Aracari having a scratch

Black-crowned Tityra - very far away...where most interesting birds are found

Rufous-naped Wren caught in the act of nest building right outside our Cerro Lodge cabin

Butterfly at Cerro Lodge

Great Kiskadee having a look in the "mirror"

By 8:45am we had eaten a delicious breakfast of eggs, fresh fruit, and some sort of sliced meat, and packed up the car. I am very glad I thought to take a photo of how the trunk was packed so we could remember how we did it. Those suitcases and bags only fit in that trunk one way and we didn't want to waste time trying to figure out the configuration all over again. We ended up referencing this photo each time we left a place for the remainder of the trip.

We had heard about a place a little ways down the road where there were supposed to be nesting Tiny Hawks, so we headed in that direction. No Tiny Hawks were found, but we did end up birding the area for about 30min and got to see quite a few raptors. The highlight for me was the Plumbeous Kite that I just happened to spot when I was looking for the American Kestrel that a friend had spotted. I never got to see the Kestrel, but the Plumbeous was enough for me! We also had a mixed species kettle which included at least 6 Mangrove Black Hawks, Turkey Vultures, Black Vultures, an Osprey, and at least one Swainson's Hawk.
The area was mostly dedicated to cattle raising, and there was a herd of horses just hanging out on the road. At some point one of the Costa Rican "cowboys" rode past us and gave us funny looks, but he was too busy with herding his horses down the road to pay us much mind. Doing a quick scan of these cattle pastures also turned up an Eastern Meadowlark and 5 Southern Lapwings. Just as we were about to leave this spot 3 Squirrel Cuckoos landed in the tree that we were using for shade and started into some courting behavior which was awesome!

Squirrel Cuckoo - my favorite kind of cuckoo

Black Vulture with two Mangrove Black Hawks in the background

Variegated Squirrel - these guys are everywhere in Costa Rica! I know this photo is not as sharp as I would like it to be, but it was the best I could do out of a car window. I also only had one shot at it because these buggers are quick!

After tearing ourselves away from the kettle of raptors and all the other birds, we headed out towards the main road. Just before getting to the main road we had to do a quick stop at a Mango grove we had heard about and see if we could get the Ferruginous Pygmy-Owls to answer a recorded call. Unfortunately we never actually saw the owls, but we did get two of them to call back!

Having 4 birders in a car driving down a dirt lane in Costa Rica makes for getting anywhere a time-consuming process. Any gasps, shouts of "wait!", "what is THAT?" or a simple "OH!" leads to the driver slamming on the brakes and grabbing for the binoculars simultaneously. This means that anyone wearing the seatbelt properly will get choked as they lunge forward to the see the bird at the same time that the belt locks. Lesson learned....a thousand times over.

Stay tuned for Day 3 Part 2 where we actually get onto the main road and point our car in the direction of the next lodge....

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