Thursday, April 23, 2015

A Mallow Scrub-Haistreak in the Yard

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This has been an amazing spring for butterflies in SE Arizona, almost certainly a results of having the second warmest winter on record coupled with relatively good rains, all following the warmest winter on record as well as a decent monsoon.

Just in my suburban Tucson yard, which isn’t landscaped at all for butterflies (with the exception of just not pulling native weeds they might like), numbers and diversity are quite astonishing. Common Checkered-Skipper is one of the more usual species in the yard.

Most exciting, during the few days I had between my Jamaica and Costa Rica tours, was this Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak. I had been reading about all of the reports from last fall, many lingering into December, and a couple even found on the Santa Catalina Mountains Butterfly Count on March 29. But I had still never seen this rarity in Arizona, let alone in my own yard.


But the dominating bug, to this day, is Texan Crescent. I think I saw one or two in the past 15 years, and at this very moment there are at least 8 in the yard, each patrolling its own territory.

Not a butterfly, but a moth at my reading lamp the other night was this Chloraspilates bicoloraria. There’s nothing quite like it with those contrastingly brown hind wings, but the green color would have you looking among the emeralds of the subfamily Geometrinae; however, this trickster belongs to the huge (750+ species in North American) subfamily Ennominae.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

A Nearly Perfect Day in Jamaica, Plus Some Beetles and Moths

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Our second full day of birding in Jamaica was nearly perfect, a ideal day of sublime birding, one amazing bird sighting after another, mixed with odd plants, vertebrates, and invertebrates, many also endemic.

I can barely imagine a more enjoyable day of birding for my clients. I had gotten up extra early, prepared a scrambled egg, toast, and cereal breakfast for them so we could be out in the good habitat at dawn (and our housekeepers had prepared fruit plates the evening before), and by noon we had seen 22 of the island’s 27 endemics, most of them extremely well. Just the evening before, after some effort, we had amazing views of a Jamaican Owl and earlier that day we had perfect views of this Jamaican Lizard-Cuckoo with no help from my iPod.

That meant by lunchtime this day, which was a delightful preparation by our housekeepers (and I had to order it from home several days in advance), we had seen (SEEN!) 24 of Jamaica’s 27 endemic birds.

We had views of a perched Ring-tailed Pigeon. We hadn’t yet had our best views of Crested Quail-Dove (see my previous blog), but everyone had countable views. A Chestnut-bellied Cuckoo was very obliging, and if the Jamaican Mangos weren’t satisfactory, one was at the feeders at our lodge, and the same could be said of the Black-billed Streamertails. We saw several Jamaican Todies, some at a ridiculously close range, like this one.


We had seen Jamaican Woodpecker the day before, but today we had spectacular views. Black-billed and Yellow-billed Parrots perched for scope views, Jamaican Elaenia responded to playback like nothing else existed, and this Sad Flycatcher was almost close enough to touch.

We got our best views of Rufous-tailed Flycatcher, saw Jamaican Vireo well enough to count, and enjoyed the oddness of a Blue Mountain Vireo. Jamaican Crow called here and there and flew by well enough to see that it was indeed a crow, and we even saw the white chin on White-chinned Thrushes. The strange Orangequit was everywhere, the monotypic genus of Yellow-shouldered Grassquit couldn’t have performed better, Jamaican Spindalis was hard to avoid, Jamaican Blackbird was easier than usual, and Jamaican Euphonia showed up here and there with no effort.

So what kept this day from the absolute pinnacle of perfection? After all, how can you top seeing 24 amazing endemics in 24 hours, all lifers for everyone except for me and my co-leader Ann Sutton? And we even had heard a 25th endemic superbly, the White-chinned Thrush, which has a marvelously musical voice superseding its own appearance by any measure. There were only two endemics we hadn’t seen or heard, and to be sure I was keeping track, and we still had FIVE more days on the island. I had worked hard and enjoyed showing these all to my clients; after all, I had developed a personal relationship with all of these species over the past 16 years. So what kept this from being the most perfect birding day ever?

It came at about 3:45 p.m. when one participant asked, “So, what are our chances that we’ll see Jamaican Pewee?” I found that question more than just annoying, though I simply and pointedly responded by saying just that. A happy and thoughtful person should have been still swooning over just that one Jamaican Tody, or even more so over the Jamaican Lizard-Cuckoo we saw as it pried apart clusters of dead leaves right over the road. And I’m certain most of the participants were doing just that. I was fully aware we hadn’t seen Jamaican Becard, White-eyed Thrush, or Jamaican Pewee, for that is my job, and I always want my clients to see everything. I was also aware that most people needed better view of Jamaican Vireo and Arrowhead Warbler, and we hadn’t yet seen a Jamaican Crow perched, for example. But who in their right mind would have been thinking about those misses after all we had seen? Isn’t it fair to assume that our chances for seeing any more endemics were as good as they’ll ever be, given that that’s my job, and I was currently doing it nearly 12 hours a day and we had five days left? Besides, is there really an answer to that question that makes any sense? Of course with birds, it’s never 100%, so was she honestly hoping for answer like 91.29% or 88.4%? Since there obviously isn’t a correct answer to that question, I instantly regarded it as a rhetorical and offensive criticism of my effort and abilities. I saw it as an indication that everything I had done this day, starting with getting up extra early to make breakfast had been a complete failure and that nothing we had seen that day counted towards anything. But of course only after I thought about it for some time did I conclude that it wasn’t meant to be that, and didn’t reflect on me at all – it reflected only on that one person’s mindless goal of getting all of the endemics and a persistent internal state of dissatisfaction and unhappiness. I can’t change that in anyone, but then why not a more thoughtful and less critical way of asking that question, such as “is the Ecclesdown Road the only place we had a chance for Jamaican Pewee, or might we see it later in the tour as well?”

It’s impossible for me to not be preachy at this point, and maybe I’ll encourage people to be happy if I vent just a little. There are anywhere from 10,000 to 15,000 species of birds on this planet. No one will ever see them all. If your goal when traveling somewhere is just to see all of the birds, you will probably fail, and why would you want that? I’m not against listing, and in fact I encourage it – it takes you to interesting places, and it’s a great portal for learning about bird biogeography, behavior, genetics, and identification – as long as the list isn’t your only goal. My career is a joy only as I share others’ delight in discovering the amazing birds we see on my tours. But if their one and only goal is to see them all, to miss nothing, then they are setting themselves up – and me as well – for disappointment, and at the same time they’re not really able to enjoy the birds they’re seeing each step along the way, for worrying about missing the next one is always there. I try to not market my tours as those on which you see every endemic, every specialty. Except for that first tour in 1999, when we only heard Crested Quail-Dove, I have never missed an endemic species in Jamaica (though don’t tell anyone that, nor the fact that I showed Joe Thompson all 27 endemics in just over 12 hours one day a few years ago). If the Greater Antillean Elaenia gets split, we’ll certainly miss that endemic from time to time, though I’ve now seen it three years in a row. And sometimes we get just one Bahama Mockingbird or just brief views of Rufous-throated Solitaire, both of which could be split and become island endemics. There’s no sign that Jamaican Blackbird is getting any more common (and it’s probably the scarcest endemic and the pickiest when it comes to needing very good habitat), and on some tours I’ve come close to missing Jamaican Lizard-Cuckoo. So it will happen.

But I don’t want to stress getting all the endemics, because I don’t want people to have that nagging worry instead of having fun. Enjoy what you’re seeing in the moment and let me worry about missing birds. No matter what, we’ll see some spectacular birds, including some common birds performing spectacular behaviors, and we see some pretty amazing moths, butterflies, fish, reptiles, amphibians, miscellaneous invertebrates, and maybe even some mammals.

So I fumed (mostly internally) for the next day or so, but then we saw the pewee, had amazing views of a Rufous-throated Solitaire feeding on berries below eye level, and had the mind-blowing looks at Crested Quail-Dove; and that one unhappy moment dwindled in importance. We eventually had superb views of White-eyed Thrush, had plenty of Jamaican Becards building nests, even saw the crows perched and even better views of Black-billed Parrots. Though I added no new bird species to my island list, I still enjoyed showing them to people for whom almost everything was new, and who will probably never get a chance to see them again. Besides, you can never see too many Jamaican Todies, and we saw some every day of the tour. I also still delighted in learning more about Jamaica’s natural history, including plants and bugs. I actually knew the name of this Eburia tetrastalacta long horned beetle after lunch on our first day (though most participants wouldn’t even get out of their chair to come see it, sigh), since I had seen it every year so far that I have been paying attention to beetles in Jamaica.

But then at lunch two days later everyone got to see this longhorn, a new one for me, Elaphidion spinicorne. Though not an island endemic, it’s apparently a Greater Antillean specialty. Many thanks to the folks who created the New World Cerambycidae Catalog.

There were several interesting moths at Starlight Chalet this time, and this spectacular endemic Jamaican Wasp Moth, Horama grotei, was my favorite find.

This erebid Eulepidotis modestula isn’t endemic, but it’s one of the prettiest of this genus I’ve seen. It looks extremely similar to photos of Eulepidotis micca, known as a vagrant in Texas, and I suspect there might be some confusion there.

This is Epimecis scolopaiae, probably one of the largest members of this geometrid genus (with something like 44 species) and a Greater Antillean endemic as well. As far as I can tell, there are no live photos of this species online.

Also new for the internet as a live bug is this noctuid Bryolymnia floccifera, apparently a Jamaican endemic. "Bryo" refers to moss, but I don't know what "lymnia" means, unless it's related to "limn," perhaps in the sense of  "highlight." And "floccifera" means bearing woolly tufts.

I had photographed this little geometer once before, and with more specimen photos of similar species available online, I’ve decided this is probably Semaeopus callichroa, found in Jamaica and Cuba, and represented online only by a 90-year-old illustration.


One last photo is of this Aegisthus Swallowtail Moth that one of my participants spotted on a window at Marshall’s Pen. I’ve seen it once or twice in the past, but I’m still a bit uncertain what to call it. Almost all lists now use Sematura as the valid genus, but there is an undecided three-year-old case before the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature that admits that Mania has priority but should be dropped for the simple reason that Sematura has been used for so long. Further confusing the issue is name Nothus, which is even older than those two names and is still used by several authoritative-looking websites (such as the London Natural History Musem); but since it was used for a beetle first it is clearly invalid for a moth. But for now it’s looking like Mania aegisthus is the best name.


Monday, April 20, 2015

Amazing Crested Quail-Doves

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I'm just back from my 17th birding tour of Jamaica. On my very first tour, which I co-led with Robert Sutton, we only heard Crested Quail-Dove, and Robert really tried his hardest to bring one in. I've not missed it since then, but the numbers and their song activity varies greatly from year to year, and one of these years I'm going to miss it again. There weren't many this year, but this individual bird has been reliable for the past two years, in the Blue Mountains below the town of Section.


We had actually already seen one on the Ecclesdown Road on our second day of birding, though not this well, but certainly countable views were had by all participants. Then the day after this one, our third Crested Quail-Dove flew in over our heads from behind us, unannounced, and landed in plain sight on a branch over the road in the direction we were looking.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Braulio Carrillo and La Paz Waterfall Gardens – Last Day in Costa Rica

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Here are just a few photos from the last two days of my recent tour to Costa Rica. We spent our next-to-last morning at the verdant Braulio Carrillo National Park just in the foothills on the very wet Caribbean slope. I recall last year having to spend a full morning here under a constant rain last year. In quite a contrast, things were so dry this year that sensitive epiphytic ferns used to at least some precipitation on something like 350 days of the year were starting to furl up to prevent water loss. Five days in a row with no rain hear constitutes a severe drought.

Perhaps because of the sun, this Apella Skipper, Racta apella, was darting about, but landing only on the roof of the park staff building, too far for a good photo.

Also at the headquarters center was this male black-and-white jumping spider, Phiale formosa, with thanks to Dick Walton and GB Edwards for the ID. The female is apparently very different in appearance, probably mimicking a wasp.

We walked the one-mile loop trail twice, and each time was quite different. Perhaps the most outstanding differences were that the second time through we saw a Northern Tamandua (a small anteater) climbing up a tree, and a few yards down the trail heard a Black-crowned Antpitta, one of the most enigmatic birds of Costa Rica. This one was my lifer, even though we didn’t get to see it.

I stopped at some point to look at some bird movement in the trees, and when I looked down spotted this Eyelash Pit Viper – our third one and the least camouflaged – right next to the trail. In my 19 previous trips I had seen just three of these, two of which had been pointed out to me and my group, and the first of which I had almost sat on during my first tour in February of 1998.

Our last stop of the trip was the scenic La Paz Waterfall Gardens. It’s kind of like Costa Rica’s version of the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, complete with aviaries and mammal enclosures, but this place also has a hotel, a huge dining hall, and at least seven species of wild hummingbirds coming to the feeders.

This Black-bellied Hummingbird was our first of the tour.

This female Green Thorntail was the last new species added to our huge trip list.

The most abundant hummer at the feeders was Green-crowned Brilliant.

We also took a walk down to one of the many waterfalls, along the way seeing our third species of Platydesmid millipede on the tour. Maybe we should do a millipede tour of Costa Rica next time; the diversity must be quite high here.



I always enjoy starting and ending our tours at the relaxing Bougainvillea Hotel, far from noisy streets and neighborhoods and with it’s flower-filled gardens, but this is the first time I got to see it during the tour. I left out in my blogs this time that because of the eruption of Turrialba on March 12 I arrived in Costa Rica ¾ of the way through Day 2 instead of on the day before Day 1. The international airport closed for a day and a half, and 7000 tourists were stranded in Costa Rica for a day or more, probably even more were prevented from arriving, and full flights the weekend before spring break meant that one of my participants missed the first three days of the tour. It was on all our minds on the last day, but the volcano stayed quiet and allowed us to all leave on time.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Sueño Azul Rancho Hotel Birding

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We saw enough cool stuff during just one morning, one afternoon, and on a couple night walks at our Sueño Azul lodge to warrant its own blog. It’s an active cattle ranch, but with brushy, regenerating pastures, many remaining old trees and small patches of forest connected to larger areas of extensive foothill rainforest, as well as strips of trees along two small rivers and a series of small ponds, it has an extraordinarily high diversity of birds. For example, after our full morning and early afternoon at Braulio Carrillo National Park (a couple photos from which I’ll post in the next blog), we had seen and heard 59 species, many of them very good ones. But in just 2 late afternoon hours on the entrance drive and grounds of our lodging, we had added another 72 species, for a day list of 131 species!

One of the birds we had been looking for was this Canebrake Wren, mistakenly lumped with the Plain Wren by someone unfamiliar with the species in real life in some decades passed, a mistake puzzlingly perpetuated by the AOU to this day. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that two birds that look and sound different, occupy different habitats, and have an adjacent but non-overlapping distributions are different species. This one really is one of the plainest of all wrens, living in low-lying, moist thickets of fern and grass on the Caribbean slope. The nominate group of true Plain Wren, which we had seen near Monteverde, sports a lovely buff wash below, lives in dry, brushy, and viney areas, and sings a song twice as fast and so much higher that even the most tone deaf of birders can tell the difference. Anyone but an early 20th-century ornithologist confined to the museum would fairly assume that the birds can hear the difference as well.

This easily overlooked bird is a Plain-colored Tanager, often hard to see in fast-moving flocks in the canopy. We got to watch this one at length just past the fence gathering nesting material in a brush pile. It somewhat resembles Palm Tanager (and I once overheard a professional guide misidentify one of those as this species) but lacks any hint of color on the crown and has an entirely dark wing, including the wing coverts (Palm Tanager has oddly contrasting dark flight feathers, with wing coverts that match the color of the scapulars and back).

At breakfast from this location we watched Gray-necked Wood-Rails on the lawn, Green Ibis flying over and babbling in Portuguese (even here they say coró-coró, which is their Brazilian onomatopoetic name), and spied Fasciated Tiger-Herons feeding in the river. In the top photo, our driver and excellent birder Ricard is helping to scan for Sunbitterns while a Bare-throated Tiger-Heron can barely be seen up to the left of center.

This Broad-winged Hawk, probably having spent the night here on its way back from, say, the Owlet Lodge in northern Peru, was sunning itself before continuing its journey north, perhaps to Maine.

We took a walk into a strip of forest that is connected to larger areas of forest. We saw Crowned Woodnymph here, perhaps after having fed from this Columnea nicaraguensis, an epiphytic lipstick vine and member of the family Gesneriace blooming over the road.


We had great views of a pair of Royal Flycatchers and White-collared Manakins, and then when we reached another clearing heard an awful screeching of a raptor which I couldn’t place or locate with my eyes. When one participant said he saw something whitish move deep in a tree, I knew he had spotted a White Hawk. Soon we were watching two of these glorious birds perched in a large, leafless tree, and later they soared in tandem in the same skies where we had just seen King Vulture and Double-toothed Kite.

Right by our rooms was this handsome male Green Basilisk, Basiliscus plumifrons, one of three species in the genus we saw in Costa Rica.

This is the gecko we commonly see and hear around lights in the lodge anywhere in the tropics. It is Common House Gecko, Hemidactylus frenatus, which I confirmed by grabbing one and examining the arrangement of scales on its chin. I also took a close-up of the strange toe pads that allow it to run up and down almost any surface, even upside down. It turns out that the cellular structure of the toes harness the mysterious laws of molecular physics to allow it to do that.


We took two short evening walks and one early morning walk for owls here. The first was successful for spotting a Kinkajou in an open Cecropia tree, and even better was this Ring-necked Coffee Snake, Nina sebae. We also heard a distant Vermiculated Screech-Owl and an even more distant Great Potoo.

The second walk was utterly bird-free, but we were delighted by this Central American Woolly Opossum right over the trail.


The final morning walk was at first also void of owls, and we called it quits just as it was getting light in order to have some coffee. Ricardo then heard a Spectacled Owl from the parking lot where we had been not 15 minutes earlier. It was rapidly getting light, but the owl was still responsive, and in about 10 minutes we were having great views of it very close to where we had seen the opossum the night before.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

A Full Day at Costa Rica's La Selva

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Our last four days in Costa Rica went by in a flash yet at the same time seemed to be as full of experiences and sightings as the first nine days. On these days we were on the more lush Caribbean slope, first in the foothills of the Tilarán range, which are something of a transition zone from the Central range and the Guanacaste range of volcanic peaks. We spent a full morning near the Arenal Observatory Lodge, and our pre-breakfast walk was surprisingly successful (being in a patch of secondary forest adjacent to over-manicured gardens), with a family group of Song Wrens (the male singing his fascinating song that alternates so rapidly between short, pure whistled tones at varied pitches and harsh chuckling phrases that it seems two birds must be singing at once), a Black-headed Nightingale-Thrush, and a pair of Spotted Antbirds being the main highlights. The porterweed in the gardens attracted several hummingbirds including our only Black-crested Coquette, a female. We also stopped to take pictures of this flowering bush in the dark understory, and my guess as to the caper family (with its brush of many stamens) led me to the name Capparidastrum discolor.

On our late morning walk, the only bird photo I managed was of this Great Curassow in the crown of a tall tree, where it had been singing its nearly subsonic humming growl, making it very hard to locate.

We also had our best views of a beautiful male Scarlet-thighed Dacnis in a small fruiting tree just off the trail (made especially beautiful by its direct comparison to the utterly drab Ochre-bellied Flycatcher also feeding from the fruits), and a pair of Buff-rumped Warblers countersang, probably reaffirming their territorial boundaries right along the trail. So wrapped up in his business, one came with in a few feet of our group several times, and the ringing song at that close range was almost painfully loud. Sometimes I’ve had to resort to using playback to bring one of these birds closer for even brief views, but this was by far a more satisfying experience.

We had the next full day at La Selva, the famous research station of the Organization for Tropical Studies. While it was bustling with students and a few independent researchers, it’s also a magnet for groups of ecotourists, especially birders, who pay an entrance fee as well as for a local guide, the help from whom I’ve never been disappointed in. We arrived before La Selva officially opened at 7:00, which fortunately put us at the right spot at the right time to see seven gorgeous male Snowy Cotingas gathering in three trees on either side of the entrance drive, posturing, giving short display flights, and displacing each other on branches. About the size of an American Robin but chunkier and with a shorter tail, this oddly silent bird (especially odd considering that some members of the cotinga family are among the loudest of all birds) is special for being one of very few all-white passerines in the world.

This visit we were accompanied by Joel, a very good birder who has worked here for many years as a guide and a field biotech for researchers. He asked me where we had been in Costa Rica and which birds we hadn’t seen yet, and when I mentioned Rufous Motmot, any puffbirds, tinamous, and quail-doves, he chose to take us down the STR, a wide, paved path with good views of the understory as well as lower areas of the canopy. But we didn’t get far, as the bird activity near the bridge was high. Collared Aracaris were coming into the fruiting bushes just a couple feet away, impatiently hoping we’d move on, while a large group of Crested Guans walked nonchalantly nearby and our first Crowned Woodnymph and Black-cheeked Woodpecker foraged in another tree. These two Crested Guans were just a couple trees farther along, possibly part of a big extended family.

The Queen Mary Bromeliads, Aechmea mariae-reginae, were in full bloom this year, mostly high in the trees, but this one was below eye level from the vantage point of the foot bridge crossing the Sarapiqui River.

We moved on down the trail, stopping to marvel at leafcutter ants, millipedes, and the occasional bird. Not far down the trail, Joel stopped to show us large holes dug into the dirt banks on either side of the trail where he thought Rufous Motmots might be currently nesting. Sure enough, a few steps farther, he spotted this giant of motmots perched motionless in the midstory.

Chrysomelidae is a huge family called leaf beetles, and the subgroup known as tortoise beetles are particularly attractive. This one is Ischnocodia annulus and has been called the Target Tortoise Beetle.

If it weren’t for Joel, we might have walked right past this Black-capped Pygmy-Tyrant. I had heard one in the canopy earlier, but ignored it, as seeing one of the world’s smallest passerines is almost impossible when they are singing from the tallest trees as they usually do. But this one was bringing food to a nest, a hanging pouch dangling from the petiole and hidden behind the blade of a large philodendron leaf just 10 feet above the trail.

Belonging to Costaceae, one of the families in the ginger order (and strangely unknown in the temperate zone even as a house plant or ornamental), this is Costus malortieanus.

Another bird I had mentioned to Joel as one missing from our list, Black-throated Trogon appeared in spades.

Recognizing the cauliflorous fruits on this vine as a member of the family Sapindaceae (looks reminiscent of ackee, with a bright aril meant to attract dispersers) helped me find the name Paullinia fasciculata on the Digital Flora of La Selva website.

We then took a narrower trail back for lunch, hoping for more understory birds. Joel was pointing out an active nest of a Lesser Swallow-tailed Swift on a huge tree trunk overhead (which I failed to photograph for some reason, except for maybe because it paled in comparison to the one I found with Jake, Paul, and Steve in northern Peru last May) when one of the tour participants noticed this small Eyelash Pit Viper just below (my) eye level an arm’s reach from the trail. It is indeed venomous, apparently with a very potent venom, but it is not an aggressive species, and strikes seem to be very rare considering how common it is and how easy it is to overlook. It’s possible that the species is reluctant to strike in defense unless really bothered –  every one I have ever seen has remained utterly motionless and probably has no reason to believe it’s visible. But we were warned to remain at least as far as most of its body length. It uses only the very last loop of its tail around the branch as an anchor and can strike at a distance of a the remainder of its body length.

This is a refuse pile of Atta colombica, the Surface-dump Leafcutter Ant.

Rubyspot damselflies of at least two species were here and there along the trail, hunting from the tips of leaves at eye level. La Selva has several species, and I’m guessing that this one is a male Hetaerina titia. Joel said that expert odonatologist Bill Haber had just been here, updating the La Selva species list, even discovering a new species of damselfly in the process.

After lunch back at the main center for lunch, we took a short break when I shined my headlamp into a small hole in a dirt bank right by the gift shop. In it was this Yellow-spotted Night-Lizard, Lepidophyma flavomaculatum, which retreated deeper in before I could get a photo better illuminated by my flash.

This vine in the family Marcgraviaceae is Souroubea gilgii, normally attractive to honeycreepers and hummingbirds, but it remained bird free and merely beautiful while we were watching.


Also during our break I found this Passiflora auriculata passionflower, which surprised me by being wonderfully fragrant, like chocolate and strawberries. Most passionflowers have no smell, and some are even foul smelling.

I was amazed to see this female Fasciated Antshrike and her mate at eye level in the bushes by the gift shop, so far from the canopy where I’ve spent many neck-breaking minutes trying to bring one in with playback. Like a few other birds we saw here, they were on a foray out of their usual element to collect nesting material.

We took another walk back in the forest, finding a pair of Broad-billed Motmots.

This Gray-waisted Skimmer, Cannaphila insularis, was perching in low vegetation right next to the trail.

Joel took us to a tented leaf where these amazing Honduran White Bats were roosting. They had been using it for about two weeks by now, and we were among hundreds of people who had seen them, one by one. The leaf was only about four feet off the ground, well visible about ten yards from the main trail, but a narrow path had been worn to it where one could carefully walk without unduly shaking the surrounding vegetation, kneel and look up under the leaf (unfortunately placed directly below a very bright hole in the distant canopy, making a good photo impossible). The tiny 1 ½-inch bats had created the tent by biting along either side of the central vein of the leaf. Many species do this, but I had seen this one just one previous time,  and I think it was my first visit to La Selva in March 1998.

One last photo from La Selva is of this spider lily relative, Crinum erubescens, growing along a narrow stream in the deep forest understory and visible from a short foot bridge.