Friday, January 5, 2018

2017 in Review: Costa Rica In Summer

I had a busy latter half of 2017 and didn't blog regularly, so I'll be posting highlights by sharing the "From The Field" reports I submit to WINGS for their website.

Costa Rica in July was the perfect getaway from the summer heat to enjoy an amazing selection of tropical species in an agreeable climate. We had nearly perfect weather throughout, beginning and ending with refreshingly cool elevations. There were so many wonderful experiences with the birds we saw, there was no outstanding favorite. Great Tinamous singing their haunting songs (audible from our rooms), Snowcaps darting amongst the porterweed flowers, a Crested Owl called into view at Celeste Mountain Lodge, and adorable Pied Puffbirds near Maquenque received high votes. This exquisitely cute Central American Pygmy-Owl took the prize with the most votes on the tour, but just barely.

We had one of the most unexpected birds of the tour within the first hour of birding and just down the street from our San José area hotel when a juvenile Bicolored Hawk flew in and landed for extended views.

In the Cerro de la Muerte Highlands, we soon connected with several Resplendent Quetzals, getting our best views right from our rooms.

The recently split Northern Emerald-Toucanet was one of the highlights we came across in our quest for the quetzal.

The hummingbirds at Rancho Naturalista were tops, including both Black-crested and the very rare White-crested Coquette, as well as the incomparable Snowcaps. Our time in Tortuguero National Park began with a wonderful night boat ride on the canals where we our capitán showed off his skills at spotting many roosting birds, including a juvenile Rufescent Tiger-Heron and this sleeping American Pygmy-Kingfisher.

There was nothing wrong with the one morning downpour we waited out at Tortuguero, especially when the clearing of the skies was coupled with a Black-and-white Hawk-Eagle leaving the park’s forest for its morning soar. The weather held out for our memorable viewing of a Green Sea Turtle laying eggs in her laboriously excavated nest that same night. One of the most-viewed and liked videos I ever posted to Facebook was of this Bare-throated Tiger-Heron going into its “sun salutation” pose from the roof of the boat dock at our jungle lodge.

And thanks to our boatman’s amazing vision we were able to see a handsome Black-and-white Owl on its day roost.

Maquenque Lodge’s dining hall was a great place to get your fill of gaudily plumaged birds, such as Purple Gallinules feeding chicks just below the building or like this Crimson-collared Tanager at the bananas.

The tour was so much more than just birds – the moths at Rancho Naturalista were out of this world, with a the huge and gorgeous silk moth Copaxa rufinans the highlight.

We didn’t see many snakes, but the most memorable encounter was a tiny Cope's Vine Snake gingerly threading its way through the vegetation at Tenorio National Park.

And finally, this mother and her baby Hoffmann's Two-toed Sloth were spotted by our driver, who was birding with us for the morning.

The video of them cuddling was also one of my most watched videos:

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