Scaly-breasted Hummingbird: Dave and Dave’s Costa Rican Nature Park, La Virgen, Costa Rica — Really, if I were a Scaly-breasted Hummingbird I would want to know if that was the best name they could come up with…I mean, “scaly-breasted” lacks a certain elegance, and really does not do justice to anything as refined as a hummingbird. Scaly-breasted indeed! How about “pale-green cowled” or “aqua hooded”? True, the Scaly-breasted is not among the flashier hummingbirds and is easy to overlook among the Jacobins and Rufous-tailed, the Hermits and the Plumeleteers, but it is certainly an elegant little hummer when you get a good look. Dave and Dave’s is the place to do it. Though the Jacobins do their best to keep all the other hummers away from the flowers, patience will pay off and the Scaly-breasted is a regular visitor. (Though Dave and Dave’s is called a Nature Park…you should not confuse it with anything like a zoo…it is a carefully managed persevere for birds and wildlife in their natural state, that offers great opportunities for close observation, but the birds and other critters come or go very much on their own terms.) Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos. ISO 250 @ f4 @ 1/500th.
White-necked Jacobin Hummingbird: Dave and Dave’s Costa Rican Nature Park, La Virgen, Costa Rica — Another shot from Dave and Dave’s. They put out fresh Heliconia flowers each day as perches for the hummingbirds that frequent the sharp slope and natural vegetation behind their home, where you can sit on the deck and watch and photograph the birds as close you could want. Even the pouring rain of the passing cold front that greeted us on our arrival in country, could not dampen the hummingbird’s sprits, or ours, while we watched them. White-necked Jacobins are the dominant species at this elevation and in this habitat, and they jealously guard their favored perches and the heliconia flowers. It is fun to watch the other species of the area make lightning raids on the flowers whenever they think the Jacobins have let down their guard. They zoom in a snatch a drink from the flowers. Oddly, it is rare to see the Jacobins actually drinking from the flowers. They seem more interested in making sure no one else does, than in using the flowers themselves. I like this shot of the wet and slightly ruffled hummer because it shows so much of the feather texture and detail. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos. ISO 800 @ f4 @ 1/500th.
Violet Saberwing: Mirador y Soda Chinchona, Costa Rica — On our first day in the field in Costa Rica, we always stop at Mirador y Soda Chinchona, a small mom-and-pop restaurant and store on Route 126 about 20 minutes beyond La Paz Waterfall Gardens. They have a large covered deck out back, overlooking the San Francisco Waterfall way across the deep valley of the Sarapique River, that is popular with wedding parties and birders. They maintain a good set of tasteful feeders just off the deck that attract many species of the mid-elevations that might otherwise be hard to see. And you get to see them, on a rainy day like we had, from shelter, and with excellent coffee at hand. What could be better? (Okay, I will admit it is pretty spectacular on a day when it is not pouring rain as well.) It is never very light under the trees that tower over the deck, but in the rain, photography can be a challenge. Still, the birds are close and generally cooperative. This Violet Saberwing, Costa Rica’s largest hummingbird according to some sources, and one of its most colorful, used this same perch only a few feet from the deck for most of the 90 minutes we spent there. I took a lot of photos of it. 🙂 Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with multi-frame noise reduction. Processed in Pixomator Photo and Apple Photos. Equivalent ISO 6400 @ f4 @ 1/25th of a second. The best that even multi-frame noise reduction could manage in that light.
Fiery-throated and Lesser Violet Ear Hummingbirds, Paraiso Quetzal Lodge, Costa Rica — I have never seen such a concentration of Fiery-throated Hummingbirds as we encountered at our lunch stop at Paraiso Quetzal Lodge just of the PanAm Highway in the Talamanca Mountains south of San Jose, Costa Rica. And, of course, there were several other species typical of the high mountains there as well. These shots show off two species sharing a perch…the Fiery-throated in the foreground and the Lesser Violet Ear in the back…odd in itself, and a good indicator of just how dense the hummers were…as both of these species are dominators…defending feeding areas aggressively. At the most this was a temporary cease-fire…like the Christmas truces of the World Wars. And appropriate to the day today, as their delicate beauty encasing fearless hearts would make a fitting ornament for any Christmas Tree. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Pixelmator Photo and Apple Photos. ISO 1000 @ f4 @ 1/500th. Though these birds were close, you will notice that I had to shift focus to get them both.
Volcano Hummingbird: Batsu Gardens, San Gerardo de Dota, Costa Rica — Batsu Gardens, high on the mountainside above Sevegre Mountain Resort, and the creation of the grandson of one of the pioneer settlers of the valley, is also among my favorite places for bird photography in Costa Rica. It consists of two covered platforms surrounded by a vigorous garden of native plants and some tastefully designed and maintained feeding stations, that attract many of the resident and migratory species of the high Talamanca Mountains. Everything from the tiny Volcano and Scintillant Hummingbirds, to the Emerald Toucanet. We always do it pretty much on our last afternoon in Costa Rica, just before the early morning drive to the airport, and it is always the most relaxing and rewarding way to spend those hours. On my first trip this year, we were delighted to observe this male Volcano Hummingbird…second smallest bird in Costa Rica after the truly tiny Scintillant…working the flowers behind the deck in good light and flashing its gorget. In 10 trips to Costa Rica, this is the first time I have actually gotten good photos of that gorget. 🙂 Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Pixelmator Photo and Apple Photos. ISO 200 and 250 @ f4 @ 1/500th.
Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer: Donde Cope, Gaupiles, Costa Rica — The Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer is one of the most distinctive hummingbirds of the tropics and the lowland rain forest of the Caribbean slope of Costa Rica in particular. It is the only hummingbird in Costa Rica with red feet. In fact the Costa Rican Plumeleteer is considered a sub-species, often called the “Red-footed Plumeleteer” and has a black tail rather than the bronze tail observed in the rest of its range from Honduras all along the Caribbean slope of Central America, and down in South America as far as Ecuador. It is not a common bird even within its range. We generally see it at Dave and Dave’s Costa Rican Nature Pavilion in La Virgin, at the heliconias there, and we did get glimpses during our visit there, but these most cooperative specimens are from Cope’s tiny wildlife sanctuary around his home in Gaupiles. Sony Rx10iv at 509 plus equivalent. It is always dark under bamboo forest at Cope’s so these were taken in Program mode with multi-frame noise reduction. Equivalent ISO 6400 @ f4 @ 1/160th and 1/400th. Processed in Pixelmator Photo and Apple Photos.
Blue-throated Goldentail: Danta Corcovado Lodge, Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica — the Blue-throated Goldentail is listed in most guides as common in the lowlands and foothills of the Pacific Slope of Costa Rica, and it does not get much lower than Danta Corcovado Lodge on the Osa Peninsula (though we were on a hill when we saw it). It is apparently less common, but present, in the Caribbean lowlands, but I have never seen it there. These photos might be rated “high” in level of difficulty. We were on an observation tower maybe 30 feet high, and the hummer was working flowers at the base of the tower. This is stretching the 600mm zoom on the Sony Rx10iv to its max, using Pixomator Photo’s Machine Learning Maximum Resolution to enlarge a severe crop of the image to what might amount to about 3000mm equivalent. Even with enlargement these are only 4mp images. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Pixelmator Photo and Apple Photos. ISO 320 @ f4 @ 1/500th.
Snowy-bellied Hummingbird: Wilson Botanical Gardens, Las Cruces Biological Station OTS, Costa Rica — I am back from 19 days in Costa Rica. I will post a catch-up gallery in the next day or so. Today’s photo is of a Snowy-bellied Hummingbird, a hummer I have only had glimpses of before higher in the mountains of Costa Rica. The Wilson Botanical Gardens are only at “mid-level”…about 4000 feet in elevation…so I was surprised to see the hummer prominently featured on signage at the gardens, and delighted that our guide to the gardens was able to find us one. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Pixomator Photo Pro and Apple Photos. ISO 250 @ f4 @ 1/500th.
Rufous Hummingbird: Bear Canyon Campground, Santa Fe National Forest, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA — I shared one shot if this juvenile Rufous Hummingbird at these flowers in the Bear Canyon Campground above Santa Fe, New Mexico a week or so ago, but I can not leave my New Mexico experience without sharing a couple more poses. The Hummer was very busy and remained around the flowers long enough so that I got a number of keeper shots. In these two you can see the the distinguishing features on the front side of the bird. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos, assembled in FrameMagic. ISO 100 @ f4 @ 1/500th.
Rufous Hummingbird: Bear Canyon Camp Ground, Santa Fe National Forest, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA — As we came back down through the Bear Canyon Camp Ground after our hike up Bear Canyon trail, we saw a number of juvenile Rufous Hummingbirds working the wildflowers. I attempted to catch one several times before this bird decided to cooperate, and hovered long enough for a few shots. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos. ISO 100 @ f4 @ 1/500th.