Posts in Category: San Gerardo de Dota

Costa Rica! Violetear acrobatics

Lesser Violetear Hummingbird: Batsu Gardens, San Geraldo de Dota, Costa Rica, December 2023 — a few more shots from the flower set-up at Batsu Gardens, on the mountain- side high above Savegre Mountain Hotel and Spa. On the day we visited, in the misty rain, it was mostly Talamancas and Lesser Violetears. The Lesser Violetear is probably the most common hummingbird in Costa Rica at all elevations up to Cloud Forest. They are super active and aggressive defenders of nectar sources. OM System OM-1 with M.Zuiko 100-400IS zoom at 570mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds in flight and action modifications. Processed in Photomator and assembled in FrameMagic.

Costa Rica! Talamanca in the rain

Talamanca Hummingbird: Batsu Gardens, San Geraldo de Dota, Costa Rica, December 2023 — Batsu Gardens, high on the mountain-side above Savegre Mountain Hotel and Spa in San Geraldo de Dota, was specifically designed for bird photography. There are two permanent metal roofed awnings for shelter from the rain when it comes…one primarily purposed for Hummingbird photography and one facing the moss covered structure against the backdrop of the mountains across the valley designed for the fruit and seed eaters. Generally Felipe Chacon, grandson of the original settlers in the Savegre Valley, and the garden’s creator, picks you up at the Hotel in a 4 wheel drive van for the sharp climb to the gardens, and then sets out an array of fresh flowers from the gardens to attract hummingbirds against a backdrop of the slope behind. You can have a cup of coffee or use the clean and pleasant rest rooms close by while you wait. He also puts out fresh fruit in front of the other pavilion, so you have your choice. There will always be hummingbird action near both awnings. We drew a partially rainy day with not the best light, but it is still possible to photograph the hummers without flash. This the Talamanca coming in to the set-up flowers in the rain. OM System OM-1 with M.Zuiko 100-400IS zoom at 506mm equivalent (the hummingbirds are close!). Program mode with my custom birds in flight and action modifications. In the low light I was shooting at ISO 25600 to 32000 to get a shutter speed of 1/1600. I would, of course, have preferred a lower ISO and even higher shutter speed but we work with what we are given. Processed in Photomator and assembled in FrameMagic.

Costa Rica! Flames

Flame-colored Tanager: Feathers Garden, Savegre Mountain Hotel and Spa, San Geraldo de Dota, Costa Rica, December 2023 — I am not sure either the male or female Flame-colored Tanager is exactly flame-colored. Certainly very orange and very yellow, but I think of flame as having a bit more red to it, along with the orange and yellow hews from the flame tips. Still, I learned long ago not to expect precision, or even logic, from bird names. Whatever, the Flame-colored Tanager is a striking bird of the foothills and highlands of Mexico and Central America. In Costa Rica it is a bird of the Cloud Forests and is one of the most common birds at feeders at all elevations in Savegre River valley. And always a welcome addition to any afternoon. OM System OM-1 with M.Zuiko 100-400IS zoom at 800mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom bird modifications. Processed in Photomator.

Costa Rica! 1st morning Resplendent Quetzal

Resplendent Quetzal: San Geraldo de Dota, Costa Rica, December 2023 — The Resplendent Quetzal is a difficult bird to photograph well. It is not secretive. They are easy to find in the Savegre River Valley in the Talamanca Mountains and in other highland areas of Central America. You just have to know which Wild Avacado trees are in fruit on any given day, and go, really early in the morning, well before breakfast, and stand, often in what passes for bitter cold in the tropics, in the pretty much dark before sunrise, and wait for them to come in, take a fruit, and go to a perch to sit a while and digest. The wind is always blowing the long covert feathers around, and there is never enough light for the camera, so you are using much higher ISO than any sane photographer likes, and there is often a misty rain falling. Did I mention that you generally have to climb a very steep hill at 8000 feet to get to the spot in the first place. And stand. And wait. But when the Quetzals come! Well it is all worth it…so worth it that generally I talk the guide and the group to going back the next pre-dawn to do it all over again. Part of it is that, even after 10 or more trips to San Geraldo de Dota, which amounts to 20 or more morning Quetzal waits, I still don’t have my definitive Quetzal shot. I have lots of good shots, but no great ones. It is just difficult to do photographic justice, under the typical conditions, to the resplendence of the Resplendent Quetzal. Some morning one will hang around until after sunrise, or we will happen on one in full daylight…but until then I will continue to amass pretty-good Quetzal shots from before breakfast on the cold side of a mountain in the mist. Woe is me! No really, I am already making plans for my next trip to San Geraldo de Dota in 2025. These two shots are from the first morning in December of 2023, my last visit of that trip. OM System OM-1 with M. Zuiko 100-400IS zoom at 800mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom bird modifications. (With in this light amounted to ISO 25600, higher than I would have liked, at 1/200th, which is lower than I would have liked.) Woe. Processed in Photomator and assembled in FrameMagic.

Costa Rica: Northern Visitors (snowbirds)

Baltimore Oriole and Tennessee Warbler: Feathers Garden, Savegre Mountain Hotel and Spa, San Geraldo de Dota, Costa Rica, December 2023 — Costa Rica gets it share of North American snowbirds, birds that winter over in Costa Rica and breed in North America. Two of the most visible at most elevations are the Baltimore Oriole and the Tennessee Warbler. In fact I have seen more Tennessee Warblers in Costa Rica than I have in North America. OM System OM-1 with M. Zuiko 100-400IS zoom at 800mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom bird modifications. Processed in Photomator.

Costa Rica! White-throated Mountain Gem

White-throated Mountain Gem: Feathers Garden, Savegre Mountain Hotel and Spa, San Geraldo de Dota, Costa Rica, December 2023 — There are three Mountain-gems in Costa Rica. The females of the White-throated (common at higher elevations) and the Purple-throated (more common at foothill and mid elevations) are almost identical, with rufous breasts, green upper side, and a bold white eye-stripe, but the males are distinctive, one with a white gorget and the other, as you might guess, with a purple gorget. Both male and female White-bellied Mountain-gem would not be confused with the other two. They are all smallish hummingbirds with active, feisty personalities, and though always smaller in number, they keep up with the Lesser Violet-ears and Talamanca where they occur together. This is the White-throated Mountain-gem, both male and female, from two consecutive days at Feathers Garden at Savegre Hotel. OM System OM-1 with M. Zuiko 100-400IS zoom at 800mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom bird modifications. Processed in Photomator.

Costa Rica! the angle is everything

Talamanca Hummingbird: Feathers Garden, Savegre Mountain Hotel and Spa, San Geraldo de Dota, Costa Rica, December 2023 — Most of the most colorful feathers on the throat (gorget) and head (helmet) on most hummingbirds are actually black until the light refracts at just the right angle…and then you see the colors flash. This Talamanca Hummingbird from Feathers Garden at Savegre is a good example. This might be the only photo I have that shows the gold that you can sometimes see in the gorget. OM System OM-1 with M. Zuiko 100-400IS zoom at 800mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom bird modifications. Processed in Photomator.

Costa Rica! Scintillant Hummingbird

Scintillant Hummingbird: Feathers Garden, Savegre Mountain Hotel and Spa, San Geraldo de Dota, Costa Rica, December 2023 — This is the other small hummingbird of the Talamanca Mountains of Costa Rica and Panama (and the higher volcanos of the Central Range in Costa Rica). The Scintillant replaces the Volcano at lower elevations, according to the guides, but I seen both up to 8000 feet. At 11,000 it is only Volcanos. I posted Volcanos from this same garden at Savegre earlier this week. The bright rufous tails and the extensive rufous vests on these makes them unmistakably Scintillant. OM System OM-1 with M. Zuiko 100-400IS zoom at 800mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds-in-flight and action modifications. Processed in Photomator.

Costa Rica! Volcano?

Volcano Hummingbird: Feathers Garden, Savegre Mountain Hotel and Spa, San Geraldo de Dota, Costa Rica, December 2023 — There at two very small hummingbirds, both endemic to the mountains of Southern Costa Rica and Northern Panama, and so similar that they are always a challenge to separate where they overlap…as they do at Savegre. Generally the Scintillant is found at lower elevations and is replaced by the Volcano at higher elevations…however there appears to be a broad area of overlap in the Talamancas. Males have different colored gorgets…orange for the Scintillant and violet for the Volcano, but I have seen far fewer males than females, and, indeed, saw no males this past December. I am pretty sure both of these shots are the female Volcano. I have shots taken only a few moments later from the same chair at Feathers Garden, of what is clearly the Scintillant (with I will post another day). Compared, the Scintillant has an obviously rufous tail and more rufous under the wings and is very slightly smaller (but we are talking really small hummingbirds already). OM System OM-1 with M. Zuiko 100-400IS zoom at 800mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom bird modifications. Processed in Photomator.

Costa Rica! Lesser Violetear

Lesser Violetear Hummingbird: Feathers Garden, Savegre Mountain Hotel and Spa, San Geraldo de Dota, Costa Rica, December 2023 — Another hummingbird who frequents the Feathers Garden at Savegre: the Lesser Violetear. It used to be the Green Violetear, until the name gods changed it to the Mexican and Lesser Violetear…and, no, there is no Greater Violetear. ?? This is a feisty little hummer that attempts to dominate the feeders wherever you find it…and it is common from the upper reaches of the Rainforest right up through Cloud Forest, at least to 8000 feet where I have seen it often. OM System OM-1 with M. Zuiko 100-400IS zoom at 800mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom bird modifications. Processed in Photomator.