Rufous Motmot: Selva Verde Lodge, Sarapique, Costa Rica — We had a cold front coming through our first two days in Costa Rica, and as I have said, our only significant rain of the trip. And did it rain! Pretty much steady rain for 48 hours. We were still damp from our first day’s wetting when we gathered for breakfast our first morning at Selva Verde (even after using the hair dryers in our rooms on our shoes and socks), but we were greeted by the usual assortment of tropical Rain Forest birds at the feeding station below the breakfast room…including this Rufous Motmot…which I believe is the largest of the Motmots in Costa Rica. It is a spectacular bird by any account. When I visited Selva Verde last, before the pandemic, the Motmot was in residence, but rarely came to the feeding station, and certainly did not perch out in the open. On this visit it was a daily visitor and highly visible. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with multi-frame noise reduction. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos. Equivalent ISO 6400 @ f4 @ 1/60th.
Northern Emerald Toucanet: Mirador y Soda Chinchona, Costa Rica — The last few years the Northern Emerald Toucanet has be a regular visitor to the feeders at Mirador y Soda Chinchona, and by now I would be disappointed not to see it when we visit. It held off this year until way late…as we were losing the light on an already dark day, during a another heavy downfall of rain. I can not say that it looks particularly happy, even with its favorite flute at hand. No singing in the rain at any rate. This is another extreme low light shot using multi-frame noise reduction. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode as above. Processed in Pixelmator Photo and Apple Photos. Equivalent ISO 6400 @ f4 @ 1/160th. This is pretty much a full frame shot. I was that close.
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.
Tropical Screech Owl: Hotel Bougainvillea, San Jose, Costa Rica — On most trips to Costa Rica, we have to make a special effort to see an owl. When we stay at the Bougainvillea, there is a Costa Rican Pygmy Owl that has been seen near the back of the gardens, and we always look, but I have yet to see it. And later in the trip, we visit Cope in Galupiles, and he generally has at least one owl staked out. This year we walked up on two owls unexpectedly. This Tropical Screech Owl was hanging out with its mate in a dense grove of Bamboo in the Bougainvillea gardens on most of our folks first morning in Costa Rica, on what turned out to be a very rainy day. The female was so far back-in that photography was next to impossible, and I don’t have any sharp shots of her…but the male was close enough to the edge of the grove so I could find a line-of-sight for a few photos…using my low-light mode and multi-frame noise reduction. (The second unexpected owl was a Spectacled Owl we came up on on the grounds of Danta Corcovado on the Osa Peninsula. We would not have seen either one if not for the incredibly sharp eyes and extraordinary awareness of our guide Edwin 🙂 Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with multi-frame noise reduction. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos. Equivalent ISO 6400 @ f4 @ 1/60th.
Rufous-naped Wren: Hotel Bougainvillea, San Jose, Costa Rica — another of the birds that is very likely to be on the greeting committee in Costa Rica, at least if you fly into San Jose and spend your first night there, is the Rufous-naped Wren. Large for a wren, with a bright white belly, that rich rust across the shoulders, and the bold eyeline, it is a hard bird to miss anywhere on the floor of the Central Valley or in the North-west. It reminds me more than a little of our Cactus Wren of the South-west here in the USA. There are always several on the grounds of the Hotel Bougainvillea, and I have seen them on every stay at the Buena Vista as well, even in their little patch of old banana plantation. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos. ISO 1600 @ f4 @ 1/500th -.3EV.
Squirrel Cuckoo: Bougainvillea Hotel, San Jose, Costa Rica — I flew into Costa Rica a day early, because if you try to fly direct in one day from Maine, you arrive late in the evening, and, as the leader, I like to be there when the other’s arrive. That gave me a day to wander the extensive grounds and elegant gardens of the Bougainvillea, on their hill overlooking San Jose. And one of the first birds that graced me with its presence was this Squirrel Cuckoo, moving through the bare branches of a tall tree right over my head in the morning light. Squirrel Cuckoos are not uncommon in Costa Rica (except at the highest elevations), and range from Northern Mexico to Argentina, covering all of the lower elevation habitats of both Central and South America. They are unmistakable…big and brown with that black and white spotted tail…but their movement, very squirrel-like indeed running along branches, is enough to give them away. Still they like dense foliage and can be hard to see. I was delighted to find this one out in plain sight (after it did indeed move through several dense bushes below the tree when I first saw it). Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos. ISO 125 @ f4 @ 1/500th.
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.
So here is a gallery to catch you all up with my posts from Costa Rica. They might not be in order of my posts, but they are more or less in order of when and where I saw them. 1. Long-tailed Silky Flycatcher from Sevegre, 2. Resplendent Quetzel from San Gerardo de Dota, Common Black Hawk, from the Osa Peninsula, Spectacled Owl from the Osa, Scarlet Macaws from the Osa, Squirrel Monkey from the Osa, Fer-de-lance from the Osa, Lesson’s Motmot from Wilson Botanical Gardens, Fiery-billed Aracari from Wilson Botanical Gardens, Speckled Tanager from Wilson Botanical Gardens, Fiery-throated Warbler from Los Quetzales National Park, and out of order, Fiery-throated Hummingbird from Paradiso Quetzales, and finally the Golden-browned Chlorophonia from Batsu Gardens in San Gerardo de Dota. What an amazing two trips! And once more, Merry Christmas.
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.
White-collared Manikin: Dave and Dave’s Costa Rican Nature Pavilion, La Virgen, Costa Rica — We saw way more Manakins on these two trips than I have ever seen in Costa Rica before…or in Central America for that matter. And we got decent views of many of them. This was the most cooperative White-collared I have ever encountered. It came back repeatedly to work a particular bush off the hummingbird deck at Dave and Dave’s Costa Rican Nature Pavilion high on the bluff above the Sarapique River. Dave and Dave’s is one of my favorite photo destinations in Costa Rica…both Daves are excellent and knowledgeable hosts and they obviously take delight in providing birders (and photographers in particular) with the best opportunities to see and photograph the birds of both understory and canopy of the Caribbean lowland rain forest…while maintaining as natural a setting and environment for the birds as is humanly possible. It is not a zoo, and you never know what will show up, but it is a great place to spend quality time with a wide range of species. I had never seen a Manikin at Dave and Dave’s before this trip. 🙂 Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with multi-frame-noise-reduction. Processed in Pixelmator Photo and Apple Photos. Equivalent ISO 1600 @ f4 @ 1/500th. (And I would like to thank Dave and Dave again for their flexibility. Their willingness to change our appointment by a day and their under-cover observation platforms saved us from two days in a row of getting wet to the skin as we weathered our only serious rain of the trips.)