Saturday, March 27, 2010

Costa Rica, Day 2

Sorry it took so long for this next installment; I've had a busy week.

Day 2: March 7, 2010

At around 4:30 in the morning, the Howler Monkeys started howling away, just a bit into the woods from where we were sleeping. This early alarm clock was, as I suggested, a bit early. However, waking up early allowed me to hear a singing Common Pauraque, possibly one of the ones we saw driving in the night before. I sat and listened for a while, but did not hear much else until around 5:30.

When it was light enough to do some birding, I headed outside and decided to stay right around the cabin. Before long, birds were everywhere. Green Herons, Northern Jacanas, and several Purple Gallinules were along the edge of the lagoon, while a Ringed Kingfisher sat on a dead branch over them. From near the creek came calls of Broad-billed and Rufous Motmots, as well as the song of the Buff-rumped Warbler.

Birds flooded into the trees nearby. Some of the species in the trees included Band-backed Wren, Black-and-white Warbler, Black-faced Grosbeak, and Tropical Gnatcatcher. When the numerous birds in the trees in front of me left, a few of the other birders joined me. Before too long, we heard and saw a Pied Puffbird, which was sitting at the top of a nearby snag.

Pied Puffbird

After breakfast, the crew headed along the main road which goes through El Zota property. As the sun warmed the earth, many more birds became active. In a clearing, we found lots of Collared Aracaris, a beautiful pair of Slaty-tailed Trogons, a cooperative Brown-hooded Parrot, and lots of Pale-vented Pigeons which we affectionately call PVPs.

Male Slaty-tailed Trogon

Collared Aracari

In the woods near the clearing, we watched several Spider Monkeys and a White-faced Capuchin travel through the trees.

We then headed farther up the road to a large, scrubby clearing. Here, we heard a Little and Great Tinamou singing in the woods. A few Snowy Cotingas flew over while White-collared Manakins clapped from the woods behind us. We also spotted a Laughing Falcon sitting across the opening. Before too long, raptors appeared in the sky. At first, vultures circled around, but soon our first kettle of the day appeared, a small kettle of about eight Plumbeous Kites. Then, we started seeing a few Swallow-tailed Kites stream in from over the corner of the clearing. They circled above us. Kites continued to fly in until the kettle consisted of 48 of the gorgeous raptors. Small groups of swifts and swallows joined the skies with the raptors. Several Purple and Gray-breasted Martins flew aimlessly by, but the swifts, Gray-rumped and Lesser Swallow-tailed moved with very direct flight.

Laughing Falcon

Swallow-tailed Kite kettle

To our surprise, we saw another puffbird sitting on top of a snag. This one was much bigger than the one earlier, and turned out to be a White-necked Puffbird. In the same tree, was a very odd Black Vulture, which sat in a very strange way at the top of the tree, providing the group with plenty of laughs.

Black Vulture (top left) and White-necked Puffbird (bottom right)

After lunch was siesta time, which basically meant more birding. A few guys and I walked out along the entrance road, but turned on a side road. Not long after traveling along the road, we saw an extremely tiny bird sitting about eye level in the vegetation. This little bird, a Black-crowned Pygmy-Tyrant, along with being one of the world's smallest passerines, has one of the greatest bird names out there. Along the road, we also found a good number of butterflies.

Giant Swallowtail (Heraclides cresphontes)

Tiger Longwing (Heliconius hecale)

At about 3:00 in the afternoon, the group got together for a hike, this time through the woods. We ended up on "Sendero Swampo" which translates to Swamp Trail. It definitely lives up to its name!

Later in the evening, after dinner, we went potooing. Before we even called for potoos, we spotted a Common Potoo sitting in a snag in front of us. We got great looks at the bird, and decided to head to bed after that.

March 7, 2010 list:

Great Tinamou
Little Tinamou
Green Heron
Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture
Swallow-tailed Kite
Plumbeous Kite
Laughing Falcon
White-throated Crake
Purple Gallinule
Northern Jacana
Pale-vented Pigeon
Short-billed Pigeon
Olive-throated Parakeet
Orange-chinned Parakeet
Brown-hooded Parrot
White-crowned Parrot
Red-lored Parrot
Mealy Parrot
Squirrel Cuckoo
Groove-billed Ani
Common Potoo
Common Pauraque
Gray-rumped Swift
Lesser Swallow-tailed Swift
Long-billed Hermit
Bronzy Hermit
Rufous-tailed Hummingbird
Violaceous Trogon
Black-throated Trogon
Slaty-tailed Trogon
Broad-billed Motmot
Rufous Motmot
Ringed Kingfisher
White-necked Puffbird
Pied Puffbird
Chestnut-mandibled Toucan
Keel-billed Toucan
Collared Aracari
Black-cheeked Woodpecker
Pale-billed Woodpecker
Northern Barred-Woodcreeper
Streak-headed Woodcreeper
Cocoa Woodcreeper
Black-striped Woodcreeper
Chestnut-backed Antbird
Yellow-bellied Elaenia
Black-capped Pygmy-Tyrant
Bright-rumped Attila
Rufous Mourner
Boat-billed Flycatcher
Great Kiskadee
Social Flycatcher
Gray-capped Flycatcher
Tropical Kingbird
Cinnamon Becard
Masked Tityra
Black-crowned Tityra
Snowy Cotinga
White-collared Manakin
Purple Martin
Gray-breasted Martin
Barn Swallow
Tropical Gnatcatcher
Band-backed Wren
Strip-breasted Wren
House Wren
White-breasted Wood-Wren
Clay-colored Robin
Tennessee Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
Buff-rumped Warbler
Summer Tanager
Passerini's Tanager
Golden-hooded Tanager
Blue-gray Tanager
Palm Tanager
Orange-billed Sparrow
Buff-throated Saltator
Black-headed Saltator
Black-faced Grosbeak
Blue-black Grosbeak
Orchard Oriole
Baltimore Oriole
Scarlet-rumped Cacique
Montezuma Oropendola
Olive-backed Euphonia

Mantled Howler Monkey
Central American Spider Monkey
White-faced Capuchin

Anartia fatima
Dryas iulia
Heraclides cresphontes
Heliconius erato
H. cydno
H. hecale
Morpho sp.
Caligo sp.
Phoebis sp.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Costa Rica, Day 1

From March 6 to 13, 2010, I was in Costa Rica. Over the next week or so, I will be posting about my adventures.

Day 1: March 2, 2010

Upon landing in Costa Rica, the crew (which consisted of several ESU grad students, several PhD's, a few of their kids) headed through immigration and customs. At immigration, screens flashed photos of beautiful cloud forests and toucans. A few of the birders in the group, myself included, scanned through the airport windows for the first bird of the trip, which did not come until much later, when were were all in the van headed to the Caribbean side of the country.

That first bird was a Black Vulture, a very common bird in Costa Rica. Soon, we started seeing more birds along the road, including Turkey Vulture, Great-tailed Grackle, Tropical Kingbird, and egrets.

Along the way, we stopped at a restaurant called La Casa Doña Lela. The food was good, as was the birding. In a lot next to the building, we found several Rufous-collared Sparrows, a Red-billed Pigeon, and a "Southern" House Wren.

Our next stop was Parque Nacional Brauilo Carrillo. This huge national park consists of many great habitats, including the one we stopped at. Our stop was at about 500m up in the Caribbean foothills. This section of Braulio is usually cloudy and rainy, and this day was no exception. It poured the entire time we were there, limiting the number of birds we saw. Fortunately, the rain does allow some amazing things to grow in the forest. Several species of plants with leaves larger than me bordered the roads. The dense forest was filled with flowers, vines, and huge trees.

Despite the rain, two birds did make themselves visible. The first, a female Green Honeycreeper, foraged way up in a tree. The second bird, a Bay-headed Tanager, was feeding relatively low in a Cecropia tree. It stayed for a long time, allowing everyone in the group to get great views.

After leaving Braulio, we headed to our destination, Estación Biológica El Zota. The roads to El Zota are not the greatest, and a few times we wondered if the bridge was wide enough for the van, but we made it. We were dropped off at the intersection of two muddy roads, where the owner of El Zota met us. He took a small group of people with him in his SUV, while the rest of us walked part way. Along the walk, we saw several Common Pauraques in the road and heard lots of frogs along the muddy edges.

When we finally made it to El Zota, we ate dinner and before too long, headed off to bed.

March 6, 2010 list:

Great Egret
Cattle Egret
Snowy Egret
Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture
Roadside Hawk
Pale-vented Pigeon
Red-billed Pigeon
Rock Pigeon
Common Pauraque
Great Kiskadee
Tropical Kingbird
Gray-breasted Martin
House Wren
Clay-colored Robin
Bay-headed Tanager
Palm Tanager
Green Honeycreeper
Variable Seedeater
Rufous-collared Sparrow
House Sparrow
Great-tailed Grackle
Montezuma Oropendola

Rhinella marinus - Cane Toad
Hyla phlebodes - treefrog
Leptodactylus melanonotus - Black-backed Frog

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Happy Spring!

Spring has officially come! Today's start to the new season was fantastic... beautiful weather, birds singing, the smells... Even the butterflies were out and about, including Mourning Cloaks:

I recently returned from Costa Rica, which I will post about as soon as I can!