Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Costa Rica, Day 4- The Hummingbird Gallery

After we finished our walk in Monteverde, we headed up to the Hummingbird Gallery, at the entrance to the park. We had incredible looks at the hummingbirds, some as close as 6 inches away. There was literally no break in the activity- there were at least 12 feeders, and between them there was never less than 20 hummingbirds in view. Adrian said that we could see up to 8 species, and we saw all 8, so that was good. I also photographed all of them, some (Green Violetear, Violet Sabrewing) better than others (Magenta-throated Woodstar). In decending size order they were:

The incredible Violet Sabrewing, 

The more common but still really cool Green-crowned Brilliant, which dwarf all but the hermits and the sabrewing:

The Green Hermit was the least common, and the last one we found. There were 2-4 individuals:

A male (with 1/3rd of a GC Brilliant):
And a female (with a Coppery-headed Emerald):

The Green Violetear, the current banner of my blog:

The Purple-throated Mountain-Gem, common but brilliant and also endemic (to CR and Nicaragua):

This photo is pretty bad (taken from a video) but it shows the iridescent color a bit better:
The females look entirely different (the other bird in this shot is a Coppery-headed Emerald):

Another mid-sized hummingbird was the Stripe-tailed Hummingbird, all green with distinctive rufous wing feathers and white tail feathers:

The Coppery-headed Emerald has, for me, two claims to fame- It was my 300th bird, and the only bird endemic solely to Costa Rica that we saw. 

And last, and actually least (size-wise), the Magenta-throated Woodstar, a tiny, bee-like hummingbird that moved to quickly to get good photos:

There were also Bananaquits, another Incertae Sedis bird related to the tanagers. Like hummingbirds, they drink nectar, so they visit the feeders as well:

Many of these photos were actually taken with the macro/close-up mode on my camera, because otherwise they were too close to focus on. 

After a while at the Hummingbird Gallery, we said goodbye to Adrian, and had lunch. A quick walk to a waterfall produced a Smoky-brown Woodpecker and a Black Guan, and there was a Silvery-throated Tanager with the Common Bush-Tanagers in the parking lot. This Coatimundi joined us for lunch:

We left Monteverde, and stopped at a spot Adrian had recommended. It was supposed to be a good spot for Golden-browed Chlorophonia, a brightly colored highland endemic. 

My dad and I walked a little ways down the road- my mom and sister stayed back with the car. I spotted a Dusky-capped Flycatcher, and we found a really cool bird that had eluded us in Monteverde- a pair of Emerald Toucanets. There were also a Plain Wren and a Lesser Greenlet. 4 lifers in 10 minutes, but no Chlorophonia. When we were just about back at the car, my dad spotted a Blue Morpho butterfly, which was very large, and, as the name would imply, very blue. My mom and sister came out of the car to look, and while this was going on, someone was hit by a falling berry or fruit. I looked up, and there were 15-20 birds in the huge tree above us. They were the chlorophonias, and I got okay looks, though the birds were distant and only their undersides were visible (Think warbler neck, then make the tree 50 feet taller and you have chlorophonia-neck)

Back at the hotel, I took a walk around the grounds, finding a mixed flock of White-eared Ground-Sparrows, House Wrens, a Plain Wren, and a Rufous-and-white Wren, the latter being a life bird. However, the highlight was when I got lost and found myself off the trail in the orchard with a pair of green, yellow, and blue Chlorophonia 10 feet away at eye level. Unlike the other looks I had, these could not have been better. A Yellow-throated Euphonia was a nice bird, and an Elaenia species a frustrating ID challenge. 

At dusk, we went on a guided night walk. The highlights of that were lots of coatis, a few agoutis, a porcupine, a glimpse of an olingo, some leafcutter ants, and a red-kneed tarantula. Birds were scarce (it was dark), but I did hear a Mottled Owl and saw a sleeping Black-and-White Warbler on a twig. 

Later, I tallied off the day's birds, and found that I had seen 32 lifers, and with such amazing ones as Violet Sabrewing, Emerald Toucanet, Golden-browed Chlorophonia, and Replendant Quetzal, and can say that it was easily the best birding of my life, at least so far. 

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