The Hallowed Honeymoon Hummingbird Hunt - Costa Rica - Part 8 - Rancho Naturalista - Day 2

The night's sleep was again interrupted by singing Mottled Owls, which, again, remained unseen.

Day 8 started out with a romantic trip to the moth light. Specially built, the concept behind these is to leave the light shining on the white surface all night, attracting a multitude of bugs. These bugs then attract in a wide variety of birds first thing in the morning to feast on them.

Low light levels made identifying birds tricky and photography was all but pointless. Nonetheless some great birding was had, with species like Red Throated Ant Tanager, Bright Rumped Attilla, Scaly Breasted Leaf Tosser (no you're a scaly breasted leaf tosser) and various wrens, woodcreepers and flycatchers all making appearances.

The Moth Light - Romance made manifest

Bright Rumped Attila

Red Throated Ant Tanager - Demonic. For obvious reasons, didn't nab many shots in the twilight

Dusky Capped Flycatcher

From the moth light we made our way back to the lodge for coffee on the balcony and more Hummingbird encounters.

The coffee station - big mugs, excellent coffee, good cookies. Survival essentials

The Balcony - Hummingbird paradise

The forest of invisible Mottled Owls

Black Cheeked Woodpecker

The Breakfast assembly - all meals are eaten family style. A great opportunity to chat with the other birders and exchange information.


After breakfast it was time to move on. A long drive towards San Gerado de Dota was ahead, taking in sights along the way.

We made a quick stop at the owner's garden again, saying goodbye to our Snowcaps and other smaller species of hummingbird.

Immature Black Crested Coquette




Snowcap - What a bird.

Garden Emerald - a stunning species. We saw only two of these on the trip. The most intense green you could imagine.

From here we hunted along the river towards La Suiza. We had been told Fasciated Tiger Heron was available along the road, but multiple stops we're not producing the goods.

In the town of La Suiza itself, I spotted a sneaky turn over a bridge. A quick u-turn brought us to a superb, wide, rocky section of river and right in the middle of it, Fasciated Tiger Heron.

This section proved very productive with our only Black Crowned Night Heron of the trip, and several Green Heron.

Fasciated Tiger Heron - Immature

Green Heron - Schull 2005? Schoolboys in the park, hmm? Jumpers for goalposts?

We then moved on to the reservoir, Angostura Lagoon. This had been on our agenda anyway, as the only possible site for Snail Kite on our itinerary, but speaking with birders at Rancho had inspired us to visit Casa Tuirie in search of grassland species such as Eastern Meadowlark and Red Breasted Blackbird.

Green Ibis was easily found in the woods - Bizzare to see ibis walking around in trees rather than foraging in marshes

The reservoir was very productive, with various herons, jacanas, American Gallinules and Kingfishers.

Southern Lapwing

Baba Lapwing

Snail Kite - a dream fulfilled. In my childhood, there a existed a book in my house entitled something along the lines of "Raptors of the world". One of the birds I most desired from this, was (along with Bat Falcon which this trip had already produced) Snail Kite. I think it was something about it being an unusually adapted species, somewhat of a specialist, that made it stick in my mind. It did not disappoint. I was unaware of how like Marsh Harrier they are in their habits, hunting and quartering reedbeds in the same fashion. We had several adults give good scope views at various sections of the lake. Awesome birds.

Least Grebe - our itinerary had been specifically chosen to avoid the wetland sites of Palo Verde and Cano Negro, due to the increased risk of poor roads in wet season, and increased mosquito numbers. Consequently any wetland species was welcome and unexpected. This cracking Least Grebe mobbed our first Caiman of the trip.

Anhinga - Another much wanted bird. That neck and bill!

Ringed Kingfisher - A monstrous bird. This was keeping company with the smaller Green Kingfisher. Stunning, if a tad distant.

We then moved on to the pastures in search of grassland species. These were abundant, with Eastern Meadowlark, Red Breasted Blackbird and Southern Lapwings all showing well.

Great Kiskadee

Eastern Meadowlark

From the pastures we moved west along the reservoir, finding an open section which looked interesting. This proved to be a great stop, providing 2 Limpkin, Yellow Crowned Night Heron and numerous Snail Kites.

Yellow Crowned Night Heron - our only individual on this trip. 

Juvenile Snail Kite - 4-5 juvs were floating around this bay providing superb views. Excellent birds.

Gartered Trogon - For such brightly coloured and generally approachable species, the trogons could be quite difficult to find, often sitting tight whilst singing, requiring the scanning of entire trees to locate them.

With time rolling on it was time to make our way up hill. We carried on west, nabbing a few White Tailed Kites on the way. As usual it was slow going on the mountain roads due to crawling trucks.

Our first stop was Paraiso Quetzal Lodge and Café, which had been recommended by Rancho for several of our Target Hummingbirds, (good coffee, but not the best in terms of food. Nonetheless looked like a good lodge for birding). 

Volcano Hummingbird fell easily at the feeders, with many Talamanca Hummingbirds also present and a few Lesser Violetear. 

Volcano Hummingbird - this is an interesting species, with 3 color morphs present in the males, associated with 3 different Volcanoes in the country, females supposedly being identical. Seems like evolution in progress, and you would likely want to see all 3 in the event of splittage. We saw only the variety in the Talamanca Cordillera, which has purple/magenta Throated males.

Sooty-Capped Chlorspingus - All the Chlorospingus..(es?..eses? Chlorospingi? You see the problem) got shortened to "chloros" on the trip. 

Black and Yellow Flycatcher - Ridiculously tame. Would not come our from behind this fence though.

Volcano Hummingbird

Black and Yellow Flycatcher

Volcano Hummingbird

As we moved yet higher, entering the top of Gerado De Dota valley, the pastures were full of these, Blackbird reminiscent, but quite charming, Sooty Thrush.

Sooty Thrush

Sooty Thrush

Cloud Forest living up to it's name

We gradually descended into the valley towards Savegre Lodge, our hotel for the night, seeing our first Acorn woodpeckers and Black Billed Nightingale Thrushes as we did so.

With darkness rapidly descending, it was a buffet dinner and a few beers before bed and an early start due in the morning.


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