The Hallowed Honeymoon Hummingbird Hunt - Costa Rica - Part 10 - Las Cruces

It was another night interrupted by singing invisible owls, this time not just Mottled owl, but also Tropical Screech owl.

The morning began with a walk on the trails of the hotel, with birds such as Crested Guan and Chestnut Mandibled Toucan again making appearances. The light coming through the early morning mist made for an incredible birding experience.







After a leisurely breakfast we made our way to the Wilson Botanical Gardens. This was listed as one of the premier  sites in Costa Rica and we had much anticipated this, however it was bitterly disappointing. I don't know if it's better in "winter" (quite likely with the wealth of north American wood warblers and thrushes there would be) but it really didn't produce the goods for us. I even found the grounds somewhat run down, as though they had let the vegetation die off in dry season or something.

Nonetheless we did see a couple of really choice species, principal among them being Black Headed Ant Thrush (a skulker we hadn't expected), Black Hawk Eagle and Scaly Breasted Hummingbird.


White Ruffed Manakin - Manakins were in general a pain to get views of, darting around the place at lightening speed. These white ruffed were the exception.


Eye Ringed Flatbill



Garden Emerald - Only our second, and last of the trip



Capuchins


Leaf Cutter Ants - Your quintessential Attenborough experience


Chestnut Mandibled Toucan - Back on the pacific side of things, these beauties take back over from Keel Billed. Their song is one of the most common and obvious sounds in the forest.




Scaly Breasted Hummingbird - This bird was happy to sit and sing for us one of only 3 hummingbirds we saw in the gardens, the others being a single Garden Emerald and a brief Long Billed Hermit (also new for the trip).

Singing Scaly Breasted Hummingbird


The forest from Wilson Botanical Gardens Observatory tower. Black Hawk Eagle, Barred Hawk and thousands of vultures seen here

Feeling a tad let down by the gardens, we went driving down random roads. This proved very productive with birds like Grey Necked Wood Rail, White Tailed Mountain Gem, more Toucans and Tanagers all making an appearance.

Red Crowned Woodpecker

Red Crowned Woodpecker - In the south of the country, these take over from Hoffman's Woodpecker as the commonest species, with an intergrade zone between the two in the Carara area.

Grey Necked Woodrail - This was a nice surprise, present in a muddy cow shed seemingly nowhere near any natural water source

Blue Crowned Motmot - Motmots were a favorite on the trip, often sitting for long periods giving good, if at times obscured views.

White Tailed Emerald

With the gardens having failed us on our target hummingbirds, it was nice to begin locating them external to the gardens. This particular plant we had discovered was a magnet for hummingbird species, in this area attracting White Tailed Emeralds in particular. This species was perticularly shy in our experience rarely allowing close approach.


White Tailed Emerald

After some successful birding from the car, rain moved in from the lowlands and we decided to check in to our bed and breakfast, Casa Botania. This proved a good decision, as their garden turned out to be the best location imaginable for Hummingbirds, the owner's husband being a birder, had clearly planted the site well.


White Bellied Mountain Gem - A species we were not expecting in this area and one we thought we may miss. This delightful little female was rather approachable, sitting out the drizzle. It proved to be our only one of the trip.


Snowy Bellied Hummingbird - This was one of my targt hummingbirds for the trip. Something about them just struck me, and Casa Botania was hopping with them, including several birds feeding on porterweed flowers in front of our balcony. They did not disappoint. I was besotted with this combination of emerald green and carved out white belly. Stunners

"I am vengence. I am the night." - Snowy Bellied Hummingbird

The view from our apartment - I cannot recommend Casa Botania enough to birders. Superb hummingbird garden, excellent and friendly service and great food. Staying in Wilson Botanical garden would have allowed us early access to the grounds, but as it turned out, on this occaision would not have prodced many birds for us.

With rain stopping play somewhat, we took the reccomendation of visiting Finca Cantaros, a small private reserve just up the road, which is a forrest restoration project in it's infancy. 

This was decidely damp, but we did see some nice birds, including various flycatchers, Green Kingfisher, Green Heron and more Blue Crowned Motmots
. I dare say it would be more productive in dry weather.


Green Heron

Blue Crowned Motmot

Rain and mist rolled in for the last hour of the evening, so we made our way into San Vito in search of vittles and beer before getting an early night.

Comments

  1. I'm really enjoying your recap of your Costa Rica trip. I saw some of these areas in August of 2016 and I'm heading back in January of 2018 to the Caribbean slope- Rancho Naturalista and Arenal- so it's nice to see some photos of those places. Thanks!

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    Replies
    1. It's a great country. I'll make the effort to go back myself someday.

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