The Hallowed Honeymoon Hummingbird Hunt - Costa Rica - Part 13 - Return to De Dota And The End

Our Final day was to be spent back in San Gerado De Dota, with the specific aim of getting Costa Rica's most iconic bird, Resplendent Quetzal. We had planned things this way, as the idea of a straight drive from the south of the country to San Jose was not appealing, and a second day of clean up in San Gerado De Dota would be welcome if we had missed anything in the area, such as Resplendent Quetzal, which we had missed out on the first day. We booked a guide for the quetzals in our hotel when we arrived the previous evening, and it was a 5 a.m start planned for the next morning.

Our guide took us to a viewing area overlooking a wild avocado tree and it wasn't long before 2 Quetzals came calling. These astounding birds were quite used to onlookers and happily sat munching the wild avocados. Amazing looking creatures. The sheer spectacle of them. We spent half an hour just mesmerized by these birds as they posed gracefully in this spectacular setting, their stunning colours juxtaposed, and yet simultaneously fitting the dull lichens and misty background. There was something genuinely endearing about their gentle demenour and we felt genuinely priviliged that they allow such close approach. Obviously this is a function of their habituation to humans in the area, but it still felt special. Really worth the wait and saving for our last day.


Resplendent Quetzal - Costa Rica's most iconic star

With the Quetzals in the bag, we availed of the two hour guiding period by searching for some other goodies, such as Ruddy Capped Nightingale Thrush, Torrent Flycatcher, Wren Thrush and Yellow Winged Vireo.

Ruddy Capped Nightingale Thrush

Torrent Flycatcher - We were delighted with two birds together here, after numerous unsuccessful attempts to find them elsewhere in the country. Great little wagtail wannabes

Other good birds included Tufted Flycatcher, Louisiana water thrush, Yellow Throated Warbler, Lineated Foliage Gleaner and Flame Throated Warbler.

 Tufted Flycatcher

Lineated Foliage Gleaner

Flame Throated Warbler -  a truly astounding looking species and one of the stars of the trip.

Spangle Cheeked Tanager - views of birds in the valley were often neck breaking

Orange Bellied Trogon - Trying to determine the colours in the light available under the trees made decisions difficult at times. Separation of Orange Bellied from the near identical Collared Trogon, on the basis of underparts colour was a challenge until the bird came out into the open.

From the road we made our way into some of the gardens of the various lodges, seeing birds such as Silky Flycatcher, Louisiana Waterthrush,and Yellow Winged Vireo.

Louisiana Waterthrush - Imagine one of these on Mizen in August. On that little stream/lane just up from the main garden. Can you see it? Make it happen.

Silky Flycatcher - A big chunky and stunning looking flycatcher

Yellow Winged Vireo - A Costa Rican endemic, easy to see in the valley

As we moved on uphill we again saw more Acorn Woodpeckers. Could not get enough of them.

Yellow Bellied Siskins

Hairy Woodpecker - Unrecognizable from the cleaner, North American birds. Strongly reminded me of the similar phenomenon that occurs with Greater Spotted Woodpecker in the Canaries

The feeders in behind Miriam's Quetzals Cafe was a good stop for lunch, and again very active for birding. In particular providing us with our last Hummingbird species of the trip, White Throated Mountain Gem. We had been seeing females, both in the valley and at Paraiso cafe further up, but these are virtually identical to female Purple Throated Mountain gem. It wasn't until I saw a male on our first visit to the valley that we made the connection. They were all White Throated Mountain Gems. Hanna had missed the male the first day, but he showed well here on this occasion.

Sooty Capped Chlorosphingus

We enjoyed some spicy burritos and coffee watching the spectacle

White Throated Mountain Gem - Male

Sooty Thrush - Moulting juv

The uplands as we emerged from the valley

Drizzle began as we left the valley, putting a damper on things. We began the long journey back to San Jose, stopping off at some random, interesting looking roads. One in particular provided some last few birds for us, namely Black Capped Flycatcher and White Throated Flycatcher.

Black Capped Flycatcher

After these last couple of lifers, the rain came in heavy and did not stop. We had chose a route through vast coffee plantations, hoping to nab rufous capped warbler and rufous browed peppershrike on the way back, but it was not to be, with no let up in the weather for the rest of the day.

We were again traumatized by the San Jose traffic, before finally reaching the car rental place and checking into our hotel for the night, with an early flight out the next morning. Our Costa Rican Odyssey was at an end, with over 420 species encountered in the space of 13 days (still counting actually). A superb trip with excellent food, accommodations and, of course, spectacular birding and birds.

I look forward to going back some day and taking in more of the country. Pura Vida!


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