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The beautiful birds and nature of Costa Rica


xyz99

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It was our 2nd trip to Costa Rica, and not the last...

 

After the 1st one we decided that when time will come to retire, we'll retire in Costa Rica, because we fell in love with its beauty, its people, beaches, mountains, food, birds...everything. Really, I can't find anything that we don't love about it. Well, maybe some roads, but even those are fun :)

 

I was afraid that the 2nd trip will be a disappointment, and the retirement dream will die. Thankfully, it did not! And we only went for a week, and the weather was not great. Can you imagine how good it would've been with a longer trip and great weather??? We still want to retire in Costa Rica.

 

We only stayed in 2 places: Savegre, with its cloud forest in the highlands http://www.savegre.com/ and Rancho Naturalista, with its rain forest in lower lands http://ranchonaturalista.net/.

 

The flight was ok - we left an hour later, so we landed an hour later. Of course, no complimentary food on United...flying gets a worse and worse experience every year. But in the end we were in Costa Rica, and this is how it looked like:

 

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Edited by xyz99
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More birds at the garden:   Clay-colored thrush   Scintillant hummingbird - this is the male, and I'll have much better pics later. Stay tuned.   Rufous-collared sparrow   A juvenile Fla

Any walk through the Savegre property is a joy: lots of flowers and birds, and these are just some of them:   Green Violetear   Purple-throated mountaingem (female)   Blue-gray tanager  

I was so happy to had seen the quetzal, even though it was from a poor view point, through lots of branches...but isn't he handsome?   After that, Marino took me to Batsu garden - a small garden wit

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We were supposed to land around 11:30 am, but it was 12:30 when we actually did. And my husband's bag did not make it...

 

The driver was waiting for us and there was no wi-fi in the airport, so we could not call to let the lodge know we were delayed. We had to stay in a long line to do the missing bag forms, and we only had one custom paper, so I could not get out to find the driver and tell him to wait. But as I said, Costa Rica people are wonderful: someone at the airport et me use their phone, called Savegre for me, and made sure the driver would wait.

 

We finally got out of the airport by 2:30 pm (I told you it was a long line), got the car, and asked the driver to stop us somewhere for basic clothes shopping: socks, underwear, some t-shirts. There was huge (and I mean huge) traffic to get out of San Jose, and it took us another couple of hours to actually be on the way. My initial plan to get to the lodge by 2, have lunch and explore the surroundings was dead. We barely got there by 7 pm, while dinner was served already. We had to rush not to miss it, and it was delicious. Served buffet style, with a nice salad station, we loved it.

 

And then, off to bed - my 1/2 day with Marino was scheduled for the next day. Wake up at 5 am for the 5:30 am meet-up with him.

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michael-ibk

Welcome back from Costa Rica - delighted to see another report from there. Looking forward to hearing all about it! Sorry about the bag, always such a nuisance.

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One of the main reasons for Savegre was the good chance of seeing quetzals. So early in the morning, at 5:30 am, when it was still dark outside, we started driving to a place where Marino (my birding guide for that morning) knew a wild avocado tree with ripe fruits. Quetzals love those wild avocados, and Marino hoped they would come to eat.

It was a little bit windy, and quetzals don't like wind...they really behave like primadonas. We watched some black guans in the distance, but they were too far and it was still too dark outside, so no pictures.

By 6 - 6:30 there were about 30-40 people, all armed with scopes, binoculars and cameras, waiting for the quetzal(s). He did not come to the tree...too windy, but one of the guides saw him in the valley. The search started...and thankfully, the guides knew where to look for him. They spotted him at some point, and we all rushed to see. What a beauty!!!

 

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We only saw the male...the female is more green than blue, and it does not have the long tail feathers.

 

What's interesting is the fact that avocado trees don't ripe all at the same time. So quetzals (and lots of other birds that like the fruits) have to move around to find them. But that means you can see them year round :)

There are some avocado trees on Savegre grounds, and some down the road from it, very close to the road, with nothing to prevent a great close-up view. They will ripen apparently in February. If we only knew...

 

The trees in the area are amazing. It's the cloud forest, and it resemble Olympic NP (I think, I've never been there). Huge trees, covered in moss and lichens, lots of vegetation everywhere...I was fascinated. This was my first time to see it, and my first pic, while it was still very dark outside. More such pictures later...you'll get tired of them.

 

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I was so happy to had seen the quetzal, even though it was from a poor view point, through lots of branches...but isn't he handsome?

 

After that, Marino took me to Batsu garden - a small garden with several fruit feeders setup for birds, where you can watch the birds in comfort under a canopy. It was a perfect way to bird on a rainy day...

 

There were lots of birds, and I'll try to list them all, but I might need help with some IDs.

 

By far the most numerous were the Silver-throated tanagers, which I've never seen before. I love how colorful these Costa Rica birds can be!

 

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Lots of hummingbirds too. This one is a Magnificent Hummingbirds, and you can see that in certain light. I think this one drank too much nectar from the feeders, he's not quite obese, but he has a "nectar-belly", don't you think?

 

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michael-ibk

Nectar belly indeed. :) Some wonderful birds, and the Quetzal is just spectacular - what a beauty!

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More birds at the garden:

 

Clay-colored thrush

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Scintillant hummingbird - this is the male, and I'll have much better pics later. Stay tuned.

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Rufous-collared sparrow

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A juvenile Flame-colored (or maybe summer?) tanager

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Green Violetear

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Blue-gray tanager

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Acorn woodpecker

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If you wonder how the entire feeder setup was...here is one piece of it. There were other "trees" setup in the same manner, maybe 5 or 6 hummingbird feeders, and lots of natural flowers around. And of course, everything under a big cover, so delicate tourists can bird in a dry, comfortable way :)

 

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Probably a juvenile Bay-headed tanager

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Costa Rica seems to be a heaven for black and turkey vultures. They are everywhere...a couple of them were perching not too far away

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Sooty-capped bush tanager

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Probably a female Volcano hummingbird (just wait to see the male later!)

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Lots of Tennessee Warblers

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Purple-throated mountain gem (I think)

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San Gerado de Dota and Rancho Naturalista ... every birder's Dream Team! Was Marino The Marino Chacon?! Beautiful photos, and based on how long you have stayed at each location, many more are coming our way. Fantastic start, @@xyz99 !

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@@xelas

 

Yes, it was THE Marino... I love the guy. So humble, knowledgeable, patient, attentive to his client's wishes and preferences, he is wonderful. We stayed at Savegre Lodge partly because he was so highly recommended, and I'm so glad we did!

 

More birds to come...if you have any thoughts on the IDs, please let me know.

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My husband's bag took 3 days to arrive. Thankfully, in Costa Rica, they deliver all bags to wherever you're staying, so we did not have to go back to the airport to pick it up.

 

A little investigation using the tag attached to the bag shows that the bag traveled from Newark to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic to Dulles, DC and then to Costa Rica. Now, can we claim the miles the bag traveled?

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The rain was on and off, but the birds did not seem to care.

 

Another Silver-throated tanager

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Unknown hummingbird

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And a long series of the male Scintillant hummingbird - small little thing, endemic to Costa Rica and western Panama. According to wikipedia: It is only 6.5–8 cm (2.6–3.1 in) long, including the bill. The male weighs 2 g (0.071 oz) and the female 2.3 g (0.081 oz). This is one of the smallest birds in existence, marginally larger than the bee hummingbird. He is adorable, and now I really want to see/find this bee hummingbird (so I need to go to Cuba):

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Edited by xyz99
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Fantastic hummers, @@xyz99 ! As my ShowExif is not working, would you mind describing your photo equipment?

 

The unknown looks like Magnificent to me.

Edited by xelas
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@@xelas,

I use a Canon Rebel T3i with a 70-300mm lens. I usually let the camera do its thing and have it autofocus, as I am not experienced enough to play with different setting with a fast hummingbird zipping next to me :)

Checking the Exif on this hummingbirds series, all the pictures seem to be at f7.1, either 1/400 or 1/500 sec, ISO 2000.

 

This is the Canon L IS lens, and I'm very happy with it. I wish I could hand-hold a longer one, but that's heavier, and I accept my limitation.

 

I hope though to upgrade the camera, and get something with a better ISO management. This one is pathetic in low light....

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I'll try something else, and let me know if it works better for you, and you can get the Exif info - instead of attachments, I'll try links.

 

Ok....I tried, it did not work..

Edited by xyz99
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@@xelas,

I use a Canon Rebel T3i with a 70-300mm lens. I usually let the camera do its thing and have it autofocus, as I am not experienced enough to play with different setting with a fast hummingbird zipping next to me :)

Checking the Exif on this hummingbirds series, all the pictures seem to be at f7.1, either 1/400 or 1/500 sec, ISO 2000.

 

This is the Canon L IS lens, and I'm very happy with it. I wish I could hand-hold a longer one, but that's heavier, and I accept my limitation.

 

I hope though to upgrade the camera, and get something with a better ISO management. This one is pathetic in low light....

 

Thanks for info. Have sent you an email. Looking forward for next instalment, and many more photos!

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elefromoz

@@xyz99, ooohhh, I really want to see Hummingbirds one day. Lovely photos, thanks.

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Thanks for info. Have sent you an email. Looking forward for next instalment, and many more photos!

 

I'll have so many photos...you'll get tired of them!

Edited by xyz99
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@@xyz99, ooohhh, I really want to see Hummingbirds one day. Lovely photos, thanks.

 

Costa Rica is a great place for hummingbirds...but I hear Ecuador and Peru are even better. I'll let you know if that's true when we get there :)

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More birds:

 

The lady of that flamboyant Scintillant hummingbird:

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The Magnificent hummingbird - plain black or vibrantly blue and purple, depending on the light

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Unknown hummingbird:

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Tennessee Warbler

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Rufous-collared sparrow

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Slaty flowerpiercer, endemic to Costa Rica and Western Panama

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Mama hummingbird sitting pretty

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Edited by xyz99
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Behind the hummingbird and the bird feeders there was an apple orchard. Years back, the owners of the orchard were picking and selling them, but they noticed that parakeets like the apples. So they decided not to pick them anymore...

 

I don't know if this is how this garden started, orchard first and feeders later, or some other combination (they charge for the entrance), but now apples are not picked anymore. The Sulphur-winged Parakeets visited the orchard while we were there, and the show was very enjoyable. Maybe 20 of them, noisy and colorful...lots of fun to watch them grabbing an apple with their....hand (can't be the legs, right?) and munch away.

 

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We (well, Marino) saw a Green Spiny Lizard - it was small and very fast. He really has a great eye for everything surrounding him.

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And a local plant (no idea what) and pretty flowers in the garden:

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This garden is really beautiful, and extremely well cared for and maintained.

 

Edited by xyz99
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Nice to see a bird-centric Costa Rica report! Happy to see that Marino is still guiding at Savegre...we were there in 2003 and he was our guide! The Batsu garden was not in existence at that time, I'm fairly sure.

 

I look forward to the continuation..

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@@xyz99, great start! Savegre is a future CR destination for us so I am reading your report with much eagerness. Love all the great bird pictures already.

 

Alan

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@@janzin

I think the garden is only a few years old. It's really nicely setup, and not only it has the rain cover, it even has a toilet :)

 

There is path up the fill, going into the forest. My picture did not come out right, but here is the view from that path (picture is from Savegre's web site) - Savegre lodge is down in the valley.

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Marino mentioned that he saw (with a group of clients he was guiding) on this path, a puma. It was very early in the morning, about 5:30 am, and the puma was slowly walking up the path. He stopped, looked back and disappeared behind the top of it in the forest. Great story, and good to hear that big cats still roam free in the area.

 

Needless to say, we did not see it :(

Edited by xyz99
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