Sunday, February 9, 2014

The highlands and the Resplendent Quetzal

I have always thought of the Resplendent Quetzal (Pharomachrus mocinno) as being a deep forest bird.  Well, it is too, but for my life quetzal we walked to farm land at an elevation of approximately 10,000 meters.  This was one of my favorite mornings of the trip.  It was cool and overcast, perfect for a walk of about a mile along the Los Robles trail.  The habitat was varied and birdy.  Our guide, Vernon, wanted to find the quetzals here so as to avoid the crush of birders who would be looking for them around the Savegre River Lodge, our stop for the next two nights.  We stopped at the Paraiso Lodge to pick up Jorge who knew where the birds were.  Earlier in the day, a National Geographic filming crew had found many feeding in an avocado tree.

The above photo of the quetzal was bluish on my original photo.  Using my somewhat rudimentary iPhoto editing tools, I doctored the photo above to improve the green and red of the bird, although the bluish tinge is still seen.  

The photo above of the essentially hidden bird is completely unedited. Looking through the leaves one can see the quetzal's much truer colors. A female quetzal was also in this same tree, but she was much more hidden and my photos are not really worth sharing.

The quetzal's were feeding in an avocado tree growing in a cow pasture. These sweet cows were unperturbed by the presence of ten birders tromping through their field. 

Another spectacular bird was a pair of Long-tailed Silky Flycatchers (Ptilogonys caudatus).  The female above and male below were completely cooperative in terrific light.  I got many photos.  Hard to tell which was better than the next, so I just randomly selected these two.

A Black-billed Nighingale-Thrush (Catharus gracilirostris) popped out in front of us as we made our way back down the trail.

Jorge, in blue shirt, and Vernon in khakis.

Not too far along from where the photo of the strolling Jorge and Vernon was taken, Vernon spotted a bird on a utility wire over the path and called out excitedly, Ochraceous Pewee (Contopus ochraceus), a highly-sought and not too easily seen bird of the highlands.  Perched calmly and quietly on the utility wire, this bird didn't seem too special so I was happy to have Vernon's explanation.   

On the same utility wire, the Tufted Flycather (Mitrephanes phaeocercus) was more more active flycatching from a variety of perches.  In this photo, a hint of the bird's crest is seen.

In the photo above, the Tufted Fycatcher's bright ochre breast is much better seen.

The Costa Rican species of Hairy Woodpecker (Picoides villosus) above is smaller and darker than the North American race.

A home and farmstead photo taken from above on the trail.

The Paraiso restaurant and lodge where we had lunch.

From the backdoor of the restaurant was a deck where several hummingbird feeders were active.  Above, a Green Violet-ear (Colibri thalassinus) is nicely perched on the fence surrounding the deck.  A quick word about hummingbirds with this first hummingbird photo. The field guide, The Birds of Costa Rica by Richard Garrigues and Robert Dean, copyright 2007, names 52 species of hummingbirds on 20 pages, of which we saw 27 during our trip.  However, my camera is not ideal for taking photos of hummers unless, as above, they're quietly perched.  Matt Hysell, on the other hand, had great success with hummingbird photos, and will give significant attention to them on his blog, Birding Berrien and Beyond found in my blog list at right.    

The Paraiso Lodge dining room where we had an amazing lunch.

This back end photo of an overall very cooperative Sooty-capped Bush-Tanager (Chlorospingus pileatus) was all I could manage.  Throughout the trip, I would miss several photo ops just by being a putz with my camera.  On the other hand, this is also one of the limitations of using a point-and-shoot style camera.  It is never going to be as fast or as responsive as a SLR digital camera.     

Magnificent Hummingbird (Eugenes fulgens) - as you see, nicely perched.

Throughout the trip I took many dog photos.  But, of course.

A nice graphic map of the area.

Obstructed shot of the Mountain Elaenia (Elaenia frantzii).  Why bother, right?  Halfway through day number one we move on to Savegne River Lodge.

To be continued ...

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