As with last year, the official start to the trip begins on the morning after arrival. This year we walked to a residential street directly across the road from the hotel and for the next two hours birded approximately 1/4 mile of this road. There was some intensity involved. It was a birdy road and we looked at many, but I must not have been paying attention when the target bird was discussed, because I didn't know that it was the Prevost's Ground-Sparrow.
I missed Rufous-capped Warbler (Basileuterus rufifrons) last year and again on the evening prior, so was happy to see it on this first morning. Terrible photos, but c'est la vie ...
Red-billed Pigeon (Patagioenas flavirostris) was seen nearly every day in Costa Rica. This bird was perched so nicely that, though distant, I gave it a try anyway.
Last year I took one horrible photo of the White-eared Ground Sparrow (Melozone leucotis). On this morning, I thought it was would be the same. But we had better luck when this bird cooperated in mostly pretty good light for the photos above and below.
A pair of White-tailed Kites (Elanus leucurus) were seen perched and flying in a couple of spots along this road. My photos are horrible, but this isn't a bird I will see every day.
We walked along this road for only about a 1/4 mile but it was birdy, leisurely and enjoyable. I remember is as one of my favorites of our morning walks.
As for our hunt for the elusive sparrow. We all saw the Prevost's Ground-Sparrow (Melozone biarcuata) - most of us only briefly and, it seems, always with one part hidden - saw the body but missed the head, saw the butt but missed the body - except for Matt, who got one amazing photo. I, on the other hand, recorded its vocalization with my iPhone (complete with overhead airplane and competing plain wren) when it was tantalizingly close, but completely out of sight. No need to make the 53 second video below full screen unless you want to look at the edge of the road and weedy grass. Just make sure your volume is turned up.
The thing is, Vernon was attracting this bird with a recording of the bird's call note. Apparently, there are no good song vocalization recordings of Prevost's sparrow from Costa Rica. Don't get me wrong, I wish Matt's photo was also on my photo card. But since I love bird song, I am pleased to have this video recording. Matt sent us a free download link from Cornell, RavenLite, for stripping away the video and leaving only the vocalization - but its use seems beyond my technical skills.