This post includes our bird-watching activities on the two days that we stayed at Trogon Lodge in Costa Rica. The first bird photograph, however, is from our final morning at Rancho Naturalista. We went birding by ourselves and this Red-throated Ant-Tanager perched in good light.
This is a view of the hilly countryside in the Reventazon Valley, taken out of the bus window.
We drove to the town of Ujarras, one of the few places that a rare endemic ground-sparrow is found. We wandered down a country road and before long, a couple of the Cabanis’s Ground-Sparrows were seen hopping around a small yard.
We continued on our route to our next lodge in the Talamanca Highlands, stopping at a few spots to look for birds. One stop was in Los Quetzales National Park. The Resplendent Quetzal was the main draw of the area, but we didn’t see any this day.
The quetzal was promised for the day after, so we enjoyed looking for other high elevation birds. Mostly, the birds were hard to photograph, but Doug was able to catch this Yellow-thighed Brushfinch before it flew away. Its yellow “thigh” is just visible on its right leg.
The road cut through steep forested terrain. The bus stopped for a few moments for us to get photos of the vista.
We stopped at a small restaurant in the Savegre Valley. For the price of a cup of coffee, we could look at the birds that gathered at the feeders and in the garden. The restaurant was on the edge of hillside, so we were above or even with the birds. No straining of necks was required!
There were plenty of Talamanca Hummingbirds. This is one of the bigger hummingbirds and can be 12 – 24 cm long. It is closely related to the Rivoli’s Hummingbird that we see in Madera Canyon in Arizona.
Another amazing hummingbird is the Fiery-throated Hummingbird. In certain light the throat is a mix of red, orange and yellow.
Another fantastic hummingbird is the Lesser Violetear. It’s a very small hummingbird of only 5 – 11 cm long. The violet (or in this case bluish) patch on each side of the face give it its name.
This male Slaty Flowerpiercer was about the size of a hummingbird but chunkier. Flowerpiercers are nectar robbers that poke a hole through the flower base to draw off nectar without helping the flower transport pollen.
This Flame-coloured Tanager was hopping around the garden.
Not every bird is as bright as that tanager, but we also want to include the “less flashy” birds. Here is a Sooty Thrush, which is a little bigger than the American Robin that we have at home in Canada.
We see this comical looking species at Madera Canyon in Arizona quite often, but this Acorn Woodpecker posed so nicely, that it needed to be included as well.
Another bird we see often is a Wilson’s Warbler, but we rarely get a view of one from above. The male’s black cap is really easy to see in this photo.
After a long day of birding, we arrived at Trogon Lodge, just as the light was fading. Here is a view of our cabin. Our room was on the right.
The lodge had a fancy restaurant and we ordered from a menu. Most of the other lodges that we stayed at had set meals and everyone received the same food.
This is the view of the path from our cabin the next morning. The lodge is set at the bottom of a steep valley.
We did manage to catch a glimpse of a Resplendent Quetzal on the grounds. Here, Wendy is scanning the treetops in hopes of seeing it again.
This rhubarb-type plant dwarfs our friend.
Here’s a view of the restaurant and the trout pond in the foreground, just as the light was hitting the hillside above. We enjoyed fresh trout for each of the dinners we had at the lodge. The trout ponds are fed by a cool mountain stream.
They also grow their own lettuce.
Here’s another view of the gardens and the surrounding hillside.
Later that morning, the bus took us up out of the valley and to even higher elevations. Pariosol Quetzal Lodge is at 2650 metres (just under 9000 feet), and like most places in the area, is situated on the side of a hillside.
We took the trail down to a viewing platform with nearby gardens. Here’s the view looking out from the platform.
A Long-tailed Silky-flycatcher was one of the first birds to show up.
The nearby flowers allowed for good photo opportunities. This hummingbird is a female White-throated Mountain-gem.
Here’s another photo of the female White-throated Mountain Gem, taken in the nearby garden. (The male has the white-throat.)
Here’s the whole group (except Wendy who is taking the photo) looking at the birds that visited a fruit-filled bush.
One of the “birds in the bush” was this male Golden-browed Chlorophonia. He shows only a little bit of his “golden brow,” so perhaps he’s immature. A beautiful bird, nonetheless.
Wendy spotted this Peg-billed Finch in the same bush. This type of finch is considered rare in Costa Rica so it was a lucky find.
And this Black-thighed Grosbeak flitted among the bushes on the hillside to the left of the fruiting bush. The white spot on the wing is distinctive.
We explored the rest of the gardens and walked a little ways down the path. We met people who had walked a few hours down into the valley and all the way back up.
We saw this Black-billed Nightingale-Trush beside the trail.
On our way out of the garden we stopped to take a photo of these succulents, planted in the shape of a lizard.
Our bus took us to a nearby location which we call the “Quetzal Stake-Out.” The lodge and their birding guides have a partnership with a farmer who planted the quetzal’s favourite tree over twenty years ago. Now they can provide tours to those who want to see the Resplendent Quetzal up close. Here’s a view of some of the rest of the farm.
Here’s the special tree, an aquacatillo, which has avocado-like fruit. Quetzals pluck the fruit from below in mid-flight. Also note the perches that have been provided. And you can tell by Doug’s clothing that it was raining, although it was more like a drizzle that is typical of the cloud forests.
We had a quick view of the quetzals as we were hiking up the trail, but we were assured that we’d get a better view later in the afternoon when the quetzals generally fed. They made us coffee and there was a bathroom, so we were relatively comfortable while we waited in the shelter.
It was worth the wait. Here is a front view of the male, Resplendent Quetzal.
And a look at the male’s backside. Doug took over thirty photos of the quetzals. We saw them flying and picking fruit, but Doug’s photos were a bit blurry. It was an exciting experience that we will always remember.
Here’s a front view of the female Resplendent Quetzal. The female, without the fancy tail, looks more like other trogans, because quetzals are part of the trogon family.
Satisfied with our sightings, we headed back in the rain to Trogon Lodge.
The next morning, we had a final view of Trogon Lodge and the surrounding hillside.
Our next night was at Talari Lodge in the Pacific Foothills, but we had lots of country to see before we got there. Part 4 will be posted soon.