This blog is about our stay at Esquinas Rainforest Lodge in the Pacific Lowland Rain Forest.
After we left Talari Mountain Lodge, we continued south on the Inter-American Highway. There were many banana plantations alongside the main highway. When we turned off the highway, the road was more rural with fields and small houses. We started our birding list along this entrance road to the lodge.
A Ruddy-breasted Seedeater perched up on a branch. We were lucky to see this bird, because they are not very common. The sky was so bright, it appears white in the photograph below.
There were Brown-throated Parakeets feeding in the banana trees in a small yard. Mostly when we saw parakeets throughout the trip they were flying by in noisy flocks, so it was nice to see one somewhat stationary.
This Yellow-headed Caracara was keeping a look-out over a field. Caracaras are raptors that will hunt their own prey but feed mostly on carrion. Yellow-headed Caracaras will pick ticks off the backs of cattle.
There was some standing water in one of the fields that we passed. There were dozens of Wood Storks, but this one was close enough to the road to get a good photo. The stork’s neck and head are featherless.
This is a Gray-cowled Wood-Rail, which we were glad to see because although we had heard its raucous call we had not seen one yet. One guidebook likens its chorus to the sound from a group of drunken chickens. They are also often found near water.
Southern Lapwings are becoming more prevalent in Costa Rica since the species was first recorded in 1997. They favour open grassy areas near water.
We saw this Little Blue Heron taking off. It is about half the size of a Great Blue Heron.
After looking at birds along the road for about an hour, we finally made our way to Esquinas Rainforest Lodge. The lodge is on the edge of Piedras Blancas National Park.
Here’s a view of the main building that houses a lounge, the bar and the restaurant. The pond in front has a couple of caimans living in it.
On the afternoon that we arrived it was about 35 degrees C and very humid, so we got our bags into our rooms, and ….
… we changed into our bathing suits and headed to the pool. So refreshing!
Our group had two tables for our meals. While we were here, we shared our table with our friends from Cranbrook and the bus driver, Luis. Our friends can speak Spanish and Luis has some English, so we could have interesting conversations.
After dinner, we sat outside on our veranda and listened to the rainforest sounds.
The next day, we stayed on the grounds around the lodge. This tayra wandered on to the lawn in front of the lodge, and was especially interested in the bananas that were hung to ripen. Tayras are members of the weasel family and are omnivorous.
As usual, we saw many birds throughout the day. We’ll start with the larger ones. This is a White-tipped Dove. The light-blue orbital skin differentiates it from two other doves in the same family.
The Great Curassow is in the same family as the Crested Guan which was featured in a previous blog post. The curassow is uncommon to rare in protected areas. There was a pair at the lodge and we expect they knew they would not be hunted. Here’s a photo of a female Great Curassow.
The male Great Curassow was more skittish and moved quickly away.
This is an Orange-billed Sparrow that frequented the lawn and gardens near the lodge.
We took a short trail through the forest to a pond. The morning clouds were lifting just as we arrived.
There was a Northern Jacana that walked on top of the pond vegetation with the help of his spread-out toes.
Green Herons like to overhang the water so the lodge provided a suitable perch.
This Purple Gallinule had a few chicks and mostly stayed hidden.
Then we searched for birds in the forest, and found this Ochre-bellied Flycatcher, high up in the branches.
This Sulphur-rumped Flycatcher was also a long ways up and so the photo is a little fuzzy.
On another forest trail that crossed over a bridge and climbed a hill, our guide heard a trogon calling, so we were aware that there was one in the area. Doug was near the back of the group and lucky enough to be in a position to see and photograph the Slaty-tailed Trogon that was way up in the treetops.
Farther along the same trail, on a narrow section in a tangle of rainforest, Wendy looked up and saw a bird that reminded her of a kingfisher. Doug knew there couldn’t be a kingfisher that far from the water, but he followed her gaze and found the bird perched as a kingfisher might do. When we had seen the bird and could think more clearly, we realized it was a Rufous-tailed Jacamar. A Rufous-tailed Jacamar is about the same size as a Belted Kingfisher and hunts butterflies and other insects with its long, needle-like bill and perches at low to mid-heights.
We caught a glimpse of a Black-cheeked Ant-Tanager in the morning, but later in the day, another one was more cooperative. This ant-tanager is uncommon and only found in the region.
We were also pleased to see a pair of Spot-crowned Euphonias. It was the only time during the trip that we happened to see them. You can see that the male bird in the photo below has bands on his legs. These are not regular bird bands, but ones that are used as part of the lodge’s local research.
This pond is along the road between the lodge buildings and other trails and is the home to caimans. The caimans could climb over the short fence if they chose to, but mostly they stay near the water.
Caimans are related to crocodiles and alligators and are mostly nocturnal. These slow-moving creatures mainly eat fish, but they will also hunt insects, birds and small mammals and reptiles.
We saw this Purple-crowned Fairy up high in the trees near the caiman pond. Because of its bright white underparts and shining green back, its easy to identify from a distance, even being a small as it is. (12 -24 cm)
Yes, this Charming Hummingbird was very charming. This one is a male, having a blue-violet patch on his breast. You can see that he’s been feeding on flowers because he has pollen on his bill.
This Long-billed Hermit is feeding in a Heliconia (hanging lobster claw), so it is hard to see its long-bill, but it is also noted for its long tail, which you can see.
We saw this Common Basilisk summing itself on the roadway.
We also saw a lot of butterflies throughout our trip. Mostly they were moving erratically as butterflies will, so there are no photos of flying butterflies. This swallowtail was drinking at the water’s edge, so it was easier to take a picture of. We realize that calling this butterfly a “swallowtail” is the equivalent of calling a bird a “sparrow,” but we have not gone to the effort to learn more about butterfly identification, at least not yet…
Only two more days of the tour are left to describe! Part 6 will be posted soon.