Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Costa Rica trip part 1: Paraiso Quetzal Lodge (Dec 15-16)

Fiery throated HummingbirdParaiso Quetzal Lodge, Costa Rica, Dec 15, 2016
Fiery throated HummingbirdParaiso Quetzal Lodge, Costa Rica, Dec 15, 2016
Lesser Violetear, Paraiso Quetzal Lodge, Costa Rica, Dec 15, 2016
Long tailed Silky Flycatcher, Paraiso Quetzal Lodge, Costa Rica, Dec 15, 2016
Long tailed Silky Flycatchers, Paraiso Quetzal Lodge, Costa Rica, Dec 15, 2016
Magnificent Hummingbird, Paraiso Quetzal Lodge, Costa Rica, Dec 15, 2016
Magnificent Hummingbird, Paraiso Quetzal Lodge, Costa Rica, Dec 15, 2016
Sunset with Kelvin-Helmholtz Wave Clouds, Paraiso Quetzal Lodge, Costa Rica, Dec 15, 2016
We arrived for our latest (and tenth!) trip to Costa Rica late on December 14th and stayed near San Jose for the night before departing in the morning to visit a wildlife rehab center. The center is doing some great work in education to the public and rehab of a variety of species (mammal and avian). Following that visit we departed midday for the trip up to Paraiso Quetzal Lodge up in the mountains at an elevation just over 2600 meters. Although somewhat cloudy in the valley we arrived at the lodge early in the afternoon to mostly sunny skies and we spent the next few hours admiring the hummingbirds at the feeders as well as visiting the nearby flower gardens. Occasionally the clouds would move in but would quickly disappear returning yet again to sunny skies. The hummingbird activity at the feeders did not disappoint with loads of Magnificent Hummingbirds, Green Violetears and Fiery throated Hummingbirds plus a couple White throated Mountain Gems. The activity at the feeders continued until it was almost too dark to see. A group of Long tailed Silky Flycatchers also made an appearance from time to time.  We ended the day with a spectacular sunset that included some Kelvin-Helmholtz Wave Clouds. Unfortunately as the sun went down the clouds rolled in and the winds picked up which dashed my hopes of finding some nocturnal birds...another time perhaps.
Resplendent Quetzal, Paraiso Quetzal Lodge, Costa Rica, Dec 16, 2016
Wrenthrush, Paraiso Quetzal Lodge, Costa Rica, Dec 16, 2016
Black capped Flycatcher, Paraiso Quetzal Lodge, Costa Rica, Dec 16, 2016
Black Guan, Paraiso Quetzal Lodge, Costa Rica, Dec 16, 2016
Flame throated Warbler, Paraiso Quetzal Lodge, Costa Rica, Dec 16, 2016
On the 16th I met Andres at 6 am to guide me around the area and hopefully find some of my target birds. I still have a number of high elevation species that I have not yet seen but my number one target was a Wrenthrush, which is oddly neither a wren or a thrush but is a wood warbler species endemic to Costa Rica and Panama and one of only two species of breeding warbler in Costa Rica I had not yet seen. Wrenthrush is a small, dark bird with a burnt orange crown that inhabits dense growth within the forest and is much more likely to be heard then seen. One other target for the morning was a Resplendent Quetzal which I have seen a few times but Sherri had not (she would join us a little later in the morning to try to find the quetzal). Although there was a glimpses of sun early on the clouds quickly filled in and the drizzle and light rain picked up and continued for most of the mornings. Andres and I still managed to find some good birds despite the weather including a lifer for me, a Black Guan plus a number of other highland specialities. Just before we headed back to have a quick breakfast and meet up with Sherri we found a beautiful male Resplendent Quetzal and got fantastic looks of it through the scope. Sadly that was the only one we would see all morning although we did hear one a little later. After a brief stop to eat we headed back out into the rainy weather and started walking some of the trails within the forest. Andres had a tip on where we might find a Wrenthrush and after a slippery walk down some muddy trails we arrived at the location and almost immediately had brief looks at a couple of Wrenthrush. They moved just way to fast to get photos but I managed to get some recordings as they called from the deep undergrowth. We never got another look at them in that location but we decided to move further down the trail in hopes of finding them further downslope where the trail curved back toward our current location. Sure enough we caught back up with one of them and had brief but very close looks as it foraged among some roots. I tried again for photos with my big camera but it was just too dark and the bird was too fast. I eventually tried my luck with my cellphone camera and I managed a few identifiable photos. I was very happy to have not only found the bird but to have seen it well, managed some recordings and got some photos. We continued our walk until a little before 10:30 when we had to head back to pack up and check out for 11am. We then spent the next hour checking out the hummingbird feeders again while waiting for our transportation which should have arrived at noon. By 12:30 no one had shown so I had to call the driver and he gave me a line of crap about being late and sending someone else in his place (despite being reserved months in advance and agreeing to a later pick up time at his request). Eventually it got to be after one and I had to make a number of other calls but we cancelled our original transport and made some last minute changes to get us out of the mountains and down to Rio Magnolia Lodge. Although we planned to be there by early afternoon we never arrived until after four. Despite our later than intended arrival the lodge once again produced a life bird for me when I heard a Vermiculated Screech Owl while walking back to our cabin after dinner.


  1. Enjoyed reading about your trip to paradise! Can never get enough of CR. Thank you.

    1. Me neither...Costa Rica never gets old! Glad you enjoyed it...more to come soon.