Costa Rica Birding South, Part 4


After two nights at the Las Cruces Field Station we traveled north, first through the town of San Vito and next down the valley of the Rio Coto Brus. That river was met by the Rio General, coming from the north, to create the Rio Terraba (which we had earlier crossed,  near its mouth, as we had driven down the Pacific coast). From the Rio Terraba, we now drove up the valley of the Rio General, passing square miles of Del Monte pineapple fields. We had twice run the Rio General 30 some years prior, with the take-out near El Brujo. After a stop at El Brujo, we continued to San Isidro, and then began the 9000′ climb over the Cerro de la Muerte (Mountain of Death). Erich told us that the route was given this name when it was a hiking trail, rather than a road, due to the fact that there were cases of people who had died from hypothermia after getting caught in bad weather at or near the top of the climb (11,500′). We stopped at Restaurante La Georgina, at 10,000′, to see what hummingbirds were in attendance at their feeders.

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The Rio Terraba, near El Brujo

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We stopped at El Brujo after the river crossing

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Same as above

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The Restaurante La Georgina

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The feeders were hung outside the windows seen here

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Lesser Violetear. Photographing a hummingbird from a few feet away allows for getting a very crisp image.

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Magnificent Hummingbird

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Female Magnificent Hummingbirds

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Volcano Hummingbird (front) and Lesser Violetear

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Volcano Hummingbird

We had stopped here 30 years before, on the way to running the Rio General.

1. CerroDeLaMuerteRestaurant-Edit

30 years ago it was the Restaurant Georgina …

2. CerroDeLaMuerteRestaurantGeorgina#2

and had beautiful wooden floors

We crossed over the pass, which allowed us a brief look at the treeless “paramo” – but a lack of pull-outs prevented photographing the area. After a short drive downhill from the pass, we took a left onto the narrow and very windy road that descended the valley of the Rio Savegre, and arrived at the Savegre Hotel.

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We spotted this coatimundi as we neared the hotel

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It was a very nice place!

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Erich brings out the maps to our rooms

We photographed birds on the grounds of the hotel, which provided a fruit feeder, and on walks along the river.

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Our rooms fronted a bird-rich mass of foliage, including gladiolas

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Gladiola

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This Slaty Flowerpiercer went quickly from one gladiola blossom to another. Note its beak.

SlatyFlowerpiercerDSCN5208

Same as above

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Here it is at work, piercing a gladiola blossom at its base

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At the base of the stand of gladiolas was this Gray-breasted Wood-Wren. I looked for it after hearing its song, which is described in the guidebook this way: ” Its loud, lengthy, rollicking melody is one of the most commonly heard and attention-grabbing sounds in its habitat.”

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Acorn Woodpecker

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Yellowish Flycatcher, on an early morning walk

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Long-tailed Silky Flycatcher

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Peruvian Trumpet, in front of our room

 

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The Rio Savegre

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Same as above

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Same as above

RioSavegreDSCN5194

Same as above

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Rainbow Trout, Rio Savegre

RioSavegreKATH IMG_1091

Tree roots, along the Rio Savegre, by Kathy Miller. Below: Movie of the Rio Savegre, by Kathy Miller.

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Spot-crowned Woodcreeper

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We left at daybreak on our first morning to hunt down the Resplendent Quetzals, and stopped at Don Raul’s establishment.

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Don Raul’s sign

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Don Raul, second from left, and the group. Success! He found the quetzals for us in trees on the steep hillside above and to the left.  Paths led to the best viewing spots.

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First, we saw this female

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Higher on the slope, another female

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Male quetzal

QuetzalDSCN5092

Same as above, and showing his tail plumes

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Same as above

QuetzalDSCN5099

Same as above

QuetzalDSCN5109

Same as above

QuetzalDSCN5115

Same as above

QuetzalKATHIMG_1066

Same as above. A digiscope photo with Erich’s scope and Kathy’s iPhone

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As we returned downhill, we noticed this tree being used as an acorn repository by Acorn Woodpeckers

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Greenhouse, photo by Kathy Miller

GreenhouseKATH IMG_1076

Same as above

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Quetzal art work in progress, created from a tire, photo by Kathy Miller

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A quetzal tail plume is shown us by Don Raul, photo by Kathy Miller

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QuetzalFemaleByRiverKATHIMG_1086

Another digiscope photo by Erich and Kathy, of a female quetzal seen along the river. Movie below: Vegetation on a fence post, by Kathy Miller

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Stained glass quetzal at the hotel, photo by Kathy Miller

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A dessert. The food was very good!

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Oak forest, by Kathy Miller

Next door to the hotel was the “Feather Garden”, with many feeders, birds and a viewing area protected from the rain.

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Feathers Garden

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This and two photos below: Baltimore Oriole

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Acorn Woodpecker

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Costa Rica’s National Bird, the Clay-colored Thrush, in the rain

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This and two photos below: Flame-colored Tanager

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Violetear Hummingbird

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Same as above

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Violetear at a very clever feeder orifice

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This and two photos below: Violetear Hummingbird

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Mountain Thrush

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This and two photos below: Rose-breasted Grosbeak

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Rufous-tailed Hummingbird

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Silver-throated Tanager and baby bird begging

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Silver-throated Tanager

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This and photo below: Tennessee Warbler

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This and photo below: Yellow-thighed Finch

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Group shot, before leaving the Savegre Hotel

Map: CR#3

As we began our return to San Jose, we made a stop at the Paraiso Quetzal Lodge.

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Distant mountain

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Kathy

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Collared Redstart

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Large-footed Finch, with worm. I looked for this bird after hearing scratching in the nearby shrubs

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Same as above

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Lesser Violetear Hummingbird

LesserVioletearDSCN5485

Same as above. The bird is sitting on a sign that warns against touching the birds or using flash. 

 

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Magnificent Hummingbird

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Peruvian Trumpet

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Foxglove

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This and below: Scintillant Hummingbird

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This and photo below: White-throated Mountain-gem Hummingbird

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Hummingbirds at feeder

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Female Magnificent Hummingbird

IMG_1106

Tree with bromeliads. This and movie below, by Kathy Miller

Movie below by Erich Guzman.

This was our last birding stop. We then returned to San Jose, and departed for the United States the next morning. See map:

CR#4

Map of the complete trip:

CR#5

As was the case with our prior Road Scholar birding trip to Ecuador, all of our expectations were fulfilled. An element not mentioned above was that we were provided with an informative lecture about the site, at each venue. The most entertaining lecture was provided by Mariano, the owner of the Savegre Hotel. His father and uncle had discovered the valley of the upper Rio Savegre, and had both lived in a cave under a boulder for five years, while they labored to create a farm. Ultimately, the value of the valley for ecotourism was realized, and the subsequent development of the valley for that purpose has, in my opinion, been done responsibly. The valley and region is also known as “Dota” – and Dota is, no doubt, one of the finest destinations in Costa Rica. Despite strains imposed (according to our informants) by the increasing in-migration of citizens of other Central American countries, two of which are higher taxation and a shrinking middle-class, Costa Rica remains a charming and very hospitable country. “Pura vida” is how Ticos (Costa Ricans) refer to their country and sense of themselves and their lives. It was said to us on more than one occasion.

About believesteve

I am a photographer and author. I have published a book of photography and accompanying text on running the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. The first (print) edition is out of print, but a second edition is available as an iBook (eBook) through the iTunes bookstore. All Grand Canyon, river and nature lovers will enjoy my book: The Grand: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-grand/id672492447?ls=1 I have also published five additional iBooks: 1. The Salt River: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-salt-river/id1244922282?mt=11 2. Coyote Buttes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/coyote-buttes/id1271773201?mt=11 3. Four Cornered, the Land https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/four-cornered/id1384038899?mt=11 4. Four Cornered, The Rivers https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/four-cornered-book-two-the-rivers/id1402287568?mt=11 5. Rio Marañon https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/rio-marañon/id1415174046?mt=11
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