Costa Rica, Day 6, 11 February 2014 - Volcan Poas NP & La Paz Waterfall Gardens

After a great night, meal and then a 'Texas-sized' pancake for breakfast in the morning (just ask the boys at Poas Lodge!) we made our way the short way up the road to Volcan Poas NP. On the drive up it looked like low cloud and drizzle was going to prevent any look down into the volcano crater, and so it proved - you could only see a few meters in front of your face!

Not to be defeated we decided to don our waterproofs and walk the trails within the NP. These are mainly concrete trails through stunted and often very dark forest. Black-billed Nightingale Thrushes proved very easy to see, often hopping along the paths and on our soggy walk round we also managed to see c6 Fiery-throated Hummingbirds, 1 Black-striped Sparrow, 1 Black-cheeked Warbler and 2 Black and Yellow Silky Flycatchers feeding on berries at close range. In some mature forest at the carpark end of the trail a strange woodpecker turned out to be the local race of Hairy Woodpecker. A Large-footed Finch also showed at really close range.

Black-billed Nightingale Thrush

Large-footed Finch

Hairy Woodpecker
With the weather showing no signs of improvement we deciced to bite the bullet and drive to La Paz Waterfall Gardens. This is a rather strange place, part gardens, part forest with waterfalls and part zoo. Zoo is perhaps a little harsh as it consists of a reptile house, butterfly house, aviary and a couple of rescued big cats. Despite being very commercial with vastly overpriced admission (and them trying to sell you not just admission but buffet lunch too) it's a great place to spend a 2 or 3 hours birding. We found it hard to drag ourselves away from the hummingbird feeders where we enjoyed mega views of Violet Sabrewing, Black-bellied Hummingbird, Purple-throated Mountain-Gem, Green-crowned Brilliant, Coppery-headed Emerald, Green Hermit, Rufous-tailed Hummingbird, Steely-vented Hummingbird, Stripe-tailed Hummingbird, Green Thorntail and Brown Violetear! Despite a problem with condensation in my lens (cured with a hairdryer in the gents!) the feeders were also visited by apair of Black-cowled Orioles, a Baltimore Oriole and Bananaquits whilst a pair of Sooty-faced Finches hopped by under the benches.
Walking around the rest of the gardens and doing the waterfalls walk we also saw Slaty-backed Nightingale Thrush, Black-faced Solitaire, Tufted Flycatcher, Melodious Blackbird and a pair of Chestnut-capped Brush-Finches feeding around the straw in a cattle shed.
The drizzle had kept it up all afternoon so deciding to call it a day we headed for the exit but on the way things suddenly livened up with a feeding flock of birds moving through the gardens, in just 10 minutes I'd identified Blue Dacnis, Golden-hooded Tanager, Silver-throated Tanager, Spangle-cheeked Tanager, Blue-grey Tanager, Passerini's Tanager, Black-headed Saltator and best of all the only Prong-billed Barbet of the whole trip.
Green-crowned Brilliant

Purple-throated Mountain Gem

Violet Sabrewing

Black-bellied Hummingbird

Coppery-headed Emerald

Green Thorntail

Brown Violetear

Violet Sabrewing
Chestnut-capped Brush-Finch

Black-faced Solitaire

Tufted Flycatcher

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