Costa Rica, Day 1, 6 February 2014 - Alajuela and San Gerardo de Dota

The least said about day 0 of the trip the better with delayed flights, a mad dash at Newark airport to catch our connection and a very late arrival at our hotel near the airport in San Jose! So I'll skip the details and go straight to the following morning when we awoke to blue skies at the Santa Maria Inn in Alajuela and waited for our lift to Savegre Mountain Lodge at San Gerardo de Dota. The garden of the guesthouse yielded the first birds of the trip and the first ticks - a showy Rufous-naped Wren on a rooftop air-conditioning unit, Red-billed Pigeons and a flock of 15 Red-lored Parrots plus Inca and White-winged Doves, a fly-over Great Blue Heron, the only Northern Rough-winged Swallow of the trip as well as what were to become the common birds of the following weeks - Black and Turkey Vulture, Great-tailed Grackles, Tropical Kingbirds, Blue-grey Tanagers and Great Kiskadees (I won't be mentioning these again!)

Rufous-naped Wren

Red-billed Pigeon
Our lift arrived at 10.00 and 2 and a half hours later were were dropping down off the Pan American Highway into the beatutiful valley of San Gerardo de Dota and the Rio Savegre. It was all I could do the drag my eyes away from the hummingbird feeders outside the reception at the Savegre Mountain Lodge to check-in! Within a few minutes I'd identified Green Violet-ear, Magnificent Hummingbird, Scintillant Hummingbird, Volcano Hummingbird, White-throated Mountain-Gem and Purple-throated Mountain-Gem!
Scintillant Hummingbird

Green Violet-ear

White-throated Mountain-Gem (female)

White-throated Mountain-Gem (male) 

Magnificent Hummingbird

Volcano Hummingbird
After a quick buffet lunch in the lodge restaurant we decided on a walk upstream along the Rio Savegre on the waterfall trail. On the way out it was difficuly to get going with showy Slaty Flowerpiercers, Ruddy-capped Nightingale-Thrush and Flame-coloured Tanagers which were to become daily birds. A Sharp-shinned Hawk whizzed through the grounds and a superb Long-tailed Silky Flycatcher sat high in a tree - wow! The walk itself was beautiful and adorned with good birds for the Costa Rica first timer - Collared Redstarts, 2 Tufted Flycatchers, Black-faced Solitaire, c6 Yellow-thighed Finches, 2 Black Phoebe, 2 Ruddy Treerunners and plenty of Sooty-capped Bush Tanagers. Even wintering yank warbler Wilson's Warbler was a tick! The river itself held American Dipper and Torrent Tyrannulet.
Flame-throated Tanager

Ruddy-capped Nightingale-Thrush

Slaty Flowerpeircer
Ruddy Treerunner

Sooty-capped Bush Tanager
Black-faced Solitaire
On the walk back we bumped into a couple of British birders who, it became apparant during the conversation were the friends of some friends from back home - Pat and Gill Finch. What a small world. The best was yet to come in bird terms because as we walked past the trout farm something called behind us. I legged it back to be greeted by a male Resplendent Quetzal flying across the path and landing in a tree!! Back at the lodge White-throated Mountain-gem showed beautifully along the entrance road.
Resplendent Quetzal

Resplendent Quetzal

White-throated Mountain-gem
My appetite was well and truly whetted for walking some of the local trails tomorrow...   

1 comment:

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