Tuesday morning and I was up early as usual. It was a cloudy day with light rain, we were feeling the effects of Hurricane Otto even though we were a long way south of it. The Scarlet Macaws were not fed this morning I think because there were very few tourists at the Lodge to put on a show for. This suited me as I could see the birds roosting in some distant trees which makes for a much better photograph, more natural. Here's one of them. I should stress that this is one of very few places in Costa Rica where they still exist in the wild. I think the locals have finally realised they are worth more in the wild for the tourist business than they are being sold to the horrendous pet trade.
Anyway after breakfast I drove down to Tarcoles Village where there is a dock for tourist riverboat trips. Most of these are for general tourists who want to gawp at the crocodiles. I paid for a private birding trip, just me and the two boatmen. We would enter the mangrove creeks looking for different bird species.
I got the impression that the guys really enjoyed birding more than the usual croc. tours which must be very boring when you do it every day. They knew their birds too and were proud of their knowledge, doing everything to get me into the best locations to take pictures. One of the first interesting birds was a juvenile Yellow Crowned Night Heron, a species I don't think I've seen before.
I was to see plenty more of these later on another river, but for now I was happy to have seen even a youngster of this new species. There were many Herons and Egrets that I was very familiar with from the US, this Little Blue Heron for example.
...and the following three, Great Egret, Great Blue heron and Tricoloured Herons were all fairly common and familiar.
...but the Roaseate Spoonbills were a welcome surprise. I had missed out on this species in Florida so was very glad to get excellent views of them here on the Tarcoles River. A very handsome bird with Flamingo-like pink colouration which is derived from the carotenoid pigment in their diet. It is not their natural colour and it varies with location & differences in their food.
The Panama Flycatcher may not be big, bold and colourful like the Spoonbills, but every bird counts and I only ever saw one of this species, so here it is (below right).
The Snowy Egret above is purely here as a record shot. It's common and looks pretty much the same as our Little Egret but there are obviously a few genetic differences so it counts as a separate species.
Below is another new sighting for Costa Rica, the Osprey needs no introduction.
Ospreys are perhaps the most widespread bird species in the World. They are found on every continent except Antarctica. I have seen them in S E Asia, Australia, Europe, USA, Canada, South and now Central America. European Ospreys migrate to sub Saharan Africa but they do not breed there. Similarly American Ospreys move to South America but only breed in the North. This one has caught a substantial fish dinner.
Boat Billed Herons were quite numerous along the riverbank and in the mangroves. A Black Hawk sat in the trees searching for crabs or similar food. I would like to have photographed this one in flight as it has very broad wings, is black all over except for white underwing patches and tail stripes, making a fine sight.
Below is a juvenile Black Hawk showing mottled immature plumage with distinctive black & white stripes over the tail.
There were two species of Kingfisher about. The Ringed Kingfisher, a quite large species, easy to see..
...and the smaller, less obvious but very beautiful Green Kingfisher. This is similar to the Amazon Kingfisher that I had seen in Ecuador, but there are a few differences and it is a separate species, so another one for that mythical life list.
,...as is the diminutive and very drab little Mangrove Vireo - vireo pallens, but they all count if they are first time sightings as this was. In fact the boatmen were well pleased that I got a shot of this, they seemed to think it was quite a coup. We also saw the Mangrove Hummingbird but unfortunately it was too tiny and active to enable a photograph, However another mangrove speciality the Mangrove Swallow, perched conveniently on the end of the boat roof, so I was obliged to record it.
I also post here a number of birds that are common and that I have seen before, just for the trip record. Black-necked Stilt, Southern Lapwing, Common Tody Flycatcher, Wood Stork and Whimbrel. The Whimbrel could possibly compete with the Osprey on being the most widespread of species, I am not sure about it's presence in Australia otherwise it is on every continent except Antarctica.
The last bird photographed from the boat was a very close Yellow-headed Caracara in an overhanging tree. Again not a new bird again but a decent shot of a small raptor..
After this successful and productive boat trip I wandered around the gardens of the boatyard and came across this stunning Turquoise Browed Motmot, a bit of icing on the bird cake so-to-speak.
Back at Cerro Lodge I picked up a nice male Baltimore Oriole at a bird table, and later the Scarlet Macaws put in another appearance, so let's have another look.
It had been an excellent day and I retired to bed early after a good dinner wondering what tomorrow would bring.