Tuesday, April 28, 2015

back at the Hotel Bougainvillea

Given how we were feeling and not having a 4x4 severely curtailing our options (thanks again Dollar - never again!) we decided to head back to Heredia a day early and to the Bougainvillea.

The trip was long (six hours) but worth it.  It's nice to be back in air conditioning with reliable internet, good food, etc.

We took advantage of our stay in Heredia to stock-up on Costa Rican coffee as well as to explore the gardens again.  We really do recommend the Bougainvillea and will use it again if we ever head back to Costa Rica.

During our wanders we saw Rufous-naped Wren:

A lovely Rufous-capped Warbler:

Bathing Melodious Blackbird:

An almost perfect (my opinion again!) image of a Blue-crowned Motmot:

A Wood Thrush, the best view in fact of this species we'd previously only seen on it's breeding grounds in the USA:

A female Summer Tanager with prey:

Tennessee Warbler:

Some beautiful trees and flowers:

Hoffman's Woodpecker enjoying the golden light:

And at the other end of the day, a tree full of Crimson-fronted Parakeets:

Time then to head for home and deal with the consequences of unclean water somewhere on the trip.  We're pretty sure we contracted either cryptosporidium or giaridia and, at the time of writing, are still recovering some eight weeks later.... 

Still Costa Rica delivered, nearly 100 new species of bird, over 300 on the trip, and I believe the best bird images I've managed thus far.  Not bad all-in-all :)

Outside the gardens

Wilson's and surrounds was pleasant if quiet.  We were by now beginning to feel regularly under-the-weather, so took it a bit easier than we otherwise might have.

During a morning walk around the grounds we saw another Blue-crowned Motmot:

We couldn't go too far as we had to check out and move to a hotel just down the road from the gardens.  The location is like an out-of-town bar come hotel for the local American population by the looks of it.  

The room was pleasant, the kitchenette sparse though we catered for ourselves mostly anyway.  The immediate grounds held some birds though we didn't explore beyond our room much. 

The lack of a mosquito net bothered us especially with the enormous spiders above the bed.  I'd packed a four-poster net which we'd already used a few times (top tip buy one before you travel, you just never know when you'll need it!).  The high ceiling gave me few options but I found a large mossy stick and with this and some tip-toeing I got the thing set-up as you can see here:

As for those spiders Helen wasn't comfortable sharing the room with them, and she normally likes spiders, so I went and got a member of staff.  He shoved the largest one off the roof and it landed in our luggage.  He then collected it in a glass I provided and headed towards the microwave!  We ushered him outside whereupon he threw the tarantula into a bush!   A tarantula!   The second one got the message and climbed on the broom to be moved outside.

Over the next few nights bits of spiders dropped on the net but we didn't see any more giant spiders.  Made us use the light when we got up in the night though!

We did a walk into the forest from Wilson's the following morning, it was very hot as the Gardens don't open to guests until 7 am, but it was worth it.

By now for example I wasn't expecting to see a Brown-billed Scythebill:

The Green Hermit was delight too:

We enjoyed the walk and then enjoyed getting back to our room to rest as we were feeling progressively worse.  We assumed it was the food but by now we were beginning to wonder if it was something else...

Wilson's Botanical Gardens

We drove from the Osa Peninsula right down to the Panamanian border and to Wilson's Botanical Gardens, another research station in Costa Rica.  The accommodation is small but comfortable, the rooms much better appointed than at La Selva (see previous visit 2013) but it was also much quieter for birding, especially as arrived in the afternoon.

The view from the walk we took was spectacular:

We saw a few butterflies as we familiarised ourselves with the gardens:

With the walk done we got a banana from the canteen (very helpful and good food!), put it on the feeder in the patio area and settled down to see what happened.

Green Honeycreepers were in the tree in the centre of the patio area:

Stunning birds.

Almost immediately birds started to appear on the feeder.  Here's a Cherrie's Tanager:

and here a female Cherrie's:

A Golden-hooded Tanager:

And a favourite of mine, the Speckled Tanager:

Back in the tree a female (male in the background) Spot-crowned Euphonia:

We had a quiet evening at Wilson's catching up on emails (while it has wifi you need to sit close to the restaurant for it to be effective), and had an early night.

Road trip to the Rio Tigre

Another early start and back to photograph the Black-faced Antthrush at the very crack of first light, hence the extensive flash required:

We walked out across the river to our vehicle and then headed on to our eventual destination the Rio Tigre crossing.

We stopped on the way to see a Great Antshrike:

Close-by a White-necked Jacobin was perched;

At another stop we saw a Ruddy-Ground Dove:

And an unexpected Ruddy-breasted Seedeater:

Approaching the bridge where we were going to be looking for Cotingas, we saw a small group of Bare-throated Tiger-Herons, this one was kind enough to display, enabling a cracking image (in my opinion anyway!):

While waiting for the Cotingas to come in I photographed a Grey-capped Flycatcher:

As well as a Spot-crowned Euphonia:

We did eventually see, through a scope, both Snowy and Turquoise Cotingas, lovely birds and ones I hope to be able to photograph one day.

Back to the car, a Turkey Vulture was dining on some very aged scraps of road kill:

We drove to a mangrove forest, where this symmetry caught my eye:

And then on to a mangrove beach, where we saw our first Mangrove Hummingbirds:

That afternoon we took ourselves out on a walk and were chuffed to get a really good view of Baird's Trogon:

We headed back into the forest outside of the grounds, stopping to photograph this fungus:

Before settling in front of a tree frequeted by hummingbirds including this Blue-throated Goldentail:

We enjoyed our time at the lodge, it was a good place to both see lots of birds and to enjoy the food and company.

Forest walks around the lodge

We did a number of further walks around the grounds and through their bit of forest, which proved very productive.   First at the very crack of dawn a Black-faced Antthrush, one of a pair, browses for food close to the owner's accommodation:

Deep in the woods and very hard too see, a Scaly-throated Leaftosser:

This was a particular result as the chap we were walking with was on his last morning and really wanted to see this bird.  We heard it calling and finally located it ahead of us close to the path.

The next bird followed us for around an hour, which was most unusual behaviour.  Helen thinks it was because she was in the same colours as the bird.  I suspect it was because we were disturbing small moths that it then ate.  The Bi-coloured Antbird even landed on my monopod briefly, a very close encounter:

It seemed to us that the Black-hooded Antshrikes were in almost every bit of forest we walked in:

One cracking bird to see was a still roosting King Vulture:

Very hard to capture this image in low light with a heavy camera pointing straight up.

Another lovely bird is the Scarlet-rumped Cacique (told here by the blue eye), singing at a post-dawn perch:

As the day wore on a Cinnamon Becard was nest-building:

A Rufous-tailed Jacamar sat watching and waiting, they are a fantastic colour and indeed shape of bird and a delight to see anytime:

A Crimson-fronted Parrot watched us watching it:

We walked to a known spot and the spent a good half an hour trying to get an image of a Black-tailed Flycatcher, this is the best i managed in that time, they are very mobile and skulking, a tricky combination:

Out on the river a small group of White Ibis were feeding:

We thoroughly enjoyed all our walks in and around the grounds of Bosque Del Rio Tigre, as indeed we enjoyed our whole stay.  Next up the external birding trip we'd booked as part of our package...