Sunday (Day 5)
With Cirilo (the guide) away for his second day of wedding duty, we again took the opportunity to do our own birding around the lodge and one of the local trails – the Theodoro. This proved to be one of the best day’s birding in a long while, both for quality of birds and also the constant appearance of something interesting. Add to that the fact that we were finding all of the birds ourselves for extra pleasure. The plan was to spend the whole morning around the lodge, have an early cooked lunch, and then be dropped off at the Theodoro Trail for the afternoon. With the usual start to the day around the gardens, we also wanted to devote most of the morning to the trails in the forest to the rear, and this proved to be an excellent choice.
This morning’s member of staff preparing breakfast didn’t understand the minutae of birding – you eat breakfast as early as possible and on the run when there are birds to be seen. She insisted on locking the dining room outer door until the clock struck 6am exactly, but hadn’t counted on my counter insurgency measures of sneaking in through the kitchen. Despite this, the regular Blond-crested Woodpecker managed to reach the bird table as the last mouthfuls of cake were still being chomped, but impressed nevertheless. The Slaty-breasted Wood Rail managed to creep into the scope view at the same time. First order of the day was to head back down to the stream. After passing the first Pale-breasted Thrushes of the trip, we quickly picked up the resident Sharp-tailed Streamcreeper in the vicinity of the bridge, this time in better light than the previous evening. During this time, I scanned the trees above and managed to pick out Crescent-chested Puffbird. We had waited many a long trip for our first of this family, and it was worth the wait! Back to the gardens, and both Long-billed & Southern House Wrens were found singing. Before breaking for the trails, I scanned the valley from the swimming pool area, and managed to pick up Scaly-headed Parrot at the top of one of the distant trees – our first definite member of this species.
After spending about 2˝ hours doing the rounds, we headed for the trails. The aim was to cover all 3 in the three hours until lunch, but the lower trail to the water box (and only the first part of this) was easily the most productive, as well as the circular trail being blocked by a fallen tree, so most of the time was spent there. Activity was from the ground to the canopy, and there were few times, apart from when on the upper trails, when there was no activity. Things got off to a great start when we found a first year male Blue Manakin only metres into the walk, sporting a bright orange cap to augment his olive green coat. Just around the corner, a Black-goggled Tanager preceded a Whiskered Myiobius and Plain Antvireo directly over our heads. After completing most of the water box trail and turning back when we realised it was quiet, we managed to pin down two separate Star-throated Antwrens after some effort – they are noisy but elusive! In the canopy, the regular Plain Antvireos were joined by a couple of Spot-breasted Antvireos, sporting much more prominent spots than had been expected. As we turned up the steps to approach the upper trails, we were handed the prize of a stunning Black-cheeked Gnateater, one of our top hoped for birds. The extension trail was fairly quiet save for a Plain Antvireo and a couple of Rufous-browed Peppershrikes, so we headed back to the Gnateater spot. This was rewarded with even better views of the bird, this time stationery for some time. We celebrated this with a sit on the well worn, and overgrown, seat next to the trail, and even this was rewarded with a huge White-throated Woodcreeper nearby, and a passing wave of Red-necked & Green-headed Tanagers through the canopy to the front of our perch.