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Day 6 (Wednesday, 23rd February)

 

When we arrived at the La Quintalodge the previous evening, we were informed that you had to book to visit LaSelva reserve. This was both to limit the amount of visitors to the reserve,and also a guide was required to walk the trails. However, as an alternative, we were told that the entrance drive between the two security posts could be walked without charge, which is exactly what we did this morning, and it resulted in a superb birding experience. We navigated both security points and parked the car next to the main gate, and almost immediately had Montezuma’s Oropendolas and Keel-billed Toucans overhead. The first half an hour, spent near to the main gate, was fairly quiet, with a highlight being singing Black-striped Sparrow. As we exited the green and white gates 100m from here, the birdlife increased many fold. We stopped at one particular spot for around half an hour to study Black-cowled & Yellow-tailed Orioles, along with copious Passerini’s Tanagers. Alongside were female Barred & Great Antshrikes, joined by 2 Yellow-billed Caciques. On the opposite side of the track was a very fleeting Tawny-faced Gnatwren. The same spot then offered preening female Violaceous Trogon, our first Black-cheeked Woodpeckers, a pair of Smoky-brown Woodpeckers, and 2 feeding Mealy Parrots. We were about to meander further down the track, when we spotted a Bright-rumped Attilla, almost alongside a Boat-billed Flycatcher. Progression along what was probably only a 400m track was slow due to the quality of the birds, until we came upon a couple of star birds in the form of White-collared Manakin and passing Little Hermit. This was present near to the first security gate. It was now 10am, with the earlier drizzle abating to leave broken sunshine, and the bird activity seemed to be quietening down somewhat. The return to the car added another (pair) of White-collared Manakins, feeding alongside a Long-tailed Hermit.

La Selva entrance drive

 

Black-striped Sparrow

Yellow-tailed Oriole

Black-striped Sparrow

Yellow-tailed Oriole

Smoky-brown Woodpecker

Mealy Parrot

Smoky-brown Woodpecker

Mealy Parrot

Boat-billed Flycatcher

Bright-rumped Atilla

Boat-billed Flycatcher

Bright-rumped Atilla

White-collared Manakin

Black-cheeked Woodpecker

White-collared Manakin

Black-cheeked Woodpecker


 

River

Loop trail

River Sarapiqui through Selva Verde

Loop trail through primary forest

This was only 10km from La Selva, and cost us about £6 each for the afternoon, which we at first thought was for entry, but turned out to be the cost of the excellent buffet lunch. The restaurant overlooked the river, which we had checked as soon as we entered the grounds for Sunbittern, without success. Selva Verde offers accommodation, and is set in primary forest, with a stand of secondary forest across the road. There are some good trails through both, but the site is particularly noted for a regular pair of Sunbitterns which have taken up residence on this stretch of the river. As we traversed the footbridge for the first time, we picked up a large hovering kingfisher, and were lucky enough to relocate it when it landed – a female Amazon Kingfisher was perched about 40m down from us along one of the small tributary streams. As we were celebrating this find, one of the lodge guides asked if we wanted to see Sunbittern? The answer was obvious, so he took us back over the bridge to point out a feeding bird slowly making its way around one of the pools adjacent to the river. The guide books don’t do justice to this almost mythical bird, and not only did we have good views from the bridge, but he encouraged us to get closer to the bird on the rocks. After snatching his hand off at this suggestion, we camped ourselves much nearer to the oblivious bird, then to find a second to the rear of the pool. One of the birds even showed off the dazzling wing markings as it preened. After seeing both Sunbittern and Amazon Kingfisher, we agreed that seeing no more birds here would still have resulted in a successful stop. However, we started on one of the forest trails, ignoring the Wellington boots designed for protection against snake bites, and found a party of birds after about 100m. This was kicked off with Orange-billed Sparrow, feeding in the dark undergrowth, and preceded at least 3 Barred Woodcreepers and Cinnamon Becard. Not to be outshone, a female Masked Tityra put in a brief appearance, with a much more showy pair of Red-throated Ant-tanagers, the male of which was determined to show off directly in front of us. We must have stood in this same spot for around an hour, since the quality of the birds continued. After seeing Barred Woodcreeper, we also added a pair of Wedge-billed Woodcreepers, with both species sharing the same tree at one time, demonstrating the startling difference in size. The Orange-billed Sparrows (a pair) reappeared, and were now much more confiding. The trail continued on a curve, where it met up with the river, and we treated ourselves to a refreshingly cold paddle in the waters of the Sarapiqui River. After following a pair of Grey-chested Doves along the trail, we refound the dining area, and a feeding station which had been replenished with bananas.

Sunbittern

Red-throated Ant-tanager

Sunbittern

Red-throated Ant-tanager

Barred Woodcreeper

Orange-billed Sparrow

Barred Woodcreeper

Orange-billed Sparrow

With the light fading, this played host to pairs of Shining & Green Honeycreeper, Olive-backed Euphonia, and a single almost motionless Wood Thrush. After another short visit to the earlier productive spot along the trail, the mosquitoes started to come out in force, indicating a choice time to return to the car. One last look at the feeding tables was a good decision, since on approaching the feeding area, 3 skulking birds flew across the path in front of me. After following the line of rustling leaves and branches, one of the birds finally put in a sub 10 second appearance – a dapper Chestnut-backed Antbird, complete with light blue orbital ring around the eye.

Wood Thrush

Shining Honeycreeper

Wood Thrush

Shining Honeycreeper

Home

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Content

Introduction

Day 1

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Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Day 7

Day 8

Orchids

Species list

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