Thursday, March 9, 2017

La Mesa Rd. (AM) - 28 Feb 2017

After another night of howling winds and 2 am wake up we gathered for breakfast and a trip to La Mesa Road for another morning of highland birding. Before that, however, I spent some time by the bridge photographing a Green Kingfisher that flew in and perched on a limb just below the bridge. I would have some time to photograph and digiscope it from just 20' away.

An Agouti appeared below the feeders and finally stayed long enough for a quick photo. Nearby a pair of Tennessee Warblers were foraging in the purple-flowering bush next to the hummingbird feeder.

Danilo arrived and we piled into the van for a ride just a few minutes up the road to the Canopy Adventure Zip-line Tour. We'd be looking for a Sunbittern!

Along the way we saw several Black-chested Jays, a Rufous-headed Motmot, and Gray-headed Chachalacas flying across the road. We parked the vehicle and headed down the stairs toward the boulder-strewn stream uphill from the Canopy Lodge. Danilo asked for silence while he let out a low, long-drawn soft whistle that mimics the call of the Sunbittern. I managed to catch a glimpse of a large wing as one disappeared below us under the bridge.

I motioned for Danilo that the bird was nearby, so he told us to hang back while he crossed the bridge and headed downstream with the hopes of coaxing it back our way. While we waited in the dark forest floor next to the river a beautiful male Green Hermit hummingbird flew by me and landed on the vines a short distance away. It would flew away before I could get the scope on it.

Eventually Danilo returned and motioned us across the bridge a downstream. He would soon spot it roosting in the trees while I was up ahead scoping a pair of Keeled -billed Toucans through an opening in the forest. Just as I returned to take a peek of the Sunbittern through the scope it flew upstream somewhere. Danilo suggested we take one last look for it before we moved on.

Just past another bridge I spotted the Sunbittern briefly moving along the shoreline before rounding the bend. Another trip across the bridge and I was able to get a few pics of it foraging my way. It then flew and everyone was happy with the looks they got.

We would take a few minutes to enjoy the El Charro Waterfalls before heading back to the van. Woop!

Our next stop was a small roadside pond where we scoped a Social Flycatcher, a pair of Summer Tanagers, a Green Kingfisher, Yellow-crowned Euphonias, and Tropical Kingbirds. A Chestnut-sided Warbler provided close looks, as did a Garden Emerald.

The rain came, and so did the hoods. This seemed to get the birds more active, but not enough to draw in an Orange-bellied that would frustrate Danilo the rest of the day. In the meantime we got nice looks at a Tropical Pewee that was fly catching just on the other side of the fence. We'd also get some long-distance scope views of Keel-billed Toucans across the valley. Closer by a pair of Black-headed Saltators were calling, but wouldn't show.

John and I finally got looks at a Wedge-billed Woodcreeper overhead, followed by a larger Spotted Woodcreeper. Across the road a Golden-winged Warbler entertained us, along with Tawny-capped Euphonias, Scarlet-thighed Dacnis, and Bananaquits that I'd miss while trying to photograph the woodcreepers against white skies.

Spotted Woodcreeper

While Danilo returned downhill to retrieve the van we continued to the top of the hill where the Las Minas Road and chicken farm was yesterday. While waiting for him we tried to scope Blue-black and Yellow-faced Grassquits that were springing up on the fence. Under dark skies several Turkey and Black Vultures were soaring, and among them a Swallow-tailed Kite that circled toward us.

Continuing up the hill we passed an open field of Giant and Shiny Cowbirds, then pulled off and looked for a Spot-crowned Antvireo that was calling next to the road. In short moments we had both male and female in view. The male antvireo then posed on a vine and allowed me to serenade it as I digiscoped and photographed it at point blank range.

A bit farther up the road we got into a flock of Tawny-crested Tanagers, Red-crowned Ant-Tanagers, Silver-throated TanagersWedge-billed and Cocoa Woodcreepers, a Yellow-green Vireo, and Tawny-capped Euphonias. The action was hot enough that John was overheard to say, "That was quite the Purple Patch!".

Tawny-crested Tanager, female

Red-capped Ant-Tanager

Silver-throated Tanager

We would return to the Lodge for lunch. Robin, John and I were honored to have lunch with Raul Arias de Para, President and owner of the Canopy Lodge, Tower, B&B, and Camp. We discussed everything from the history of the Lodge, to hiring of the guides, bird photography, and conservation efforts to help preserve the habitats in the National Reserve. Robin even showed Raul how to use his earbuds as a shutter release when Digiscoping with an iPhone. We couldn't thank him and his wife Christina enough for their wonderful accommodations and hospitality.

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