I got usable photos of 19 species of birds from my little one-hour walk yesterday morning, 6-7 AM, in the neighborhood on Calle Nueva, the little country gravel/dirt road that separates Roca Verde neighborhood from the adjacent farmland. Nineteen is not bad and as good as some longer walks I take when at expensive birding lodges! 🙂 PLUS, if my identifications are correct, I got 3 new species, “lifers,” for me, though I may get corrected by an eBird expert reviewer after I post them on eBird. 🙂 The new ones are Giant Cowbird, Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher and a Yellow-green Vireo.
This road and my own street uphill above my house always yield a lot of birds early in the morning. And I have another neighborhood further away that I intend to try for even different birds, a place my birding friend Margaret found to be good.
Saturday AM Birds
Tropical Mockingbird Juvenile
“Every bird, every tree, every flower reminds me what a blessing and privilege it is just to be alive.”
― Marty Rubin
Well . . . that is sort of what it looked like this morning on my return home from birding on Calle Nueva (our nearby country lane). Birding was great but I still don’t have all the wild bird photos processed, so here’s the domesticated ones I saw! 🙂
“El gorjeo” or “tweeting” or “chirping” is what many of the birds are doing every morning now and earlier than usual, before sunrise! But none of the birds are singing as much as the Clay-colored Thrush or Yigüirro it is called here (feature photo), the National Bird of Costa Rica. Yigüirros have started their pre-rain singing earlier this year, which is usually in April. This chirping is why it is the National Bird with tradition saying they are calling in the May rains or the “green season” as it is called by many here. Hopefully this earlier singing means the rains will come earlier! Listen to a recording of song 🙂 And soon the wind stops blowing which is almost constantly now. I AM READY FOR GREEN SEASON! 🙂
In one sense it is a little like “Spring” in the north, but maybe a backwards spring as we move from hot-dry-windy to daily rains, cooler temps, greenness & more flowers. It is a tropical paradise that most tourists miss because they want to avoid rain. 🙂 But most of us who live here prefer it to the “dry season.”
“Don’t let the rainy season deter your visions of outdoor adventures! This is Costa Rica’s most beautiful time of the year, when every landscape explodes in vibrant colors, with blooming flowers and blossoming fruit trees, not to mention cooler temperatures.” ~costarica.com
Yes, San Gerardo de Dota, Costa Rica is magical, if for no other reason, it is the best place to see and photograph the Resplendent Quetzal, the feature photo I made on my first trip to Costa Rica way back in 2009.
For next week I had plans for my “social distancing” of people in Atenas by being one of the few (or maybe only) tourist at the best hotel in San Gerardo de Dota, Hotel Savegre. I can find enough birds there to keep me and my camera happy by just walking around their grounds, plus their guide takes me away from the hotel some mornings as I photograph birds that can be found only in the cloud forest mountains adjacent to Quetzal National Park (park closed now for coronavirus safety). Yes, I was planning to buck the system and all the recommendations to stay home by going there next week! 🙂 But fate or “God’s intervention of the stupid” has caused me to . . .
Postpone Savegre Lodge to a Later Month
Monday morning’s visit back to the dentist informed me that my infected tooth needs another week of antibiotic treatment before he can do a root canal and that I should not leave home for the next two weeks, having his cell phone number to call if more pain or other problems. I’m grounded by a dentist! 🙂
I just emailed the hotel-lodge requesting that my reservation be moved up to August or October, two future months without trips planned (and hopefully Coronavirus is settled before then). I should know soon what my options are with the hotel, but I expect no problem getting another reservation. And life moves on!
The lodge gave me 13 months to reschedule and then I went ahead and cancelled my May trip which included a hotel night in San Jose and a long bus trip. So no more trips until July.
But that was only the case for an hour or so Sunday morning for my early breakfast around 6 AM. By 7:30 or 8:00 the wind was blowing like normal this time of year, It is windy mid-December to Mid-March or later and I’m guessing later this year because the wind has been stronger. Since the “Windy Season” overlaps the “Dry Season” it creates a recipe for brush or grass fires, especially later in the season like right now. We had our annual grass fires in Roca Verde a week or so ago, so not as much dry grass left to burn. (I water my grass!) And as usual, we were fortunate to have no house on fire. Our local Atenas Bomberos (Firemen) are super good at stopping the fires quickly.
And my four morning birds are just ones that are very common in my yard, but it was nice to see them in my Cecropia tree at breakfast for a change! Maybe I should eat earlier every morning since it is less windy early. 🙂 They were . . .
The Yellow Warbler is one of the more common birds found all over North and Central America with a huge migration south each winter which is mostly what we have here in Costa Rica right now. See the maps in the above Cornell link.
With a slight variation there is a “Resident Species” of Yellow Warbler that lives here year around and is identified mainly by the resident male (my photo) who has a rust-colored or orange-brown head.
These photos are of one bird in my Cecropia Tree at breakfast last Saturday, one of the migrants from North America. They will return north in April or May, some as far north as Canada and Alaska! Amazing!
Margaret, the lady birder from Canada who was in a nearby casita for one month, did most of her birding right here in Roca Verde, including uphill above my casita and on Calle Nueva, the country lane alongside Roca Verde. (She also walked to other neighborhoods in town and had a few trips away, including to Rancho Naturalista & the Tarcoles River.)
But her finding so many birds here got me back into more birding where I live and beyond my own garden where I have no feeders now which has reduced the numbers. Friday morning I spent an hour walking up and down the hill above my house with the result of the following photos of vistas and birds.
Not bad for less than a 200 meter walk from my house! And I know I have already shared similar views and birds on this blog before, but each new time in the viewfinder is a little bit different perspective, a different light, a different pose or action of the bird, and a new joy for me! No new bird species this time, though the immature Blue-black Grassquit was my first immature version of that species! Notice how different she looks from her mother or some other adult female Blue-black Grassquit in photos above. 🙂 I loved the walk and will keep doing it occasionally!
“In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.” – John Muir
Central Atenas seen from the hill
Farmland adjacent Roca Verde
Central Atenas seen from the hill
Cattle on the next hill
Adult Blue-black Grassquit female
Clay-colored Thrush (light version)
Immature Blue-black Grassquit female
Clay-colored Thrush (dark version)
“I love walking because it clears your mind, enriches the soul, takes away stress and opens up your eyes to a whole new world .” – Claudette Dudley
For the last two weeks I have been adding the Spanish name after the English name on each of my 337 Costa Rica Bird Galleries, one bird at a time! My source was the fairly new book Aves de Costa Rica, Guia de Campo by Garrigues and Dean which is available only in bookstores and lodges here in Costa Rica, while the English version, Birds of Costa Rica is available on Amazon.com as well. This Spanish version is a translation of this older English version, Second Edition and is my first printed source of Spanish names for the birds here in Costa Rica. Nicaragua had one first that is bilingual! 🙂
I should add that for my English bird information I now use the more up-to-date Princeton Field Guide to Birds of Central America. My online source of birding information is Cornell’s eBird and Neotropical Birds websites. But even they do not have the Spanish names added to their articles. Wikipedia does but it is not specific to Costa Rica like the above book and my web gallery and I’m not sure of their sources.
Needless to say, this makes my web gallery of Costa Rica Birds one of the best online and the only one I know of that is bilingual, though I only have photos of 337 species out of over 900 here – so a long way to go! 🙂
“The presence of a single bird can change everything for one who appreciates them.”
― Julie Zickefoose
I possibly have more photos of this species of bird from my yard than from any other location, though I have seen them all over Costa Rica. It is a large chicken-sized bird that usually moves in flocks, but this one was solo at breakfast this morning in my Guarumo or Cecropia Tree (Wikipedia article).
When together as a flock they chatter a lot and thus the fun nickname here of “Chachalacas” for a group of people chattering or all talking at the same time. 🙂
There are two types in Costa Rica, this Gray-headed Chachalaca (link to Neotropical Birds site) found only in Central America from Honduras to the beginnings of Columbia, and the rarer Plain Chachalaca found here only in parts of Guanacaste (our Northwest Province) which I am yet to see or photograph.
On the Neotropical Birds site be sure to listen to their calls which is what wakes me some mornings! 🙂 And for more of my photos of this bird, both in my yard and other Costa Rica locations, see my photo gallery Gray-headed Chachalaca. Another one of my tropical friends here! 🙂
A chattering Good Morning from Atenas, Costa Rica!
One of the things Heredia is know for is The Toucan Rescue Ranch, which is actually in a suburb, San Isidro de Heredia, which like so many other such places in Costa Rica was started not too long ago by someone dedicated to wildlife, and all the animals that recuperate from injuries or whatever to a level of independence are released into the wild.
After class today I had a quick lunch of something other than the rice and beans I’ve been having here 3 times a day and took a taxi to the rescue ranch for a pre-scheduled “Educational Walk” at 1:30 that lasted until nearly 3:30 and my taxi was waiting on me when finished. Plus a funny thing about the tour, there were 14 people on it with 5 of us from Atenas! Two retiree couples from Atenas were there, plus me. I have met both couples in the past but don’t really know them – another one of those “small world” kind of things! 🙂
Birds at Toucan Ranch
San Rafael Church
And of course I have a “Trip Gallery” of photos from this week, titled: