The first in my series of favorite bird photos since moving to Costa Rica is almost everyone’s favorite, the Resplendent Quetzal (eBird description) found in the cloud forests of Costa Rica and some other Central American countries that is an endangered species or “near threatened.” See my other photos of this beauty in my CR Resplendent Quetzal Gallery with photos from three different trips to San Gerardo de Dota and two trips to Monteverde, the two best places to find and photograph this colorful bird in Costa Rica. Note that it is the national bird of Guatemala, but on my three trips there I never saw one.
On my first trip to Costa Rica in 2009 on a birding tour, one of our stops was the Hotel Savegre in San Gerardo de Dota and I made this close-up here of what I think is a younger male Resplendent Quetzal than the one in the top photo because his tail was not as long. They took us to a nearby farm and pointed to a wild avocado tree where Quetzales would come to eat if we waited patiently. Most everyone sat on a little hill beside the tree to see the birds when they came in and that was where I started . . .
But when someone else crawled down under the tree to shoot from below, I decided to also be different and joined him. A good decision! we were much closer to the birds when they flew in and that is how I got this closeup shot of a young male in brilliant Christmas colors that served as my Christmas card one year! The other shot above this is I think of a more mature adult with long flowing tail that was made this year in January during a week stay at the remodeled and enlarged Hotel Savegre! I love it there! 🙂
San Gerardo de Dota
I love all of San Gerardo de Dota and have had good experiences in 2 other lodges there, Trogon Lodge and the simple little cabins at Cabinas El Quetzal, then called Mariam’s Cabinas. But without a doubt, Hotel Savegre is my favorite for service, food and facilities plus the number of birds seen. See my photo galleries listed below for photos from each location.
I found it a little more difficult to find Quetzales in Monteverde, but they are there and you will see in my galleries I got some good photos there too including a nesting couple. I just prefer San Gerardo de Dota. One trip to Monteverde was with the Costa Rica Birding Club and we stayed in cabins. My solo trip was at Monteverde Lodge and Gardens which I highly recommend with a great restaurant and super guides to guarantee you find birds of all kinds, including the Quetzal. Plus it is very good birding on the lodge’s large property of forest and gardens. I love it there too! 🙂
This Rufous-collared Sparrow (eBird link) is Latin American, found from the hills of Chiapas, Mexico to the southern tip of South America, including throughout the central hill country of Costa Rica. Every time I see one, I remember my first trip to Costa Rica in 2009 when I saw and photographed my first one at Savegre Hotel, San Gerardo de Dota. Memorable because it was a mother bird feeding her juvenile an earthworm. You can see that photo and others in my Rufous-collared Sparrow Gallery. Or in my travel gallery, 2009 Birding Tour. Pura vida from that very first visit here!
One of the flower photos I posted from Hotel Savegre had a bee in it which I did not acknowledge – so I do so here. Plus a technician is trying to get me a work-around to include the featured photo in the emailed announcement. This entire post is suppose to be included in the email announcement. We will see.
Hotel Savegre is a much different hotel than I remember it from my 2009 visit when it was a long row of rooms like an old-fashion motel stuck in the forest with a separate building for the office and restaurant. Then there were gardens in front with lots of hummingbird feeders and a few little trails into the forest. Today, no feeders! Just natural flowers and other plants to attract the birds.
Today it is a new, modern, 4-star hotel that I still think should be called a “mountain lodge,” but that was not the vision of these first pioneers in this little mountain resort community. And one of their adult sons was my birding guide this time! It is the largest Hotel-Spa-Nature Reserve in San Gerardo de Dota and is a big attraction to both tourists and Ticos from the cities wanting to get away. In fact, the weekend part of my time there on this trip was totally booked, every room! And I estimate at least 80% local Costa Ricans, called Ticos here.
Below is a gallery of what shots I got of the hotel. The rooms are now in groups of 2 to 4 around gardens with at least one garden table and chairs for each 2 or 4 rooms. It is rustic-modern, very comfortable, with a heater in every room, that is needed, especially at night! And Wifi in each room that was not working in my room, so I just used the public areas for Wifi. And a modern fireplace in every section of the restaurant which I guess burns something like butane? The food is as good as I’ve had anywhere, not exactly “gourmet” which would sound pretentious (not them), but is just high-quality food, very well-prepared with a large assortment of choices.
Here’s a few of my photos of the facilities you can CLICK to enlarge somewhat or for the full-sized images go to my The Hotel Gallery in the bigger Trip Gallery which is now completed:
One of the many wonderful things about Hotel Savegre is the huge piece of property it sits on in a mixture of primary and secondary forest – the “secondary” parts being where early farmers cleared land that has now been “re-forested” as has a large portion of Costa Rica as farming methods have improved and are becoming less destructive of the natural environment. The guide in some of the photos is Marino Chacon, a son of the man and woman who pioneered this first hotel/lodge in the truly amazing hills of San Gerardo de Dota. His parents are pictured on one of the trail signs included below in my two collections. CLICK image in first gallery to enlarge, which you can’t do in the second one as a slideshow.
Well . . . only three! Though I saw many more, most never stopped for a photo, especially those dratted Yellows! 🙂 The Mexican Silverspot never let me see his top but Orange Mapwing did let me get both a side-view and top-view, just not both in good focus. 🙂 And then right before making this post, I decided to make a second, more zoomed-in version of some of these photos for a closer look, where you can see more details on the more drastically cropped versions, such as in the feature photo of the Orange Mapwing (butterfliesandmoths.org Link) found only in Central America.
The Painted White (Wikipedia Link), was my first sighting of this butterfly, found from Mexico south to Paraguay. In my butterfly galleries you can see that it is similar to other Whites. And the Mexican Silverspot (butterfliesandmoths.org Link) is found from Brazil north through Mexico with strays in New Mexico & Texas and also a first time photographed. All were identified with my trusty book A Swift Guide to Butterflies of Mexico and Central America and reconfirmed online with different sites.
Because I’ve seen it before, I had a gallery for the Orange Mapwing with 2 other photos from El Silencio Lodge, Bajo del Toro Amarillo. The Painted White was a first-time sighting and thus only this one photo in that gallery for now and the Mexican Silverspot is also new this trip but I have 3 photos in it. If you like butterflies, I have 126+ species now in my Butterflies of Costa Rica Gallery, one of the largest, if not the largest, photo gallery of Costa Rica Butterflies on the internet. 🙂
This mountains or foothills hummingbird is found in all of Central America and Mexico. But in Costa Rica & Western Panama there is another almost identical bird called the Black-bellied Hummingbird. Now, the belly is not fully shown in this photo, but doesn’t appear to be black even though there is black on the face, as both can have. Though only the stripe-tailed has the little white post-ocular spot, thus with all things considered, I’m claiming this as a Stripe-tailed Hummingbird (link to eBird article). 🙂
This mountain hummingbird has a “near-twin” looking almost identical, the Volcano Hummingbird at a higher altitude, but theoretically both are possible at San Gerardo de Dota, sort of on the border of both. But my guide and eBird Merlin software both called my photos the Scintillant Hummingbird (eBird article link). And again this bird is endemic to or found only in the mountains of Costa Rica and Western Panama. My only other time to see this one was this past September at El Silencio Lodge, Bajo del Toro Amarillo, Alajuela Province. Both sightings are shown in My Scintillant Gallery. Here’s the ones from Hotel Savegre last week – CLICK to enlarge:
This third of my mountain hummingbirds found only in Costa Rica and Western Panama was a “Lifer” (1st time seen) observation this trip. Learn more on the eBird article for White-throated Mountain-gem. My gallery has only these two photos since it is new to me. As always, CLICK an image to see larger: