Birder of the Year: Costa Rica 1
As 2008 Birder of the Year, Connie Kogler of Loveland, Colo., received a Swarovski 8x32 EL binocular and an expenses-paid five-day trip for two to Costa Rica with Swarovski and WildBird hosts. She also received a Swarovski squall jacket as well as “The Songs of Wild Birds” by Lang Elliott and the fifth edition of “Peterson Field Guide to Birds of North America,” provided by Houghton Mifflin.
Connie, her husband Al, Clay Taylor of Swarovski Optik and I flew to Costa Rica in early June to bird for four days with Clay's Costa Rican colleague, Alex Villegas. Aided by our driver, Rafael, we covered a fair bit of ground starting on June 10.
From my window seat, I could see the sunrise as our 12:30 a.m. flight from Denver approached San Jose (SJO). Connie, Al and I flew south on the same plane, making it easy for Clay, Alex and Rafael to collect us and begin our adventure. In the trusty Kia Bongo III, we emerged from morning traffic and traveled northeast through Braulio Carrillo National Park before stopping for breakfast.
The delicious buffet included fresh fruit and filling vittles that revived our sleep-deprived bodies. Then we began birding in the parking lot of course! I enjoyed peeks at Palm Tanager, Tropical Kingbird, Blue-gray Tanager and Social Flycatcher before we piled in and continued on the highway.
In Puerto Viejo de Sarapiquí, we stopped at Posada Andrea Cristina to collect Alex Martinez, a dynamic and energetic fellow. Alex told us about his work to conserve trees for Great Green Macaws and led us to a site where we might see the endangered parrots.
Along the road, we stopped to look more closely at Bare-throated Tiger-Heron, Orange-chinned Parakeet and the long, hanging nests built by Montezuma Oropendola. Such a cool species with its two-toned bill.
Then we trooped off into the fresh green land to see if we could find some macaws. During our quest, we also spied Tropical Pewee, Wedge-billed Woodcreeper, Common Tody-Flycatcher, Thick-billed Seed-Finch...
Piratic Flycatcher, Black-cheeked Woodpecker, Blue-black Grassquit, Passerini's Tanager, Groove-billed Ani, Great Kiskadee, White-winged Becard, Violaceous Trogon... and then
Alex found a tree (not above) in which many macaws were feeding. Oh my word! I soaked in good looks at three elusive creatures as they maneuvered through the branches. A sudden commotion sent the birds into the air -- four away from us and four across our field of view. What magnificent colorful parrots!
Thrilled with our luck, we also spied Masked Tityra and enjoyed a little more time with Alex Martinez before resuming our journey. Different habitat and new species awaited us!
Labels: Birder of the Year