Friday, June 11, 2010

Birder of the Year: Costa Rica, Friday 3

Background info: WildBird offers its readers a really neat opportunity in every issue. The magazine poses to two questions in each issue, readers can respond to one or both, selected replies appear in a future issue, and one of those respondents receives prizes from Swarovski Optik and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt -- and the chance to win a Swarovski binocular and a trip to a birding hotspot as Birder of the Year. We've been fortunate enough to offer a trip to Costa Rica for three years, and the 2009 Birder of the Year recently returned from her trip.

As 2009 Birder of the Year, Dianne Patterson of Columbus, Miss., 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 “Peterson Field Guide to Birds of North America” from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Dianne, her husband Jim, Clay Taylor of Swarovski Optik and I flew to Costa Rica in late May to bird with Clay's Costa Rican colleague, Alex Villegas. Aided by our driver, Rafael, we covered a fair bit of ground starting May 27.


Click on an image to see a larger version.


After feasting our eyes on the Resplendent Quetzal, we continued the drive away from Savegre Mountain Hotel and San Gerardo de Dota. Rafael piloted the bus north and east toward our next lodging: Rancho Naturalista, located east of San Jose and Turrialba.

New to the site, I immediately felt comfortable. The friendly staff put us at ease, the main house looked wonderful, the patio offered the perfect location to eat and watch birds -- and did we watch birds!



From that patio and the upper veranda, we enjoyed close looks at gobs of species, drawn to the foliage, the fresh bananas and orange halves supplied by the lodge's staff, and the many sugarwater feeders strung along the veranda.



These two images give you an idea of the enticements that lured the birds into view. The two manzanita feeders held lots of cut fruit, as did two platform feeders in the yard. A ground-level birdbath provided some fun moments, and the bougainvillea growing along the veranda served as a perching station for many hummingbirds.



Here's a quick peek at the hummingbird action at one feeder -- one of seven hanging along the veranda. Can you identify the various species, including the female Green-breasted Mango?



Did you catch her? Clay captured a female with her tail feathers spread and her dark median stripe in full view. Her underparts look considerably different from the male of the species.

All photos by Clay Taylor/Swarovski Optik Digiscoping.
Created with a Swarovski Optik STM 80 HD scope
with 20-60x eyepiece and Pentax K-x D-SLR with 50mm lens


Here's a male mango. Note his dark bill and the maroon look of his tail. Those field marks help us distinguish Green-breasted Mango...


from Rufous-tailed Hummingbird, which also shows a green back and breast but has a lighter bill and a -- surprise! -- rufous tail.


In the video above, you likely noted the hummingbirds with rufous tails as well as the ones with white tails, often flared. Those little dynamos, White-necked Jacobins, might've been the numerous hummers in my view. Although we saw them mainly at the feeders, they also catch insects in mid-air, according to Richard Garrigues.


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