Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Birder of the Year: Costa Rica, Saturday 2

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 our visit to the moth tent at Rancho Naturalista, we began birding at the front of the lodge. The trees overhead and surrounding vegetation drew Cinnamon Becard, a White-breasted Wood-Wren and other species. We continued walking down the road, decorated with cecropia leaves.

By the way, I can't recommend the rain boots in the photo above highly enough. The Chooka boots' soles provided great traction on the slippery surfaces encountered during our trip, and they kept my feet warm and dry. In fact, our guide, Alex, asked me about them because he wants to buy lightweight rain boots with good traction.

The sun continued its ascent, casting more of the terrain in bright light...

but we remained in the shadows, admiring the dense life that grows on anything and everything, like a concrete barrier on a small bridge.

We sought a White-collared Manakin, one of eight manakins that live in the Neotropics and eat mainly fruit. The male of this species makes a loud "snap" with his wings, which you can hear in some of these recordings. Alex used two rocks to replicate the sound, and his efforts eventually drew a male within view of our group. Such a dapper-looking fellow in the shadows.

The manakin's admirers, from left: Clay, Dianne, Alex, Debbie, Grace, Jim and Cali (sp?). After finding the treasure of our scavenger hunt, we returned to the lodge for breakfast, enjoying good looks at multiple Slate-throated Redstarts along the way. They make beautiful little songs, and I didn't know that it's a wood-warbler and in the same family as one of my favorites, Common Yellowthroat. That was the last of our sightings before enjoying a delicious breakfast at the lodge.

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