Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Birder of the Year: Costa Rica, Thursday 4

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.

Even before eating lunch at Savegre Mountain Hotel in San Gerardo de Dota, we added some hummingbirds with fun names to our day list... but let me back up. At 7,220 feet, Savegre sits in the cloud forest but nestled in a valley next to Rio Savegre. We visited the hotel during last year's Birder of the Year trip, so I eagerly anticipated our return.

The grounds near the office, restaurant, patio and bar have been planted to lure hummingbirds. A sugarwater feeder on the patio creates an ongoing show for fans of the avian Napoleons.

Back to the beginning: Even before eating lunch, we enjoyed better looks at Green Violet-ears, including when the males spar at feeders and flare their ear tufts...

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

and added White-throated Mountain-gem to our day list. Isn't that a fun name? Hummingbirds south of the United States often sport fanciful names like Green-crowned Brilliant or Violet-crowned Woodnymph or Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer -- all of which we saw before the end of our trip.

After lunch, we birded for a bit, caught a glimpse of an Emerald Toucanet and enjoyed longer looks of Yellow-thighed Finch and Ruddy-capped Nightingale-Thrush:

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

The hotel added a bar and lounge since our visit in June 2009, and it looked very inviting and comfortable. One aspect that really caught my eye is the stained-glass Resplendant Quetzal.

During our previous visit, we enjoyed very good looks at a quetzal as it masticated and then ate a lizard. Would we be as fortunate this year?

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