A year ago (November 2018), Kathy and I took a Road Scholar birding trip to Costa Rica: “Birding in Southern Costa Rica: Motmots and Quetzals”. It was fabulous! So, we decided that, this fall, we should do the other Costa Rica birding trip: “Birding in Northern Costa Rica: Tanagers to Toucans” (Nov. 2-12, 2019). It, too, was fabulous. Our group consisted of 11 personable older people – all enthusiastic birders and/or photographers, along with our initial guide Gilbert Molina (aka Chito) and the apprentice guide Cali. Both individuals were master birders. As to the photography that follows – the camera I used is a Nikon Coolpix P900, a superzoom that zooms to 83X. The photographs range from sharply focused to considerably less so, but all serve the larger purpose of documenting as fully as possible the birds we saw, which totaled 300 species. Also, in that regard, I have happily…
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Caño Negro, Days 3 & 4
We left Selva Verde on the morning of Day 3, headed north to Refugio Caño Negro, which is located close to the border between Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Caño Negro more or less translates as “black creek”, and is a wetland that contains rivers and lakes (lagunas), and is part of the Caribbean lowlands. We made a stop at a restaurant located at the crossroads of Muelle San Carlos, which restaurant advertises itself as an iguana reserve. Upon our arrival, the management brought out an array of fruits and vegetables, which immediately attracted a crowd of iguanas.
A good-looking lizard!
We made a few more roadside stops as birds were sighted, along with a boa that was displayed to us. The dirt road that led to the Refugio had lots of birds.
Bare-throated tiger heron
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On the morning of Day 7 we left Arenal for La Ensenada, which is located on the upper eastern shore of the Gulf of Nicoya. On the way, we passed through the town of Tilaran.
At gas station in Tilaran
Huge spreading acacia and cabins at La Ensenada
Gulf of Nicoya, view to the south, with Nicoya Peninsula to the right
Our first outing was a boat ride a short distance to the north, into the mangrove estuary that fringed the shoreline
Brown pelicans, by Tom Peterson
Local folks out for a Sunday boat ride
same as above
same as above
Juvenile frigatebird, by Tom Peterson
Low tide in the mangroves, with crabs covering the muddy surface
Little blue heron
Resident yellow warbler (aka Mangrove warbler), by Tom Peterson
Osprey, by Tom Peterson
Crocodile, on the rocks close to the landing
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From Caño Negro, we returned south, to the the crossroads at Muelle, and then turned west. We climbed to La Fortuna, where we had lunch, and then circled around the north side of Arenal volcano, to the Arenal Observatory Lodge, which sits just south of the volcano. The volcano is no longer active, but the La Fortuna area is a tourist hub, and very busy.
On the way:
Laughing falcon, by Tom Peterson
Stopping to shop. That’s me (Steve) in the pink shirt, by Tom Peterson
At the hotel:
By Tom Peterson
Arenal Volcano. Cloud cover never allowed a glimpse of the summit of Arenal Volcano while we were there.
Cloud forest (in the clouds)
Clouds obscure the view of Arenal Lake
Arenal Lake is a large reservoir
The hotel was surrounded by cloud forest and beautiful grounds. An elaborate fruit feeder was positioned a few yards from the viewing…
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I recently spotted two bluebirds in a parking lot on the UC Davis campus – and one was banded! I was able to see its color band combo and find it in our records. She was banded as a nestling in June of 2018 in the Arboretum. I could only get a photo of the other bluebird, though, and it didn’t have bands.
Western bluebird in a tree on the UC Davis campus
It’s tricky to get useful (let alone high-quality) photos of songbirds. If a better, bulkier camera isn’t an option, a phone camera used with binoculars can work pretty well. There are also affordable telephoto phone lens attachments out there, which is what I’ve been trying out lately. I’m hoping it’ll be a more portable option for quick bird photos.
A male banded Western Bluebird was seen recently near the UCD Equestrian Center, and this one was the brother of the banded female I posted about last time! Both birds were banded with the same color combo in June of 2018 in the Arboretum. This seems to be our only record of two bluebirds from the same brood being seen again after fledging from the nest. [Correction: One other pair of broodmates have been seen again, both from the Arboretum as well. One was seen there again two years later while the other was found further west at our Picnic Grounds site.]
Adult Tree Swallow with silver leg band visible, May 2019.
Since Tree Swallows have been easier to catch than bluebirds, we do have several records of multiple Tree Swallows of the same brood identified again after fledging. Some were found near each other in the same…
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