This is the seventh post in a series documenting my Costa Rica birding trip from March14-28, 2015. To read the previous post, click here: Costa Rica Trip Report (Part VI) – A Day in the Life
Some days on a tropical birding trip are just more memorable than others, and this day happened to be one of them. That’s not to dis any of the days – they were each memorable, productive, exciting, and fun. This day was just kicked up a notch due to an unexpected sighting and the phrase “Forget the horses,” which none of the tour participants will ever forget. But, I’m getting ahead of myself…….
We woke for the last time at the Celeste Mountain Lodge; today, March 21st, 2015, we would be saying goodbye to heaven. If I haven’t made it clear yet, Celeste Mountain Lodge was a place I wanted to stay. So much so, that I did inquire with the owners about a job. But alas, I’m back in Wisconsin. Our guide Richard had tried to reserve rooms for a third night at this lodge, but they were already booked. So after some morning birding and one final delicious lunch, we’d be headed 15 minutes down the road to Heliconias Lodge.
After some coffee and a bit of birding at the lodge feeders, we headed back across the street to the properties reserve for a pre-breakfast walk where we got excellent looks at a Dull-Mantled Antbird and fleeting looks at a Gray-chested Dove.
We returned to Celeste for breakfast and as would be expected, some birding at their feeders.
After breakfast we returned to the nearby road which we birded the day before. When we went to board the bus, an extremely tame White-Nosed Coati was wandering around the driveway. Michael learned just how sharp their claws are as it stood on it’s hind legs and put it’s front paws on his leg, like a friendly dog would. Quickly backing away, Michael let us know just how sharp they were, and he had the small hole in his pants to testify to it!
Although Michael & Nancy spent most their time birding, they were also on a family vacation as Nancy’s husband Lance and daughter Amanda were along for the tour. Most days while we were birding, Lance and Amanda would be off on their own excursions like visiting waterfalls, ziplining, or simply lounging around the lodge or pool. On this morning they were off doing a horseback ride, but little did we know they’d be following the same road we were birding. Around the bend comes Amanda and Lance – with Lance in a memorable pink helmet. Most of us were watching them when Richard uttered those now famous words – “Forget the horses!!” Those words were followed by Umbrellabird and immediately the horses were forgotten.
The Bare-necked Umbrellabird is endemic to Costa Rica and western Panama and is officially listed as endangered. According to Birdlife.org, the breeding population in Costa Rica is estimated at 190-330 mature individuals. Along with Panama’s population, the global population for the Bare-necked Umbrellabird is placed at 1,000-2,499 mature individuals. Stated another way – this is a hard bird to see and likely the rarest I’ve ever seen if global populations are below 2,500 individuals!
Forgetting the horses was easy as this usually hard to see bird sat content in a nearby tree for a good 7-10 minutes. Everyone in the group got excellent looks and Tom shot some amazing video through his scope. This bird deserves some love…..
I was also able to capture some video through my camera:
With smiles all around after getting killer looks of the Bare-necked Umbrellabird, we boarded the bus in route to another nature reserve. Along the way we found one of my target birds for the trip – Bat Falcon.
We also crossed a river where the water runs blue…….
Once at the nature reserve we were treated to some great looks at a host of birds and flowers. Although I didn’t get a photo of it, one of the highlights was hearing and seeing a nearby Laughing Falcon!
It’s kind of fun traveling with the guide that everyone wants to have!! Multiple times throughout the trip Richard stopped to autograph copies of his book – and not just for birders, the other guides were also after signed copies!
After saying goodbye to the Celeste Mountain Lodge for the last time, we were off down the road to Heliconias Lodge.
One of the benefits of lodging at Heliconias is the hiking trails located right on the property. We spent the afternoon exploring these trails, which includes three suspension bridges – one of them a double bridge which wraps around a large tree.
I know the photo below doesn’t do the bird justice, but at Heliconias we ticked off our 7th trogon in 7 days! And with the Resplendent Quetzal it was our 8th species from the Trogonidae family in the first week! Could we complete a trogon slam? Although there are two other trogons found in Costa Rica that we had yet to see, one was out of range from our tour, so that left just one more to find over the next 7 days. If you’re one of those inquiring minds that wants to know whether we got it, well you’ll just have to keeping following these trip reports to find out.
I thought it would be nearly impossible to compete with our bird of the day – the 10 minute looks of a very cooperative Bare-necked Umbrella bird – but Richard found a way to try; ant swarm #2!! Some tours never come across a single army ant swarm and here we were enjoying our second. A couple of the birds brought in by the swarm:
Bare-necked Umbrellabird, a second ant swarm, Laughing and Bat Falcons, if there is one thing this tour didn’t do, it’s disappoint! Spoiler alert – we’ll be leaving this area of Costa Rica in the next trip report; whole new terrain, lots of photos, and some magnificent birds! Bird It Up!
Since I’m sharing only a small portion of my photos, and since those only represent a small fraction of what we saw, below is a list of other notable species from day 7: