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Fitness and Photography for Fun - A blog on staying fit by hiking and doing photography by David Mendosa

Birding Rancho Naturalista

April 26th, 2013 · No Comments

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The least common bird that I was able to photograph on the Caribbean slope of Costa Rica was the Sunbittern. I had seen one two years ago at Canopy Lodge in Panama, but didn’t appreciate it or understand why it has the name it does until nearly the end of my tour of Costa Rica.

Late one afternoon, Glenn guided us to a roaring creek where he had seen them earlier. Here below are all the important members of our tour group watching this bird. From left, Sharon, Niño with Don’s camera, Glenn with one of mine, Win (partially blocked), Don, Jo (partially blocked), Joan, and Bill.

Avid Birders Who See a Bird

Avid Birders Who See a Bird

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How a Sunbittern (Eurpyga helias) Usually Appears, When It Does

How a Sunbittern (Eurpyga helias) Usually Appears, When It Does

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When the Sunbittern Jumps, its Colors Begin to Appear

When the Sunbittern Jumps, its Colors Begin to Appear

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But When the Sunbittern Flies, We Can See the "Sun"

But When the Sunbittern Flies, We Can See the "Sun"

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Another dramatic bird is the araçari. We had seen the fiery-billed species at the beginning of the trip, but this was a new one for us in Costa Rica.

A Collared Araçari (Pteroglossus torquatus) Perches in a Tall Tree Beside a Trail

A Collared Araçari (Pteroglossus torquatus) Perches in a Tall Tree Beside a Trail

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We all appreciated the next big bird that sometimes came around to the feeders in the Rancho Naturalista gardens. And we also appreciated its name and the way that Glenn always pronounced its family name with rolling r’s.

This is a Montezuma Oropendola (Psaracolius montezuma)

This is a Montezuma Oropendola (Psaracolius montezuma)

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This Brown Jay (Cyanocorax cucullata) Also Visited the Lodge's Gardens

This Brown Jay (Cyanocorax cucullata) Also Visited the Lodge's Gardens

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I Found this Green Honeycreeper (Chlorophanes spiza) When I Visited the Lodge Owner, John Erb, in his Garden

I Found this Green Honeycreeper (Chlorophanes spiza) When I Visited the Lodge Owner, John Erb, in his Garden

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All of these birds have a special sort of beauty. But I doubt if anyone (except another bird of the same species) would call the one below beautiful. I include it because it is so hard to see when it perches, looking very much like an extension of the tree. This fairly uncommon bird unfairly has the word “common” in its name.

This is the So-called Common Potoo (Nyctibius grieseus) -- In Fact, It's Two of Them, Including the Baby on the Mother's Back

This is the So-called Common Potoo (Nyctibius grieseus) -- In Fact, It's Two of Them, Including the Baby on the Mother's Back

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Rancho Naturalista also was the best place to see hummingbirds. They were all around the feeders and flowers. Of the 26 species we saw on the trip, we saw 15 species of hummingbirds at Rancho Naturalista. That’s more than half of all the hummingbird species in the country.

Hummingbirds were so easy to see at this ecolodge that one afternoon when I was minding my own business as I checked my email in the main building, I got a visitor. A hummingbird had flown in through one of the many open doors and couldn’t find its way out. I tried to point it to the door, and when that didn’t work, I tried the next best thing. I shot it.

My Shot of a White-necked Jacobin (Florisuga mellivora) Trying to Get Through a Window

My Shot of a White-necked Jacobin (Florisuga mellivora) Trying to Get Through a Window

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Finally, I found Lisa’s husband, Mario. He says this happens all the time, and he captured this little bird in both hands and took it outside.

This Black-crested Coquette (Lophornis helenae) Stayed Where It Belongs

This Black-crested Coquette (Lophornis helenae) Stayed Where It Belongs

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A Male Green-breasted Mango (Anthracothorax prevostii) Hovers

A Male Green-breasted Mango (Anthracothorax prevostii) Hovers

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The Female of the Same Species Prepares to Land

The Female of the Same Species Prepares to Land

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With this we also had to prepare to land back home. Our trip was an unqualified success in every way. We saw 333 identified species of the 800 species found on the mainland of Costa Rica that Richard Garrigues and Robert Dean included in their Birds of Costa Rica book. We had a great guide, driver, and tour companions. We all had a great time.

We ate very well too. In fact, I wouldn’t have been surprised if I had gained up to five pounds. But because of all our exercise my weight went down from 156 to 153.8 pound in the 12 days I was away from home.

During the time I was away from Boulder, late season storms dumped a total of 36 inches of snow on half of the days. In Costa Rica it didn’t snow once! This was a good time to be away from home and a great time to be in Costa Rica.

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