An early, pre-beakfast birdwalk through the gardens of the Hotel Buena Vista brought our first motmot of the trip (All six Costa Rican species are possible on this trip!) We heard the blue-crowned motmot before we saw it. It's distinctive “Wut! Wut!” call alerted us to their presnece in the gardens, so it was not a surprise when one popped up in the lower branches of the Erythrina tree we had been watching Blatimore oriole, rose-breasted grosbeak and Tenessee warbler in the day before. No matter how many times I see this bird, I am always impressed at how gorgeous it is.
We also had both grayish and buff-throated saltators this morning. Saltators are thick-billed tanagers, and were for many years consider related to grosbeaks, until DNA studies revealed their close ties to tanagers.
After breakfast we headed out to the Pacific coast, on our way to Monteverde. Our first stop at an area of mangrove and salt ponds, called Punta Morales, is just north of the famous shorebird site at Chomes, but easier to reach. As we approached, anther birding group stop to talk with Richard, alerting him that “nothing special” was there today. Despite the warning, we arrived to find hundred of shorebirds on the ponds still, although we had missed their peak numbers at high tide. Most abundant were whimbrels, but marbled godwit, willets, black-necked stilts and Wilson's plover were also abundant.
After viewing all the shorebirds, we walked further into the mangrove, in search of mangrove specialists. Our bird-magnet this morning was a gumbo-limbo tree (Bursera), which attracted rose-breasted becard, brown-crested flycatcher, boat-billed flycatcher and more. We also got excellent viewings of prothonotary warbler and the local mangrove warbler (a chestnut-headed yellow warbler).
After lunch, we started the drive up to Monteverde, at the lower elevations, the dry forests gave us an opportunity to see some species that will be unlikely elsewhere, including our second motmot, turquiose-browed motmot. Our second stop began with some orange-fronted parakeets, moved quickly to motmots, and concluded with scrub euphonia and more flycatchers.
We continued up to our hotel, arriving just in time for a lieasurely hour birding before dark. As we gathered, the first bird we heard was the three-wattled bellbird, one of our target birds for this trip. RIchard managed to find it, across the valley perched on a tree top. Through binoculars only its white head was visible, but through the spotting scope you could see its chestnut body and even make out the black wattles that give the bird its name. Before calling it a day, we spent some time chasing a plain wren, which despite its name, is quite a charming little bird…when it deigns to show itself.
[caption id="" width="500" align="aligncenter" caption="Male Rose-throated Becard, Photo Nancy Hager"][/caption]