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Part 2:  Paraiso Quetzales

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Illustrated and Audio Bird List


What an adventure!  I like to take one day during a week-long stay at a lodge to go somewhere "off campus" that has different birds, and Lisa really encouraged me to take the trip up to Paraiso Quetzales for some high-altitude species (and I think she kinda wanted to go, too ☺)!  We took off around 5:30 (they served cold cereal that was some of the best I’ve ever had), and she took me the back way to Cartago, which avoided Turrialba and gave us great looks at the smoking volcano!  Got the only Rock Pigeon of the trip on the way...

Jorge from Paraiso Quetzales was gonna meet us at the last reported quetzal place; apparently the locals are very protective of “their” quetzals and they have a network going as to where they are at any given time!  Lisa pulled into this big pullout along the Pan American Highway, and we stepped out to wait; heard Long-tailed Silky Flycatchers right away, but it wasn’t long before Jorge showed up, so we dived back into the jeep and followed him to this very scenic spot where he poked along a well-used little trail along the ridge of a hill, and while he looked (with the local farmer who had alerted him) I logged Rufous-browed Peppershrike, Slaty Flowerpiercer, Flame-colored Tanager (that shot across the road), and a hummer that Jorge thought was Volcano, but I thought I saw a flash of a red gorget (which would indicate Scintillant), so I let it go.  We were enjoying the view when suddenly Jorge spotted a female quetzal, so we scrambled down and enjoyed her for awhile, and then a male few in!  Jorge found a better vantage point from the road, so again we got great views (the Powershot took some great pics)!  In addition, we also added Mountain Thrush, Black-cheeked Warbler, Ochraceous Wren, Collared Redstart, and tons of Wilson’s Warblers!  I got a glimpse of a large hummer with an outstanding white throat patch that Lisa called as White-throated Mountaingem – seeing as I couldn’t make it into anything else, I went ahead and counted it!  Before heading to Paraiso a flock of Barred Parakeets screeched over.

Scene where we initially pulled over along the Pan American Highway

Lisa, Jorge, and the farmer who alerted him to the quetzal spot...

Spot from where we saw most of our high-altitude specialties along the PAH

Views from where we parked

Jorge hikes the ridge trying to call out a quetzal...

On to Paraiso we went, and I was very impressed with the place!  Stepping out of the car a group of Sooty-capped Chlorospinguses (or is that chlorospingii??) worked their way through a hedge, and the feeders were great:  in your face looks at Fiery-throated and Magnificent Hummers, plus a couple of Lesser Violetears, but the stars were the Yellow-thighed Finches that raided the hummer feeders!  Large-footed Finches and Rufous-crowned Sparrows were feeding below (the former really are quite towhee-like), and heard a nightingale thrush of some kind but never saw it.  We walked down to the lower feeders that had more of the same (plus more Silkies and a great look at the local race of Hairy Woodpecker), but then the rain came, and it never really let up – it kept going strong the rest of the day, even back at Rancho!  One of the owners came to our rescue and brought us a couple of umbrellas, and on the way back up Lisa pointed out a Sooty Thrush!

View from the deck

The deck (during the downpour)

This is a popular place for families as well as birders, as photo ops abound!

View from the lower feeder area

We had a great lunch, I bought a couple of souvenirs, and after more photo shoots at the feeders (one Mag in particular was enjoying his shower) and a warm-up by the fire (Lisa especially liked that J), we decided to take off.  I wish I had tried to get some recordings (I did manage to get the violetear on “tape”), because the Mags there really do sound (and look) quite different from our Arizona birds, and the rain kept us from checking out the other trails and seeing the nicer cabañas, so we dipped on some other potential high-altitude stuff, but that’s the way it goes sometimes…

Magnificent Hummingbird enjoying the rain

As the clouds and the rain roll in...

...we retreat to the lodge and its fireplace!

On the way back we stopped at a little store so Lisa could pick up some furniture she had been eyeing, while I sat by a spot where they had some bird food thrown out, as I had noticed a Clay-colored Thrush and Rufous-collared Sparrows coming in.  Continuing on we stopped at a couple of places where we picked up Southern Lapwing, Groove-billed Ani, meadowlarks, and some swallows (I think the only thing we could positively ID was Southern Rough-winged), plus a Least Grebe at Cachi Reservoir, but it was really too wet for most stuff.  I did decide to get out when Lisa found the Fasciated Tiger Herons at the foot of the entrance road!  Fabulous birds!

  Part 1: Rancho Naturalista

  Part 3: Selva Verde Lodge

  Part 4: La Paz Waterfall Gardens

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