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Part 3:  Selva Verde Lodge

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Illustrated and Audio Bird List


Getting there...

Juan Carlos once again got me to the lodge safely, and again on the way stopped at a friend's place where he (Cope) had set up a bird observation area in his back yard, complete with feeders and a big pond!  That was a total surprise, and while the signature Bronzy Hermit didn't show, the 45 minutes we spent there added some nice birds to the trip list:  Violet-headed Hummingbird and Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer were especially cooperative, and Pale-vented Pigeon was new for the trip.  JC spotted a Green Kingfisher on the other side of the pond, and in the butter department, we had a Fuzzy-spotted Ticlear and Erato Heliconian grace us!

"Cope's Place", on the way to Selva Verde

JC introduces me to Mamon Chino, a favorite fruit amongst "ticos" (which actually came from China)!

The lodge...

The setup here was a bit different from Rancho:  unless you were staying in the Bungalows across the highway (which is very busy - watch your step!), you had to take a bit of a hike to get your morning coffee, and that wasn't ready until 5:30 (however, hot water is always available, so if you're desperate, bring some instant with you; I happened to have some hot chocolate packets which got me through).  If you can manage it, book yourself one of the rooms that overlook the river; otherwise you may be viewing the rooms across from you with a little courtyard in the middle!  (That's where I started out as the Herp Symposium was still going on when I arrived, but afterwards they moved me to one of the riverview rooms...)  If you have trouble with stairs, definitely ask for one of the riverview rooms, as it's a straight, flat walk (after the initial downhill slide from reception ☺), whereas some of the other room sets require you to climb a set of stairs (as does the restaurant).  Personally, I was in need of an extra fan, as I had a hard time cooling off in the evening (which could have been age-related - who knows), but I think for most people the overhead fans and open windows should be adequate.  I was very thankful for the covered walkways, as they provided a shady, dry vantage point for birding and buttering (this was particularly true on the "bungalow side").  The restaurant was great:  meals were served within a two-hour window (so if you wanted to spend a little extra time birding in the morning before breakfast, you could), and they were served buffet style, so you had a choice of several different entrees and self-serve salad (and they served wicked desserts as well).  I usually tried to eat along the outside "railing" that overlooked the feeders; it was during one such breakfast that a pair of Great Green Macaws flew by! 

The routine...

The routine here wasn't as structured as at Rancho:  for one, if you wanted to bird the Primary Forest on the other side of the bridge, you had to go with a local guide, because evidently some tourists got lost there sometime back and they don't want that happening again!  So the first full day there I went with Ronald (who comes highly recommended ☺), and he pretty much gave me a good template for a birding route that I ended up splitting between pre-breakfast and post-breakfast walks on subsequent days.  Then, in addition to the planned "off campus" trip to La Paz Waterfall Gardens, I caved and signed up for a boat trip down the Siripiqui River one morning!  But in general, pre-breakfast I would poke around the garden areas around the lodge buildings, which were more open and gave you better views of the bigger birds like Yellow-throated (the old "Chestnut-mandibled") Toucans, Short-billed Pigeons, and Red-lored Parrots, as well as smaller things like Cinnamon Becard, Green Honeycreeper, and Northern Barred Woodcreeper.  A Pale-billed Woodpecker had a nest hole in the area, and Orange-chinned Parakeets screeched over regularly and would even perch sometimes!  A pair of Variable Seedeaters and Passerini's Tanagers were regulars, and one morning from the suspension bridge I had both Masked and Black-crowned Tityras!  That bridge was handy, as it got you up into the canopy a little, and it was from there that Ronald was able to coax out a couple of Bay Wrens!  I usually explored the bridge later in the day, so I'll talk a little more about that later...  At breakfast it wasn't uncommon to pick up the Violet-headed Hummer that liked to hang around the bushes there, and this Louisiana Waterthrush with a funky leg would forage underneath the "breakfast bar" (Ronald said it was a return visitor from last year, as told by the funky leg...).  Once the air started heating up the raptor kettles would start, consisting mostly of Mississippi Kites and Broad-winged Hawks!

Riverview rooms and the "open area"

During a rain storm you can stay dry underneath the covered walkways!

One of the side trails around the lodge area

Pool area (can you spot the Basilisk on the other side?)

As mentioned, we only hit the Primary Forest once (post-breakfast), which was lovely, but with mainly heard-only birds, including Great Tinamou and White-collared Manakin (Ronald heard a distant Slaty-tailed Trogon that I couldn't pick up).  From the trail we could see some Black-faced Grosbeaks on the other side of the river, and the butters were more cooperative with Rusted Clearwing Satyrs and Purple-washed Eyemarks stealing the show!

Ronald leads the way in the restricted Primary Forest

Ronald introduces me to Cocoa Fruit - a sweet substance surrounds the cocoa bean from which chocolate is made!

Ronald had introduced me to the "other side" during our pre-breakfast birding, where a Scaly-breasted Hummingbird had the botanical garden staked out, and a Black-crested Coquette showed that got Ronald very excited!  That's all we explored at the time, but on subsequent mornings, this whole area would entail my "post-breakfast route": I'd first check out the hill across the street where the macaw nest box was, as orioles and tanagers often showed up in the trees, then head across the very busy street to the covered walkway.  The first scouting trip took me up the Ocelot Trail, which is a killer (the manager even chided me for attempting that one alone), so that got scratched off real fast!  The "doable" route then consisted of taking the covered walkway to the Ocelot Trail turnoff, then cutting over to the gravel road that heads up to the bungalows - this was a great trail, with a Rufous Motmot that was excavating a nest, both Gartered and Black-throated Trogons, and a pleasing Chestnut-backed Antbird singing away!  (These birds were actually easy to see along the main walkway on the way to reception...)  Once up at the Bungalows, there's a "dragonfly pond" with lots of flowers attracting butterflies, so birding effectively went out the window at this point:  Apricot Sulphurs, three kinds of sisters, and assorted grass skippers would keep one busy, along with the dragonflies if you dared to try to put a name on them with no field guide (see the Ode Page for a link to an on-line guide to Costa Rican odes)!  Even the parking lot in back of the buildings proved productive with a Variable Beautymark and a Sunset Uranus Moth!  As mentioned, the covered stairway provided shade from the sun and a great trail for finding butters, with Malachite, more sisters, and more interesting skippers showing up, and this eventually dumped back out at the Botanical Garden, where feeding flocks would come through which included Plain-colored Tanager, Yellow-crowned Euphonia, and Lesser Greenlet.  Even Costa Rica's two iconic poison dart frogs (the Strawberry "Blue Jeans" and the Green-and-black) were easy to find!

Great Green Macaw nest box with oropendolas as neighbors...

One of the few flat spots along the Ocelot Trail...

Window into the pasture at the top

Easier road to the bungalows...

Dragonfly pond

Covered walkway between the bungalows and the Botanical Garden

On one of my morning wanderings I had discovered a little butterfly garden (where the Buff-rumped Warbler pair liked to hang out), so after lunch I'd often cheat and either check out the garden (which was often loaded with both kinds of peacocks, Sara and Julia Heliconians, and cattlehearts of various types) or head over the bridge to the "Magic Butter Plant" that was just before the gate to the Primary Forest:  I have no idea what it was, but every single time I checked it out (and you were looking down at it from the bridge) there'd be something fabulous!  The first time I had a Smooth-banded Sister and Teardrop Skipper there, but when Ronald and I went over there was a female Cherry-bordered Metalmark and a Red-spotted Metalmark!  On another day both a Foxface and Sailor's Lenmark were feeding together, along with a Pointer Sister and a shiny blue-and-black thing that might have been a Greenish Grayler (that was more blue than green)!  Good birds could sometimes be had from the bridge as well:  once a big ol' Bare-throated Tiger Heron flew in, not at all bothered by the kayaker that came within feet of him (she probably didn't even see him ☺), and it was good for picking up both Southern Rough-winged and Mangrove Swallows, along with flyover Mealy Parrots.

Butterfly Garden (the better area was just the other side of the walkway)

The famous suspension bridge over the Siripiqui River

Looking west from the bridge (the heron was on the rocks on the right)

Some river-rafters head west!

Telephoto view

Looking back at the lodge area from from the entrance to the Primary Forest

The afternoon walk consisted of the Self-Guided Nature Trail, which had a few little dirt "stairs" you had to negotiate, but for the most part it was gloriously flat!  As previously mentioned, the Chestnut-backed Antbird would often say "hi" right along the sidewalk (as would the Buff-rumped Warblers on occasion), and by checking the little resaca you might spot the Black River Turtle, the Emerald Basilisk, or even the Caiman!  Once in the woods the Red-throated Ant Tanager pair would always show up, and Common Tody Flycatchers tittered unseen.  Only once did I run into a troupe of Mantled Howler Monkeys, and where the trail went right along the river you could look for Green and Ringed Kingfishers, Neotropic Cormorant, Little Blue Heron, Snowy Egret, and Spotted Sandpipers.  The trail then heads under the bridge and ends up at the back side of the restaurant, where the Central American Bullfrogs would often be croaking!  Backtracking, there was a side trail that cut under the bridge again and joined another trail that eventually connected with the back road to the restaurant.  I'd get Clay-colored Thrushes in here, but again there were more butters than birds, including the big Common Morpho!

Entrance to the self-guided trail

Canal that often held a Caiman!

Side trail that connected to the lodge area

Where the trail runs along the river

Another view past the bridge

As mentioned, I caved and signed up for the boat trip down the river (mainly in hopes of bagging a Sungrebe, and that alone was enough incentive to tempt Ronald to go along ☺), and that was good for padding the trip list; while we dipped on the Sungrebe (the captain said he hadn't seen one in three years, so it probably got eaten by a Caiman...), we did add Boat-billed Heron, Anhinga, Gray-headed Kite, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, and Muscovy Duck to the trip list, while enjoying repeat views of Bare-throated Tiger Heron and Sunbittern.  We came across a "mudding party" of Apricot, Straight-lined, and Statira Sulphurs, and later witnessed a bunch of Apricots trying to get "nourishment" from a turtle's nose!  Ronald also pointed out a lineup of Long-nosed Bats on a tree!

Siripiqui River from the boat

The turnaround point at La Selva Biological Station's famous bridge

  Part 1: Rancho Naturalista

  Part 2: Paraiso Quetzales

  Part 4: La Paz Waterfall Gardens

Illustrated and Audio Bird Lists Index Page

Butterflies and Moths

Dragonflies and Damselflies

Herps, Mammals, and Other Critters

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