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Part 3:  La Selva Biological Station

All photographs ©2018


We dedicated one full day to visiting the famous La Selva Biological Station, which I had first visited with a VENT group way back in 1983 (I think it was), and except for the little bridge and the slatted boardwalks, nothing really looked familiar!  But there were lots of eager students and future biologists there, and after we signed our lives away we headed out with Joel, our local guide.

Ramon readies the bus for our adventure!

We started out in some residential areas where we had several flycatcher species, plus a Masked Tityra that sounded off, but then crossed the famous suspension bridge where we had both Smoky and Redstripe Rubyspot, plus a Two-toed Sloth!  (There was a bit of a debate on that one, as it was showing three toes, but come to find out both species show three toes on the hind legs…)  We then went into a little wetland where we had lots of Black Dashers (very unique with their orange abdomen spot), a Costa Rican Wedgetail, a Tikal Spreadwing, and a Caiman!  It started dripping, so we headed back (they didn’t want you in the woods when it was raining, so the same thing didn’t happen to you that happened to that poor lady at Braulio Carillo).  When it let up we went down one of those two-slatted walks that eventually turned into a bona fide boardwalk, only it had collapsed down the trail! 

On the famous suspension bridge over the Saripiqui River

Another little creek

The gang stops short where the boardwalk collapsed!

On the way back it started pouring, so we found shelter under a “real” shelter until it let up (I think it was here someone found a female Dusky Dancer) and we continued on.  Back in the residential area we had a treefull of Olive-backed Euphonias, and when we finally made it back to the mess hall, a White-collared Manakin was snapping!  Most of us got a glimpse (I was busy recording the thing), but the real stars were the honeycreepers:  Shining gave great views, the best I had ever seen!  (Little did I know…)

Ann and Jay solve the problems of the world during the downpour...

We had lunch, but were soon distracted by a Crested Guan and Chestnut-colored Woodpecker in the same tree (a Cinnamon also called for good measure)!  A female Great Currasow emptied the place, and just before Dennis et al were about to go up the entrance road, the heavens opened!  The "oders" were a little nonplussed, but we birders actually had a great time:  a sopping Green Honeycreeper came in, Tom spotted a Red-legged Honeycreeper, and both Rufous-tailed Hummers and Passerini’s Tanagers took baths!  Golden-hooded Tanagers were chattering and finally showed themselves, and Clay-colored Thrushes were all over.

When it finally let up we all went up the entrance road; Tom, Lora, and a couple of others lingered trying to ID stuff in this particular tree (I was hearing a euphonia that was either Elegant or White-vented), when someone yelled, “Snowy Cotinga!”  I was thrilled as I had missed the ones Nancy et al saw on the way in, but when I got on the bird, I thought it looked small, and when it shifted it turned out to be a Blue-gray Tanager in bad light… L  But a Band-backed Wren sang during all this, and down the road a Black-throated Wren sang right on the money (i.e., just like the recording)!  But would he come out??  Of course not (and he was right there as well)!

By that time we had caught up with the group and they were literally heading into the swamp; some of us held back, and someone thought they were hearing a jacamar, but it sounded too high-pitched to me.  When I found the culprit high in a tree it clicked:  Pied Puffbird, which was a lifer for Tom! J  We also heard Dusky Antbird in the distance, and a Rufous-winged Woodpecker came in and called nicely!  I braved the swamp and managed a Red-mantled Dragonlet, and a familiar Band-winged Dragonlet that I never got around to shooting... 

Some of the crew braves calf-deep water to find some cool odes!

It started to drip again, so we ran for cover, enjoying a Long-tailed Tyrant and a Cinnamon Becard on a wire!  The bus actually came down and picked us up, so we headed home from there. 

  Part 1: Hotel Buena Vista & Braulio Carrillo NP

  Part 2: Selva Verde Lodge

  Part 4: Laguna del Lagarto Lodge

  Part 5: Arenal Observatory Lodge

  Part 6: Return to Hotel Buena Vista

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