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Part 4:  Laguna del Lagarto Lodge

All photographs ©2018

 

This lodge was new for me, but Dennis' group visited here last year, and he wanted to spend more quality time here this time, as the ode variety was stupendous, which included their signature Amazon Sapphirewing!  We would see plenty of these beauties (unique in that they hold and move their wings at rest like no other dragon - almost more like a butterfly), but with several banana feeders around the restaurant area, the birds put on a pretty good show as well!  Before arriving at the lodge we made several stops along the way (including a restaurant/ice cream joint called "Las Iguanas" that not only had iguanas but a Crocodile in the river) where we enjoyed Northern Jacanas, Southern Lapwings, an Olive-crowned Yellowthroat, and Dennis' personal favorite, a Tropical Mockingbird!  We certainly had plenty of odes as well, including Purple Dancer and both Red-faced and Andagoya Dragonlets.

Photo ops abound at Las Iguanas!

We stopped at a little wetland that was very productive!

They had several trails in the property that I only peeked in on my last day (although one gave me Dot-winged Antwren for the trip), as they were pretty muddy and dicey; most of our hikes were done along the main entrance road (which was also rather muddy due to the rain).  As the name implies, there were lots of little lagoons around (good for Green and Ringed Kingfishers and Muscovy Ducks), and one little trail hugged one of the lagoons and then made its way back up to the upper garden area, where there was another sheltered overlook with what was probably supposed to be another bird feeder, but had become a very effective butterfly bait trap with the rotting bananas!  Some folks even took canoes out to get closer to the forest edge without having to get wet (and bagged White-fronted Nunbirds to boot)! J  Besides the Sapphirewing, some of the special odes included Peten Dasher (this was a Costa Rican record on last year's trip), Tropical Woodskimmer, Pond Amberwing, Mexican Scarlettail, and plenty of Gray-waisted Skimmers, while cool butterflies included Sara Heliconian and Smooth-banded Sister along the roads.  Good birds along the main road included heard-only Red-capped Manakins and a Black-crowned Antshrike, displaying Blue-black Grassquits, Yellow Tyrannulets, and even another Pied Puffbird!  The "butter bait" attracted mega-butters such as Tailed and Orion Cecropians, Split-banded Owlet, Variable and Red Crackers, and Spotlight Catone (to say nothing of a Chestnut-colored Woodpecker that kept coming in for a bite of rotten banana J)!  Some of us started making this spot our early morning ritual, as the dawn chorus included Green Ibis, Lineated Woodpecker, Black-faced Antthrush, Rufous Mourner, Northern Schiffornis, Bicolored Antbird, both toucans, several parrots, and even a Pale-billed Woodpecker!  The garden area had a pair of Blue-chested Hummingbirds, nesting White-ringed Flycatchers, and a pair of Red-tailed Skimmers claiming their territory, and on one occasion Sarah showed us some cool Red-legged Stink Bugs!  (Another non-ode insect that inundated the place were these huge Red-winged Lubber Grasshoppers!)  The main feeder area hosted mobs of Brown-hooded Parrots (plus a family of Collared Aracaris one day), and lesser numbers of three species of honeycreepers, three species of tanager, Montezuma Oropendola, Black-cowled Oriole, Buff-throated Saltator, and even a pair of Great Currasows; even a baby House Wren came to visit regularly!  Unfortunately the feeders were often demolished by marauding bands of Coatis... L  Nearby a Black-crowned Tityra had a nest, and one morning we had King Vultures and Scarlet Macaws right off the deck!  One evening several Short-tailed Nighthawks were batting around!

Trail map - I never got past the red dot...

Feeders with attendant Brown-hooded Parrots...

Heading down the main road on a rare sunny day!

Entrance road looking away from the lodge

Looking the other direction (note the lodge's sign)

The main lagoon, home of the Amazon Sapphirewing!

A canoe was often a good way to get close to the odes!

Dennis in the garden area

RT and Elena shoot a Pale-billed Woodpecker that came in to the garden!

View from the "Butter Bait" overlook (you can see the trail down below)

Lower trail along the lagoon

Trail to/from the garden area above

The lagoon from trail level

Trail from the upper parking area (this was the non-dicey part...)

 The accommodations were very comfortable:  I was in a bungalow that was basically two stories of four or five rooms each, and each floor had a common balcony or porch (depending on which floor you were on; I was on the upper level).  On rainy afternoons I would often take siesta on the balcony and enjoy eye-level views of Tropical Gnatcatchers and Cinnamon Becards, while Scaled Pigeons and Black-striped Sparrows sang in the distance!  The meals were served buffet style and were delicious, but that was nice as well as you could control your portions!  However, the rooms did not have coffee makers, so I brought along my own hot pot so I could make some coffee in the room (can't have QT without coffee J)!  And they do have laundry service, as did all the places we stayed at.

View from my balcony on a dreary day

We had several "off-campus" trips, mainly due to the ode-unfriendly weather, but one such trip involved visiting the Camino a San Juan Nature Reserve!  This great little place gave us a Green-and-rufous Kingfisher, a hapless female White-collared Manakin that had run into a window, and my first "seen" White-ringed Flycatchers in the bird department, while the stars of the ode show were the pretty little Caribbean Yellowfaces!  A Bird-eating Snake elicited a lot of oohs and ahhs as well!  We traversed the main road several times, where one particular hill was good for Yellow-faced Grassquits (which eBird flagged, interestingly) along with both Variable and White-collared Seedeaters.  Birds in and around the lowland fields around Boca Tapada included Northern Jacana, Long-tailed Tyrant, Mangrove Swallow, Ruddy Ground Dove, and a dark morph Short-tailed Hawk hanging with the Turkey Vultures (which is why we thought it was a Zone-tailed at first, but RT's photos proved otherwise)!  Additional birds familiar to us South Texans included Groove-billed Ani, Red-billed Pigeon, and Great Kiskadee.  Another surprise was a Purple Martin hanging out with some Gray-breasted Martins, but what really stole the show was no less than eleven King Vultures coming in to a feast that already had at least 40 Black Vultures in attendance!  Another excursion took us up to the border of Nicaragua with the highlight being a cooperative Laughing Falcon, and on another occasion Dennis found us a Banded Orange Heliconian, a Pale-banded Crescent, and a Common Ur Satyr (along with a place that sold ice cream J)!  Even the lodge manager (Adolfo) invited us to his house to enjoy his feeders, which hosted at least four kinds of hummers, plus euphonias, honeycreepers, tanagers, and even a Cocoa Woodcreeper!

On the trail at Camino a San Juan Nature Reserve

"Did you see that Magnificent Megadarner go by??"

Interesting goo that had us all scratching our heads...

Fixer-upper...

Looking into Nicaragua along the San Juan River

We'd stop at every bridge and creek in hope of odes!

"Hey, Dennis, are you sure you don't wanna buy this lot?!"

We raid a little soda so that Dennis (and the rest of us) can get his ice cream fix!

Area where we had the Yellow-faced Grassquits

Shooting the hummers at Adolfo's feeders!

  Part 1: Hotel Buena Vista & Braulio Carrillo NP

  Part 2: Selva Verde Lodge

  Part 3: La Selva Biological Station

  Part 5: Arenal Observatory Lodge

  Part 6: Return to Hotel Buena Vista

Illustrated and Audio Bird Lists Index Page

Butterflies and Moths

Dragonflies and Damselflies

Herps, Mammals, and Other Critters

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