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Costa Rica 2019

Part 2:  Irazu Volcano & Ujarras

All photographs ©2019

Illustrated and Audio Bird List


Long story short, when I first arranged this trip, I thought it would be a crime not to at least try for the endemic Cabanis' Ground Sparrow, so Sonia set me up with Vernon Campos, a wonderful guide who has also acted as local guide for various Field Guides tours!  Irazu got added at Kevin Easley's (the owner of CRG) insistence when my friend Pat was thinking of coming along and whose sole target was the Wrenthrush!  She had to bail, but after Kevin's description of Irazu with a handful of potential lifers for myself, I decided to keep that part of the itinerary!

We left the hotel at 5:30, sharing several guiding stories on the way, and headed to Irazu first.  Had Red-billed Pigeons and Mourning Doves on the way up (I thought maybe that was my first Costa Rican MODO but it turns out we had it at Santa Rosa on the VENT trip back in 1983), then went down a side road to troll for Buffy-crowned Wood Partridge.  One responded beautifully for a recording, and we also had great audio ops of Large-footed Finch and Black-capped Flycatcher!  Sooty Thrushes were all over.

Heading up to Irazu

Buffy-crowned Wood Partridge spot

Continuing on, we stopped at a bridge to troll for Wrenthrush and got three to respond, but they never showed (at least I got a decent recording…).  A pretty Black-cheeked Warbler decided to show instead, along with a Black-billed Nightingale Thrush.  By playing the Costa Rican Pygmy Owl tape, we got great looks at Hairy Woodpecker, Yellow-winged Vireo, and Flame-throated Warbler!  Lots of Ochraceous Wrens were calling and singing, but only one actually showed.

"Wrenthrush Bridge"

Vernon trolls for high-altitude specialties

We turned off just before the park entrance, where the fog and wind met us, but had great looks at Sooty-capped Chlorospingus, plus a cute baby Timberline Wren that fluttered in, but the stars of the show were the Volcano Juncos that gave great looks!  

The domain of the Volcano Junco!

Rolled down the hill to Ujarras, picking up a pair of Crested Caracaras that interestingly got flagged by eBird as rare!  Our focus was the coffee plantations that the Cabanis’ Ground Sparrows like, and Vernon worked hard for that thing; their contact note sounds just like an Olive Sparrow, and he kept glimpsing them, but finally I saw a head well enough to ID it!  At the same spot we added Gray and Short-tailed Hawks, vultures, “Passerini’s” and White-lined Tanagers, lots of Cabanis’ Wrens (singing but not showing), a Yellow-green Vireo, both “Black” and Morelet’s Seedeater, a Tropical Gnatcatcher, and an unseen Bananaquit singing its wheezy song (that Vernon confirmed for me; ironically I would not see one the entire trip, but would hear many along the way)!  He also confirmed the pewee on the wire as a Tropical (makes it easy this time of year)!

Tracking down the obstinate Cabanis' Ground Sparrow!

Ironically, they love coffee plantations!

There was one more spot he wanted to try, so after playing bumper cars with the weekend warriors at the actual ruins, we trolled another coffee plantation where the little bugger actually came out in the open!  Poor Vernon was practically jumping out of his skin because I either couldn’t see where he was pointing or looking in the wrong spot, but when I finally did get on the bird I opted to try and shoot it, and shoot blindly I did, ending up with fuzzy “proof shots” (not going on eBird or this website by a longshot), but hey – we got it!!  I also got a life butter when Vernon pointed out a Rusty-tipped Page, and what I narrowed down to a Falcate Metalmark landed on a leaf next to us.  A Black-headed and Buff-throated Saltator sitting together was kinda fun, too, and a distant Ringed Kingfisher called that I had written off as a grackle!

Another plantation near the ruins

He had a stakeout place for Tropical Screech and Barn Owls, so we headed for Paraiso City Park, where a drum corps made up of young kids was performing!  The Crimson-fronted Parakeets didn’t seem to mind the decibel level (it actually kinda made you wanna dance J) as they posed for wonderful shots, not something they often do!  When Vernon found the screech owl, I was amazed he could sleep through that (the owl, not Vernon)!  We went over to the church to get the Barn Owls (I think Vernon got a kick out of my comment that I needed them for the year J), and with them was a big dragonfly!  It was tough getting a sharp picture in that low light situation; my best guess was Masked Sanddragon, but my "go to" Ode Guy Dennis Paulson felt it was a sylph of some kind.  I was able to come up with a slightly clearer video grab (but not by much), and after a little digging Dennis narrowed it down to Ivory-striped Sylph (fuzzy picture is on the Ode Page).

Paraiso City Park

After that it was on to Savegre!

  Part 1: Hotel Bougainvillea

  Part 3: Savegre Lodge

  Part 4: Bosque del Tolomuco

  Part 5: Talari Mountain Lodge

  Part 6: Los Cusingos

 Illustrated and Audio Bird Lists


 Dragonflies and Damselflies

 Herps, Mammals, and Other Critters

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