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Costa Rica 2019

Part 6:  Los Cusingos

All photographs ©2019

  Illustrated and Audio Bird List

Carlos #2 (aka Junior) actually arranged for a guide (also named Carlos, so we referred to him as “Carlos #3” J) to take me to Los Cusingos, and he was great!  He and his brother Noel started Tropical Feathers, and lead all sorts of tours!  But he really knew his stuff and particularly his vocalizations, so that was really helpful (and he quizzed me a lot, too, all in good fun); I shared how I got into birding and especially ear-birding, and it turns out he’s also a musician and played percussion in an orchestra!   

Needless to say we ended up yapping a lot on the trails J, but on the way there he spotted a Tropical Mockingbird on the wire who suddenly started feeding its grown baby, and on the entrance road we had a point blank “Black-breasted” Seedeater that posed for pics!  He thought all three of my life targets (that had been reported on Birds-Eye; I should have looked at the complete checklist to let him know of other potential lifers) were reasonable, so I was hopeful!

We pulled up to the entrance where the two rangers/guides were stationed (they all knew each other apparently) and I paid my entrance fee, where they gave me two books on Alexander Skutch for free!  Unfortunately they weren’t stocking the feeders, so it sounded like we’d have to work for our birds.  Somewhere I read that the trails were easy, and they certainly were; no worries about losing your balance and falling here!  We took a wooded trail that led to the garden where Skutch’s house is (and where he’s actually buried); along the way Carlos pointed out a Blue-black Grosbeak and Orange-billed Sparrow singing, plus a Tawny-crowned Greenlet doing its high-pitched call!  In the clearing (and the woods) we actually picked up a lot of new birds for the trip:  he showed me a Long-billed Starthroat perched high (posing just like the one 35 years ago J), and one hummer with white outer tail feathers got away – he had seen a Purple-crowned Fairy that I missed, so that might have been what it was.  While trolling for the Spot-crowned Euphonia a Black-throated Trogon sang, and a Cocoa Woodcreeper called and eventually showed.  He also confirmed a version of the Scaly-breasted Hummer’s song that was confusing me, and while he went running back to the car for his amplifier, I tracked down a heliconian that finally landed, and I was sure we had something new, but it turned out to be the Pacific race of the Sara…  Lots of morphos batted around, too.

Entrance station with rangers

Carlos (right) and friend

Trail to Skutch's garden

Skutch's "front yard"

His burial site

Once he got back he started trolling for Charming Hummer (another target), but I suddenly heard the euphonia, and Carlos actually found him for a three-point media blitz (photo, video, and recording J)!  From there we headed into the woods, and the trails were much better than what I remember 35 years ago!  We heard more than we saw:  Masked Tityra, both Chestnut-backed and Bicolored Antbirds (took me a minute on that one), Black-faced Antthrush, Dot-winged Antwren, Green Shrikevireo (that was one of the quiz birds J), Bright-rumped Attila, Yellow-bellied Tyrannulet, Short-billed Pigeon, and Slaty-tailed Trogon were the no-see-ums, but a few things gave us looks:  Rufous Piha, Red-capped Manakin, and best of all, a male Blue-crowned Manakin!  Carlos worked hard for the Baird’s Trogon (target #3), and he said he briefly heard it, but it never responded.  Somewhere along the trail he pointed out the Walking Palm with its thorny roots, and shared the story of how he lost his balance and fell against one of those things and ended up with 30-something cuts on his arm! 

Woodland trail

Video clip of Carlos's tale of the Walking Palm that ripped his arm to shreds!

My fold-up stool gave out (the bottom thingie got stuck in the mud, which broke the thingie that secures the bungie cord), so we headed out, picking up Red-crowned Ant Tanager along the trail.  (He knew of a hardware store where, for a very nominal price, they repaired the whole thing!)  On the way to the famous “Cotinga Spot” in San Isidro, we crossed a makeshift bridge that the locals had built after Hurricane Nate had destroyed the old bridge!  We picked up Isthmian Wren and Black-striped Sparrow on the fly (Carlos said the wren was more of an open country bird so is unlikely to be confused vocally with Riverside), but alas, no cotinga showed… L A cute little Ruddy Ground Dove said hello, however, and Carlos did point out three Bronzed Cowbirds and a lovely group of Swallow-tailed Kites!  On the way back to Talari he gave me some great recommendations regarding lodges (he said both Charming Hummer and Baird’s Trogon were easy to get at Esquinas Rainforest Lodge)!  After arriving at Talari Alicia fed him, too (just happened to be spaghetti, his favorite J)!

Who needs government engineers when the locals can get the job done quicker?? J

Looking for the elusive Turquoise Cotinga

  Part 1: Hotel Bougainvillea

  Part 2: Irazu & Ujarras

  Part 3: Savegre Hotel

  Part 4: Bosque del Tolomuco

  Part 5: Talari Mountain Lodge

 Illustrated and Audio Bird Lists

 Butterflies

 Dragonflies and Damselflies

 Herps, Mammals, and Other Critters

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