On that superb day, I noticed ten critically endangered birds, representing 8% of their Costa Rican, or 2% of their international inhabitants!! However, let’s begin at the start.
In my previous post, I handled Rancho Naturalista Lodge itself and birding inside their personal reserve. Now, I’ll transfer away from it, visiting close by lakes and rivers with Rancho in-house guides Mercedes and Harry, and our driver Daniel behind the wheel of the mighty Isuzu D-Max.
Contemporary and misty morning quickly was a heat and sunny day, with a sky filled with swallows: Blue-and-white, Southern Tough-winged and Barn Swallows. We have been heading to La Angostura Lake (cowl picture and sure, just like the fragrant bitter, nobody was capable of inform me why), the biggest water physique within the Turrialba space, created by damming the Reventazon River. Driving an enormous 4×4 throughout a tiny, improvised bridge, Daniel sneaked by way of the forest to the shallow again aspect the place the river enters the lake.
Black-bellied Whistling-Geese, Muscovy Geese and Blue-winged Teals have been round us, along with Inexperienced, Nice and Little Blue Herons, Cattle and Nice White Egrets, Black-crowned and Yellow-crowned Evening-Herons, plus one domestically uncommon Pinnated Bittern within the floating vegetation, in addition to a number of dozen Neotropical Cormorants. A Wooden Stork lands in a tree, whereas one Neotropical River Otter swims throughout and climbs a floating log.
A number of Southern Lapwings and American Black Vultures on a small mudbar, and one thing smaller in entrance of them – two domestically uncommon Quick-billed Dowitchers. Different shorebirds included Semipalmated Plover and Least Sandpipers. Two Purple Gallinules, two Limpkins… Raptors included Turkey Vultures, Ospreys, White-tailed, Gray-headed (so nicely seen in a close-by tree!) and Snail Kites, Roadside and Broad-winged Hawk, Crested and lovely Yellow-headed Caracara, plus a Merlin.
Because the solar was getting stronger, we, the birders, have been sitting within the open so our views wouldn’t be obstructed. Daniel the driving force was approach smarter, discovering the one shadowy spot subsequent to the D-Max.
Since I wished to purchase some real tastes of Costa Rica, we continued to C.A.T.I.E. campus gardens – the Tropical Agricultural Analysis and Increased Training Centre, situated 3 km east of the city of Turrialba. The campus has a pond (above), partially lined by hyacinths filled with Northern Jacanas, the place I attempted to identify not less than one caiman (alas, with out success), a botanical backyard and manicured grounds (with fairly a couple of Inexperienced Ibises) along with a memento store. Nonetheless, the extraordinary Boat-billed Heron was nowhere to be seen. Into the memento store for some native espresso, chocolate and cocoa, then a espresso mug with a picture of a Three-toed Sloth and the Area Information to the Mammals of Costa Rica, and off we go. Driving across the bamboo thickets on a small island within the lake, Mercedes noticed it! Not less than one Boat-billed Heron awaited us within the thickets.
The following space was the Pacuare River Gorge, which options Class III and IV rapids. Now we have been in Finca Tres Equis, a household cocoa farm (if I understood nicely, it interprets as Triple X Farm) and a personal reserve of over 300 hectares, of which greater than 70 % is a forest, representing a part of a Jaguar hall. Daniel drove down a tough observe in the direction of the river, and from time to time we might cease and look forward to some trogons, toucans, manakins or jacamars. One of many first stops yielded two Crested Guans with their shiny purple throat wattles, excessive in roadside timber. Subsequent stops provided White-crowned Parrot and Barred Parakeets, Chestnut-sided and Canada Warblers, Collared Aracari, half a dozen Purple-throated Fruitcrows… I heard a robust double-nock of an enormous Pale-billed Woodpecker, however the chicken didn’t current itself to our eyes. There was a Gartered Trogon proper above me, and one cooperative Brown-throated Three-toed Sloth on a cecropia tree, elevating its head to smile at us. A gaggle (perhaps 4-5 ex.) of Panamanian White-faced Capuchins greeted us, earlier than they determined to vacate the premises.
On the Pacuare river financial institution there was a bunch of rafters on the brink of deal with the noisy waves. The one factor noisier, making the rapids barely audible, have been the Cicadas on the other financial institution! Above us have been Chestnut-collared and White-collared Swifts, whereas Lengthy-billed Hermit and Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer visited a close-by flowering bush. In a rock-garden in the midst of the river, one Fasciated Tiger-Heron was fishing, with each Amazon and Inexperienced Kingfishers close by. I stored a watch on the rafters, eager to see how they confronted the standing waves, solely to identify them utilizing the opposite fork within the river and avoiding them altogether!
Nice Inexperienced Macaw in Costa Rica / Wikimedia Commons
By now, you distinctly keep in mind that I discussed some ten critically endangered birds. No, I can’t reveal their whereabouts, they have been someplace round. I used to be fortunate to look at Nice Inexperienced Macaws on my earlier journey, too, however then they have been simply silhouettes flying by way of the mist. This time I noticed them with 10s in shiny sunshine, solely ten metres above, seeing each element: monumental lime-green parrots with blue flight feathers and loud, raucous calls!
Like many different massive birds, Nice Inexperienced Macaws are monogamous and kind robust pair bonds for all times, so robust that even when the pair flies with a big flock, the birds preserve shut to one another and virtually contact their wings in flight. Younger birds, not less than in captivity, turn into mature after 5 years and begin breeding after 6 or 7 years.
This species qualifies as Critically Endangered as a result of intensive habitat destruction and seize for the cagebird commerce are inflicting extraordinarily fast and persevering with inhabitants declines. Their favorite meals are seeds of almendro tree, which is selectively logged in Costa Rica, whereas pineapple plantations are quickly increasing and changing tropical forest habitat.
The subpopulation in northern Costa Rica and southern Nicaragua numbered 834 people in 2009, however was estimated at lower than 200 people, equating to c. 130 mature people, in 2019 (Monge et al. 2010; Macaw Restoration Community 2019). This equates to a decline of 99% over three generations for Nicaragua and Costa Rica (IUCN 2019). Primarily based on nationwide numbers, the worldwide inhabitants is now estimated to quantity not less than 525 mature people; and to account for uncertainty and a further inhabitants in southern Panama, the worldwide inhabitants is positioned within the band of mere 500-1,000 mature people. And I used to be blessed with a number of excellent sightings, totaling to eight% of their Costa Rican and a pair of% of their international inhabitants!!
Coming to Costa Rica, I wanted just a few dozen species to cross my first massive threshold: a thousand species. I got here with 957, and began to gather my birds like an Acorn Woodpecker collects its nuts. And after certainly one of these excursions, I used to be having a beer on the veranda at Rancho Naturalista Lodge, whereas coming into my notes into eBird. I knew that I had most likely crossed the brink, however there was an opportunity that I used to be I at 999 chicken species! Or 998!! My OCD wouldn’t stand that! I wanted a properly rounded determine. It was a sigh of aid after I found that my species #1000 grew to become a Quick-tailed Hawk. Subsequent aim: 1100 species, to cowl about 10% of the whole. Sounds affordable and ought to be inside attain.
Southeast of the Caribbean-slope city of Turrialba and excessive on a hill overlooking riverine forests and occasional farms of the Tuis River valley, the not-to-be-missed Rancho Naturalista is the proper introduction to birding Costa Rica: relaxed, pleasant place, serving scrumptious domestically sourced gourmand meals – and you must shovel birds off the trail to go by way of.
Learn the earlier stage in When Harry Met Mercedes.
Extra about highlands and Casa Tangara dowii within the weeks to return.