Getting up early to see the birds!
We had a local Lineated Woodpecker in our backyard most mornings. The tree there seemed to be particularly rewarding for her to drill into. Unfortunately, she was always deep inside the branches and totally in shadow so, although close, it was very difficult to get a reasonable picture of her.
It’s a very cool bird so I’m posting one from last year when he (note the red mustache) was out in the clear.
Walking up the lane around 6:00, I was delighted to find a veritable flock of Blue-grey Tanagers. They seem to love the palm fronds – maybe for little insects they find there. See if you can spot him (easier than the Kingfisher of the day before!) They were flying all around and hanging out on the wires. What a treat for the eyes!
After breakfast, Ricardo and Marcela, who manage the “Private Villas” where we were staying, offered to take us, along with a young couple on their honeymoon, to a place nearby where there was the opportunity to see lots of birds and swim in a beautiful river. (They promised there were no crocodiles there.) So with them leading on their motorcycle and us in two cars, we drove about 20 minutes on back roads and started our walk along a beautiful creek – or something like a river with low water. That was a good thing because we had to wade across it several times. Even before heading out on our walk, there was a lovely juvenile Bare-throated Tiger Heron walking toward the water. Apparently you can tell it’s a juvenile because the adults have less obvious striping and their cheeks are entirely gray, without any striping.
Word to the wise! Never go out on a long walk in the tropics without rain protection for the camera. I will always be thankful for the brilliance of Marcela who protected mine with large fronds during the 20 minute downpour! In the end, we saw no more birds on the walk but we all had an amazing swim in the deep pool, despite the rain – or maybe enhanced by the rain for those who weren’t having a nervous breakdown about being so stupid as to put enormously expensive photo equipment at such a risk! Sorry, no pictures but those seared into my memory!
In full sunshine again, we returned to the car only to find that their motorcycle was waterlogged and wouldn’t start. Now we had time to explore our surroundings, which we would have missed by just driving away. Ricardo had been brought up in a small village on this road and pointed out a large flower that they played with as little kids, using the petals as swords!
Just a little further down the road was a pond with several big turtles.
And to my surprise and delight, at the far end of that pond was something that looked like a stick but was actually a Caiman. I had never even heard of this creature until a couple of days before. It’s a small crocodile, less aggressive than the big guys! Still, I had no desire to try my luck by taking a dip in the pond. The second picture is just for fun!
From a birdwatching point of view, our day was just beginning. We stopped by Ricardo’s former home which was now a bakery and juice bar owned by a friend. Behind the house was a stone bank and below it a stream. This had been Ricardo’s backyard playground growing up! There were Cherrie’s Tanagers flying all around, though I have no pictures of them, along with a Golden-naped woodpecker busy at work and a couple of Blue-grey tanagers.
And briefly there was a spectacular Golden-hooded Tanager.
While we were enjoying a refreshing glass of pineapple juice, I heard chirping down the road and discovered a tree filled with very tiny birds. One of them was the Thick-billed Euphonia I had seen at the coffee tour, but the others were even smaller and turn out to have been Yellow-bellied Aelenia – very fun to watch darting about the tree with their little tufted heads! The first un-cropped picture is to give some size perspective. The bird is right in the middle!
Later, back up at the “Ranch” where we ate and swam, there was another new bird for me – the 3rd that day – and that was a Piratic Flycatcher, known for stealing nests of other birds.
And at the end of the day, groups of parrots flew by in the late day sun. These two are Mealy Parrots.