Sunday, January 16, 2011

Costa Rica Day Two: Monkeys and Motmots

Arenal Hanging Bridges, Costa Rica

After our tour of the Villa Blanca grounds we drove up to the Arenal Volcano region for a two night stay at the Tabacon Grand Spa Thermal Resort (more about Tabacon in a future post--for now I will just post a video of some white-faced monkeys foraging near the resort pool.)

The next morning I woke up at 5 to drive to an "early bird bird-watching" tour of the nearby Arenal Hanging Bridges. It was still dark when I arrived and as I waited for the guide to show, I was able to record snippets of the dawn chorus. The squawks are, I believe, the work of crested guan (surprisingly common to find in this region); the repeating song in the background is courtesy the plain wren. Then the howler monkeys started in and it was a true jungle scene!

But it was raining. This made good photographs challenging but did have the advantage of keeping away the other two people who had signed up for the tour. This freed up the guide, Andre, and me to engage in slightly more advanced birding than is apparently usual (and allowed Andre to ditch his scope). Andre was armed with a laser pointer (a very efficient way to point out birds others aren't seeing) and a large repertoire of whistles. (His "hawk" was particularly useful in getting a distant two-toed sloth to turn our way).

Overall it was a good mountain rain forest birding morning, with the highlight being repeated sightings of rufous motmots. Here's the best view, below.

The only thing lacking in the image is a view of the incredible tail, with its little oval pendants at the end. The motmots sit in this "tail position" and wag the tail back and forth. I think it also gets incorporated into breeding season displays.

Complete list of birds encountered at the Arenal Hanging Bridges:
crested guan, short-billed pigeon, white-crowned parrot, common pauraque (on drive to the property), Vaux's swift (on drive home from property), green hermit, scaly-breasted hummingbird, bronze-tailed plumeleteer, black-crested coquette (female), violet-headed hummingbird, rufous-tailed hummingbird, rufous motmot, broad-billed motmot, rufous-tailed jacamar (super cool), buff-throated foliage-gleaner, wedge-billed woodcreeper, slaty antwren, tawny-faced gnatwren, stripe-breasted wren, bay wren, plain wren, clay-colored robin, chestnut-sided warbler (all over), buff-rumped warbler, bananaquit, olive tanager, white-shouldered tanager, crimson-collared tanager, golden-hooded tanager (!), variable seedeater, black-striped sparrow, rufous-collared sparrow, buff-throated saltator, black-cowled oriole.

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