San Luis, Monteverde
May 12-13, 2022
Seen - 74
Heard - 8
Total Species - 82
San Luis Monteverde
The first bird on our count was Northern Emerald-Toucanet, which crashed against the lodge as it was trying to evade other smaller birds that were harassing it. It had a bloody beak, and new Club member Dave cared for it until it was able to fly again. Later on, Johan, Ineke and I came to Casitas Cabuya to wait for the others to arrive. We had good looks at a pair of Red-legged Honeycreepers. Unfortunately it started to rain and the search for Lesser Ground Cuckoo had to be put off.
After Lyn, Fred and Edie arrived, we car birded our way to the converted bus which is now my home, to sit on the balcony and bird from there so as to avoid the rain. Three-wattled Bellbird was heard clearly but not seen. A Bronzed Cowbird was displaying much in the manner of a Bird of Paradise. We had a good look at Nutting's Flycatcher, about whose presence we had previously been alerted to. A Lesson's Motmot and a Common Tody Flycatcher were seen quite well, among other common birds. It continued to rain through the night, and despite the patter of drops on the zinc roofs, coyotes could be heard howling in the distance.
The following morning we were up quite early, taking our coffee at 5:15 sharp before making our way to Finca Ecológica San Luis ( https://www.facebook.com/Fincaecologicasanluis/ ), where we met our guide Esteban Méndez and started birding right away. For the first few minutes, we were counting 2 species per minute, then 1 per minute.
The Finca did not disappoint. In total, just for the morning we saw/heard 74 different species, with the target birds Ornate Hawk-Eagle and Rufous-browed Peppershrike clearly seen. This finca is particular because even though it is on Pacific watershed, the level of humidity favors the growth of species of plants that are more often seen in the Caribbean side than on the Pacific.
The continental divide can be seen from the property, and also Monteverde Reserve, which borders it. Our guide says the clouds from Caribbean storms blow over a dent in the mountains, and that is the reason Finca Ecológica is noticeably more humid year-round than the surrounding areas which share the Pacific watershed. The ubiquitous Scarlet-rumped Tanager is an example of a bird that belongs in the Caribbean but is present here, despite eBird's dire warnings, and also Crimson-collared Tanager, both of which had the finesse to perch together on the same branch at some point. Even the Variable Seedeater that we saw is the Caribbean variety and not Pacific.
Some club members had to leave early, fearing the infamous Friday afternoon traffic back into Western San José. After they left, Ornate Hawk-eagle soared above the remaining group, low enough that the details on its feathers were clearly seen. Giovanni Leitón, one of the owners, was kind enough to point out to us a nest of Great Black Hawk, and one of them carrying a large green snake in its talons. According to him, raptors prefer to feed snakes to their young over any other prey because their flesh is more tender and their bones easier to swallow. Through the scope some of us were able to see the hawk tear the snake apart to feed it to its chick. Jason, a guide-in-training from Casitas Cabuya that had asked to join the group, spotted Barred Hawk soaring in the same current as Great Black Hawk, so it was an exciting few minutes.
Despite the weariness and some light rain, the remaining members plodded on and were only successful at hearing Lesser Ground Cuckoo, but it was not seen.
In total, 82 different species were either seen and/or heard.