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A full day at the magical Savegre Lodge is always a great experience, the weather was perfect for us too as we explored the forest trails of this highland location.



What a wonder place Savegre Lodge is, birds and birders are everywhere. We met at 6am outside the hotel reception where a number of hummer feeders and a larger bird-table can be found. They were very busy and Johan our guide talked us through the identification of six species of hummingbirds that were regular visitors to the feeders, we saw all six! Volcano, Scintillant, Stripe-tailed, Magnificent Hummingbirds as well as Green Violetear and White-throated Mountain-Gem.

   You can see why this is called the Volcano Hummingbird

The bird table was attracting Acorn Woodpeckers, Flame Coloured Tanagers, Rufous-collared Sparrows and few common tanager species. The prolific flower beds were regularly visited by the Slaty Flowerpiercer and hummers as well as a couple of American warblers, namely; Wilson’s and Tennessee.

the Long-tailed Silky-Flycatcher enjoying the morning sunlight

   Acorn Woodpecker a regular in the gardens and feeders

Our walk took us into some woods in the grounds and from deep in the woods we heard the call of the Spotted Wood-Quail but after searching we saw no sign of any. The first bird we did see was a Ruddy-capped Nightingale-Thrush followed by Chestnut-capped Brush-Finch and Tufted Flycatcher. Our walk took us through the woods to an open area of grass-lawn where we saw Mountain Eleania, Spangle-cheeked Tanager, Band-Tailed Pigeon and a flock of Sulphur-winged Parakeets flew over.

the aptly named Flame-colored Tanager

After a 6:30am breakfast we boarded a 4-wheel drive Land Rover with bench seating whereby all 11 of us had a seat, the vehicle took us up a very steep track about 2-3km long. It was magical at the top, we stood in primary forest, the sunlight was streaming through the trees and bird song was everywhere. We quickly got our scopes onto a Ruddy Pigeon, then a pair of Acorn Woodpeckers  followed by a Yellowish Flycatcher. We tried to track down a singing Rufous-browed Peppershrike bur it failed to show from high up in the canopy.

forest birding can be a pain in the neck!

We walked off the main track onto a woodland trail that snaked its way downward towards a stream. A Collared Restart flitted close by then a Flame-throated Warbler appeared, a stunning male showed really well. We found it hard going, unlike previous years when we found large mixed feeding-flocks, today we didn’t find any.

The highlights of the walk were views of: Barred Becard, Ruddy Treerunner,  also Black-throated Green-Warbler, Black-cheeked Warbler and Flame-throated Warblers were everywhere and so were Yellow-thighed Finches and sooty-capped Chlorospingus.

We spent a couple hours walking two circular trails and we saw a lot of species some new for the list and others not. A Forest Falcon was a good find, we had fantastic views of a Streak-breasted Treehunter, it was on the path trying to kill a huge Longhorn Beetle without success.

       Yellowish Flycatcher carrying food for its chicks

We got back onto the main track and had views of the open sky where we saw both of the common vultures, also Swallowtail Kite, Red-tailed Hawk and large numbers of Collared Swifts. The main track also had open grassy banks strewn with wild flowers where a fantastic array of colourful butterflies flitted about, Tim was in his element and produced many superb photographs of them. 

 one of the many beautiful butterflies on show today 

As we got back to the hotel complex we viewed an apple orchard from a first floor balcony and enjoyed watching Sulphur-winged Parakeets ‘scrumping’ along with Rose-breasted Grosbeak and a couple of Yellow-bellied Siskins fed on seeds below them. We found an Osprey perched high up on the skyline in the distance and just as we were finishing a couple of Long-tailed Silky-Flycatchers dropped down to feed on berries in the gardens.

   the 'scrumpers' - Sulphur-winged Parakeets

Lunch was taken at 12 noon and we reconvened at 1:30pm to repeat this morning’s walk through the local woods, in the woods we heard Spotted Wood-Quail calling again but still we couldn’t see them, I had great views of a Silvery-fronted Tapaculo whilst trying to see the Wood-Quails.  

We ventured further with our walk this time and added a couple of vireos to our day list as well as having sightings of Torrent Tyrannulet, Louisiana Waterthrush, Black Guan, Long-tailed Silky-Flycatcher, close-up views of perched Black Vultures and many more species.

there are many beautiful birds in Costa Rica  and this is not one of them - Black Vulture

Our last birding excursion was at 4pm as we boarded the bus to drive to the head of the valley to look for owls and nightjars, but first we stopped at a tiny roadside café where a viewing platform had excellent views back down the valley and a bird-feeding station had been well established. We stayed for nearly an hour watching a good number of birds giving excellent close views. We added two species to our trip list, Townsend Warbler and Large-footed Finch they were joined by Flame-coloured Tanager, Sooty Thrush, Wilson’s Warbler, Acorn Woodpecker, Rufous-collared Sparrow and Red-tailed Squirrels  on or around the feeders.

              Sooty Thrush or maybe Costa Rican Blackbird?

Driving further up the valley we stopped at an open area of grass meadows with some trees, this was our stakeout for the nightjar.  We waited almost an hour for it to get dark and then we heard two or three of them calling before a couple of the group had very brief views of one in flight. This was a little disappointing, however on the way back down into the valley we had great views of a perched Dusky Nightjar, this regional endemic species is the only nightjar to live above 1800 meters, the views were excellent but brief.

We got back to the hotel at 7:20pm and went to dinner around 7:30pm, this was our last night in this wonderful place, tomorrow we are off to warmer climes and lower altitudes.