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WEATHER: sunshine for most the day, hot and humid. Cloudy in the cloudy forest!! Light rain shower.

We had a wonderful start to the day, we met in the lower car park at Talari lodge and began birding where we stood. Although we did not see many new species for the trip we enjoyed some sightings and one of our most wanted species. Jason called out numerous flycatchers, we saw Yellow-bellied, Streaked, Social, Grey-capped, Dusky-capped and the usual Kisskadee and Boat Billed Flycatchers. A fruiting tree held quite a few Baltimore Orioles and we found our first Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, what a stunning bird that one is.

male Rose-breasted Grosbeak - Richard Pettett

Walking down to the river we added more species and then the bird of the day appeared, the FIERY-BILLED ARACARI, wow!! Our excitement was short lived as the bird quickly disappeared, some of the photographers got decent pictures of it. We got glimpses of a Riverside Wren making a nest and a Rufous-breasted Wren showed for just a couple of the group.

Fiery-billed Aracari - Richard Pettett

Dusky-capped Flycatcher - me

Around the river we had clear views of the countryside where we found an Osprey, Roadside Hawk and a Laughing Hawk flew over us. But it was the swifts that gave us the most pleasure, dozens of them were dashing about overhead. We identified four species having gained good photographs of them, the Lesser Swallow-tailed Swift being the most favoured one.

the huge Owl Butterfly - Richard Pettett

During breakfast we added Garden Emerald to the list, our position at the dining tables gave us excellent views of the gardens as they sloped away below us.

Garden Emerald - Richard Pettett

Before we set of for the cloud forest we made a stop in the local countryside in search of 3 or 4 new species, we stopped by an iron bridge in the General Viejo area. Our search for Fork-tailed Flycatchers was unsuccessful, but we found Smooth-billed Ani and our search for White-tailed Kite was successful albeit a sighting of a distant bird.

Smooth-billed Ani 

We found several Tropical Mockingbirds and lots of common species during our 30-minute stop. We then drove into the centre of San Isidro to look for a Cotinga, the area where we looked was built up but many mature trees lined the streets. After careful scrutiny of the cotingas favoured tree Graham caught a brief view of it in flight, so we walked around a block to get closer views of where the bird went. Sure enough, there was the bird, a TURQUOISE COTINGA, what a stunningly colourful bird. We also found a Two-toed Sloth in a nearby tree.

Turquoise Cotinga record shot from me

the group watching the Cotinga

Climbing up the mountainside on a long and winding road we headed towards the San Gerardo Valley in the Talamanca cloud forest, we made two stops along the way. The first stop was for lunch where we also searched for White-bellied Emerald without luck.

female Violet Sabrewing - Richard Pettett

The second stop an hour or so later was much more productive we added several good species to our growing tally at a restaurant with feeders at an altitude of 3000m (10,000ft). The Fiery-throated Hummingbird was the star find, but we also saw Large-footed Finch, Slaty Flowerpiercer, Black-billed Nightingale-Thrush, Band-tailed Pigeon, Mountain Thrush, Sooty Thrush, Black-headed Flycatcher and lots of other hummers. Phew, some of those names are something to behold.

Richard Pettett in the foreground at lunch today

It after 3pm and we still had one more stop to make and that was in the tree-less habitat called the Paramo at around 14,000ft. It was much colder up there but it was dry with no wind. It took us quite a while to find Volcano Junco! One of the group called it a Dunnock with a bright yellow-eye, which is not a bad description until you get a really good look at it. Five of the group also saw a Black-cheeked Warbler and we all saw more Sooty Thrushes.

Volcano Junco - Richard Pettett

Our final leg of the journey was the steep drop in the San Gerardo valley on a very winding road with a lot of very sharp ‘s’ bends, we dropped down below 10,000ft to reach our hotel in the San Gerardo de Dota valley. It was just getting dark as we arrived and Rufous-collared Sparrow was all we saw in the hotel grounds.