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WEATHER: wet and very windy all morning with showers, then brighter later.

We met at the famous Arenal Lodge viewing platform we had blustery wind with light rain, the light was awful at 6am when we met up. It wasn’t long before we had the beautiful Emerald Tanager on the list, it was coming to the feeders with Golden Hooded Tanagers and Silver-throated Tanagers.

Emerald Tanager - by Chris Perry

The platform was crowded with people and the feeders were crowded with birds, lots of them. Ranging from the Great Curassow to the tiny Yellow-throated Euphonia and everything in between. The half-cut watermelons were totally dominated by a large flock of Montezuma’s Oropendolos with Crested Guans, the aforementioned Curassows and Grey-headed Chachalacas. The odd Brown Jay also dropped in and the rarer Chestnut-headed Oropendola put in an appearance.

A face-off? A Curassow staring out a Yellow-throated Euphonia - by Chris Perry

On the flowers we added three new hummers to our list: we saw a female Black-headed Coquette, Green Thorntail, Violet-headed Hummingbird and also saw the beautiful Purple-crowned Woodnymph.

the gardens around our accommodation

We ate a lovely breakfast at 6:30am before wandering off on our trail walk. As we left the restaurant one of the group pointed out a red bird attacking its own reflection in a glass window, on closer inspection we saw that it was an Hepatic Tanager, wow! This bird is usually really hard to find, nice one.

Hepatic Tanager and the looking glass - taken by Chris Perry

To get to the trail we passed through the gardens where we saw Black-striped Sparrow, Bananaquit, Rufous-tailed Hummingbird and several tanager species. Near the entrance to the ‘Trail’ we found a Golden-winged Warbler.

A Golden-winged Warbler taken by Chris Perry

The walk along the trail wasn’t that good to be fair, it was still windy and we heard a lot of species that never appeared. A Scale-crested Pygmy Tyrant was nice to see and some of us got glimpses of Scaly-breasted Wren and White-throated Wren. We saw Broad-billed Momot and I can’t remember much else until we got to the suspended bridge.

The female Green Honeycreeper is green but the male is blue and black. Taken by Chris Perry

On the far side of the bridge you have views over large grass meadows as the path follows the edge of the forest. We Northern Rough-winged Swallows over the meadows and Variable Seedeaters with Yellow-faced Grassquits in the grass.

Yellow-faced Grassquit - by Chris Perry

We came across a tree that was loaded with fruit and covered in birds! Jason picked out both Bay-headed and Rufous-winged Tanagers, the later is a much sought after species. We watched a White-ruffed Manakin, Green Honeycreepers and lots of common tanagers. With open sky to look we added a Grey Hawk to the list and the usual Vultures.

The hanging Bridge

The rest of the walk produced a few more new species, the weather improved and the sky began to clear, we could even see the top of the Volcano which was smouldering away. We added King Vulture to the list, two were seen circling with the Black Vultures.

our first full view of the Arenal Volcano 

A Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher was the last bird added to our list as we walked back into ‘camp’.

After lunch the cloud got thicker again and rain threatened. We piled onto the bus at 3pm and drove down the valley to shore of Lake Arenal. An unmade road flows the shoreline to the dam, this is called Peninsula Road and over the years Wingspan Groups have found many great species along there.

a Long-tailed Tyrant by Cris Perry

Today it very dull and very windy, we saw very little and very little was seen of what we did find! It was getting dark we started hitting feeding birds, We saw our first Yellow Tyrannulet, also Long-tailed Tyrant, the beautiful song of the Black-throated Wren rang out but we never coaxed it out. Some of the group got a sighting of the Orange-throated Foliage-gleaner and finally we caught up with the newly named Keel-billed Momot. We found one sitting side by side with the bird it was split from, the Broad-billed Momot.

a Keel-billed Motmot in the shadows

record shot of the Broad-billed Motmot (left) and the Keel-billed Motmot - these species have been split but still associate with one another.

We left the area around 6pm and got back to our rooms at 6:30pm with enough time to shower before our 7:30pm dinner.