FULL DAY IN VALLEY GERARDA DE DOTA - LODGE GARDENS – –NIGHTJAR OUTING
WEATHER: SUNNY MOST OF THE DAY CLOUD LATER, CHILLY TO START
What a fantastic day! The morning weather was glorious, the bird sightings exceptional and the cloud forest environment was a pleasure to behold. Of course, the Quezal was our main target bird of the day so it took a special effort to find one. We were all up and on the bus by 5am, a short drive along the valley to a known Quetzal site proved fruitless. Our driver Damian, who has become quite an accomplished birder drove off in the bus to check other sites out, he came speeding back after 30 minutes with good news.
A quick shunt back down the valley found us staring at a female Quetzal with about 20 other people, after a short while two male birds turned up with a second female. With poor light conditions and our distance from the birds we couldn’t get good photos. We watched for 40 minutes or so seeing some altercations between the male birds but they did fulfil everyone’s expectations. Also in the area was Wilson’s Warbler, Flame-coloured Tanager, Mountain Elaenia and Sooty-capped Chlorospingus.
It was a chirpy group that sat down to breakfast at 7am the table was buzzing, but there was a lot more to come. The rest of the morning was spent in the grounds and forest trails of the Sevegre Lodge, they provide a shuttle service to the top of the mountains some 300 meters up and you take their trails back to the lodge.
The amazing sunny morning improved our mood and enjoyment no end it was glorious. After being dropped off our first bird was Spot-fronted Swift, in the clear morning light you could easily see the white facial markings. They were joined by White-collared Swifts and a Red-tailed Hawk circled above them.
Back down to earth we found Townsend Warbler, Wilson’s Warbler, an Acorn Woodpecker and a star of the morning, the Costa Rican Pygmy-Owl, our 7th owl of the trip. We then began our walk taking a forest trail that looped through the forest and back onto the main track, it took nearly 3 hours to walk this loop because of the many sightings we had.
on the forest trail
Several sightings are easily recalled because of their ‘value’ in terms of good finds, the Wrenthrush must go to the top of the list, every one of us got to see this little skulking gem. Spot-crowned Woodcreeper, Ruddy Treerunner, Collared Redstart, Ruddy-capped Nightingale-Thrush, Black-throated Green Warbler (a superb male) and several other exciting finds kept us busy along the track.
As we came back out onto the main track into bright sunshine Roy our guide located an Ornate Hawk-Eagle by call, the bird was circling high up above us. This was our second sighting of this magnificent bird only now everyone could see it. As was strolled back into ‘camp’ we added Lesser Goldfinch, the tiny Barred Parrot and Sulphur-winged Parrot.
For lunch we drove up the valley to a tiny roadside cantina that had a viewing platform with bird feeders, it was a very enjoyable hour with several species coming into close proximity to the platform. A Long-tailed Silky-Flycatcher was the highlight but Scintillant Hummingbird was new for us and both Yellow-thighed Finch and Large-footed Finch were nice to see close up as well as Flame-coloured Tanager, Acorn Woodpecker and we had fuether views of Lesser Goldfinch.
The rest of the afternoon was given up for relaxation time, most of the group declined the offer of a further walk so the last three hours of the day were spent relaxing in the beautiful hotel grounds. We met again at 7pm for an early dinner because most of us were going out for an ‘owl prowl’. However, our owl excursion proved to be a little disappointing despite ideal conditions. We heard both target species, the Dusky Nightjar and the Bare-shouldered Screech-Owl but neither showed for us. The star-light in the sky was simply amazing, with very little light pollution you could see countless stars.
Regardless of the night excursion we had had a wonderful day in this magical place, we saw another 24 new species taking the tally over the 300 mark. Tomorrow we head for the Pacific slopes and a warmer climate!