Monday, September 6, 2010

Another Canopy Lodge Adventure

Canopy Lodge
While returning home from Costa Rica, we decided to treat ourselves to three nights at the Canopy Lodge.

It was our third stay at this marvelous establishment. Our first visit was in December 2008, the second was in late August 2009. Each visit is different in some ways, such as meeting and going out with a new (to us) guide, seeing some different birds even if it is about the same time of year, and experiencing the always-variable weather. But one thing is exactly the same every time - the continuing excellence throughout the operation. From the talents of the guides to the unobtrusive attentiveness of everybody on the staff to the delicious and beautifully-presented food and well-appointed rooms, the Lodge is a class act.

The first morning we went into the field with guide Tino Sanchez. We met Tino last year, and he's better than ever. First he took us on a walk along the road outside the Lodge gate, where some of the highlights were a cute male Green Thorntail, a molting Violet-crowned Woodnymph, and a Sepia-capped Flycatcher. Then we walked up above the Canopy Adventure, where we found two cooperative Tody Motmots; we heard two others nearby. We also enjoyed great cooperation from a Scaly-breasted Wren, not a common occurrence.

In the afternoon we went out with Danilo Rodriguez, a pal since 2008 and another superb guide. Danilo has been associated with Raul since the Lodge's inception. The weather was soupy, but we walked around enjoying the tropical clime, renewing our friendship with Danilo, and seeing some birds, including a soggy Tropical Screech-Owl and a drippy Ruddy Quail-Dove on a nest.

The following day, we went out with Eliacer, Danilo's younger brother. It was our first time in the field with him and a complete pleasure - he is another of the impressively talented guides at the Lodge. Like Tino and Danilo, he recognizes all the calls and songs of the local birds and can imitate them perfectly. In the morning we went up to La Mesa and found a Black-headed Saltator as well as the beginning of what turned out to be quite a bonanza of Blue-throated Toucanets. Throughout the day, we continued to see more toucanets at several locations, with a final total of 8, all at close range for careful observation and enjoyment. Mid-afternoon we walked a trail partway up one flank of Cerro Gaital. Near the start, we encountered a Green-crowned Brilliant, another lifer for us. But the "best" bird of the trip was yet to come. By about 4:30 PM, we had been walking for over an hour in drizzle and rain, with not very much light in the sky - conditions were challenging. We admit to wondering why Eliacer had kept going up the mountain. Then he spotted something moving in the trail ahead. We slowly crept up on it, and discovered that it was a Scaled Antpitta! Eliacer, a little breathless from the excitement of such a find, deemed it a Rad Bird, which we took to mean it's a kick-ass bird. Marco is not pleased with the video he shot, but considering the conditions, I think it will do just fine:

After descending Cerro Gaital to the vehicle, we made one last stop before returning to the Lodge for cocktails and a hot meal. On the first morning of our visit, Tino had told us about a night roost of a White-tipped Sicklebill. Eliacer took us to the spot, below the El Macho waterfall, and Marco spotted the little bird sitting on a twig just a few feet in front of us. It was a very satisfying way to end a great day of birding.

On our final morning, Tino took us out again, to a nice trail along a watercress "farm" in a rushing creek. Tino found some White-thighed Swallows for our life list, we watched a family of Long-tailed Tyrants, and enjoyed the many other birds and butterflies, themselves out enjoying the sunny morning.

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations for all your lifers, specially that Scaled Antpitta (I NEED IT!!!). Thank you for sharing that great video.