On 26 March 2014, we left the Tarcoles river area in Costa Rica and went further south. There we would see this fiery-billed aracari.
But first, at 9:30, a male great-tailed grackle at a supermarket parking lot.
10:45: we pass palm oil plantations. Not much birdlife there, though hardy species like tropical kingbird and great kiskadee manage to survive. ‘Developers’ offering land for sale may cause ecological problems in Costa Rica, like elsewhere.
10:55: cattle egrets between cattle.
11:02: a pearl kite on a power line. The smallest bird of prey in Central and South America.
Then, 11:15, near the Rio Baru river: the fiery-billed aracari. These birds live only in Costa Rica and western Panama.
In a garden, a female Cherrie’s tanager.
And a male. This is also a species restricted to Costa Rica and western Panama.
13:20: a white-nosed coati crosses the highway.
13:27: a mangrove swallow flying above the Rio Baru.
The road starts to go up. Away from the Pacific coast, to a more mountainous region.
14:33: we are in San Isidro del General. The hills are not that high here yet; still a tropical climate.
Centuries ago, this used to be an isolated agricultural area. More or less self-sufficient. However, sometimes local people wanted to go to San Jose, 130 kilometer away, to sell agricultural products, buy clothes, etc. This meant they had to travel by foot on often steep mountain paths, some over 3000 meter high. Worse than the steepness was the cold, often with cold rain, to which the San Isidro people, used to heat, were not accustomed. Some people died from cold. They called the highest mountain Cerro de la Muerte, mountain of death.
We were not there yet. In San Isidro, a grey-breasted martin on a wire.
Higher up the mountains, about 1200 meter, a rufous-collared sparrow sings near a restaurant.
A rufous-tailed hummingbird on a branch.
A white-collared swift flies past.
A clay-coloured thrush sings.
A Cherrie’s tanager male on a bird table.
And a female Baltimore oriole.
A male green-crowned brilliant hummingbird.
This video is about a female green-crowned brilliant in Costa Rica.
The road rises more and more. Oak forests, which one would expect in a temperate zone country, not in tropical Costa Rica. Bamboo growing underneath.
At 5pm, we arrived at the highest point of the highway. Cerro de la Muerte. 3200 meter. We go off the highway.
A dirt track among paramo vegetation. Meaning no trees, just bushes, grass and other not that high plants.
Clubmoss species grow here. An ancient plant line, which originated long before dinosaurs.
It is really cold. We don’t expect to meet people here. However, besides the track, a bus with ‘hippies’ from Canada. That bus does not work.
We did expect to find birds. A timberline wren sings. A species, only found high up in mountains of Costa Rica and western Panama.
Then, another really special high mountain bird: a volcano junco.
It eats a berry.
The road goes down again, to San Gerardo de Dota. But that will come in another blog post.
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