We were happy to get a bonus day with our amazing birding guide, German. We stuck around the lodge and hiked around slippery trails. Hiking these trails were some of the hardest I’ve ever walked. Although the trails were well maintained, the rain, the steepness of some of the steps, and the slippery debris compounded with the humidity and mosquitoes was all quite taxing on me, especially when wearing 10+ lbs. of gear. But, despite all of that, it was so rewarding to be in this beautiful, lush place.
|Lobster Claw Heliconia Plant|
And of course, we were also rewarded with all of the beautiful birds surrounding us. As we started walking up a trail we had trekked before, we picked up some familiar birds from our trip, like Turquoise-browed Motmot and a female Slaty-tailed Trogon.
|Female Slaty-tailed Trogon|
|A lizard in the middle of shedding|
We also got some new birds, including Violet-headed hummingbird, Tawny-crowned Greenlet, Short-billed Pigeon, White-breasted Wood-Wren, Red-crowned Ant-Tanager, and Wedge-billed Woodcreeper. How fun it is to walk the same trails just a few days ago yet pick up brand new birds.
As we kept walking up the trail, German suddenly stopped in his tracks with a gasp. It was a Black-and-white Owl perched in the canopy just ahead of us. During our whole trip, German hadn’t been as surprised and delighted as he was with this bird, so we knew it was a good one! This was the first he had seen during the day, and he had only seen it at night once or twice before in the past few years. This was an absolute treat. This large owl could peer into your soul with those large black marbles for eyes. His bold black and white pattern was only broken up by the bright yellow-orange of his bill and feet.
|The piercing stare of the Black-and-white Owl|
This was such a significant finding that German called up the general manager and told him about our finding and where to locate it, marking the ground with a heap of vegetation so that he would know where along the trail to stop.
|Crimson Passionflower with a funky leaf-footed bug underneath its left petals (see next pic)|
|Awesome leaf-footed bug - Anisoscelis sp.?|
We made our way around the trail, but nothing topped that gorgeous Black-and-white owl. We go back to the lodge’s main lobby area and got one last treat before parting ways with German. He somehow spotted a tiny Boa Constrictor stealthily hiding amongst the branches hanging over the raised walkway from the main lobby to the restaurant. The boa had been known to perch there patiently waiting for a tasty little hummingbird to fly by. After snapping some photos of this lovely snake, we bittersweetly said goodbye to German before getting some much deserved lunch.
|Parting ways with our fantastic guide, German|
After some lunch and a quick hammock nap, we head out to some easy, flat trails around the lodge on our own. Around the pool area, there were a pair of adult Collared Aracaris that we had seen hanging out, which we finally figured were a nesting pair. Just feet away from one of the adults in the trunk of a tree poked out a darling little head of a baby Collared Aracari, looking just as sweet and curious as can be with those baby blues. Along the trails, we spotted a Giant Cowbird hanging around, surely waiting around to leave an egg in an Oropedula nest. We were also able to get our best looks ever of the impressive Cocoa Woodcreeper. It’s kinda like a Brown Creeper on steroids crossed with a mid-sized woodpecker.
|Baby Collared Aracari|
|White Peacock butterfly|
As we continued along the trail by the serpentarium, the sun delighted us with its presence, as well as another special treat. Here we had seen a pair of Gartered Trogons a few days before. They were keen on this spot as it housed a large wasp nest full of yummy grubs. This time it was just the male hanging around, but the lighting was much more favorable to really show off the bold and bright colors of this bird. We could see the shimmering iridescent green back the dark violet sheen of its head.
We ended our day in one of our favorite spots – the tower that overlooked the valley of the rain forest. Here we got to see 200 magnificent White-collared Swifts swoop in front of the verdant hills in the dusky sky. These large swifts were a joy to watch sweeping across the sky with their long, slender wings. It was a brilliant way to end such a fabulous day.