I just got back from Madre Selva, our banding station in the highlands, yesterday. When they said highlands they really meant it. We were about 8000 ft up and above the clouds! Its an absolutely breathtaking place. The one thing I was NOT expecting was the cold!!! I sort of laughed when Richard and Pauline said we would need a woodstove going in the house – I’m sure glad we did! The first night I was wrapped up in two down quilts, two layers of pjs and a fleece jacket! Luckily I acclimated and cold evenings just became part of the package. We stayed in a very cute cabin on a ton of property. The one site we band on actually borders a massive chunk of primary forest that stretches all the way into Panama!! That means we get all sorts of serious highland specialities and unique birds that roam the forests (also wild peccaries like to roam our station!).
So many amazing moments happened the past two weeks! Here are some photos of the highlight birds of the past couple weeks.
Often in the evenings and early mornings we’d use call-back to try and lure in Dusky Nightjars and Common Paraques. We ended up catching 3 new duskies and 1 recap, plus 1 female common paraque. They are such amazing birds!!! Not much is known about Dusky Nightjars and not many have ever been banded. Very lucky to be a part of this research!
We decided to take a day off on a rainy day and we instead hiked around the area in search of some new lifer species. Richard gave us a list of what we might see and we pretty much saw it all!!! Got good looks at a Torrent Tyrannulet, a Black Phoebe, a Spangle-cheeked Tanager, acorn woodpeckers, a Buffy tuftedcheek, fiery-throated hummingbird, and so much more. Walked away with 37 different species on the walk!!! And to top it off, during a downpour, we saw both a male and female resplendent quetzal sitting on a tree. That’s the bird people come to costa rica to see and they were in walking distance of our house!!! We were all awed by these birds!
One night while Richard and I tried to catch a Common Paraque. We caught something very different. Not only did we catch a very strange bat with a big nose but also a Bare-shanked Screech-owl!!!! This may be the first one CRBO has ever caught. Barely anything is known about the species. We suspect its a young bird but there is hardly any aging/sexing information known. What’s interesting is they have bare legs – unlike other owl species. It was a highlight of the trip for sure!!!
Now, for the last species I banded in Madre Selva. I was ridiculously excited to see this gal in the net. We get them back home but they are resident here as well!!! And they look totally different with a brown belly instead of white. I got to band a Hairy Woodpecker!!! For those of you who know the story (sorry Eric for rehashing it!) 😉 I accidentally stole a banding tick from the BIC Eric in Nanaimo last year. He never let me live it down. Especially since the only hairy woodpecker they caught this year was the one I banded the year before! So what did I do, I caught a few in Alberta and now one in Costa Rica!
I feel like it was a wonderful omen to end Madre Selva off with a Hairy Woodpecker. Those pics are just a VERY tiny subset of what I’ve seen and banded. I’ve added over 20 new species to my banding list (taking me over 100 species!!) and have seen over 50 different species in the hand and over 90 different species through birding (IN JUST TWO WEEKS!). What’s crazy is that I will get very few of the same species here on the coast as I did in the highlands. Looking forward to a ton of more new species in the next week!!
I’m now in Tortuguero with the heat and humidity – what you’d expect from Costa Rica. We start banding tomorrow hopefully but most of our stations are flooded due to high rains lately. We also had a town wide power outage which left us eating dinner with headlamps this evening. And a new adventure begins 🙂