Monday, August 28, 2017

The Talamanca Highlands

Long-tailed Silky-flycatcher
We have come to the end of the Costa Rican adventures.  This was one of the last birding adventures we had near the Cartago area.

Spangle-cheeked Tanager
Once again, we had wonderful friend and bird guide Serge Arias with us.  We explored his new home in an area known as the Talamanca Highlands.

Ruddy-capped Nightingale-Thrush
This is probably the one place where birders need to rent a car as the Talamanca region covers quite a few areas.  I have to say that this was one of my absolute favorite birding spots in Costa Rica. 

Similar to birding larger areas, we made several different stops along the road to get a decent sampling of species.

We stopped at the Quetzal Paradise lodge where supposedly it's easy to spot the Resplendent Quetzal.  We didn't see one on this day, but it didn't matter as we found so many other birds!

When we arrived, we saw several Magnificent Hummingbirds coming to the feeders. We had suspected that the Magnificent Hummingbird was going to be split once again into separate species as the Rivoli's and Talamanca Hummingbirds.  So we paid special attention to this hummingbird during our visit to the lodge.  I'll be quite honest.  The hummingbird looks almost identical to the Rivoli's Hummingbird here in Arizona.  Although, it's a tad darker.....  

However, I really noticed the differences between the female Rivoli's and Talamanca hummers.

Talamanca Hummingbird
The bills on the female Talamanca hummingbirds are out of control!  The female below was impressive!

In July, the split was made after our trip and we added yet another lifer to the list.  It pays to note the subtle differences in birds because sometimes they are recognized as their own species.

Collared Redstart
Beyond that technical aspect of birding, everything else was brand new! 

It was another day of keeping up with lifers everywhere!

Black-billed Nightingale-Thrush

It was comfortable birding.  And the birds were pretty beautiful as well.

Sooty-capped Chlorospingus
Serge once again casually set us up for lunch at the lodge.  What a beautiful place to relax and bird!

Black-and-yellow Silky-flycatcher
It took us several hours to observe the property grounds. While we there, we saw many people come into the lodge for lunch.  Several birded.  Several were staying at the lodge.  And others were doing serious photography like the man below.

It was great.  Writing nor photography do this place justice.  You need to see it in person to understand the preserve better.

Golden-browed Chlorophonia
But it got better!  Serge took us to a new habitat called the páramo!  I had to look up the word as it was a completely new word for me.  Basically it's like the tropics version of the alpine level.  The plants were razor sharp and the smell that the plants gave off reminded me of um.....animal poop.

Anyhow, it was exciting stuff. At this elevation, one can spot such wonders as the Timberline Wren and Volcano Junco.

The behind of the Timberline Wren
 And we did!  So here's a deep thought.  Juncos.  As I'm observing the Volcano Junco, I'm making mental observations to myself noting how different the bird looks when compared to our own Yellow-eyed Junco.  So if they split all these Yellow-eyed Juncos into various species like the Baird's and Volcano Juncos, why in the world did they lump all the various subspecies of Dark-eyed Juncos into one species?  Won't they do the same thing with the Yellow-eyed Juncos down the road?  So for now, they are considered separate species.  It just seems inconsistent.  Dark-eyed Juncos were split into 5 separate species until they lumped them all back together many years ago. Will these similar yellow eyed juncos follow suite?

Volcano Junco
One thing was clear.  The hummingbird show in the Talamanca highlands was awesome.  We added Volcano and Fiery-throated Hummingbirds to our lists.

Fiery-throated Hummingbird
Sadly, our Costa Rican journey has come to an end. I want to thank Serge Arias for showing us his beautiful world of birds.  When you come to visit Serge, we'll be waiting to show you our Arizona birds.  Thank you so much for your friendship and wonderful hospitality.  I had a blast!

As with all good things, there must come an end. For our Volcano Junco and Timberline Wren, click here. For the Paraiso Quetzal Lodge, click here.


  1. That was some awsome trip. what a fantastic birding adventure, and wonderful photos.
    Take care, Gordon.

  2. So enjoyed your series of posts on Costa Rica - what a marvellous adventure and trip of a lifetime. Thanks so much for sharing with all your wonderful photos and words :)

  3. Hello Chris!:) Just amazing! Wow, so many beautiful birds. I loved all your superb photos of them, and I'm so glad you had a wonderful time, ...and who wouldn't be happy with so many lifers to add to your already extensive list. Lovely post Chris!:)

  4. Hello, fabulous variety of birds and photos. I love them all but the hummers are my favorite, they are so pretty. Now, you have me wanting to go back to Costa Rica. Enjoy your day and the week ahead!

  5. I still can't get over that variety of hummingbirds you saw there. Wonderful photos! I also just loved the silky flycatchers and that collared redstart! The scenery is gorgeous too. Great post, Chris!

  6. Incredible birds! Sounds like an amazing trip.

  7. Wow !! Such beautiful birds !!!
    Fantastic photos !!


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