There are 8 different manakin species in Costa Rica (pp. 220-223 in Garrigues). Some are quite common within their range, but until yesterday I had not seen one anywhere near my home patch. The plumage of the males is generally very bright and sometimes quite spectacular, allowing easy identification, while the females are mostly greenish in colour and are much more problematic. In our area, theoretically, several species could occur but the White-collared manakin (Manacus candei) seems to be the most likely to appear near here. The first image shows the male of that species, doing what it likes to do, i.e. eating a berry. In breeding season, the male makes a loud popping sound with its wings, which is quite distinctive. They can be found fairly easily down at Guayabo National Monument , but they don’t sit still for long and generally zip around. Because they are so small (10 cm), I find that they can be as hard to pin down as, say, hummingbirds.
The individual that I found at San Diego (1075 m) was a female or perhaps a juvenile, since they are virtually identical. I would have had great difficult identifying the bird were it not for the orange legs, because the first impression is simply of a small yellowish bird. Since I never see manakins here, I thought at first it was a flycatcher, euphonia or even a warbler. The second image here is of a juvenile that we banded down at CATIE a couple of years ago. It looks substantially like the bird I found yesterday.
I spent several hours on the trek yesterday. Trek, because I again tried to find a way through from San Diego to the Guayabo National Monument. I failed yet again but was rewarded with several hours in perfect solitude and some excellent views of some other species. None of them was new or particularly unusual, but I got a fantastic close-up look at a male Masked tityra that appeared, strangely, in thick forest in almost the same spot as the manakin. Here below is a great shot of a female tityra, taken by Kevin Bartlett:
I am improving my knowledge of bird calls, but only rather gradually since, as always, I heard many unidentifiable calls that I never hear in San Antonio.
A lone Swallow-tailed kite in swirling mist was being harried, at a great height, by two flycatchers and the air was full of White-collared swifts as a storm threatened to descend from the Turrialba Volcano. By the way, the volcano has this week ejected a cloud of ash, an unusual event that caused the Costa Rican press to publish photos of the event. The locals are not worried at all since they’ve lived under the volcano all their lives without any problems.