A Cinnamon becard (Pachyramphus cinnamomeus) appeared unexpectedly right next to the Porras cabins in San Diego. Although that location is too far away to make the house list, it’s the first sighting of this species for me in our area. According to Garrigues & Dean (The Birds of Costa Rica), the becards are a species of uncertain taxonomy (incertae cedis). Their nearest relative in our area is the Masked tityra (Tityra semifasciata). First view of the Cinnamon becard had me thinking of the female White-lined tanager, easily found here, but the contrast in plumage colour between upper and lower body parts ruled out not only tanager, but also the other three rufous/cinnamon species, the Rufous mourner (Rhytipterna holerythra), which is definitely a flycatcher, and the Rufous phia (Lipaugus unirufus) and the Speckled mourner (Laniocera rufescens). These last two species feature on the same page and in the same genus as the Cinnamon becard in Garrigues & Dean. I still have never been able to identify any of the latter three. Of these, only the Rufous mourner is described as ‘fairly common’ in our part of the country, while the becard is reputedly a ‘common’ species. Not for me! Here’s a photo, also by kind permission of Richard Garrigues, of the nearest Cinnamon becard look-alike, though somehow it looks much less rufous than in the field guides.
The walk down to San Diego was a great reintroduction to my home area and there was lots of activity. Best birds were Brown-hooded parrot and Chestnut-headed oropendola. The parrots were a pair, flying with a small flock of White-crowned parrots, our most common local species. They seem to feed lower than the other species and I was able to get excellent close-up views. The head is actually particularly striking, with the big red ear patch against a light-brown background. The jocotes that I planted at home especially to attract this species have unfortunately not done well in my absence.
The find of the day, however was this handsome Three-toed sloth. Chalo Porras’s photo is actually from another day, but of the same individual. In our first view, he was in full sight, but when we returned he had selected a spot in the fork of a tree where he was barely distinguishable from the moss and ferns epiphytes on the tree.