Adilio, wife Lisbeth and Tito arrived late morning, providing not only the car but also a camper stove and food to sustain us in the cool temperatures that awaited on the Turrialba Volcano road. The road to the volcano turns off at La Pastora, but the last few kilometers to the top are still blocked off because of the recent activity of the fumaroles. The weather cooperated nicely, with the neblina not moving in until fairly late in the day.
Before leaving for the excursion, a check of the San Antonio church yard seemed to show that the Cape May warbler has now flown north, preventing Adilio and Tito from getting a quality photo. However, the Green violet-ear and the female Slaty flowerpiercer mentioned in an earlier post remain on nectar-sipping duty. No photo was taken, but here’s a female pinchaflor from an earlier trip to the volcano.
As we set off, and while still in San Antonio, we saw a mass migration of Turkey vultures, together with many Broad-winged and Swainson’s hawks. The trip itself did not otherwise provide any great surprises but was a fine reminder of how different the bird species are at altitude. The vegetation is hauntingly beautiful and makes any visit worthwhile, even if the mist rolls in.
The road surface seems much improved on the lower sections, and a brief stop at the first wooded area yielded a Hairy woodpecker (Picoides villosus), drumming rapidly and loudly, and some nice looks at a Collared redstart (Myioborus torquatus). This beautiful resident warbler has appeared down at San Antonio, whereas a similar species, often found in its company, the Slate-throated redstart (Myioborus miniatus) has not yet shown up at home, nor did it appear on this trip.
Two fairly common birds of the high country are the Black guan (Chamaepetes unicolor) and the Band-tailed pigeon (Patagioenas fasciata). We had good views of the latter, especially when it appeared in noisy flight, and a decent glimpse of the former.
The Sooty thrush (Turdus nigrescens) is to be seen everywhere higher up the road, but on this trip there were also many Mountain thrushes (Turdus plebejus). The name change from robins to thrushes now seems to be finalised.
The Mountain thrush is a duller version of the famous national bird, the yigüirro (now termed Clay-colored thrush). There are potential identification problems because of the White-throated and Pale-vented thrushes that are to be found on p. 250 of The Birds of Costa Rica (Garrigues & Dean), but we encountered neither of these two. Here are the Sooty and the Mountain thrushes, by kind courtesy of Richard Garrigues:
We had little luck with hummingbirds, succeeding with only unsatisfactory views of what we think was the Volcano hummingbird (Selasphorus flammula). No gorget colour was distinguishable. However, we did find both silky-flycatchers, the Long-tailed (Ptilogonys caudatus), which occasionally appears in San Antonio, and the Black-and-yellow (Phainoptila melanoxantha). Here’s the best shot we got of the latter:
Our final mountain species were the Sooty-capped bush-tanager (Chlorospingus pileatus), which appeared even on the lower reaches of the road, and the Large-footed finch (Pezopetes capitalis). The latter seems always to hang out close to the gate that bars access to the top of the volcano road and the views of the crater. The beautiful photos here are by courtesy of Karel Straatman: