Hot day at San Diego brings two new species

Black-crowned tityra, male

Black-crowned tityra, male

And the female

And the female

It’s late August and there’s still no sign of migrants, but new sightings of resident species just keep on coming.  It makes me wish I could get out every day, even just here in these rural villages on the slopes of the Turrialba Volcano.  We’re not in a prime tourist location and, although we do have a considerable amount of cloud forest up higher on the volcano, there are really no large tracts of primary forest nearby.  I should feel extremely limited since I don’t even have a car, but  every day is exciting for the birdwatcher here in Costa Rica because a new bird can pop up at any moment.

Yesterday’s slow plod in the heat down to San Diego brought two new sightings for the area, the Black-crowned tityra (Tityra inquisitor) plus yet another hummingbird species, the Purple-crowned fairy (Heliothryx barroti).  Both should, theoretically, be present here year-round, but until yesterday I had never seen them in the Turrialba area.  Both feature on the checklists for the Rancho Naturalista at Tuis, for the tropical agriculture research and education facilility CATIE in Turrialba, and for the Juan Espino Blanco private reserve at nearby Verbena, so maybe I need to get out more often!

Hummingbirds are still putting on a show.  The usual bank of rabo de gato bushes brought more good views of the Violet-headed hummingbird, which revolves rapidly around each flower head, turning a perfect circle, but down at the San Diego cabins the same plant attracted a Stripe-throated hermit, usually a forest species.

I did the forest walk, down below the cabins, alone this time, while  Chalo and Hannia took an after-lunch nap.  At first, all the birds were napping too, so it was a big surprise when the Purple-crowned fairy (could have been either male or female) appeared in mid-air among shafts of light in a clearing in the forest.  The beautiful photo below, taken at Arenal, Costa Rica, is by kind courtesy of Noel Reynolds and Flickr’s Creative Commons.

Purple-crowned fairy in graceful flight

Purple-crowned fairy in graceful flight

The return path to the cabins puts you in a position to look down onto the tree tops and that’s when finally there was a flurry of activity.  The Cinnamon becard (a species I rarely see) seemed to be accompanied by a female becard, perhaps a Barred or White-winged becard, but I had no more than a glimpse, and both of those species would be new to me anyway.  The tityras appeared with that same mixed flock, which included several common flycatchers and a woodcreeper.  Since I had seen Masked tityras earlier and they are fairly common at San Diego, I assumed that species at first.  While the drab female Black-crowned might pass for a female Masked, one  good look at the male makes identification easy.  It’s a handsome bird.  The images above are again courtesy of Richard Garrigues, but here’s one taken by friend Karel Straatman:

Here, the male Black-crowned tityra gives us a quizzical look.

Here, a female Black-crowned tityra gives us a quizzical look.

Here’s my list for yesterday’s stroll:

  1. Gray-headed chachalaca
  2. Cattle egret
  3. Black vulture
  4. Turkey vulture
  5. Roadside hawk
  6. Red-billed pigeon
  7. White-tipped dove
  8. Crimson-fronted parakeet
  9. White-crowned parrot
  10. White-collared swift
  11. Stripe-throated hermit
  12. Rufous-tailed hummingbird
  13. Green-breasted mango
  14. Violet-headed hummingbird
  15. Keel-billed toucan
  16. Streak-headed woodcreeper
  17. Yellow-bellied elaenia
  18. Great kiskadee
  19. Social flycatcher
  20. Gray-capped flycatcher
  21. Tropical kingbird
  22. Cinnamon becard
  23. Masked tityra
  24. Black-crowned tityra
  25. Brown jay
  26. Blue-and-white swallow
  27. Tropical gnatcatcher
  28. Plain wren
  29. House wren
  30. White-breasted wood-wren
  31. Orange-billed nightingale-thrush
  32. Clay-colored thrush
  33. Tropical parula
  34. Bananaquit
  35. Passerini’s tanager
  36. Golden-hooded tanager
  37. Bay-headed tanager
  38. Blue-gray tanager
  39. Palm tanager
  40. Thick-billed seed-finch
  41. Yellow-faced grassquit
  42. Rufous-collared sparrow
  43. Black-headed saltator
  44. Melodious blackbird
  45. Great-tailed grackle
  46. Montezuma oropendola
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