Agami Heron at Sierpe

Wyprawa w drzunglę rzeką Rio Sierpe i Estero Azul

Boat ride from Sierpe, Rio Azul

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but surely the Agami Heron (Agamia agami) must be Costa Rica’s most beautiful heron. It seems to be rare in most of its range, which in the Pacific is restricted to the area here near the Osa Peninsula. I am fortunate enough to have been invited to visit friends Roman, Alicja and  Bożena at their summer retreat at Ojochal, a very small town on the southern Costanera (Coast Road) For some reason, they prefer to escape Canada for a few weeks each year and come to Costa Rica. The particular boat tour that we took from Sierpe was up a small tributary of the Rio Sierpe that actually for the most part runs parallel to the road that leads into Sierpe from the Costanera at Palmar Norte.  Sierpe is a jump-off point for boat access to Drake’s Bay and Corcovado National Park. Actually, I was disappointed with the road, which I had imagined would run through wetlands, but  for many stretches it is skirted by oil palm plantations. It probably is good for birding if you stop at appropriate places, but this was not really a birding expedition, though I tried to keep a complete list. The day had begun really well for birds at Ojochal, where 20 Scarlet Macaws (Ara macao) circled right over the house in the early morning. Clearly, this species has now recovered its numbers in this area, because I note from ebird’s database that only two years ago reputable birders were making very few sightings and wondering whether these were perhaps escapes of domesticated birds. Much the most numerous local parrot is the Red-lored parrot (Amazona autumnalis), and the equally noisy Orange-chinned parakeet (Brotogeris jugularis) is also omnipresent.

Noisy, gregarious and all over the place, but still a little gem of a bird, the Orange-chinned parakeet

Noisy, gregarious and all over the place, but still a little gem of a bird, the Orange-chinned parakeet

The boat tour that we took from Sierpe went up a narrow tributary of the Rio Sierpe, the Rio Azul (I believe), where animals and birds are more easily observed than in the heavily frequented main channels. Herons: The single Agami Heron creeping furtively along the bank was easily the birding highlight, but we had excellent views of many species.

Jeden z rzadszych wodnych ptaków.

Jeden z rzadszych wodnych ptaków. Why Polish? Because Roman Augustyn took this picture of the Agami Heron

We saw at least 3 juvenile Little Blue Herons (Egretta caerulea), presumably preparing to depart on migration, but, strangely, no Snowy Egrets. The Boat-billed Heron is always a good find and we had close looks at two individuals. Bare-throated Tiger-herons (Tigrisoma mexicanum) perched conveniently on a fence outside the riverside house of our boat’s owner, while White-faced monkeys played nearby. The chief complaint against the monkeys was their habit of catching and decapitating chicks from the hen-coop in order to suck out the blood and then discard the bodies. Horrid, but I swear that’s what we were told. The following is my list for species seen at Sierpe on the boat trip:

  1. Bare-throated tiger-heron
  2. Great egret
  3. Little blue heron
  4. Cattle egret
  5. Green heron
  6. Agami heron
  7. Boat-billed heron
  8. Black vulture
  9. Turkey vulture
  10. Roadside hawk
  11. Gray-necked wood-rail
  12. Purple gallinule
  13. Southern lapwing
  14. Northern jaçana
  15. Red-billed pigeon
  16. Ruddy ground-dove
  17. Blue-crowned motmot
  18. Yellow-headed caracara
  19. Scarlet macaw
  20. Great kiskadee
  21. Social flycatcher
  22. Piratic flycatchr
  23. Tropical kingbird
  24. Mangrove swallow
  25. Clay-colored thrush
  26. Yellow warbler
  27. Cherrie’s tanager
  28. Palm tanager
  29. Great-tailed grackle
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