Life Bird at San Diego waterfall

Total solitude at the waterfall below San Diego today. A beautiful, serene spot on a rock ledge above the river and waterfall. I spent a full 15 minutes doing absolutely nothing after picking my way down the steep path from don Jorge’s cabin. He has repaired the path after the recent rains and it’s now much easier to navigate, with plenty of places to stop and listen for forest bird species. I probably spent a full hour and a half there, even though it’s a short trail.

Beautiful spot and birds nearby

Beautiful spot and birds nearby – the San Diego waterfall

There were no Dippers on the river this time but I have three goodies to report: Dusky-faced Tanager (Mitrospingus cassinii), Buff-throated Foliage-gleaner (Automolus ochrolaemus) and Orange-billed Sparrow (Arremon aurantiirostris). All three are new for San Diego and the Foliage-gleaner is a life bird for me. Actually, I have had suspected views of it before, but this time I was treated to a good long look and was able to confirm the identification very easily. Really, nothing else has the rufous tail and the eye-ring with spectacles. It’s a forest species that is actually fairly common, but much patience is required in that leafy environment. The foliage-gleaners, along with the leaftossers (I just love those names), are to be found with the ovenbirds and woodcreepers. Five species receive the foliage-gleaner moniker and only one of them (Ruddy Foliage-gleaner) is not to be expected in our area. You’ll find them on pages 208-211 in the Garrigues and Dean guide.

File:Buff-throated Foliage-gleaner (Automolus ochrolaemus) in Costa Rica.jpg

The Buff-throated Foliage-gleaner: a tricky bird to photograph! By Kent Nickell from Waterloo, IA [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The walk from San Antonio in hot sun was rather disappointing. No warblers, indeed no migrants of any kind, were to be found, though Yellow-crowned Euphonias now seem to pop up everywhere.  The rabo de gato (porterweed) hedges are almost devoid of hummingbirds. The woodland patch behind Chalo’s brother’s little cabin also had little to offer this time so I decided to try the hike down to the waterfall.

The Ruddy Foliage-gleaner was my first find as I entered the forested section, which is preceded by an area planted with bananas and a pond with tilapia. The pond never seems to attract bird species but the beautiful blue morpho butterfly abounds.

The Orange-billed Sparrow is a real beauty and is rated a common bird, but its undergrowth habitat makes it sometimes hard to find. I have not seen it at this locality before. The forest was full of bird sounds and I must have missed several species whose songs and calls I could not identify.

One of the noisiest was the Dusky-faced Tanager. The little group moved around very noisily but it took me quite a while to get a good look. The eye in the black face is a prominent mark, as is the brownish crown. The bill looks more like that of an oriole, fairly long and pointed, than of a tanager. I have seen this bird before at the nearby Guayabo National Monument, but ebird says it is rare for this area and I await verification from them before they will add it to my Life List. The guide books indicate that it should not be found above 600 m and the waterfall here at San Diego cannot be lower than 950 m, hence the doubts. I have no doubt about my identification of this species, however.

Here’s an English twitcher (me, of course) at the waterfall on an earlier occasion:

Oh Happy Day

Oh Happy Day

Here is today’s list, which includes my garden and the walk from San Antonio to San Diego and back:

  1. Gray-headed chachalaca
  2. Cattle egret
  3. Black vulture
  4. Turkey vulture
  5. Red-billed pigeon
  6. White-tipped dove
  7. Squirrel cuckoo
  8. Green-crowned brilliant
  9. Crowned woodnymph
  10. Rufous-tailed hummingbird
  11. Green-breasted mango
  12. Gartered trogon
  13. Keel-billed toucan
  14. Black-cheeked woodpecker
  15. Golden-olive woodpecker
  16. White-crowned parrot
  17. Crimson-fronted parakeet
  18. Groove-billed ani
  19. Blue-crowned motmot
  20. Streak-headed woodcreeper
  21. Buff-throated foliage-gleaner
  22. Yellow-bellied elaenia
  23. Common tody-flycatcher
  24. Tropical pewee
  25. Dusky-capped flycatcher
  26. Great kiskadee
  27. Social flycatcher
  28. Gray-capped flycatcher
  29. Tropical kingbird
  30. Masked tityra
  31. Manakin (sp.)
  32. Brown jay
  33. Clay-colored thrush
  34. Tropical gnatcatcher
  35. Stripe-breasted wren
  36. Bay wren
  37. Plain wren
  38. House wren
  39. White-breasted wood-wren
  40. Red-eyed vireo
  41. Yellow warbler
  42. Tropical parula
  43. Blackburnian warbler
  44. Golden-crowned warbler
  45. White-lined tanager
  46. Passerini’s tanager
  47. Blue-gray tanager
  48. Palm tanager
  49. Golden-hooded tanager
  50. Dusky-faced tanager
  51. Bananaquit
  52. Thick-billed seed-finch
  53. Yellow-faced grassquit
  54. Black-headed saltator
  55. Orange-billed sparrow
  56. Black-striped sparrow
  57. Rufous-collared sparrow
  58. Melodious blackbird
  59. Great-tailed grackle
  60. Montezuma oropendola
  61. Yellow-throated euphonia
  62. Yellow-crowned euphonia
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