The Volcanoes Road

The Turrialba Volcano itself is still off limits and will probably remain so. The road is closed at the village of La Central. However, the road from La Central to the Irazú Volcano remains open and, with no recent heavy rains, is easily passable for any vehicle. This road first passes by the Volcán Turrialba Lodge, now unfortunately closed because of the recent volcanic activity and then passes through some beautiful cloud forest before emerging into open countryside with dairy farms above the town of Pacayas. From here the habitat is of less interest until you emerge onto the main road to the Irazú Volcano. Views from the inter-volcano road are magnificent. The photograph below was taken by friend Larry Waddell as we made our way in the late afternoon from La Central to Pacayas.

Turrialba Volcano from the road to Irazú

The western side of the Turrialba Volcano is now quite bare

Larry and I had a great day, prior to this, at El Tapojo, being rewarded with some good views of typical high-elevation birds, including a pair of Resplendent Quetzals that didn’t want to pose. Other species were more cooperative:

Spot-crowned WoodcreeperLarry

The Spot-crowned Woodcreeper (Lepidocolaptes affinis) is by far the commonest of this family at these elevations.

If you see a tiny hummingbird it will most likely be the Volcano Hummingbird (Selasphorus flammula). The males of this species have a different gorget colour depending on the region:  Irazú/Turrialba  (magenta),  Poás/Barva (red), or the Talamanca Cordillera (mauve-purple). It is not at all easy to see the differences between them but, happily, females are identical.


Female (we think) Volcano Hummingbird poses nicely here

In North America, the commonest hawk by far is the Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis), but here in Costa Rica this species is fairly common only in the highlands. Larry took the following picture of a what is perhaps a resident Red-tailed Hawk just as it flew off.


Red-tailed HawkLarry

Do the belly streaks make this Red-tailed Hawk a migrant? 

2 thoughts on “The Volcanoes Road

  1. The Red-tailed Hawk in your photo is the resident subspecies – Migrants will not show that amount of intense orange on the wing lining, thighs, flanks and belly. Also migrants are not that chocolate brown on the head and back. The hummingbird is indeed a Volcano.


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