A site that I regularly visit where the road from Las Virtudes (Calle Leiva) meets Calle Vargas provided a pleasant surprise last week when John and Milena took me up there on the way to Bajos del Volcán. A female Barred Becard (Pachyramphus versicolor) together with a begging immature, also female, popped up repeatedly right in front of us at ground level. I had difficulty at first with the identification. I knew that it was a new species for me but thought it was one of the many tyrannulets and spadebills (p. 227 in the new edition of Birds of Costa Rica, Garrigues & Dean), with most of which I am quite unfamiliar.
This small becard’s prominent eye-ring is not shown in the old version of the Garrigues & Dean guide, which is the one I use in the field. The other most prominent field marks on the female (no male was present) are the grey cap and the rufous wing coverts, making it a very distinctive and pretty bird that I should have been able to pin down immediately.
I intend to return to the location as soon as possible to see if this highland species is perhaps a regular there. Maybe next time the black-capped male will also show up. None of my previous visits has been in the early morning, which is a much more productive time of day.
All photos by kind courtesy of friend John Beer.