Excursion to Bajo Pacuare

For a beautiful forest and river environment, it’s hard to beat the hamlet of Bajo Pacuare and its surrounds. It is located on the Rio Pacuare and is reached via a fairly good dirt road that continues in the direction of Grano de Oro and Moravia, indigenous Cabécar territory, after the villages of Tuis and Tayutic. Many birders from the birding hotspot of Rancho Naturalista at Tuis know the start of the road because a track leads off it to La Mina along a small river well-known for Sunbitterns and other interesting species.

I joined the Beer family, John, Milena and son Sean, for the splendid drive to Bajo Pacuare, where we turned up a side road to a location with a hammock bridge called Paso Marcos. Despite the ideal environment, we had relatively little luck in terms of unusual bird species. John had arranged a circular walk from Paso Marcos at around 600 m elevation, uphill to about 800 m and then back down to Bajo Pacuare, where you can buy snacks at the tiny pulpería and have a picnic.

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View of the Rio Pacuare at Paso Marcos

Birding highlights were few but Sean and John nonetheless managed to take some fine photographs. Perhaps the best was the following shot of a Tropical Pewee (Contopus cinereus) that captures most of the key field marks that you need to eliminate confusion with migratory wood-pewees:

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Tropical Pewee, courtesy of Sean Beer. Here, this resident Contopus shows plenty of yellow below, the orange lower mandible (with dark tip!), and even the pale lores, which are mentioned in the guide books but are usually hard to spot.

Sean also managed a nice shot of a female Black-cheeked Woodpecker (Melanerpes pucherani), one of a pair that posed within reasonable distance:

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Female Black-cheeked Woodpecker, courtesy of Sean Beer

The senior Beer took this also very appealing portrait of the male:

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Male Black-cheeked Woodpecker, courtesy of John Beer

Unfortunately, we saw no river birds at all and only one hawk, a sub-adult Broad-winged (Buteo platypterus). However, we did find a couple of interesting hummingbirds, a male Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer (Chalybura urochrysia) and a female Green Thorntail (Discosura conversii). Sean had the best pic of the Plumeleteer, even though the typical red legs cannot be seen:

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Male Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer, courtesy of Sean Beer

The Thorntail was not easy to photograph on its high perch but the white facial stripe can clearly be seen:

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Female Green Thorntail, courtesy of John Beer.

The link to our list for the day can be found at the end of this post, but I do have to mention that we had excellent close-up views of a Slaty-capped Flycatcher (Leptopogon superciliaris) that showed special interest in us. This is a reasonably common wet forest species, but I had never seen it before to such good advantage. Unfortunately and despite the proximity, the bird managed for the most part to elude both cameras. Finally, John got the following rather blurry pic:

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Slaty-capped Flycatcher, courtesy of John Beer. The diagnostic dark ear patch can be seen clearly.

Our morning’s list of some 45 different species is available on eBird at the following link:

http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S33445685

Many thanks to John, Milena and Sean for another highly enjoyable outing. Have a great time in the southern Pacific region!

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