Pinnated and Least Bittern at Angostura

After recent post on the rare Wattled Jaçana in residence at the Angostura Dam near Casa Turire, I now turn my attention to the two uncommon bittern species now being found relatively easily at the exact same locality. These are the Least Bittern (Ixobrychus exilis), which is seemingly regularly present there, and the Pinnated Bittern (Botaurus pinnatus). The latter sighting was quite a sensation and may have been among the first for the area and it was a big addition on a day when our target birds were the previously reported Wattled Jaçana and ixobrychus. Both these bitterns are uncommon lowland species rarely found above 600 m and hence at the upper limit of their range here in Turrialba.

Photography was difficult, but John managed to capture both species more than adequately:

Bittern, Pinnated, Angostura, Casa Turire (3)

Pinnated Bittern, crouching. Photo by John Beer.

Bittern, Pinnated, Angostura, Casa Turire (2)

Pinnated Bittern, rather more alert. Photo by John Beer.

When we first spotted the Pinnated Bittern we assumed that it was a juvenile Bare-throated Tiger-heron (Tigrisoma mexicanum), which has similar buffy plumage and is found here quite regularly. One is currently in residence at the lake at nearby CATIE.

Here is John’s final photo of the bittern as it strikes a more typical posture:

Bittern, Pinnated, Angostura, Casa Turire (4)

Pinnated Bittern pointing skywards. Photo by John Beer.

The Least Bittern is a much smaller and darker bird and was the last to be located:

Bittern, Least, Angostura, Casa Turire (1)

Least Bittern, rear view. Photo by John Beer.

Bittern, Least, Angostura, Casa Turire (2)

Least Bittern, front view showing striped breast. Photo by John Beer.

The Pinnated Bittern was a life bird for me, while the Least was my first in Costa Rica. When you add to this the even rarer Wattled Jaçana, it meant a truly outstanding day’s birding. The day’s list, which includes many other real beauties (some with additional photos by John), can be found at:

http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S40104040

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2 thoughts on “Pinnated and Least Bittern at Angostura

    • Yes, it was an amazing morning. Woodland birds were also plentiful and of course the local specialities, Limpkin and Snail Kite were there along with an Osprey. The lake has now been drained a lot lower and has lots of shorebirds. I hope to get there in the next few days.

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