Revisiting the Whooping Crane

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Whooping Crane at sunset

I recently traveled back to Holla Bend National Wildlife Refuge after hearing reports that the Whooping Crane was roaming closer to the road, allowing birders a better view. That was not necessarily the case for my second visit to see it. However, I did get the chance to get a slightly better view as the sunset.  Along the way, I also spotted the below Red-tailed Hawk while a group of Northern Shovelers swam in water located just across the road from the Whooping Crane.

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Red-tailed Hawk
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Northern Shovelers

Rare find: Say’s Phoebe

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Yesterday, I made a trip back to my hometown in Northeast Arkansas and, naturally, I couldn’t resist stopping at Bald Knob National Wildlife Refuge on my way back to see what birds I could find.

I got lucky. Right off the bat, I found a Say’s Phoebe – which is rare to the area according to eBird.org. The Say’s Phoebe is a medium-sized flycatcher that is typically found in the western part of the United States.

Bald Knob NWR: Recent Finds

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Pectoral Sandpiper

Recently, I found several firsts at Bald Knob National Wildlife Refuge: the above Pectoral Sandpiper and the below Least Flycatcher.

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Least Flycatcher

However, these weren’t my only finds. See more below. 🙂

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American Avocet
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Blue Grosbeak
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Great Blue Heron
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Ducks at Sunset
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Great Blue Heron

 

Colorful view

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The good thing about visiting Bald Knob National Wildlife Refuge is that I can usually find something for each member of my party (which typically includes family members). For my aunt, that means flowers. So, you can imagine we were happy to find these flowers this past May.

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Recap: Costa Rica

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Well, my trip to Costa Rica with 21 Arkansas Auduboners is now over. We saw around 189 species of birds despite three days of near constant rain.

Here’s our eBird lists as reported by our group leader:

26 May 2019
Liberia airport

Night walk
27 May
Prebreakfast birding
Santa Rosa National Park
28 May
Hacienda Guachipelin

Rincon de la Vieja volcano

PM birding walk

29 May
Cafeteria Horizonte

30 May
Monteverde Santa Elena prebreakfast birding

Monteverde Cloud Forest
Finca Life Verde Coffee farm tour

Curi Cancha Reserve Nightwalk
31 May
Prebreakfast birding Pig Farm Road

Selvatura Suspension Bridges
1 June
Prebreakfast birding walk

Tempisque River boating
2 June
Prebreakfast birding Playa Carrillo area
Chora island snorkeling trip

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Purple-throated Mountain Gem

Day 9: Costa Rica

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We went on one final walk before loading up to head back to Liberia for the airport.

While the beach resort had killer views and great staff, it’s not a place I plan to come back to. One person in our group created a list comparing what Costa Rica bird we’d seen each person would be. She said I remind her of the Lessen’s Motmot. I’m pretty happy to be back – I was greeted by my dad and nieces who will be spending the next few days with me while my sister travels for work. 🙂

Day 8: Costa Rica

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Today was my final full day in Costa Rica. It was a “free” day for the group, although there was a guided ocean kayak and snorkeling tour to Chora Island planned for anyone wanting to go. I couldn’t say no. I pretty much spent the entire time at the island snorkeling.

I admitted to being extremely cranky yesterday and I’m embarrassed to say that I complained about the room I was assigned. When I arrived back to the hotel this afternoon, I learned that the hotel staff had switched me to another room to resolve my issue. It was sweet of the staff to help me, especially when they gave my roommate a choice of what rooms we could switch to and she picked the room that completely ignored my concern but had a better view.

We wrapped up the day with a group farewell dinner at a local restaurant.

Day 7: Costa Rica

I love Senda Monteverde Hotel! However after a final morning walk, we left Monteverde for our final destination in Carrillo Beach in Guanacaste.

Along the way, we stopped once again in Abangares for gas, where I was entertained by the Macaws.

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Macaw

The views along the route were also pretty amazing.

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We later stopped for lunch and a private, guided boat tour on the Bebedero River in the Tempisque River basin bordering Palo Verde National Park.

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We also saw so many crocodiles and babies!

We even saw monkeys, a giant anteater and bats! I need to emphasis how excited I was to see the bats!! I finally got a video of a basilisk running on water as well.

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Our final days will be spent at Nammbú Beach Resort. I’ll admit I was not in the best of moods when I arrived – I was pure crankiness. I ended up taking a quick trip to check out the beach at sunset before getting in the pool to cool off and nab a drink from the poolside bar (which definitely helped).

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Day 6: Costa Rica

We kicked off the morning with a morning bird walk in a country road near Monteverde.

It was interesting: we were headed through Monteverde when suddenly our driver pulls over and says he’s found a sloth for us. Apparently, our driver is fascinated with sloths and he really did find one as he drove through town. It was a Hoffman’s Two-toed Sloth, which our tour guide said we were lucky to get a good photo of.

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Hoffman’s Two-toed Sloth

We then headed over to Selvatura Park, a nature and adventure ecological park with over 850 acres of protected land. We toured the cloud forest via the park’s many suspension bridges that took us through and above the tree tops. Among the birds we saw were an adult male Three-wattled Bellbird and a Resplendent Quetzal that flew over us.

I ate lunch in town at Amy’s cuisine, where I had a typical Costa Rican lunch, and then sat in on a bellbird conservation talk back at the hotel, and then ate once again at the restaurant.

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Day 5: Costa Rica

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We started our day off with a morning hike with the goal of spotting the Three-wattled Bellbird. We did not see it, although a couple that stayed behind because they were sick later spotted it near the hotel’s lobby. We ate breakfast at the hotel’s restaurant. It overlooks the grounds, and we watched the below Lesson’s Motmot and Yellow-crowned Euphonia visit a tree just outside our window.

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Lesson’s Motmot
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Yellow-crowned Euphonia

After a quick breakfast, we then went straight to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Preserve. The preserve was founded in 1972, and you want to arrive early to get assigned to the more popular trails. We arrived later than we had originally planned to so we were deferred to a less popular trail (although you still can’t go wrong on whatever trail you end up on). 

Throughout the whole hike, we were on a lookout for the Resplendent Quetzal, an endangered bird known for its colorful plumage and considered one of the most beautiful birds in the world. We were just about to leave the trail when we decided to walk up another side trail to an artificial nest set up by preserve staff. We got lucky – we found both a male and a female (which visited the nest). Another tour guide was sweet enough to take my phone and get a cell phone photo (below, top left) through his scope of the Resplendent Quetzal. We actually had a pair of sisters cry because they joined the group specifically to see this particular bird and they were so thrilled they got to see it.

Before we left the preserve, we stopped by their hummingbird/gift shop/cafe area where they had multiple hummingbird feeders set up for visitors to catch a closer glimpse of the various species of hummingbirds. I have to admit: this was my favorite part because hummingbirds are so darn beautiful and funny!

While traveling to our next stop for Finca Life Coffee Tour in Monteverde, we saw the below Masked Tityra on a telephone pole.

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Masked Tityra

Once at the coffee farm, we ate lunch before touring the farm and sampling the coffee. It was definitely fascinating to learn how the family-managed farm operates.

While I loved hearing about the history of the coffee farm and how it operates, I also enjoyed the birds we found. We actually saw a male Three-wattled Bellbird! It sat in a tree calling near a Pale-billed Woodpecker. Near the end of the tour while looking at the coffee beans in the field, we discovered a male juvenile calling and a Montezuma Oropendola that completed a series of bows from a tree branch as part of its mating ceremony.

Tonight, we went on a guided night walk at Curi Cancha Reserve, which includes 205 acres of primary and secondary forest. Only a few folks from the group went on the night walk, and afterwards, we ended up eating together in town at a local bar before heading back to crash. It was a fun walk, but I was disappointed in the lack of diversity in the amount of species we found – mainly because I really wanted to see an owl. But, we did see multiple bats and the below snake was a cool find!