30 March 2013

Attack of the Killer Hummers...COSTA RICA (24 Feb)

The feeders at Monteverde are nothing short of legendary, as if the offer of cool highland species like Orange-bellied Trogons and quetzals are not enough alone to lure you there, then the hummer feeders are worth a visit in their own right, as witnessed by the masses of non-birding tourists taking an interest, and becoming honorary birders, if only for a short time.

We visited their main feeders, just outside the park, and were literally overwhelmed with the frantic hummingbird scenes: Violet Sabrewing, the real "brute" at the feeders, with its substantial bulk and power evident relative to the other smaller hummingbirds on show,  (together with its feisty temperament), and with its dashing dress: bright violet, with striking white flashes in the tail. It is impossible not to notice, and they are common there and popular there, and for good reason. I hope the photo brings this out, as they are so different in varying light conditions and from different angles.

For company the Sabrewings were competing for the sugar water with a few Coppery-headed Emeralds (actually one of the least numerous species at these feeders, with just a handful present), one of the few Costa Rica country endemics (one of only four, if you include the endemic race/species of  Prevost's Sparrow); Green Violet-earMagenta-throated Woodstar (such a great name), Stripe-tailed HummingbirdGreen-crowned Brilliant, and Green Hermit

Although perhaps the most striking one at the feeders, bar the substantially sized sabrewing of course, were the stunning Purple-throated Mountain-Gems, both sexes of which cause you to draw breath, the female with her vibrant orange underparts, and the male with his deep iridescent purple throat. 

However, hummingbirds were not the only creatures that grabbed our attention at these feeders: a mammal came in too, and a generally scarce species too: OLINGO. This is probably one of the only regular spots for it in Costa Rica (and indeed the world-they are not easy to find in many places; I have been living in Ecuador for 7 years and this was a mammal lifer here at the feeders). This or other individuals have been visiting this same set of feeders on and off over the last few decades, but in spite of this, they are never guaranteed as their visits are erratic and unpredictable in their timing. Normally largely nocturnal it was good to see the comical behavior of this lemur-like animal as it wrestled with the feeder, for which it was clearly too big, causing havoc in the process. Then after causing quite a stir among the people gathered there, (including me, who tripped rather clumsily and rather embarrassingly, in my excitement at the opportunity to photograph it.

 In the afternoon we took a short trip into some drier forest nearer our hotel, in search of the Long-tailed Manakin...

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