Friday, December 25, 2015

Costa Rica - Osa to Panama - Chiriqui

Feb 21

Seeing as I'd missed the sicklebill and the euphonia the day before, I was at Quebrada Pizote for first light, wading my way up the stream (ok, it was ankle-deep so wading maybe isn't the right term) to the nest. It turned out my luck had changed, and after a few minutes of waiting one of the White-tipped Sicklebill pair came in to feed its young! The day before we had been unable to see any movement in the nest and were a bit worried, but I guess the young are just really good at staying still when the parents aren't present. Not long after the sicklebill arrived, a second one came in and was promptly chased off. That was the last I saw of either of them, as I decided to leave it at that and not disturb the nest site any further! Along my walk back I had great views of a male Spot-crowned Euphonia and had a male Garden Emerald at the hostel as a bonus. Wandering over to the Bosque lodge, I went for another lap of the trails, adding Bicolored Antbird, Broad-winged Hawk, Streaked Flycatcher, Buff-throated Foliage-gleaner and White-vented Euphonia for the trip, as well as getting awesome views of two skittish male Great Curassows and seeing another Spot-crowned Euphonia.

A blurry photo of BdRT's main attraction - Black-cheeked Ant-Tanager

Baird's Trogon at a nest that I found!

 The Bosque del Rio Tigre Lodge

By late morning it was time to go, and I slowly made my way back to Puerto Jimenez, birding the road on the way to add Pale-breasted Spinetail, my last new trip bird in Costa Rica and my 400th species in only 9 days in the country! My rental car was due to be returned at 4:30pm, but since I had cleaned up pretty much everything new I could see within a reasonable drive of PJ, I decided to call it a day early and spend a relaxing afternoon at the hotel (Cabinas Jimenez). This was complicated somewhat when the hotel manager was out somewhere, pushing my check-in time back for a while, and then the rental agency was closed! I waited around for quite a while, getting some weird looks from people who walked by me several times, before someone arrived who knew the guy who was supposed to be working and called him up. It turned out he wasn't planning to come in to work until 4:30 as I was the only person who had any business that day and they weren't expecting me until then! Aghhh! With my afternoon having been pretty well wasted, I went to the hotel and had a nice skype chat with my parents, who I hadn't really talked to for a few weeks other than quick emails to say I was still alive!
Running trip total: 632

Feb 22

The ferry from Puerto Jimenez to Golfito (the fast one, anyway) leaves around 6am, so I was at the wharf around 5:30 to ensure I got a ticket. To kill the time I scanned the bay and the mudflats but didn't turn up anything too interesting. The ride across was fairly uneventful - I was hoping to do some birding but the confined space and spray-covered windows pretty well nixed that possibility.

Sunrise from the ferry to Golfito

Arriving in Golfito I hopped into a collectivo headed for the border town of Paso Canoas, where you have to get out of whatever transportation you're in and go through the customs on foot. Something I was vaguely aware of was that Panama requires you to have proof of $500 - whether this is cash-in-hand or a bank receipt with a balance higher than that doesn't really matter. I unfortunately had neither of those on me at the time, and seeing as there was no bank around I figured I was pretty screwed until the guy asked if this was my first time in Panama. Since it was, he let me go with a warning! Seeing as carrying $500 cash isn't a great idea, I would recommend having a recent bank receipt to show if you are crossing into Panama anytime soon - I think they are working to relax or change this law but who knows (Dec 2015 edit: it appears they now allow you to show a credit card, according to the website). Anyway, other than that my crossing went smoothly and I quickly found a bus to Concepcion, where a short walk took me to a transfer station and I was en route to Cerro Punta. Along the way I added my first trip birds for Panama, with Crested Oropendola and Pearl Kite along the road. Working our way up in elevation, we eventually got to Cerro Punta (the end of the bus line), where I had a delicious lunch for $2 (you can find food and beer for ridiculously cheap in Panama!) before continuing on foot to my final destination - the Los Quetzales lodge in Guadalupe, about 3km further up the road. I didn't make it 100m before a truck stopped and asked if I needed a ride to Boquete (a long drive around the mountain!), and was surprised to learn I was only going to Guadalupe. I happily hopped in the back and what I had initally thought would be a half-hour trek up the road turned into a few minutes' ride.

Unintentionally hitchhiking once again

 The main lodge at Los Quetzales

It turned out Guadalupe was pretty tiny and the hotel was almost right at the intersection where the guy dropped me off. After checking in (to the dorm, not to the fancy cabins unfortunately) and ditching my stuff, I went for a wander up to the forest to kill time waiting for Steve Pike (one of my compadres for the Panama leg of the trip) to arrive. After taking a wrong turn and wandering into some farm fields, I eventually found the path up to the cabinas. I had a nice walk through this area, adding Red-faced Spinetail for the trip and finding a gorgeous male Resplendent Quetzal along with a good number of Panama/Costa Rica highland specialties. Since Steve was due to get in sometime in the late afternoon, I wandered my way back to the lodge and spent some time meandering around the gardens, taking photos of the various hummingbirds coming in to the feeders and the flowers. Steve ended up getting in just as I was going to bed - much later than expected but we cracked a beer to catch up and plan the next few days!

A phone-binned Resplendent Quetzal!

White-throated Mountain-Gem

The forest above Los Quetzales

Since the Panama leg of this was pretty much a trip in itself, I will add a new tally at the bottom!
Running trip total: 635 (225MX, 171BZ, 239GT, 400CR)
Panama: 68

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