April 25, 2015, La Fortuna, Costa Rica — During World War II, a bunch of Quakers from Alabama moved to Costa Rica to escape the war and settled in the northwest highlands in a place called Monteverde. There are still some practicing Quakers around, but Monteverde is better known today as one of the world’s most popular ecotourism destinations. Most birders who go to Costa Rica will visit Monteverde, which is where many people have seen their first Resplendent Quetzal.
Johan, Roy and I stayed at a wonderfully cozy bed and breakfast in Monteverde last night called La Mariposa, not for its quetzals but because the grounds are a good place to find White-eared Ground-Sparrows (hey, they’re pretty sharp-looking for a sparrow). We spent most of this morning at an ecological reserve where we hoped for three good birds: Long-tailed Manakin, Three-wattled Bellbird, and Chiriqui Quail-Dove. The manakins, it turned out, were easy. But after a couple of hours, we still hadn’t seen the bellbird or the quail-dove, and finally got hungry and went for some chicken and rice.
Johan was unusually quiet during lunch. “I don’t give up easy,” he has said several times this week. “I fight!” He conferred with Roy, and they decided to phone a friend. A few minutes later, we picked up a cheerful local guide named Adrian Arroyo who works in the Monteverde Reserve, and the four of us returned for another battle with the bellbird and quail-dove.
Adrian proved to be a good luck charm. First, he heard a bellbird calling in the distance, then, amazingly, spotted it on a snag more than one mile away (we could see it pretty well with a spotting scope). A few minutes later, we were walking quietly through the forest when he heard a leaf rustle. Sure enough, it was the Chiriqui Quail-Dove, skulking in the undergrowth! Adrian just smiled: “I often see them along this section of trail.” Nothing can replace local knowledge!
New birds today: 13
Year list: 2259