Report 8. Monday, September 10, 2007. Birding Day 7. Bella Vista.

Note: Sharon's notes are in {green curly brackets}. Information added to the original reports will be in [red].

It's 619 am, and we're supposed to meet for coffee at the dome. It's partially overcast and a little foggy. I think this is typical. There is an incredible bug crawling up the back of Sharon's jacket as we're heading for coffee. She puts her hand up beside it, when it gets to her shoulder, and on it climbs. Yikes!

We coffee up, and head out, towards the trail Steven has us lined up for, here on Bella Vista property. We get CHESTNUT-CAPPED BRUSH-FINCH on Sharon's left (Steven's Sharon's left). We get squirrel cuckoo, montane woodcreeper and blue-capped tanager, to boot.

"To boot." Dad used to use that expression all the time when he and his buddies would swap pistols or shotguns. "What'll you give for boot?" they'd ask, when they felt the thing they were trading was worth more than the thing they were getting. They'd argue for two months about whether a pistol should trade hands for $40 or $45, then Dad'd win.

[Sharon later looks this up on the internet, and finds that it has been used in this context since about 1000 AD. I didn't know Dad's guns were that old]

A welcome sun rises through the fog at 645 am.

The path is descending slightly, and we pass a two-story storage building, filled with lengths of what's maybe 4" diameter bamboo. The buildings here are constructed using bamboo, and this looks like spare parts.

Maybe this is Bamboo Home Depot.

Beyond this supply building is another covered structure with a workbench and hardwood planks.

Steven says that last night there was a 6.2 quake centered in Colombia, to the north, about 9 pm. I say I thought I felt shaking, but at 11 pm, so I guess that one was my imagination. Steve says that the people ran out of the dome building for fear of collapse, but bamboo is one of the great earthquake-proof building materials around.

We are on the Heliconia Trail, and get SICKLE-WINGED GUAN. Magda spots a female masked trogon. Steven gets us a YELLOW-BELLIED CHAT-TYRANT, with a nice yellow eyebrow. {Steve is always saying things like,"Look at that yellow eyebrow" I finally had to confess to him that at times I couldn't see that level of detail but I would say "Ooh, yes look at that". I promised him I would never say I saw a bird if I didn't. but sometimes my desire to please him would override my honesty about those little details of identification. Wish I could see those things as well as he does.} We get more green-and-black fruiteaters, reminding me, to my chagrin, of the scaled fruiteater we missed on the Yanacocha Trail.

We hear plate-billed mountain-toucan, and Steve says he'll play some Pink Floyd to see if the bird will respond. In the meantime, we are hearing spillman's tapaculo. We get FLAVESCENT FLYCATCHER, and I wonder if they wear big clocks around their neck, like Flavor-Flav, that rascal.


Steven says he can hear red-billed parrots calling from across the valley, but we can't distinguish them. Something has successfully drawn the PLATE-BILLED MOUNTAIN-TOUCAN over, and we get good looks.

Plate-billed Mountain-toucan

This plate-billed mountain-toucan is so-named because if we look closely at its bill, we see that the yellow near the base is not just a different color on the bill, but rather it looks like somebody has attached armor plating, pre-formed to exactly match the curve of the bill -- attached it directly TO the bill. It has a depth of a few millimeters, sticking out from the bill itself.

We continue our hike, getting glossy-black thrush, then watch the plate-billed mountain-toucans fly off. Excellent.

DUSKY BUSH-TANAGER, and then STRIPED TREEHUNTER follow, ID'd by Steve. THREE-STRIPED WARBLER follows, then we get better views of the treehunter.

A wren sings its song, and is the SEPIA-BROWN WREN, one Sharon and I well-remember from our memorizing activities before we left San Jose. We are now nearly back up to the road and our lodge, and we get RUFOUS SPINETAIL. A mountain wren calls and shows itself.

Magda warns, "Raptor," but it's a black vulture. When someone shoults "raptor", it's like someone yelling "tree mail" on Survivor. Everything else stops while the raptor is checked out. It might be anything.

Steven says loudly, scolding Magda that she would call our attention to such a common bird, "WOMAN!!" But he does it with charm. Steven gets us SIERRAN ELAENIA, then Sharon hears a big flapping and asks what that is. I say, based on recent events, "andean guan," but Steve says PLUMBEOUS PIGEON. The lifers are falling like flies today, as is my status as a bird identifier, which is based on what-have-we-seen-lately or what-is-most-likely.

It's about 10 am, and we get a beautiful GOLDEN-NAPED TANAGER, and then BLUE-AND-BLACK TANAGER. I am noticing a nice red flower, distracting me from the birds. OK, take a picture and let it go!

A Bella Vista Flower, species Unknownius unknownius

We go back to Bella Vista and take a little break. Here's our building, and our door.

After a bathroom break, we load into the van, for a session of bird-the-road. We drive a bit, then get out and start walking. It's pretty quiet. Steve gets montane woodcreeper and spectacled whitestart, while Magda gets another nice crimson-mantled woodpecker. A half-dozen turquoise jays are reminding Sharon of bird behavior when they're "mobbing" an owl, who has roosted in their territory. But nobody finds an owl, and the jays move on.

We drive further, stopping for this great view of the local Andes. The road you see is the "old road", and is the one we took to get here.

From our point of view, the Andes have new meaning now

We drive to the entrance of the Bella Vista Cloud Forest Reserve Research Station, park and walk down the mildly steep winding road to the bottom, where the main building and another building stand. A girl sits on the steps of the main building, and she and Steven swap bird location and time-of-day info. She asks what group we are with. Steven says it's a private tour, and he's the leader. Sharon and Magda go down to the second building to use the rest room.

Bella Vista Reserve Research Station, Main Building

After a bit the girl says, "You're not supposed to be here. This is just for students and researchers." Steven politely says something to her, but I don't hear it. "Just so you know," the girl says. Sharon says later that the girl went down to Magda and her and asked what group they were with, apparently trying to independently confirm Steven or catch him in a "story." But Sharon's story is the same as Steven's. We continue birding for a little while, but it's pretty quiet.

We head back up the driveway and at the van, Steven says she's wrong, pointing to a sign beside the driveway. It says this reserve is for the exclusive use of researchers and persons staying at Bella Vista, and hey, that includes us.

I announce to Sharon that my record owning-a-York-mint-patty for seven days without eating it was brought to an end last night. Now I have NOTHING!

We drive further up the hill, and park near a yellow van, also parked here. We begin walking down a trail, and Sharon and I are walking close together. "Do you hear those toucan barbets?" I ask. She laughs and says that is Steven's iPod. "Huh-WHUT?" Everybody laughs except the jokee, who just grins. We comedians don't care whether you're laughing with us or at us, so long as you're laughing.

It's about 1230 noon when Sharon gets a couple of band-tailed pigeon flybys. Then we get maybe ten or twelve band-tails perched high in a couple of trees.

We go back to Bella Vista for lunch, and a nap, then I get some more excellent booted racket-tail pictures a shot of Sharon climbing a bamboo ladder, leading to a sleep "dormitory".

Because it's there

Then at about 3 pm, we go on the road again, with the van. We drive to an overlook, where part of the road has begun to give way and slide down the mountain. We stay away from that part. Occasionally, rocks will slide down behind us, and I can't overlook Sharon's nervousness about the rattling rocks.

Another plate-billed mountain-toucan flies in, and Steven says this is the exact bird on the front of our field guide, and his name is George. The bird gives a funny rattling prelude as part of its call.

We hit the van again, soda speak, and go by what looks like a birding lodge or center. There are buildings, but we see nobody. Maybe they're all out birding.

I still can't get over the land that has been cleared for farming and grazing. It seems to be nearly vertical, but is probably 25 or 30 degrees. It is fenced, but the fence is right up against the road in this side, and against forest on the adjacent side.

We follow a tapaculo call, and after much work, we get poor views of a SPILLMAN'S TAPACULO. Man, those guys like to hide. We head back to the lodge and arrive about ten to seven. Dinner will be at seven. We buy a $4 telephone card, because a sign on a public pay phone says for 12 cents a minute we can call anywhere in the U.S.

We get another, really good look at the bug that was on Sharon's jacket this morning. Actually, he's walking up the side of a tree, but I've rotated the picture 90 degrees counter-clockwise.

I wanna be THAT for Halloween

Tomorrow is Sharon's mom Gretchen's birthday (as well as my sister Shirley's), and we call Gretchen and Shirley. {Being REALLY clever, when we get Shirley on the phone, I sing"Feliz Navidad" believing that I am singing Happy Birthday in Spanish. Shirley says to Bob when they talk, "Isn't Sharon about 4 months early?" which I don't get until we get back to our room, then I realize I just sang "Merry Christmas" to her in Spanish. As Bob says "Dohp!} Then it's time to eat. Though we feel like we just ate. {They feed us like crazy here. At breakfast, they will first bring fruit and juice., As much fruit as I would bring out for 4 people, but each one of us gets a plateful. Then they bring cold cereal which everyone here eats with yogurt. THEN they ask "how do you want your eggs cooked?" This is all repeated at lunch and dinner only then it is a big bowl of soup with bread or rolls, which would usually be enough for me and then they bring the main course and then dessert. I keep thinking I won't eat so much, but it is usually delicious so I take some of each. Of course, we are hiking/walking like crazy every day so we need the extra calories.}

We finish dinner and are walking past the public pay phone, back towards our room when a fellow on the phone says, "Are you birders?" "Yes," we say, and he tells us there's an owl on a perch over near the dome -- the dining room.

As we are head that way, back towards the dining room, Wilson passes us. He's running to Steven's room to tell them about the owl. Steve and Magda show up, then I go back to the room to get our video camera, since the owl's perched in the dark. But my video camera has super night shot, and maybe that'll work.

I come back and get some fairly good video of the little RUFESCENT SCREECH-OWL. We figure he's waking up and about to go owling for insects. Notice the first shot with its eyes open, then the second shot.

Lifted from Video. First shot, with eyes open.

Lifted from Video. Eyes Closed. No, I wanna be THIS for Halloween.

Incredibly, the owl has dark spots on its eyelids, which appear to be eyes, each pointing outward. Just enough to spook me.

We walk back towards the room again, but stop to call son-in-law Jeff, and then Sharon's son Peter. We try Sharon's other son Matt, but get only the answering machine. We also call our friend Nancy, but she doesn't answer her cell phone, probably babysitting or visiting her grandkids.

It's 844 pm, and we catch last night's common potoo for ourselves tonight, perched on a vertical stick, near where he was last night. I get off a few shots, then we turn in. It's warmer tonight, but still the heater feels good.

Good night yall. I expect to dream about York Mint Patties. Hmmmm. Must have mint patties.


Trip Birds Seen Today (First Time on the Trip): 17
Total Trip Birds to Date: 204

Life Birds Seen Today: 16
Total Life Birds to Date: 172

Best Birds: Golden-naped Tanager, Spillman's Tapaculo, Rufescent Screech-owl.

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