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Birdy Joy at Bosque de Paz

Thursday, April 17, 2014

It was a cool and overcast day when we arrived at the cloud forest called Bosque de Paz (Peace Forest).  The rustic lodge nestled quietly against a mountainside

 Hummingbird feeders buzzed with activity.
I don't like photographing hummingbirds on plastic feeders, vastly preferring natural perches, but I made an exception for this huge violet saberwing, who took my breath away. This is a hummingbird the size of a junco, a hefty mountain beast who rules the air. Its wings make a low thrum. You know a bird of substance is in the area when you hear that. And when you catch the violet, well, just try to remember to breathe. Many, many more violet saberwings to come. I celebrate the violet saberwing.

A little tip for eco-lodges, Bosque de Paz in particular: Putting up a few low dead snags against a green forest background, or planting shrubs up near the feeders where hummingbirds can perch and stage as they battle for eating rights goes miles toward making photographers happier. Just one shrub or snag can make the difference between a documentary photo like this one, and an aesthetically pleasing composition. Many more of those to follow.

I was dumbstruck by the beauty of the green-crowned brilliant (male shown here). Yes, it is tiny, but is it not a flying, jewel-armored dragon? A myth come to life, sipping sugar water at a faded feeder.

I watched the feeders, and watched the hummingbirds as they dispersed into the vegetation just off the pavilion where the feeders hung. Moved quietly there and sat down for awhile to look. And found this little female green-crowned brilliant at rest.

The male repaired there, too. 

I loved seeing them perching on twigs, in proper, plastic-free context.

This would be why it's called a green-crowned BRILLIANT. These little creatures turn their heads to face you and bang! you're smacked with a psychedelic neon vision. Who knew he sported an acid-green gladiator's helmet? An electric blue bow tie?

Don't miss the little female he's displaying for just below...

Speaking of myths, I was thrilled to see my first 88 butterfly. For decades, I've looked at photos of this bug, wondering if I'd ever be blessed to see it in real life. Glad it happened before I turned 88.

There were some pretty spiffy songbirds in a fruiting tree a little ways off. We set up the scope and my iPhone to capture a distant but still breathtaking golden-browed chlorophonia (a sort of tanagery/finchy affair), who looks like he was assembled by committee. How about a sky-blue collar? Yes, that would be nice!

At the feeders nearby, a white-tipped dove stepped daintily up to some scattered grain.

The brilliant David Sibley describes white-tipped doves as having a "bemused expression." I love finding lyrical gems like that in a field guide. The more, the better, I say.

Hope he kept it in the stunning revision just published. 

A yellow-thighed finch took my breath away with his snazzy pantalones.

And chestnut-capped brush finches were everywhere. What a gorgeous variation on the towhee theme.

My favorite non-hummingbird photo of the day, though, was of a dipper who zipped downstream and paused just long enough to dazzle us before flying on. The composition with that delta of skylit water behind the bird was perfect. Though this is the same species (Cinclus mexicanus) as inhabits the western U.S., it was quite distinct in appearance, being much paler and seemingly more slender. This, however, could have something to do with the fact that it's diving in warm tropical watercourses rather than the freezing cold tumbling trout streams of  Wyoming. No need to keep yourself puffed out to the max here!

and oh, did I love that delicious warmth.


Neat, just plain NEAT! I do think Ma Nature has a sense of humor, giving a critter dressed in Victorian black garments those flashy yellow undies :o)

I have been there twice and love the place and the people. It is always been a wonderful experience

My Oh My, what sensory overload. Bird after fantastical bird. Thanks so much for sharing.

Posted by Gail Spratley April 17, 2014 at 1:47 PM

Beautiful in every way. The colors are simply mind-blowing. Glad to have my senses awakened through this vicarious journey with you.

The green-helmeted hummingbird and then the 88 butterfly! I never knew there was such a thing as an 88 butterfly. Amazing photos!

Posted by April 18, 2014 at 4:18 PM
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