Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Birding and Photography at Laguna del Lagarto

After my tour group headed home, some friends and I decided to continue on to check out a couple other Costa Rican birding locations. Our first stop was the little known Laguna del Lagarto Lodge in the northern part of Costa Rica very near the border with Nicaragua.

We left early from San Jose and arrived at the lodge before lunch leaving us plenty of time to bird in the afternoon. Everyone quickly realized that the deck in the dining area was the place to get some awesome photograph and I don't think we even checked in before we were snapping away.

This is one of my favorite photos that I took while in Costa Rica. Keel-billed Toucans are so photogenic!

This Black-mandibled Toucan wasn't quite as cooperative as the Keel-billed above.

It can be hard to get photos of parrots when they are perched but since the Brown-hooded Parrots
come to the feeders at the lodge, it's much easier to get some shots.
Red-legged Honeycreepers are normally all blue but this molting bird was extremely interesting!

This Shining Honeycreeper was extremely cooperative!

The Chestnut-colored Woodpecker was one of my favorite woodpeckers that I saw during my trip.

I had really looked forward to spending a lot of time hiking around this property and the surrounding roads but rain ruined those plans for the most part. Whenever the rain would stop, I'd emerge from the covered observation platform and make it as far as I could before the driving rain sent me looking for cover again. In my short trips out on the trails, I did find some good birds such as Black-faced Grosbeak!

While birding and photographing from the deck, we met a birder from Holland named Herman. Herman was traveling around Costa Rica much like we were and we all immediately hit it off . On our second day at the lodge, while Brian and George continued to photograph birds from the deck, Herman and I headed off to a trail a little farther down the road. We were hoping to find an Agami Heron that had been seen in the area about a month before but luck was not on our side. Even without the heron, we did find some nice birds along the trail such as Lineated Woodpecker and Slaty-tailed Trogon. Brian also spent some time in the King Vulture blind while we were gone and got some amazing shots, one of those can be seen here!

Herman and I almost accidently grabbed this boa constrictor as we ducked under the branch it was on.

After dinner on our final night at the lodge, we tried to find some owls but weren't having al that much luck. We could here a Black-and-white Owl but it was rather distant and didn't seem to be getting any closer. Awhile later one of the guides rushed over and said that the Black-and-white Owl had landed in a tree right next to the lodge!

The view of my lifer Black-and-white Owl was incredible! (Photo by Brian Zwiebel)
Overall, Laguna del Lagarto wasn't one of my favorite stops on our trip. The lodge is rather rustic and the humidity coupled with the lack of fans made it tough to sleep at night. For birding, I'm not sure that I would return to this location (maybe in a different season) but Brian and George felt that it was one of the best photography stops on our whole trip.

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