Two birds you rarely see together. Keel-billed Motmot and Agami Heron at the same site.

Most of the bird reports in Costa Rica come from either tourist birdwatching in our country or bird guides guiding tourists. In this scenario make sense that there are places where not many birders go for two reasons, the distance and condition of the roads. In other words, for the traveler, this means a lot of useful time just driving, so the option of closer and easier roads become a better choice. That’s the case of Boca Tapada vrs La Selva (Sarapiqui area). Even if Boca Tapada is an excellent site for birding having the only recent reports of Tawny-faced Quail and great chances for things like Great Jacamar or even one of the big eagles, Crested or Harpy Eagle (read a recent report of Harpy Eagle in Nicaragua relatively close to Boca Tapada here: nicabirds.blogspot.com); this wonderful site is still way too far from the main paved roads most tourist agencies use.

But many reasons make us (guides/travel planners) to take a decision such as travel the extra miles to get here. Last week was one of this cases as I decided to take a group of bird photographers to this exceptional place for a bird photography expedition with the agency EVERY FEATHER at Laguna del Lagarto Lodge in Boca Tapada. For photography the trip was exceptional and worth every extra mile on bad road we drove but also was for birding purposes as we got two of the “top wanted” species when birding the neotropics. First was a nice Agami Heron that is been quite regular in the far pond on the entrance of the Lodge. I went there with some of my customers and they were quite happy to get stunning pictures of such a complicate and secretive heron that was amazingly cooperative. You can see my picture below to prove it. An spectacular individual with all its colors except for the bright red orbital skin classic on breeding/incubating females.

Second goodie around was an unexpected Keel-billed Motmot, one of the most complicate and narrowly range motmot species in Central America; normally restricted to foothills of some volcanoes around the northern portion of Costa Rica. Curiously I saw a racket-tailed bird silhouette while checking the hide for King Vulture we had prepared for our customers to get easy photos of this unique raptor. When I was walking I heard that classic call of a Broad-billed/Keel-billed Motmot (identical call) and I immediately told my group members to get ready for taking pictures of a couple of Broad-billed Motmots. Then, after less than one minute of playback indeed a Broad-billed came on show but 2 minutes later the couple came in showing its real identity. A nice and colorful Keel-billed Motmot. So I felt confuse for a second then I realized there is nothing to be confuse, is just not many birders come so far north and the few here many overlook the species or just never report it. And fortunately for our group the bird was incredibly cooperative posing in several angles allowing all the group members to get stunning pictures at eye level (except me because, of course, I stayed behind making sure all group members got good pictures... but thats how it works when you are a bird guide, customers pictures will be always first and I am happy to at least get one crappy picture to prove I am not crazy and the motmot was real... attached below).

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© 2020. All photographs and text by Juan Diego Vargas. 
 

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