1 Apr 2014

"Home of the Snowcap"


It's a good thing that no-one reads this blog for its' timeliness, for it was back in mid January that Jemi and I met our old HK friends Nigel Croft and Andie Greco at the arrivals hall of Costa Rica's San Jose Airport.

After missing the ring road turnoff, our hire car made an unscheduled city tour of the Costa Rican capital. Yes, I was navigating.

But things perked up pretty quickly once we arrived at our first stop, Rancho Naturalista, which their own T-shirts proclaim as "Home of the Snowcap", a hummer endemic to Caribbean-facing mountain slopes in a small section of central America. 

It was the only place we saw them, so it must be true.

The people who run the place have a great deal of experience meeting the needs of birders. In-house guides are available or visitors can bird around the area by themselves. We did a little of both.

Bay-headed Tanager

The main guesthouse was anticipating the arrival of a large group, so we were accommodated at Rancho Bajo, a few hundred metres down the road. Althougher "Bajo" is Spanish for "lower" we were looked after in high style. 

This was a trip where my hummingbird life-list went from one species to about sixty; - just the names of the birds conjure up images of superlative beauty..."Sapphire", "Brilliant","Jewelfront" to name but three.

A day trip to a site called Silent Mountain brought views of a sought-after species...


There were far too many birds for a recitation of them here, so I'll let some photos do the talking.

Did I mention hummingbirds ?

Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer

Violet-crowned Woodnymph (male)

Violet-crowned Woodnymph (female)
Black-crested Coquette

Green Thorntail

Green-breasted Mango

White-necked Jacobin


And the first of our central American green kingfishers, called, surprisingly enough, -
Green Kingfisher


  1. Yet again I'm consumed with jealousy. Looks like another great trip.............

  2. Superb trip again! Even though I need to work, two big trips per year are now very much indeed.... Love your exploration skill and away from the hustle and bustle of HK.

  3. Great photos. I have been to CR three times but I have not seen Snowcap or Sunbittern. I was unlucky with the Sunbittern and I never went to Rancho Naturalista for the Snowcap. I really look forward to more posts about your trip to Costa Rica.

  4. Wow, this is a great collection. Well done, John. The hummers are truly beautiful but for me, the Sunbittern is the best.

  5. Thanks, everyone - we couldn't go wrong in these conditions :- the birds were numerous and colourful.

  6. WOW!
    That is really something to see!
    What an array of fantastic birds, hardly seen on blogs!
    Congratulations, some shots are very special!