100 Birds – #12

We traveled to Costa Rica with several objectives in mind.  Our primary interests were (1) a week-long yoga retreat for Dianne, (2) a week of bird photography at Monteverde Cloud Forest for Bruce and (3) to see and experience some of the diverse cultural and geographic character of the country. Our trip started with several days together then split into separate trips as Dianne traveled to the southern tip of the Nicoya peninsula for her yoga reteat and I traveled to Monteverde to photograph hummingbirds and to search for the Resplendent Quetzel.  We came back together after our individual trips and toured other areas of Costa Rica near San Jose before flying home. Needless to say, there are stories to tell.

But this post is part of the “100 Birds” series and deals with one of the fairly common species we saw on our trip: the Blue-gray tanager.  This photo was taken during our first full day in Costa Rica when we stayed at the Arenal Volcano Lodge. Bird number 1 in the series, the Red-legged honeycreeper, was photographed at the exact same location as the tanager featured here. We stood on the deck and marveled at the birds coming into feed on fruit provided by the lodge. The sounds of the birds were widely varied in tone, complexity and decibels. This little tanager (6-7”) flew in and waited in the perimeter shrubs before flying to the food platform.  As it flitted around the shrub it presented several opportunities for photos. I took 13 photos before diverting to another bird.  This frame is the only one that has the clean background I prefer for birds. The bird is alert and concentrating on the population of other birds at the feeding platform.  The pose is a bit static in that the back is straight (I prefer a bit of head tilt) but the eye is sharp and the bird stands out nicely from the background.

I wish you could feel the excitement of seeing so many new birds so easily.  Really, just standing there as the birds came in to feed was a great experience. New birds every minute or so and then the enjoyment of watching repeat visits. The experience is not the same spiritual experience I had watching thousands of geese rise off a pond at sunrise but this short time in Costa Rica certainly widened our eyes and prepared us for the dynamic variety of birds we’d see in the coming days. Travel photography offers us the chance to tell a story about the character and vitality of a place. This little tanager is a small but important part of our Costa Rica story.

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