We started day 4 with some pre-breakfast birding around the lodge. It was a foggy and cloudy morning with few surprises except for a Bright-rumped Attila (lifer), a funny member of the flycatcher family. After breakfast, we packed up a van for our trip to the Trapp Family Lodge next to the world famous Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. Now, there are two ways you can get there from Arenal. You can drive 6 hours on extremely bumpy, narrow, mountainous roads or you can take a water taxi across Lake Arenal and then drive 2 hours on bumpy, narrow, mountainous roads. The choice was obvious. On our way to the water taxi, we found some White-throated Magpie Jays! Love the curly-q!
The water taxi ride was pleasant and included birds like Great and Snowy Egrets, Mangrove Swallow, and Neotropic Cormorant. The drop-off point for the taxi proved to be surprisingly birdy. After trekking up a staircase made of sandbags, we were treated to an Orange-chinned Parakeet less than 10 feet away. Ruddy Ground-doves were everywhere. A few Slaty Antshrikes called like crazy from the brush on the side of the road, but would not come out to see us. At one point, they must have been a foot away from our feet but we couldn't see them!
We boarded our vehicle for the arduous trek to Monteverde. It was indeed bumpy and mountainous. The drivers in CR must need to buy new shocks every month. Our driver did an amazing job getting us there relatively comfortably though.
The Trapp Family Lodge is a very nice place. Everything is made of decorative wood, the beds are comfortable, and each room has a patio door or balcony view of the yard. The restaurant is very nice with a good choice of food, good (at times leisurely) service, and great fresh juice. My only complaints are that you can't flush the toilet paper and our room had a strange chemical smell. The TP thing is common in the more remote lodges and is not a huge deal.
After a late lunch we headed to Monteverde Reserve. Luckily, Trapp lodge is only an 8/10 mile (slightly uphill) walk to the reserve. We encountered many inquisitive Slate-throated Redstarts on our way towards the reserve. The weather became interesting. It's not called a cloud forest for nothing. A constant mist sprayed against our raingear. We were essentially standing in a cloud. It was a bit of a nuisance, but I'll take it over pouring rain.
We didn't go in the reserve itself (that's for tomorrow), but we did visit the Hummingbird Gallery located right outside the entrance. No matter how many times I go to big hummingbird feeding stations, they never get old. Hummers whiz by your head, perch inches away, feed like crazy, fight for space at the feeders, and really put on a show. You can't beat it. We saw 11 species of hummingbird at these feeders including the endemic Coppery-headed Emerald, Purple-throated Mountain-gem, Violet Sabrewing, Stripe-tailed Hummingbird (new for me), and Magenta-throated Woodstar. Say those names three times fast.
We ended the day birding the road back to the lodge. After a great dinner (did I mention how good the steaks in Costa Rica are?), we had one more bird on our agenda. Bare-shanked Screech Owls have been heard at the lodge, so we decided to try for it. Keep in mind that it gets pretty chilly and windy at night in Monteverde. Tonight was no exception. The six of us standing in the bombarding winds with icy, horizontal rain pounding the backs of our legs must have been quite a sight. Needless to say, we didn't see the bird. On day 5, we head to the reserve!