The plan for day 5 was to spend the whole day in the world famous Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. Monteverde is home to many high elevation species, the most famous being the Resplendent Quetzal. People come from all over to see this bird. After an early Costa Rican breakfast, we walked up to the Reserve to try to beat the crowds on the trail. The entrance was buzzing with local guides waiting for someone to pay for their service. Apparently, these jobs are a hot commodity in CR.
We started on some of the less popular trails in hopes of finding some avocado trees we had heard about from another guest. Avocado trees are a favorite place for Quetzals to hang out. No luck on the trees initially, but we did spook a Highland Tinamou from the trail. We continued searching the trails for birds. Birding in the thick rainforest can be very frustrating with many fleeting glimpses or "heard only" birds. We manuevered up and down the trails searching for birds. We were joined for a bit by a local who was hoping to be a guide someday. He pointed out some plants and a few insects. On a brief stop on the trail, I managed to find a Greta (clearwing butterfly) - SWEET!
After getting twisted around by the trail map, we headed back toward the entrance. On the way, we encountered a group being lead by a local guide who was a little reluctant to share what they were looking at. It turned out to be a distant group of quetzals with at least one male and female. We had fleeting glimpses. After spending some time with the quetzals, we continued on the trail where we encountered Orange-bellied Trogon (now lumped with Collared Trogon I think) and a Gray-throated Leaftosser singing in plain view!
Next, we took another trail in hopes of seeing Azure-hooded Jays. Unfortunately, we didn't see the jays, but we did see Buffy Tuftedcheek (great name) and Three-striped Warbler (very similar to our Worm-eating Warbler). We had wonderful views of the cloud forest from this trail as well.
A beautiful view of the cloud forest
We had to hightail it down the trail because lunch time had come and gone. We were starving. On the way down the trail, we saw Golden-bellied Flycatcher and Spotted Barbtail. Unfortunately, on the way down my camera also decided to stop working! Oh well...
A species of long-tailed skipper
After lunch, we headed back to the Reserve. We didn't see many new birds, but we did get some more looks at the quetzals. We never did get a perfect view of them. Nothing can compare to the quetzal that we saw perched 10' away from us on our trip to Savegre in 2005. Overall, I was disappointed with Monteverde. I think Savegre has a nicer lodge, a more open forest for birding, and less people. The day did end on a cool note though. I finally saw a tarantula in the wild. It was in a tunnel in the side of a hill by the trail. Did I mention how I'm deathly afraid of spiders but I'm still fascinated by them?