TripReports Costa Rica Discovering Paradise 2008

Introduction

Tour Leader: Peter Jones
Trip Report : Peter Jones
Local Guide : Steven Easley

Savegre – Rancho – La Quinta (La Selva) – Arenal – Punta Leona

Picture graceful, tall mountains, their tips wreathed in clouds, their slopes enveloped by majestic trees; Imagine sprawling inland valleys of lush green meadows with rushing rivers and arching waterfalls; aquamarine water lapping glistening beaches; balmy breezes cascading over the stunning plateaus, and down below the dense jungle whitens in a blanket of mist and steam; conjure up a vision of a population whose smiles reveal their inner happiness and pride in their land – Costa Rica. Keith Taylor

acorn-woodpeckerPlanning your route, not giving too great a distance from one location to the next, is the key to getting the very best out of what is arguably one of the world’s finest birding destinations – Costa Rica. We had spent time in doing pre-tour visits and research to maximise bird species and combined this with finding the best available accommodation in prime locations. The results were relaxed, comfortable and hugely rewarding. We took time to enjoy all the species encountered and after our day’s labour were able to be at peace in great surroundings and gave ourselves time to relax with great cuisine and of course a ‘few’ bar-side drinks! Birds and relaxation were the main objectives of the tour and all clients agreed it also produced outstanding value for money. Clients also had several opportunities to enjoy their own company and do their own thing, a real change from most people’s experience of group tours!

Our journey began with the drive from San Jose to Savegre, a famous destination where Resplendent Quetzals are probably most numerous in all of Costa Rica. We certainly considered our first destination as an important location, not only for Quetzals, but a must to gain important Chiriqui Highland Endemics. The lodge was bordered by the beautiful mountain river Savegre and pristine Oak Forests provided the backdrop for the duration of our stay here, Paramo habitat in the higher reaches of the valley provided good birding for alpine species.

From Savegre we made our way to Rancho Naturalista located on the Caribbean slope and again chosen for some great specialities such as White-vented Euphonia, Brown Violet-ear etc., not to mention great food and a spectacular display at the feeding station. It’s a shame this location has had some pretty tough press, sure there are concerns for the management of the gardens and forest area, but the place is still a great location to stay and the food as excellent as ever. A drive down to the river valley produced our first Sunbittern of the tour and also a difficult bird the Dull-mantled Antbird.

Our journey from Rancho to La Quinta allowed stops and a picnic lunch by the Rio Corinto and Rio San Jose, the latter producing a stunning fly-by and stop by another Sunbittern! The closeness of this individual caused great excitement and I couldn’t help thinking how much it’s shape resembled a Bustard, strange thought but not to anyone who knows me! The journey also produced a very close encounter with the beautiful White Hawk. Again the accommodation at La Quinta was excellent and the hotel grounds provided good birding with Spectacled Owls proving a great favourite with us all. A visit to the La Selva Biological Reserve soon had the listers busy and our species total was greatly increased by this excursion. The most notable birds for me during this stay were Tiny Hawk and one from my wish list Sungrebe.

From La Quinta it was off to Arenal Lodge Observatory, a truly remarkable landscape and full of great birding potential. ‘Nearly’ always a good outing here is the Arenal Hanging Bridges. However on this occasion the surrounding woodlands were stifled by high humidity and lots of the usual species became extremely hard to track down. We did manage a couple of star birds a soaring King Vulture and the most difficult of all Motmots Keel-billed Motmot gave close and prolonged viewing! Trogons also starred during our stay with Slaty-tailed, Orange-bellied, Black-throated and Violaceous all showing well. Here we also had large numbers of Emerald Tanager, a great little bird. The whole of our stay here was dominated by the spectacle of the active volcano and this was entrancing especially at night.

american-crocodilewebFrom Arenal we journeyed to the Pacific slopes and made our way down to Punta Leona. The accommodation, although a resort, was excellent and the grounds rich in animal and birdlife. Scarlet Macaw was seen daily and other on-site specialities included Fiery-billed Aracari, Mangrove Black Hawk and Rufous-naped Wren. From our base we were able to visit Torcal Bridge, Torcal River and Carara National Park with ease. The diversity of the area and wide range of species just provided the icing on our cake, with the Carara NP being a wonderful experience and the very close views of both Red-capped and Blue-crowned Manakins proving something special for one and all. Mangrove Warbler and Hummingbird together with American Pygmy Kingfisher also made our lists look respectable.

Our final journey took us back to San Jose after we had opted for another river trip at Torcal! Our hotel in San Jose was the Bougainvillia and what fantastic gardens they had! Tropical Screech-Owl entertained, but a pair of Blue-crowned Motmots were not to be outdone, chasing all and sundry from the feeder tables. A surprise bird for me was White-eared Ground Sparrow, and discussing this later, apparently this and Prevost’s Ground Sparrow are seen more regularly here than elsewhere in the Central Valley. This last night stop made for the perfect wind-down and ideal preparation for the long journey home.

Savegra

Day One January 25th – San Jose – Savegre
A day for liaisons at San Jose Airport and transfer to Savegre. The journey through heavy traffic in San Jose took its toll and normally a couple of hours journey took 3, but included a stop at a local supermarket to stock up on such absolute essentials as chocolate and chocolate.

Day Two January 26th – Savegre
resplendent-quetzalAlthough weary from the previous day’s travel we were all well rested, so after a leisurely breakfast we walked downstream and around the grounds of our most excellent lodge. We were entertained, as we were on all our days in Costa Rica, by the floating Turkey Vulture (so reminiscent of Marsh Harrier in flight) and Black Vulture, with Osprey and Red-tailed Hawk also soaring in the heights. A cluster of Swallow-tailed Kites wheeled their way overhead and as they turned and the sun caught their undersides we all marvelled at their beauty. Downstream we added some great birds and for me Torrent Tyrannulet took some beating, but of course the awaiting Resplendent Quetzals were to figure foremost as most people’s star of this area. With White-collared and Chestnut-collared Swifts flocking overhead we also managed a range of hummers including Green Violet-ear, Gray-tailed Mountain-gem, Magnificent Hummingbird, Scintillant and Volcano Hummingbird. Acorn and Hairy Woodpeckers together with Emerald Toucanet and Spot-crowned Woodcreeper were regulars in the woodland part of walk and Ruddy Treerunner seemed to enjoy the company of passing flocks. Our rarity for the day was Townsend’s Warbler, but we also had some difficult species such as Silvery-fronted Tapaculo, Barred Becard, Ochraceous Wren and Spangle-cheeked Tanager. With a host of other species we counted our first day as a great success.

Day Three January 27th – Savegre Highlands
What a lazy bunch, yet another slow start after a relaxing and complete breakfast. Not so much a walk this morning, but a waddle on full stomachs! We had great fun at the beginning of our walk being accompanied by an extremely confiding Collared Redstart, whether he recognised great people when he saw them or was just real friendly who knows? Later the bird was joined by another and our interest only waned when spotting Ruddy-capped and Black-billed Nightingale-Thrush quickly followed by our one and only sighting of Zeledonia (Wrenthrush)! We headed up the mountain road later in the morning and Golden-browed Chlorophonia made another appearance and we also heard another bird from the previous day a Rufous-browed Peppershrike. Resplendent Quetzals put on a great show in a fruit tree next to the river and gave real open views. Flights from the fruit tree gave us all a colour spectacular. Brown-capped Vireo and Flame-throated Warbler were again good sightings and today we saw Summer Tanager, a sight to behold on virtually every subsequent day of the tour. While watching American Dipper we also had our first Louisiana Waterthrush. Mountain and Sooty Robin were frequent encounters and Black-throated Green Warbler were evident at most stops of the day. In the afternoon we hitched a lift in an open truck and journeyed into the upland Oak Forest looking for a couple of difficult species. Apart from again having great views of Resplendent Quetzals we dipped badly on our targets of Costa Rican Pygmy-Owl and Silver-throated Jay, but there you go, you have to leave good reasons for visiting again! Still we did manage our only sighting of Black-faced Solitaire and had a flyby of a juvenile Ornate Hawk-Eagle.

Rancho

Day Four January 28th – Savegre – Rancho
purple-throated-mountain-gemAfter an ‘early’ morning walkabout (which gave good views of Yellow-bellied Siskin) we tucked into a hearty breakfast before setting-off to locate a couple of specialist birds. We needed to give ourselves time to find a few species at a couple of locations before heading to our next destination Rancho. We headed high and south climbing above the clouds into the highlands. Our first stop soon produced one of our targets the remarkably confiding Volcano Junco. Our next stop also produced the desired result, quite a contrast from yesterday, when we found the fabulous Fiery-throated Hummingbird. We broke our journey to Rancho with a few stops and a couple of waterside stops gave us the rare Lesser Scaup among White-tailed Kite, Northern Jacana, American Coot, Kildeer, Lesser Yellowlegs, Willet, Spotted Sandpiper and Blue-winged Teal. Yellow-billed Cacique made a show which was to be our only sighting of this bird on the tour. Arriving at Rancho then our hummer total immediately improved with excellent views around the feeders of such notable birds as Stripe-throated Hermit, White-necked Jacobin, Green-breated Mango, Violet-headed Hummingbird, Black-crested Cocquette, Violet-crowned Woodnymph and the to be ever-present and aggressive Rufous-tailed Hummingbird. Around the feeders were probably excessive numbers of Gray-headed Chachalaca and these were joined by a bullying gang of Brown Jay with good numbers of Montezuma Oropendola making for a busy time at the feeders. Before retiring for the night we heard Mottled Owl, but the little bugger escaped any attempt to get a decent viewing!

Day Five January 29th – Rancho
It was up at dawn for the bird breakfast served at Rancho! The first new bird was seen overhead a Broad-winged Hawk and coming to the feeders we had the usual gangs of Gray-headed Chachalaca, Brown Jay and Montezuma Oropendola, the later being joined by the smaller Chestnut-headed Oropendola. New hummers included Snowcap, Green Hermit, Violet Sabrewing, Brown Violet-ear, Green Thorntail, Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer and Magnificent Hummingbird. We took a walk around the forest area and grounds after breakfast and this produced some tour firsts including Violaceous Trogon, Squirrel Cuckoo, Collared Aracari, Black-cheeked, Golden-olive, Lineated and Hoffman’s Woodpeckers, Brown-billed Scythebill, Plain Antvireo, Masked Tityra, a splendid White-ruffed Manakin, the rare Tawny-chested Flycatcher, Band-backed Wren, Swainson’s Thrush, Golden-crowned Warbler and the difficult White-vented Euphonia. The forest area both in the morning and late afternoon gave us a good selection including a host of Tanagers. Rose-breasted Grosbeak and Black-striped Sparrow also figured on a extremely good days birding. Few would not have concerns about the way Rancho looks to be headed i.e. It is becoming increasingly an island surrounded by cleared areas, plus the management of both the gardens and forest trails leave an awful lot to be desired, but it is still a great place to stay and worthwhile. We hope Tim and Christal are given the chance to make much needed improvements and intend to visit again next year.

Day Six January 30th – Rancho – Platanillo - Catie
sulfur-winged-parakeetThrough consensus we again rose early and before breakfast visited the moth-trap to view a number of species feeding around the area of the trap on insects. Tawny-chested Flycatcher was seen at very close quarters and this particular site remains one of the best in Costa Rica for seeing this bird. We also had close views of Hepatic, White-shouldered Tanager with also good views of Blackburnian Warbler! After breakfast we headed down to the river valley and a track which led us to more secluded forest and riverside views. We hadn’t been at the river for more than a minute when we heard the plaintive calls of Sunbittern. After we located the bird we were able to spend time enjoying this strange bird and beautiful wing markings as it flew from one rocky outcrop to another, fantastic! In the forest area we were able to get decent sightings of Crimson-fronted Parakeet and saw a large flock of Sulfur-winged Parakeet. Perhaps the most difficult bird of the day was great views of Dull-mantled Antbird. We also managed Russet Antshrike, Plain Antvireo, Checker-throated Antwren and Slaty Antwren all difficult birds. Other good birds were Slaty-capped Flycatcher, Band-backed Wren, White-breasted Wood Wren, Tropical Gnatcatcher, Blue-black Grassquit and Blue-crowned Motmot. After a fine lunch and after we were rested we visited the botanical gardens of Catie. Waterbirds figured well at this site with good views of Purple Gallinule, Northern Jacana, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Boat-billed Heron, Cattle Egret, Green Heron, Little Blue Heron and Great Egret. We had good showings by White-fronted Parrot, Groove-billed Ani, Black and White Owl, Pauraque, Vaux’s Swift, Amazon and Green Kingfisher, Rufous-winged and Lineated Woodpecker, Northern Barred, Cocoa, Spotted and Streak-headed Woodcreeper. A couple of real bonus birds were Plain Xenops and Yellow-margined Flycatcher.

La Quinta

Day Seven January 31st – Rancho – Rio Corinto – Rio San Jose – La Quinta
Today saw our departure for La Quinta, our base for the next 3 nights and we were all looking forward to visiting the surrounding areas including La Selva Biological Reserve. We had plenty of time to take a last look at the hummer feeding stations and take in Snowcap et al for the last time. We stopped at a couple of rivers en route and were lucky enough to have fantastic views of Sunbittern whilst eating our packed-lunch!! We managed a couple of new birds in Fasciated Tiger-Heron and our only sighting of the tour for Black-crowned Tityra. We also had our last look at Tropical Gnatcatcher. Next to one of the rivers we saw Rufous-capped Warbler and our first Olive-backed Euphonia, but with everyone taking in the change of scenery and simply relaxing, then the journey proved to be enjoyable and relatively quiet on the bird front.

Day Eight February 1st – La Quinta – La Selva Biological Reserve
long-tailed-silkYet again we were blessed with first rate accommodation and food. The complex had been very well laid out with exceptional gardens, lakes and river frontage. Feeders were kept stocked and local birds easy to find, including a resident pair of Spectacled Owl! The gardens also contain a butterfly house for those interested and normally Hoffman’s two-toed Sloth is in the grounds. Anyway enough rambling and on to the high point of the day a visit to Selva BR. We hadn’t ventured far into the park before we had several new species including Great Tinamou, Great Blue Heron, Green Ibis, both Gray-headed and Hook-billed Kite, Crested Caracara, Laughing and Bat Falcon, Pale-vented Pigeon, Gray-chested Dove, Red-Lored Parrot and Mealy Parrot, a superb Vermiculated Screech-Owl, Short-tailed Nighthawk, Gray-rumped and Lesser Swallow-tailed Swifts, Slaty-tailed Trogon, Broad-billed Motmot, Rufous-tailed Jacamar a real beauty, White-necked Puffbird and the gloriously outrageous Chestnut-mandibled Toucan. And so our list grew and grew a superb venue for such an array of species. Our bird for the day was the rare Tiny Hawk! Later in the day we also had some notable species including White-winged Becard and Snowy Cotinga, but also a joy to see were Red-capped and White-collared Manakin, but a favourite with me was Long-tailed Tyrant. We ended up with a few more goodies and among these were Gray Catbird, Pale-vented Robin, Yellow-crowned Euphonia, Scarlet-thighed Dacnis and Black-faced Grosbeak. I am loathe to mention it amongst such illustrious company, but we also managed our first House Sparrow!

Day Nine February 2nd – La Quinta – Sarafiqui – La Virgen - Cinchona
We had a fairly leisurely breakfast as we had made arrangements to take our first river trip of the tour and didn’t have to be on board till around 09:00am. I have to admit to scheduling this trip based on purely selfish motives. I have dipped badly in the past on that elusive bird Sungrebe, so listening to locals I had decided we ‘should’ relax with a nice boat ride! We of course clocked-up a few expected firsts such as Mangrove Swallow, Bare-throated Tiger-Heron, Neotropical Cormorant and Anhinga, but I guess everyone enjoyed just sitting back and watching the world drift by. We did have great views of Gray-necked Wood-Rail, Band-tailed Barbthroat, Coppery-headed Emerald, Collared Trogon, Cinnamon Becard, Rufous Mourner, Yellowish Warbler, Yellow Tyrannulet, but yes and a thousand yeses, yer man spotted Sungrebe, yep in the flesh so to speak and cruising completely unfazed by the close proximity of the boat and an overexcited birder yours truly!!!! I have to say, a bit like the Sunbittern, the Sungrebe seems a strange mixture reminiscent of half diver and half duck! Onward and upward from our boat trip we ventured high into the surrounding mountains and were able to get a few more sought after species namely Red-headed and Prong-billed Barbet. We also had our best views at Cinchona of Green Thorntail. As a finale to our day we had super views of the pair of Spectacled Owls at our accommodation.

Arenal

Day Ten February 3rd – La Quinta – La Virgen – La Fortuna – Arenal Observatory Lodge
anteaterWe began our day with another tour to La Virgen and spent time looking for a few previously missed species. We were quick to pick-up on a few aquatics such as Pied-billed Grebe, Snowy Egret etc., but the bird of our day was Black-chested (Barred) Hawk. We again had Broad-billed Motmot, what a great family Motmots are. We also finally caught up with Mourning Warbler and Slate-throated Redstart. We made La Fortuna for lunch and enjoyed the restaurant’s feeding station which was covered by Blue-gray Tanager and Red-legged Honeycreeper. From La Fortuna we had the short drive to our next base for 3 nights the Arenal Observatory Lodge, a great location under the shadow of an active volcano where it is impossible to ignore the pure spectacle of rock-falls and noises of explosions gushing from the top of the volcano! Incredible! Photographers among the group were begging for our transport and driver to stop whilst there were White-throated Magpie-Jay sitting close to the track, but the qualified reason for carrying-on was the birds are common and we will see plenty during our stay! Of course the photo lobby said they had heard all this before and insisted on taking the opportunity now. Just as well really, as is Murphy’s Law, we never saw them again!! We had time to settle into our rooms and decided to walk down by the nearby lake. Here we had Fasciated Tiger-Heron, Osprey, White and Gray Hawk, Orange-chinned Parakeet, Keel-billed Toucan, Smoky-brown Woodpecker, Slaty Spinetail, the very elusive Dusky Antbird, White-throated Flycatcher, Scale-crested Pygmy-Tyrant, Torrent Tyrannulet, Barn Swallow, Olive-crowned Yellowthroat and of course the specialist of this location Emerald Tanager. The day also produced our one and only White-collared Seedeater. Again we enjoyed a grand finale to our day with a Black and White Owl perched on our accommodation sign after dinner!!

Day Eleven February 4th – Arenal Observatory Lodge – Hanging Bridges
If the AOL had any disadvantage it was not serving breakfast before 07:00am, which largely affected our morning schedules, but worth every moment I would point out. The lodge, the scenery, the birds are all mightily impressive and we all enjoyed the close proximity of the ‘Volcano’. Our pre-breakfast stroll took us into the surrounding forest and here we were able to see Semiplumbeous Hawk, Crested Guan, great views of Brown-headed Parrot, Green Hermit, Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer, Black-throated Trogon, Wedge-billed Woodcreeper, Spotted Woodcreeper, the amazingly difficult Streak-crowned Antvireo and White-ruffed Manakin. After breakfast we headed for the famous Hanging Bridges. Here we had Wood Thrush, Black-headed Nightingale-Thrush, Buff-rumped Warbler and the star of our show the rare and most difficult of all Motmots the Keel-billed Motmot! Overhead we had good numbers of Vaux’s Swift and were lucky to see our one and only King Vulture of the tour. On our way back to the lodge we spent time walking on the main track and had some very good shows of Broad-billed Motmot, Spotted Antbird, Black-throated and Nightingale Wren, Scarlet-rumped Cacique, Olive Tanager and Yellow-faced Grassquit. We arrived back in good time to enjoy watching the feeders and of course the entrancing actions of the volcano as our backdrop!

Day Twelve February 5th – Arenal Observatory Lodge
white-nosed-coatiToday was very much do as you please day. We spent the entire day in and around the area of the lodge. With pre-breakfast walks, morning and late afternoon walks all taken as optional for the members of the tour party and why not? The lodge has some great facilities including hot tubs and Jacuzzi!! The morning produced Hook-billed Kite, Gray and Broad-winged Hawk, our last views of Stripe-throated Hermit, Purple-crowned Fairy and Violet-headed Hummingbird. Later we had both Slaty-tailed, Violaceous and Orange-bellied Trogon, Broad-billed and our first Rufous Motmot, Collared Aracari, both Keel-billed and Chestnut-mandibled Toucan, Golden-olive Woodpecker and incredible poses from a Lineated Woodpecker, but one of our birds ‘for the day’ was Spotted Barbtail. Later in the afternoon our walk was along the track leading to the lodge from the main road to La Fortuna. The walk produced some excellent birds that included Striped Woodhaunter, Fasciated, Great and Barred Antshrikes, plus a Russet Antshrike a little later in the day, Bare-crowned Antbird, Streak-chested Antpitta, Great-crested Flycatcher, Nightingale Wren, Long-billed and Tawny-faced Gnatwren, Black-headed Saltator, our only sighting of Blue-black Grosbeak and a host of rich goodies. For a relaxed day our quality was excellent.

Punta Leona

Day Thirteen February 6th – Arenal Observatory Lodge – San Ramon – Caldera – Punta Leona
We spent some time in the area before setting off on our journey to the Pacific and our next destination Punta Leona. Stopping before La Fortuna we had Gray-headed Kite, White-tailed Kite, Purplish-backed Quail-Dove, White-collared and Vaux’s Swift, Rufous Motmot and probably our little gem for the day White-fronted Nunbird. We again had Spotted Antbird and the magnificent Sulphur-rumped Flycatcher. Surprisingly it took until now to find our first Red-winged Blackbird and of course yet another sighting of House Sparrow!! We had some miles to do and decided to make for our lunch stop at San Ramon and proceed to Caldera for a relax before heading to our accommodation. Around the Caldera area we clocked-up some maritime species including Laughing Gull, Brown Pelican, Magnificent Frigatebird, Willet and Royal Tern. On arriving at Punta Leona we soon had Scarlet Macaw, White-crowned Parrot, Green Kingfisher, Gray-breasted Martin, Barn Swallow, Rufous-naped Wren (flocks!), Orange-billed and Black-striped Sparrow. Here the temperature changed and became hot and humid. The resort had great facilities and the accommodation was very good, but foodwise it was below what we had come to expect, still no complaints overall the place was great.

Day Fourteen February 7th – Punta Leona – Tarcoles Bridge – Mangrove Boat Trip
scarlet-macawAfter our pre-breakfast stroll we set-off to the Tarcoles Bridge and the Carara areas. One of the objectives was to head up into the hills to a viewing platform hoping to see King Vulture, but afraid to say we dipped! We did manage Gray-headed Kite and a new bird a Plumbeous Kite. Around the bridge area we had Yellow-headed Caracara, Peregrine Falcon, Purple Gallinule, Black-necked Stilt, Spotted and Least Sandpiper, White-winged Dove, Orange-chinned Parakeet, Costa Rican Swift, Turquoise-browed Motmot, Tricolored Heron and Great Egret. Around the Carara area we also spotted Zone-tailed Hawk, Crimson-fronted Parakeet, Scarlet Macaw, Turquoise-browed and Blue-crowned Motmot, Hoffman’s Woodpecker, Northern Barred Woodcreeper, Chestnut-backed Antbird, Masked Tityra, Yellow-olive Flycatcher, Ochre-bellied Flycatcher, Philadelphia Vireo and Prothonotary Warbler. We later made our way to the Tarcoles River and our much anticipated Boat Trip! I reckon the start time of 1500 to 1800hrs is just about right and the ride produced some notable birds such as Bare-throated Tiger-Heron, Black and Yellow-crowned Night Heron, Boat-billed Heron, Green Heron, Little Blue Heron, Tricolored Heron, Snowy and Great Egret, Great Blue Heron, Wood Stork, White Ibis, Roseate Spoonbill, Mangrove Black-Hawk, Double-striped Thick-Knee, Southern Lapwing, Whimbrel, Ferruginous Pygmy Owl, Lesser Nighthawk, Scaly-breasted Hummingbird, Mangrove Hummingbird, all the Kingfishers, Rose-throated Becard, Mangrove Vireo, Mangrove Warbler, American Redstart, Scrub Euphonia and Cherrie’s Tanager. Quite a day and a great selection.

Day Fifteen February 8th – Punta Leona – Tarcoles – Carara Nat.Park

We took a brief walk before breakfast and then headed straight to Carara National Park. The area is so rich in bird life and is an absolute must for any visiting the area. The under-canopy walks and just the atmosphere in the forest areas are worth the visit alone. It is certainly worthwhile to seek a good local guide here as the paths and water areas are far from obvious and there is ‘nothing’ to beat local knowledge on sites, time of year and favoured watering holes! No amount of trip reports or passed-on information is going to give you the best of this area. Our day began with seeing the now familiar Mangrove Black-Hawk, Gray-headed Kite and again the Zone-tailed Hawk. In the park area we saw Crested Caracara, Gray-necked Wood-Rail, Inca Dove, Scarlet Macaw, White-crowned Parrot, (later in the evening Striped Owl), Long-billed Hermit, Scaly-breasted Hummingbird, Blue-throated Goldentail, Baird’s and Black-headed Trogon, Turquoise-browed and Blue-crowned Motmot, White-whiskered Puffbird, Pale-billed Woodpecker, Cocoa Woodcreeper, Plain Xenops, Black-hooded Antshrike, Dot-winged Antwren, Chestnut-backed Antbird, Rufous Piha, Red-capped and Blue-crowned Manakin, Thrushlike Schiffornis, Streaked and Northern Royal Flycatcher, Northern Bentbill, Ochre-bellied Flycatcher, Riverside Wren, Tawny-crowned Greenlet, White-shouldered Tanager and Blue Grosbeak and last but not least Stripe-headed Sparrow. So a grand collection and the more common or previously seen birds I have left out!

San Jose

Day Sixteen February 9th – Punta Leona – Tarcoles Boat Ride – Orotina – Atenas – San Jose
striped-owlWe took a stroll and after breakfast were due to board the boat trip into the mangroves on the Tarcoles River. Compared to the 7th, when we took the late afternoon boat, then this trip was not anywhere near as good. Quite simply we believe we missed the early birds! Having said that we managed much better views of such species as American Pygmy Kingfisher, Wood Stork, Yellow-headed Caracara, also a stunning Yellow-naped Parrot, Green-breated Mango, Blue-throated Goldentail, a new birds Steely-vented Hummingbird and Long-billed Starthroat, Rose-breasted Becard and Southern Beardless-Tyrannulet. Later in our day we had Fiery-billed Aracari. We stopped a few times heading back to San Jose and the most notable was a picture shoot for Black and White Owl in Orotina and we managed to pick-up Least Grebe and Muscovey Duck at Atenas Dam. Later when we arrived at our hotel we found Tropical Screech-Owl in the gardens within a stand of giant Bamboo.

Day Seventeen February 10th – San Jose
Before our departure for the airport we had all morning, so a little time was spent walking the grounds of the hotel, which are absolutely stunning. During the walk we found Tropical Screech Owl again, plus a couple of new birds Orange-billed Nightingale-Thrush and White-eared Ground Sparrow. A couple of regulars to the garden are Prevost’s Ground-Sparrow and Canivet’s Emerald, but we failed to see either, but we will be back!

Bird List

Species List of birds seen during this trip. With over 400 species (410) the group deemed the tour a great success!
  TINAMOUS
Great Tinamou Tinamus major
GREBES
Least Grebe Tachybaptus dominicus
Pied-billed Grebe Podilymbus podiceps
PELICANS
Brown Pelican Pelecanus occidentalis
CORMORANTS
Neotropical Cormorant Phalacrocorax brasilianus
ANHINGAS
Anhinga Anhinga anhinga
FRIGATEBIRDS
Magnificent Frigatebird Fregata magnificens
BITTERNS, HERONS, EGRETS
Fasciated Tiger-Heron Tigrisoma fasciatum
Bare-throated Tiger-Heron Tigrisoma mexicanum
Black-crowned Night-Heron Nycticorax nycticorax
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron Nyctanassa Violácea
Boat-billed Heron Cochlearius cochlearius
Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis
Green Heron Butorides virescens
Little Blue Heron Egretta caerulea
Tricolored Heron Egretta tricolor
Snowy Egret Egretta thula
Great Egret Ardea albus
Great Blue Heron Ardea herodias
STORKS
Wood Stork Mycteria americana
NEW WORLD VULTURES
Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura
Black Vulture Coragyps atratus
King Vulture Sarcoramphus papa
IBIS
Green Ibis Mesembrinibis cayennensis
White Ibis Eudocimus albus
Roseate Spoonbill Ajaia ajaja
DUCKS
Muscovy Duck Cairina moschata
Blue-winged Teal Anas discors
Lesser Scaup Aythya affinis
OSPREY
Osprey Pandion haliaetus
KITES, HAWKS, EAGLES
Gray-headed Kite Leptodon cayanensis
Hook-billed Kite Chondrohierax uncinatus
Swallow-tailed Kite Elanoides forficatus
White-tailed Kite Elanus leucurus
Double-toothed Kite Harpagus bidentatus
Plumbeous Kite Ictinia plumbea
Tiny Hawk Accipiter superciliosus
Black-chested Hawk Leucopternis princeps
Semiplumbeous Hawk Leucopternis semiplumbea
White Hawk Leucopternis albicollis
Gray Hawk Asturina nitidus
Mangrove Black-Hawk Buteogallus subtilis
Roadside Hawk Buteo magnirostris
Broad-winged Hawk Buteo platypterus
Short-tailed Hawk Buteo brachyurus
Zone-tailed Hawk Buteo albonotatus
Red-tailed Hawk Buteo jamaicensis
Ornate Hawk-Eagle Spizaetus ornatus

CARACARAS, FALCONS
Crested Caracara Polyborus plancus
Yellow-headed Caracara Milvago chimachima
Laughing Falcon Herpetotheres cachinnans
Bat Falcon Falco rufigularis
Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus
CRACIDS
Gray-headed Chachalaca Ortalis cinereiceps
Crested Guan Penelope purpurascens
RAILS, GALLINULE, COOT
Gray-necked Wood-Rail Aramides cajanea
Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus
Purple Gallinule Porphyrula martinica
American Coot Fulica americana
SUNGREBE
Sungrebe Heliornis fulica
SUNBITTERN
Sunbittern Eurypyga helias
JACANAS
Northern Jacana Jacana spinosa
STILTS
Black-necked Stilt Himantopus mexicanus
THICK-KNEES
Double-striped Thick-Knee Burhinus bistriatus
LAPWINGS, PLOVERS
Southern Lapwing Vanellus chilensis
Killdeer Charadrius vociferus
SANDPIPERS
Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus
Lesser Yellowlegs Tringa flavipes
Willet Catoptrophorus semipalmatus
Spotted Sandpiper Actitis macularia
Least Sandpiper Calidris minutilla
GULLS, TERNS
Laughing Gull Larus atricilla
Royal Tern Sterna maxima
DOVES, PIGEONS
Rock Dove Columba livia
Band-tailed Pigeon Columba fasciata
Pale-vented Pigeon Columba cayennensis
Red-billed Pigeon Columba flavirostris
Ruddy Pigeon Columba subvinacea
Short-billed Pigeon Columba nigrirostris
White-winged Dove Zenaida asiatica
Ruddy Ground-Dove Columbina talpacoti
Inca Dove Columbina inca
White-tipped Dove Leptotila verreauxi
Gray-chested Dove Leptotila cassinii
Purplish-backed Quail-Dove Geotrygon lawrencii
PARROTS
Scarlet Macaw Ara macao
Crimson-fronted Parakeet Aratinga finschi
Sulfur-winged Parakeet Pyrrhura hoffmanni
Orange-chinned Parakeet Brotogeris jugularis
Brown-hooded Parrot Pionopsitta haematotis
White-crowned Parrot Pionus senilis
Red-Lored Parrot Amazona autumnalis
Yellow-naped Parrot Amazona auropalliata
Mealy Parrot Amazona farinosa

CUCKOOS, ANIS
Squirrel Cuckoo Piaya cayana
Groove-billed Ani Crotophaga sulcirostris
TYPICAL OWLS
Tropical Screech-Owl Otus choliba
Vermiculated Screech-Owl Otus guatemalae
Spectacled Owl Pulsatrix perspicillata
Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl Glaucidium brasilianum
Mottled Owl Ciccaba virgata
Black-and-white Owl Ciccaba nigrolineata
Striped Owl Asio clamator
NIGHTHAWKS, NIGHTJARS
Short-tailed Nighthawk Lurocalis semitorquatus
Lesser Nighthawk Chordeiles acutipennis
Pauraque Nyctidromus albicollis
SWIFTS
Chestnut-collared Swift Cypseloides rutilus
White-collared Swift Streptoprocne zonaris
Vaux's Swift Chaetura vauxi
Costa Rican Swift Chaetura spinicauda
Gray-rumped Swift Chaetura cinereiventris
Lesser Swallow-tailed Swift Panyptila cayennensis
HUMMINGBIRDS

Bronzy Hermit Glaucis aenea
Long-billed Hermit Phaethornis superciliosus
Green Hermit Phaethornis guy
Stripe-throated Hermit Phaethornis longuemareus
Scaly-breasted Hummingbird Phaeochroa cuvierii
Violet Sabrewing Campylopterus hemileucurus
White-necked Jacobin Florisuga mellivora
Brown Violet-ear Colibri delphinae
Green Violet-ear Colibri thalassinus
Green-breasted Mango Anthracothorax prevostii
Violet-headed Hummingbird Klais guimeti
Black-crested Coquette Lophornis helenae
Green Thorntail Discosura conversii
Violet-crowned Woodnymph Thalurania colombica
Fiery-throated Hummingbird Panterpe insignis
Blue-throated Goldentail Hylocharis eliciae
Mangrove Hummingbird Amazilia boucardi
Steely-vented Hummingbird Amazilia saucerrottei
Rufous-tailed Hummingbird Amazilia tzacatl
Coppery-headed Emerald Elvira cupreiceps
Snowcap Microchera albocoronata
Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer Chalybura urochrysia
White-bellied Mountain-gem Lampornis hemileucus
Gray-tailed Mountain-gem Lampornis castaneoventris
Green-crowned Brilliant Heliodoxa jacula
Magnificent Hummingbird Eugenes fulgens
Purple-crowned Fairy Heliothryx barroti
Long-billed Starthroat Heliomaster longirostris
Scintillant Hummingbird Selasphorus scintilla
Volcano Hummingbird Selasphorus flammula
TROGONS
Resplendent Quetzal Pharomachrus mocinno
Slaty-tailed Trogon Trogon massena
Baird's Trogon Trogon bairdii
Black-headed Trogon Trogon melanocephalus
Collared Trogon Trogon collaris
Orange-bellied Trogon Trogon aurantiiventris
Black-throated Trogon Trogon rufus
Violaceous Trogon Trogon violaceus
KINGFISHERS
Ringed Kingfisher Ceryle torquata
Belted Kingfisher Ceryle alcyon
Amazon Kingfisher Chloroceryle amazona
Green Kingfisher Chloroceryle americana
American Pygmy Kingfisher Chloroceryle aenea
MOTMOTS
Broad-billed Motmot Electron platyrhynchum
Keel-billed Motmot Electron carinatum
Turquoise-browed Motmot Eumomota superciliosa
Rufous Motmot Baryphthengus martii
Blue-crowned Motmot Momotus momota
JACAMARS
Rufous-tailed Jacamar Galbula ruficauda
PUFFBIRDS
White-necked Puffbird Bucco macrorhynchos
White-whiskered Puffbird Malacoptila panamensis
White-fronted Nunbird Monasa morphoeus
BARBETS
Red-headed Barbet Eubucco bourcierii
Prong-billed Barbet Semnornis frantzii
TOUCANS
Emerald Toucanet Aulacorhynchus prasinus
Collared Aracari Pteroglossus torquatus
Fiery-billed Aracari Pteroglossus frantzi
Keel-billed Toucan Ramphastos sulfuratus
Chestnut-mandibled Toucan Ramphastos swainsonii
WOODPECKERS
Acorn Woodpecker Melanerpes formicivorus
Black-cheeked Woodpecker Melanerpes pucherani
Hoffmann's Woodpecker Melanerpes hoffmannii
Hairy Woodpecker Picoides villosus
Smoky-brown Woodpecker Veniliornis fumigatus
Golden-olive Woodpecker Piculus rubiginosus
Rufous-winged Woodpecker Piculus simplex
Lineated Woodpecker Dryocopus lineatus
Pale-billed Woodpecker Campephilus guatemalensis
WOODCREEPERS
Wedge-billed Woodcreeper Glyphorhynchus spirurus
Northern Barred Woodcreeper Dendrocolaptes sanctithomae
Cocoa Woodcreeper Xiphorhynchus susurrans
Spotted Woodcreeper Xiphorhynchus erythropygius
Streak-headed Woodcreeper Lepidocolaptes souleyetii
Spot-crowned Woodcreeper Lepidocolaptes affinis
Brown-billed Scythebill Campylorhamphus pusillus
FURNARIIDS
Slaty Spinetail Synallaxis brachyura
Spotted Barbtail Premnoplex brunnescens
Ruddy Treerunner Margarornis rubiginosus
Striped Woodhaunter Hyloctistes subulatus
Plain Xenops Xenops minutus
ANTBIRDS
Fasciated Antshrike Cymbilaimus lineatus
Great Antshrike Taraba major
Barred Antshrike Thamnophilus doliatus
Black-hooded Antshrike Thamnophilus bridgesi
Western Slaty Antshrike Thamnophilus punctatus
Russet Antshrike Thamnistes anabatinus
Plain Antvireo Dysithamnus mentalis
Streak-crowned Antvireo Dysithamnus striaticeps
Checker-throated Antwren Myrmotherula fulviventris
Slaty Antwren Myrmotherula schisticolor
Dot-winged Antwren Microrhopias quixensis
Dusky Antbird Cercomacra tyrannina
Bare-crowned Antbird Gymnocichla nudiceps
Chestnut-backed Antbird Myrmeciza exsul
Dull-mantled Antbird Myrmeciza laemosticta
Spotted Antbird Hylophylax naevioides

ANTTHRUSH, ANTPITTAS
Thicket Antpitta Hylopezus fulviventris
TAPACULOS
Silvery-fronted Tapaculo Scytalopus argentifrons
BECARDS, TITYRAS
Barred Becard Pachyramphus versicolor
Cinnamon Becard Pachyramphus cinnamomeus
White-winged Becard Pachyramphus polychopterus
Rose-throated Becard Pachyramphus aglaiae
Masked Tityra Tityra semifasciata
Black-crowned Tityra Tityra inquisitor
CONTINGAS
Snowy Cotinga Carpodectes nitidus
MANAKINS
Red-capped Manakin Pipra mentalis
Blue-crowned Manakin Pipra coronata
White-ruffed Manakin Corapipo leucorrhoa
White-collared Manakin Manacus candei
Thrushlike Schiffornis Schiffornis turdinus
TYRANT FLYCATCHERS

Black Phoebe Sayornis nigricans
Long-tailed Tyrant Colonia colonus
Tropical Kingbird Tyrannus melancholicus
Piratic Flycatcher Legatus leucophaius
White-ringed Flycatcher Coryphotriccus albovittatus
Boat-billed Flycatcher Megarhynchus pitangua
Bright-rumped Attila Attila spadiceus
Streaked Flycatcher Myiodynastes maculatus
Gray-capped Flycatcher Myiozetetes granadensis
Social Flycatcher Myiozetetes similis
Great Kiskadee Pitangus sulphuratus
Rufous Mourner Rhytipterna holerythra
Panama Flycatcher Myiarchus panamensis
Brown-crested Flycatcher Myiarchus tyrannulus
Great Crested Flycatcher Myiarchus crinitus
Dusky-capped Flycatcher Myiarchus tuberculifer
Tropical Pewee Contopus cinereus
Dark Pewee Contopus lugubris
Tawny-chested Flycatcher Aphanotriccus capitalis
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher Empidonax flaviventris
White-throated Flycatcher Empidonax albigularis
Yellowish Flycatcher Empidonax flavescens
Black-capped Flycatcher Empidonax atriceps
Tufted Flycatcher Mitrephanes phaeocercus
Sulphur-rumped Flycatcher Myiobius sulphureipygius
Northern Royal Flycatcher Onychorhynchus coronatus
Yellow-olive Flycatcher Tolmomyias sulphurescens
Yellow-margined Flycatcher Tolmomyias assimilis
Black-headed Tody-Flycatcher Todirostrum nigriceps
Common Tody-Flycatcher Todirostrum cinereum
Northern Bentbill Oncostoma cinereigulare
Scale-crested Pygmy-Tyrant Lophotriccus pileatus
Yellow Tyrannulet Capsiempis flaveola
Torrent Tyrannulet Serpophaga cinerea
Yellow-bellied Eleania Elaenia flavogaster
Mountain Eleania Elaenia frantzii
Southern Beardless-Tyrannulet Camptostoma obsoletum
Mistletoe "Paltry" Tyrannulet Zimmerius vilissimus
Slaty-capped Flycatcher Leptopogon superciliaris
Olive-striped Flycatcher Mionectes olivaceus
Ochre-bellied Flycatcher Mionectes oleagineus

SWALLOWS
Gray-breasted Martin Progne chalybea
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica
Southern Rough-winged Swallow Stelgidopteryx ruficollis
Northern Rough-winged Swallow Stelgidopteryx serripennis
Blue-and-white Swallow Notiochelidon cyanoleuca
Mangrove Swallow Tachycineta albilinea
JAYS
White-throated Magpie-Jay Calocitta formosa
Brown Jay Cyanocorax morio
DIPPERS
American Dipper Cinclus mexicanus
WRENS
Band-backed Wren Campylorhynchus zonatus
Rufous-naped Wren Campylorhynchus rufinucha
Stripe-breasted Wren Thryothorus thoracicus
Riverside Wren Thryothorus semibadius
Black-throated Wren Thryothorus atrogularis
House Wren Troglodytes aedon
Ochraceous Wren Troglodytes ochraceus
White-breasted Wood-Wren Henicorhina leucosticta
Gray-breasted Wood-Wren Henicorhina leucophrys
Nightingale Wren Microcerculus philomela
Song Wren Cyphorinus phaeocephalus
MOCKINGBIRDS, CATBIRDS
Gray Catbird Dumetella carolinensis
THRUSH
White-throated Robin Turdus assimilis
Clay-colored Robin Turdus grayi
Pale-vented Robin Turdus obsoletus
Mountain Robin Turdus plebejus
Sooty Robin Turdus nigrescens
Black-faced Solitaire Myadestes melanops
Wood Thrush Hylocichla mustelina
Swainson's Thrush Catharus ustulatus
Gray-cheeked Thrush Catharus minimus
Black-headed Nightingale-Thrush Catharus mexicanus
Ruddy-capped Nightingale-Thrush Catharus frantzii
Orange-billed Nightingale-Thrush Catharus aurantiirostris
Black-billed Nightingale-Thrush Catharus gracilirostris
GNATCATCHERS, GNATWRENS
Tropical Gnatcatcher Polioptila plumbea
Long-billed Gnatwren Ramphocaenus melanurus
Tawny-faced Gnatwren Microbates cinereiventris
SILKY-FLYCATCHERS
Long-tailed Silky-Flycatcher Ptilogonys caudatus
VIREOS
Rufous-browed Peppershrike Cyclarhis gujanensis
Mangrove Vireo Vireo pallens
Yellow-winged Vireo Vireo carmioli
Yellow-throated Vireo Vireo flavifrons
Philadelphia Vireo Vireo philadelphicus
Brown-capped Vireo Vireo leucophrys
Tawny-crowned Greenlet Hylophilus ochraceiceps
Lesser Greenlet Hylophilus decurtatus
BANANAQUIT
Bananaquit Coereba flaveola

NEW WORLD WARBLERS
Black-and-white Warbler Mniotilta varia
Prothonotary Warbler Protonotaria citrea
Golden-winged Warbler Vermivora chrysoptera
Tennessee Warbler Vermivora peregrina
Nashville Warbler Vermivora ruficapilla
Flame-throated Warbler Parula gutturalis
Tropical Parula Parula pitiayumi
Yellow Warbler Dendroica petechia
"Mangrove" Warbler Dendroica p. erithachorides
Townsend's Warbler Dendroica townsendi
Black-throated Green Warbler Dendroica virens
Blackburnian Warbler Dendroica fusca
Chestnut-sided Warbler Dendroica pensylvanica
Northern Waterthrush Seiurus noveboracensis
Louisiana Waterthrush Seiurus motacilla
Mourning Warbler Oporornis philadelphia
Olive-crowned Yellowthroat Geothlypis semiflava
Gray-crowned Yellowthroat Geothlypis poliocephala
Wilson's Warbler Wilsonia pusilla
American Redstart Setophaga ruticilla
Slate-throated Redstart Myioborus miniatus
Collared Redstart Myioborus torquatus
Golden-crowned Warbler Basileuterus culicivorus
Black-cheeked Warbler Basileuterus melanogenys
Rufous-capped Warbler Basileuterus rufifrons
Buff-rumped Warbler Phaeothlypis fulvicauda
Zeledonia (Wrenthrush) Zeledonia coronata
ICTERIDS
Chestnut-headed Oropendola Psarocolius wagleri
Montezuma Oropendola Psarocolius montezuma
Scarlet-rumped Cacique Cacicus uropygialis
Yellow-billed Cacique Amblycercus holosericeus
Giant Cowbird Scaphidura oryzivora
Bronzed Cowbird Molothrus aeneus
Melodious Blackbird Dives dives
Great-tailed Grackle Quiscalus mexicanus
Orchard Oriole Icterus spurius
Black-cowled Oriole Icterus dominicensis
Baltimore Oriole Icterus galbula
Red-winged Blackbird Agelaius phoeniceus

EUPHONIAS, TANAGERS
Golden-browed Chlorophonia Chlorophonia callophrys
Tawny-capped Euphonia Euphonia anneae
White-vented Euphonia Euphonia minuta
Scrub Euphonia Euphonia affinis
Yellow-crowned Euphonia Euphonia luteicapilla
Yellow-throated Euphonia Euphonia hirundinacea
Olive-backed Euphonia Euphonia gouldi
Emerald Tanager Tangara florida
Silver-throated Tanager Tangara icterocephala
Golden-hooded Tanager Tangara larvata
Rufous-winged Tanager Tangara lavinia
Bay-headed Tanager Tangara gyrola
Spangle-cheeked Tanager Tangara dowii
Green Honeycreeper Chlorophanes spiza
Red-legged Honeycreeper Cyanerpes cyaneus
Shining Honeycreeper Cyanerpes lucidus
Scarlet-thighed Dacnis Dacnis venusta
Blue-gray Tanager Thraupis episcopus
Palm Tanager Thraupis palmarum
Passerini's Tanager Ramphocelus passerinii
Cherrie's Tanager Ramphocelus costaricensis
Crimson-collared Tanager Phlogothraupis sanguinolenta
Summer Tanager Piranga rubra
Hepatic Tanager Piranga flava
Scarlet Tanager Piranga olivacea
Flame-colored Tanager Piranga bidentata
Olive Tanager Chlorothraupis carmioli
Red-throated Ant-Tanager Habia fuscicauda
White-lined Tanager Tachyphonus rufus
White-shouldered Tanager Tachyphonus luctuosus
Dusky-faced Tanager Mitrospingus cassinii
Common Bush-Tanager Chlorospingus ophthalmicus
Sooty-capped Bush-Tanager Chlorospingus pileatus
EMBERIZIDS
Black-headed Saltator Saltator atriceps
Buff-throated Saltator Saltator maximus
Grayish Saltator Saltator coerulescens
Black-faced Grosbeak Caryothraustes poliogaster
Slate-colored Grosbeak Pitylus grossus
Black-thighed Grosbeak Pheucticus tibialis
Rose-breasted Grosbeak Pheucticus ludovicianus
Blue Grosbeak Guiraca caerulea
Blue-black Grosbeak Cyanocompsa cyanoides
Yellow-faced Grassquit Tiaris olivacea
White-collared Seedeater Sporophila torqueola
Variable Seedeater Sporophila aurita
Blue-black Grassquit Volatinia jacarina
Slaty Flowerpiercer Diglossa plumbea
Large-footed Finch Pezopetes capitalis
Yellow-thighed Finch Pselliophorus tibialis
Chestnut-capped Brush-Finch Buarremon brunneinucha
Sooty-faced Finch Lysurus crassirostris
Orange-billed Sparrow Arremon aurantiirostris
Olive Sparrow Arremonops rufivirgatus
Black-striped Sparrow Arremonops conirostris
White-eared Ground-Sparrow Melozone leucotis
Stripe-headed Sparrow Aimophila ruficauda
Volcano Junco Junco vulcani
Rufous-collared Sparrow Zonotrichia capensis
GOLDFINCHES, SISKINS
Yellow-bellied Siskin Carduelis xanthogastra
OLD WORLD SPARROWS
House Sparrow Passer domesticus
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