South east specialties: Birding La Gamba, Esquinas rainforest lodge and Coto 47.

The Southern Pacific lowlands of Costa Rica has  a tremendous contrast in habitats, ranging from wetlands such as the Terraba-Sierpe river, mangroves, foothills, the pristine forest at Corcovado National Park (one of the most bio-diverse sites in the country) and Golfo Dulce area, Piedras Blancas National park, etc, but also land devastated by the mono-culture of palm oil, rice fields and even bananas back in the day! However, sites such as Coto 47 are great for some of the newer Panamanian invasive species such as Sapphire-throated hummingbird, wattled jacana, rusty margined flycatcher, Savanna hawk, and in matter of time might surprise birders with one or two new records for the country such as the long-time-waited crimson backed tanager (if it doesn’t show up at San Vito area first!).

it only takes a look at Google map to see the amount of mono-cultures near Villa Neily-Paso Canoas area.

it only takes a look at Google map to see the amount of mono-cultures near Villa Neily-Paso Canoas area.

The small town of La Gamba is the gateway to the wonderful Esquinas rainforest lodge, an excellent option to stay “in” the forest. The road that leads there produces quality species, on September 7th 2016 my friend Karen and I went to bird this site, and as any time I come here was pleased with the birds seen. The soonest one lives route 1 and drives on the gravel road to La Gamba is a great site for the some what rare red-rumped woodpecker, which I had seen there on other occasions. Various Flycatchers, blue headed parrots, scrub greenlet, tanagers and more where pretty active there.

 

Male red-rumped woodpecker

Male red-rumped woodpecker

Now, while rusty margined flycatcher can be seen basically along this road  the most reliable site I know is closer to town, once at La Gamba town, take the turn to the right past the school (Notice the MINAE 9KM sign on your right) and drive for about 650 meters, basically right after crossing the second bridge (under construction the day we visited), it had nested here 2 years ago.

We saw about 4 adults and 1 juvenile bird, interestingly juvs looks much social flycatchers but no rusty margins but do have the yellow crown as adult RMFC.

Rusty margined Flycatcher, notice the margins, blacker face than Social FC.

Rusty margined Flycatcher, notice the margins, blacker face than Social FC.

Social Flycather, grayer head, back not as brown as RMFC.

Social Flycather, grayer head, back not as brown as RMFC.

 

Gray capped Flycatcher

Gray capped Flycatcher

 

1st bridge after turning right.

1st bridge after turning right.

Juv Bare throated tiger-heron

Juv Bare throated tiger-heron, this is what Karen was up to on the above picture!

After 2.5hrs we spent on La Gamba we moved to Esquinas lodge, the staff is always welcoming here! we quickly looked for our main target which we got easily; Black cheeked ant-tanager, although it can show up in any trail this time we found 2 with a small mixed flock near the entrance of La Trocha trail, were a pair of great curassows welcomed us!

 

 

Black-cheeked ant-tanager

Black-cheeked ant-tanager

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Esquinas rainforest trail map

Esquinas rainforest trail map

After that we then moved to Coto 47, south of Villa Neily, here our targets were Savanna hawk, sapphire throated hummingbird and also the Jacana which I have failed at least 5 times already, and had not heard resent report here lately, I wonder…

 

No hummingbird nor Jacana but we got great looks of the hawk, despite the rainy weather. Located very near the tree on which it nested 2 years ago (First confirmed nest for CR).

This part brought so many memories of the many times I went there with my Friend Roy Orozco in search for these targets, last time we promised we would return to take revenge with the savanna hawk, so this photo is dedicated to the memory of my best friend, I cannot accept the fact he is no longer with us.

savanna-hawk-coto-47_1000x667

the road to Savanna hawk.

the road to Savanna hawk.

 

 

 

Hylophilus and other CR Greenlets.

Hylophilus is a genus in which formerly 3 species of Costa Rica Vireonids best known as greenlets were in, these are: Lesser greenlet (H. decurtatus), tawny-crowned greenlet (H. ochraceips), and scrub greenlet.

From the greek Hule = woodland, forest and philos = loving. Most species within this genus are known to dwell well inside the forest, often up in the canopy. Nonetheless true Hylophilus species such as Scrub greenlet ironically favors palm oil and banana plantations and scrub, often near water rather than forest interior.

The recent taxonomic changes published by the AOU last July brings in 2 new genus to this family; PACHYSYLVIA and TUNCHIORNIS both new to Vireonidae.

Tawny-crowned greenlet (Hylophilus ochraceiceps). The new scientific name to this sp is now Tunchiornis ochraceiceps and Lesser greenlet (H. decurtatus) which not only has its genus changed but also a slight moddification on the spelling of the species, now called Pachysylvia decurtata.

The above greenlets are common, often seen on mixed flocks moving through the forest canopy (lesser greenlet) or middle to lower levels (Tawny crowned greenlet), often noisy and easily seen.

 

Scrub greenlet is less active, often very vocal, sitting on middle level of scrub or small tree, it’s song is a bit loud for a small vireonid which is convenient to locate it when at the field.

Although reported only one time in Nicaragua as an accidental (?) This species occurs from SE Costa Rica  south to Panama, Colombia and Venezuela.

Here near Manuel Antonio I have personally seen it in sites such as La Gallega River, Savegre, Matapalo and others but the best and most reliable site to look for it is El Rey Marshes, where is seen most times. Below a link to a recording of its songs to help getting familiar with it!

http://www.xeno-canto.org/333225

http://www.xeno-canto.org/333225/embed?darkbg=1′ scrolling=’no’

 

 

 

New taxonomy changes!

How many birders often hate the idea of having to erase or edit their field guides due to new names applied to bird species, well, I personally find bird taxonomy fascinating and really enjoy having to study the scientific articles provided by the experts and having to add more notes to my guides, it is just a totally different way to bird!

 

As it is known to many that the American Ornithologists’ Union has published in its 16th supplement on July 6th, 2016 and it contains a series of taxonomic changes, various of the families, genus, and common English names had been treated, some splits, some merges it means a lot of fun editing the books and trying to understand this fascinating wave of changes!

Here is the link to the official Article http://www.aoucospubs.org/doi/pdf/10.1642/AUK-16-77.1 and to complement the list the 24th update for CR species list http://uniondeornitologos.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Lista-de-Aves-de-Costa-Rica-XXIV.pdf  (Sandoval, L. y C. Sánchez. 2016. Lista de aves de Costa Rica: vigésima cuarta actualización. Unión de Ornitólogos de Costa Rica. San José, Costa Rica.

 

Based on the article some of the basic/important changes we should be aware to modify (again!) our Costa Rica field guides and lists are:

Cathartidae has been removed form Accipitriformes  and has been elevated to order Cathartiformes with a single family, Cathartidae.

American Vultures, once in Falconiformes, then Accipitriformes now has its own order.

Nyctibiidae and Steatornithidae have been removed from Caprimulgiformes and elevated to order status; Nyctibiiformes, Potoos and Steatornithiformes, oilbird.

 

Common potoo

*Aramides cajaneus splits in 2: Aramides cajaneus now called Gray-cowled wood-rail, in CR found on both coasts, lowloands, foothills and central valley, except in the North East (a Southern central-America and south America sp). And Aramides albiventris called Russet-naped wood-rail, in CR found in the North East (A Northern Central America sp)

Gray-cowled wood-rail (former gray necked w-r)

 

*Green violet-ear (Colibri thalassinus) splits in Lesser violet-ear (C. cyanotus) and mexican violet-ear (Colibri thalassinus) from which only Lesser violet-ear occurs in CR.

*Momotus momota splits, and the specie that is found in CR is Momotus lessonii = Lesson’s Motmot, here is a link to the vocalizations from xeno canto to some the other species splitted from Momotus momota:

Momotus Lessonii – Lesson’s motmot http://www.xeno-canto.org/274118

Momotus ceoruliceps – Blue capped motmot http://www.xeno-canto.org/324984/

Momotus subrufescens – whooping motmot http://www.xeno-canto.org/46779

Momotus momota – Amazonian motmot http://www.xeno-canto.org/257927

*Dusky Antbird has genus changed from Cercomacra to Cercomacroides, so Cercomacroides tyrannina is the new scientific name.

Some Members of Vireonidae have now new genus (Pachysylvia, from greek Pakhus = thick and Sylvia from Silva, a forest, perhaps in reference the members of this new genus’ preference for thick vegetation/forest?

*Lesser Greenlet Hylophilus decurtatus, genus changes and specie is slightly modified = Pachysylvia decurtata

*Tawny-crowned greenlet Hylophilus ochraceiceps genus changes to Tunchiornis ochraceiceps.

*Plain wren – Cantorchilus modestus — Splits in 3: 1-Cantorchilus modestus with a new English name: Cabanis’s wren, in CR found in the NW of the country. 2- Cantorchilus zeledoni named canebrake wren, Endemic, along Caribbean coast from South East Nicaragua to extreme Northwest Panama (western Bocas del Toro) 3- Cantorchilus elutus = Isthmian wren. Found From Quepos south into Panama, Endemic.

*Basileuterus melanotis – Costa Rican warbler. Split from B. tristriatus due to genetics and vocalization differences. Endemic, from Tilaran cordillera to western Panama.

 

Other changes on this AUK article include new subfamilies for Scolopacidae and also for Thraupidae. Some splits on Oceanodroma spp , Some genus changed on Rallidae such as Porzana flaviventer changing to a new genus Hapalocrex flaviventer (Yellow breasted crake). And some Procellariidae genus changed from Puffinus to Ardena, see AUK article for details, page 551.

 

Enjoy this type of “birding” it might get you an “armchair tick!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Birding the south Caribbean; lowland and foothills. Part 1

As is well known, Costa Rica offers not only a great diversity of habitats, each one offering interesting diversity of bird species, many of which are endemic to specific regions, but it also offer easy access to those sites, this making the country attractive to the visitor wishing to see our tropical beauties. The main regions visited by the average birder traveling with an itinerary are the Pacific lowlands, foothills and middle elevation as well as the NW. Caribbean middle elevation and northern foothills, Talamanca and Dota region among others. Nonetheless some of the less-visited sites, perhaps because it is hard to fit them on an itinerary but can offer quality species are the southern pacific and Coto Brus area, as well as the south Caribbean fotthills and lowlands. This time my wife and I, as part of a leisure trip to the south caribbean took the opportunity to quickly check some birding sites and hope to soon go back and bird there seriously as we were impressed with the sites we birded vaguely and were somewhat just focused on some target species.

Hitoy-cerere biological reserve.

The lowlands around Limón city suffered serious deforestation during the agricultural expansion lived in the region between late 1800s to early 1900s mostly for Banana plantations, now considered the main source of work at this province. However the foothills remained somewhat untouched at some parts since the topography did not favor banana plantations; this is the case of Hitoy-Cerere.

fc5fa6b8-c6d8-4208-815b-6440a24b058b_zpsvc19airz

Image from Google maps showing the level of deforestation on the lowlands south of Limón.

screenshot_2016-05-07-18-45-02-1_zpswsjk5ime

Another Google image showing topography at Hitoy-Cerere.

I wanted to check this place even though we did not bird it properly as we had little info about directions, where to stay, schedule, facilities etc etc. This is known (along with Selva Bananito lodge) to be one of the best places to find the rare Great Jacamar and many of the south caribbean specialties. Thanks to recent reports generated in eBird (and special thanks to Patrick O’Donnell for providing some handy information!) I thought to check it out as we planned to spend a few days in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, this thinking it wasn’t that far off the road, but oh gosh I was wrong!

Driving directions: From Puerto Viejo, drive about 25km North towards Penshurt, once at the gas  station bear left and continue on this paved road for about 14km, on your way you will pass the small town of La Guaria/Valle La estrella. Once the pave road ends continue on the gravel road, notice that here where the pave ends you will see the turn to Pandora on the right hand side, crossing the bridge, so continue straight on the main road until you come to a T intersection, here turn left, you might see small signs to the town of Cerere and the Hitoy-cerere reserve, between end of the pavement and that T intersection you will pass a Y junction, then a second Y junction which can confuse you, so just continue until you get to the T intersection that has the signs as suggested. After bearing left continue for about 1km and you will find another T intersection and some railroad crossing (see picture below), turn right, along your way you will find a banana processing plant. After almost 5km you will get to Cerere, at the Y turn left and you will notice how the track gets narrower as you go up the hill, continue for 5 kilometers as the road ends right at the reserve.

the drive along banana plantations

Second T intersection, you would see the railroad crossing the road here, at this point turn right

 

We spent about 1hr45min from Puerto Viejo, the distance is not that bad but the gravel road is in awful conditions, therefore a 4WD (or at least a high-ground-clearance vehicle) is suggested, specifically a rental car! so you can do it in much shorter period of time. No sales here, so bring all you need. No lodging options so you might be best to stay at Cahuita as it is closer, unless you get camping permissions directly with the Reserve officers. Phone number at the reserve 22065516.

Ranger station

 

I just so regret I didnt bird this place properly, that because the lack of information or better planning, and the heat/humidity as we got too late to the site can be discouraging, I am so much looking forward to come back, particularly after reading Patrick’s entry on his recent trip there! http://birdingcraft.com/wordpress/2016/04/21/birding-in-costa-rica-at-hitoy-cerere/

 

 

 

 

 

Eurasian Collared-dove near Quepos/Manuel Antonio.

Eurasian collared-dove is a common introduced specie to Bahamas and and quickly spreading throughout the USA though FL, as of now, based on eBird maps is pretty much all over NA. This specie was reported on Feb 20th by Jeff Tingle on what is thought to be the first sighting (at least first with photographic proof) on a site called finca 7th, a palm oil plantation quite far to the east of Palmar Sur, this in the south pacific.

 

Yesterday, Jim Zook was able to photograph an individual near Quepos, on a finca called Roncador, thanks to his report and kind directions we were able to get this dove on the same site, sitting on an electricity post.

 

Here is the link to the original eBird report, there shows the map to the site.

Eurasian collared-dove

Eurasian collared-dove

 

 

 

Birding Hacienda Baru wildlife reserve.

     Hacienda Baru is located approx 47km south of Quepos/Manuel Antonio, near the beach town of Dominical. This small private reserve and only reserve available nearby to those who are staying at the small beach/surfer heaven of Dominical.

On occasions birders staying in Quepos or Manuel Antonio wonder about birding opportunities at this small reserve. Hacienda Baru is a small reserve with 330 hectares, well maintained trail system extending for about 7km total, all very easy to do and on flat terrain. However, while I am sure the reserve has some great habitats on the northern side of the highway (which I do not know if it is open to the public) those trails available on the main headquarters include secondary forest, pastures, beach vegetation and even teak plantation (the last one being almost useless for bird-watching).

Entrance

I had been here several times before, but after a couple of years of not visiting I thought to go back and check the site again, it was very hot as it has been lately in our country, it is important to consider we entered at 13:20.  Immediately we climbed up  the bird observation tower and found that a good thing, here we saw some of the species that one is use to see from the ground, it felt so nice to see tropical gnatcatcher, yellow olive flycatcher and others without braking your neck!

Yellow olive flycatcher

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We took the Pizote and Estrangulador trail as both are the most forested trails, basically consisting of small patches of secondary forest with clearings, tall grass and calathea, perfect habitat for wrens which we got black bellied, plain and riverside wrens.

Male black hooded antshrike, a common local endemic

Juvenile male blue crowned manakin

 

Walk board

at the end of the board walk, this place look great for hawk watching, I am positive king vulture must show up here!

 

Whimbrel at the beach.

 

 

the road back form the beach to the headquarters

 

In short words: Birding at Baru is ok, but I think the quality of species can be just the same if you bird your hotel grounds if trails are available, come here for the common woodcreepers, common antbirds and wrens, we saw so many gray headed tanagers here at many parts of the trails! expect toucans, common black-hawk, motmots, woodpeckers but that is about it.

 

The place has a small restaurant with very reasonable prices so you can have lunch after your trip. The fee is$4 per person. Open from 7:00am to 5:50pm

Baru Check list.

Today’s seen list.

Hacienda Baru contact.

 

Birding Wilson’s Botanical Garden/Las cruses biological station.

Wilsons Botanical Garden is located 300km southeast of the capital of San Jose, in the county of Coto Brus, at an approximate elevation of 1200 meters above sea level. Run by the Organization for tropical studies OTS.

Approximately more than 1000 genera and more than 200 families form part of the unique collection that are part of the Las Cruces Biological Station/Wilson’s botanical garden as well as 400 + bird species,  this is well known as one of the best places to find Ruddy foliage-gleaner, a species that has a very limited range in the southeast corner of Costa Rica.

Great for hummingbirds as they keep a lot of stachytarpheta. Male Garden emerald.

 

Striped-throated hermit

Some days ago my wife and I went to bird the forest at Las Cruces and stayed at the OTS rooms which were very nice, with the benefit of being able to bird the reserve as early as possibly, otherwise those staying else where are limited to The normal operation hours; 7:00am to 5:00pm. Rates: US$65 per person, 3 meals included. Otherwise if visiting for the day an admission fee will be charged at the front desk.

 

We took the Rio Java trail as it is said were ruddy foliage gleaner has been seen more often, and we got lucky! we walked to the first bridge, approx 200 meters from where you enter the forest and soon got a nice mixed flock, plain antvireo, slaty antwren, brown billed scythebill were highlights, this joined by collared trogon, buff thorated foliage-gleaner, and many others, but just when we thought we had seen them all a ruddy foliage-gleaner  called from the undergrowth, and oh boy it knows how to hide! after trying him for a while we got descent looks.

Orange billed nightingale-thrush Catharus aurantiirostris russatus, one of the 14 sub species known, 2 for CR.

Below a recording I got of it:

http://www.xeno-canto.org/305370/embed?simple=1

 

Female Plain antvireo.

 

Scale crested pygmy-tyrant

The trail is really nice, as it is typical of this type of forest, most comes in mixed flocks lead by tawny-crowned greenlet, red-crowned ant-tanager and buff-throated foliage gleaner, due to the habitat the amount of birds seen might be small if compared to the gardens which can produce much bigger lists than the forest trails, this is great for tanagers, hummers, orioles, flycatchers and parrots, be in the look out for crested oropendola as it is said to visit the palms in the afternoon.

Contact information:

2773-4004

lcruses@ots.ac.cr

http://www.ots.ac.cr/lascruses

 

 

Birding Rainmaker park. Quepos – Manuel Antonio.

   If you are birding at Manuel Antonio National Park and have already visited the park itself, El Rey, and Esquipulas but still you would like to birds other surrounding areas you might find a visit to Rainmaker park convenient!
   Rainmaker is in nature park with a well-maintained trail system including little more than a dozen hanging bridges on the canopy of the primary rain-forest, which in my opinion can yield some good looks to species such as trogons, bright-rumped Attila, and others which otherwise you would see their under parts from the forest floor. However, this site will not produce big lists, I will rather think of it as a place for the birder visiting with family or non-birding friends so you can feed two birds with the same seed! I.E enjoy the trails and waterfalls and also get 2 or 3 birds to your list.
The road to Rainmaker, the gravel road is usually in good condition, a sedan-type-vehicle should be able to get you there no problem.
   The trails are relatively steep but all with some nice steps and side railing, thus making it easier, I  don’t suggest to bring telescopes or even a tripod for your camera, not a good idea (yes today I carried mine) when you are in this kind of trails, binoculars are the key here.
   Also, I would invest more time at the hanging bridges trails rather than those near the streams and waterfalls, it is a bit noisy and the water sound wont let you hear the birds, however do look for buff-rumped warbler and fasciated tiger-heron at the river. On the smaller creeks look out for sulphur-rumped flycatcher and riverside wren. And hey! good luck (REAL good luck!) with the pair of crested-owls who typically roost before the first hanging bridges!
wpid-20131119_134430.jpg

Fasciated tiger-heron, unlike the common bare throated T.H. this one favors fast running creeks or rivers instead of canals and lagoons. (  Picture for illustration)

 

Today we got a nice wood thrush, Sitting quietly in the dark understory of the forest.

 Target species:
Great and little tinamous, Fasciated tiger-heron, King vulture, Gray headed kite, white-crested coquette (at the gardens) trogons, bright rumped attila, red-capped and blue-crowned manakins, yellow-bellied tyrannulet, sulphur rumped flycatcher,tawny-crowned greenlet, buff-rumped warbler, blue-black grosbeak. Scaled antpitta has been seen here in the past!
Suggestions: Park fee is about $20 per person. The administration of this park quite is interesting, while the trails are nicely kept all the time, its hard to speak of operating hours, normally you will see staff at the entrances after 7:30am and will leave about 1:30pm, but the gate does not close so you can leave after that. If you enter and do not see personnel at the trail entrance, you can pay the fee at the house located right next to the gate. You need to sign a waiver.
oh! why it’s called Rainmaker? let this picture taken today Jan 30th explain, this is CR’s summer months!

Birding Manuel Antonio; Esquipulas.

Several times before I had stated that Esquipulas is the best spot for bird-watching in Manuel Antonio. Although the park itself has however some good birds if birded early in the morning, taking the right trails can yield some quality birds. Currently a perch of black and white owls on the waterfall trail, some perches for lesser nighthawks and the current best; common potoo! nesting on the sloth trail! may make your visit to this park enjoyable!

Common potoo, courtesy of Manuel Cabalceta. Manuel Antonio birds

Common potoo, courtesy of Manuel Cabalceta.

Black and white owl, by Michael Araya

On the other hand other good birds easily seen here at MA NP are black bellied wren, riverside wren, long billed gnatwren, fiery billed aracary. Currently slaty-tailed trogon and black-throated trogon had been actively calling from the waterfall trail  and many others.

Long billed gnatwren. Foto taken in Puriscal, for illustration purposes.

   The elevated boardwalk on the sloth trail is quite good for black bellied wren, also for long billed gnatwren and blue crowned manakin.

 

But, I am not going to lie at you! the park itself is busy and could produce a small list if compared with other great parks such as Carara, great for general wildlife though, such as sloths, monkeys, frogs, snakes etc, a great option for the birder visiting this area with family or non-birding friends, if that is your case then Esquipulas is the place to go for birds, away from the crowds!

Thanks to it’s location on the foothills of the mountains near Manuel Antonio/Quepos region, this is the best site for birding, often including species not expected for the locality such as rufous-breasted wren, montezuma and chestnut headed oropendolas. A good morning here should produce any where between 60 species to 100 species, depending on the weather conditions as well as fruiting/flowering trees and of course! how good your eyes are to spot and ID those tropical beauties!

The road at Esquipulas

Chestnut headed oropendola

 

 

the very common roadside hawk.

Esquipulas is home to common species and various endemics but also to some highlights for many visiting Costa Rica such as white crested-coquette, turquoise cotinga, and great for raptors such as king vulture, white hawks, barred hawk and others.

This beautiful male turquoise cotinga was seen on my last birding tour to Esquipulas with Jennifer Timmer, not 1 but a pair!

This beautiful male turquoise cotinga was seen on my last birding tour to Esquipulas with Jennifer Timmer, not 1 but a pair!

 

Follow this link to eBird for the list of the birds reported for Esquipulas  http://ebird.org/ebird/hotspot/L1855002 or contact me for a checklist I have made which contains all the sightings reported here since the last 9 years

I hope to post about other small spots where you can get some good birds if you are bird-watching in Quepos, stay tuned!

 

Birding La Fortuna & Medio Queso/Los Chiles: Part 3 of 3, Medio Queso

Part 1 here.

Part 2 here.

On December 7th we visited Medio Queso, this is located at Los Chiles near the Nicaraguan boarder, northern zone of CR. This site in the last few years has proved to be quite good for some species that most people go to Caño Negro for, avoiding you the the bad gravel road that leads to Caño Negro. Jabiru is seen here regularly, as well as some quality bird such as pinnated bittern, spotted rail, yellow breasted crake, yellow headed vulture and other regional specialties. Unlike Caño Negro, there is only one boating option, MR Rafa, who owns a very comfortable boat and knows the local birds very well. The fee is approximately ¢5000 which is about $10 per person per hour. I suggest to reserve in advance, as of what I understand mr Rafa does not speaks fluent english but knows the birds by english name! His cellphone is 8879-3929 as is best to call and arrange with at least a day in advance.

The night before we stayed at Los Chiles, we used the Wilson’s Hotel Tulipan, which in my opinion is the best option for hotels (from the roughly 4 or 5 there are here! Rate was ¢26000 / $52 per couple/per room including breakfast, so cheap!, rooms were extremely clean, good A/C, hot water (like if you need hot water at Los Chiles!) http://www.hoteleswilson.com/index.php/tulipan

The canals, rainy season has almost ended, but in March when the water level get lower is when Medio Queso is at its best, as most of those incredibly hidden birds such as spotted rail leaves concealment to forage near the edge of the canal. The canals, rainy season has almost ended, but in March when the water level get lower is when Medio Queso is at its best, as most of those incredibly hidden birds such as yellow breasted crake or spotted rail leave concealment to forage near the edge of the canal.

As it shows, the boat is spacious and comfortable, BUT, there is no roof, therefore come prepared to be on the sun for some hours.

Spoonbills, always common but still pretty.

On the trip we got basically all the common herons/egrets,  and we basically were focused on those local specialties for either our annual list or life list, we got Nicaraguan seed-finch right away, as well as olive-crown yellowthroat, and after some intense search 2 pinnated bitterns! all for the annual list, then we got good looks at Nicaraguan grackles, funny that one gets excited about grackles! but hey! this an endemic specie found in Nicaragua and northern Costa Rica, and above all it was a lifer!

Nicaraguan seed-finch, formerly known as Pink billed seed-finch. An endemic from Nicaragua to Panama.

 

Lesser yellow headed vulture, common here, we must had seen 8 to 10 here.

 

Pinnated bittern flying away after giving us nice views.

 

Nicaraguan grackle

Male Nicaraguan grackle. It is very noticeable that its tail is much shorter than the abundant great tailed grackle, also less iridescence and of course size make it easy to recognize.

Females are noticeable different to great tailed grackles, much lighter underparts

Here a recording I was able to get, hosted on xeno-canto:

 

Directions: Notice that there is a small village called Medio Queso, this has no relation to the wetlands, it happened to us some years ago using a GPS and it sent us to the wrong site, to get to the wetlands drive towards Los Chiles airport, once you have the airport on your right as you drive to Los Chiles take the right entrance just at the corner of the airport and follow this gravel road for approx 1.5 mile, it ends right at place you take the boat. A note to Costa Ricans, this is the famous trocha fronteriza, a work of art made by our former president Laura Ch. (sarcasm).

 

 

 

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