Birding Poas and Cinchona area. 

On February 18th I had the opportunity to lead a birding trip to the Poas Volcano and Cinchona area to miss Loretta Pelettier from Maine who I had the pleasure to bird with in 2 occasions in the past few years both at Esquipulas and Carara NP, accompanied by my friend Karen Castillo.

We met at El Robledal hotel which is right near the airport at 5:15am, we soon made our drive to Poas area, as we started to go up the hills of Poas we did our first stop which produced some of the common species for this region such as mountain elaenia, Philadelphia Vireo, rufous-collared sparrow, melodious blackbird, rose-breasted grossbeak which we only saw at this stop! And many more common garden species.
We did another stop some kilometers up the hill which produced collared redstar, stripe tailed hummingbird, olive striped flycatcher, all which we only saw at this stop plus others we saw elsewhere too such as common chlorospingus, slaty flowerpiercer, short tailed hawk, just to mention some.

By 7:30ish we got to Fredo Fresas restaurant which was convenient (highly recommended not just for good food but for birds! Here the coordinates) the soonest we got into the hummingbirds garden we got great views of a hermit warbler, considered rare to CR and sure a life bird to me!

The restaurant is on the right and the hummingbird garden on the left as you go up towards Poas.

Hermit warbler

Hermit warbler

 

The feeders produced green crowned brilliant, magnificent hummingbird, magenta throated woodstar, green violet ear and violet sabrewing, however despite our efforts we did not see volcano hummingbird.
There is a little trail down the feeder area, a 50 meters loop that is ok to do, we got black faced solitaire and heard golden browed chlorophonia, prong billed barber and long tailed silky-flycatcher.

Magenta throated hummingbird

Magenta throated hummingbird

Later up the road we got a nice resident raze red tailed hawk, we then continued to Poas, we tried to bird the road past the stone gate but found it rather very slow, the narrow road with heavy traffic was not comfortable at all, so we decided to bird the gravel road that turns left right before the stone gate and glad we did! Immediately we got large footed finch, Karen found a hairy woodpecker and then an ochraceus wren!

Later we got a small mixed flock that produced the beautiful endemic flame-throated warbler, sooty capped chlorospingus, black and yellow silky-flycatcher, then we got fiery-throated hummingbirds and even a black guan!

Flame throated warbler

Flame throated warbler

Gravel road just before the stone gate.

Gravel road just before the stone gate.

the endemic fiery throated hummingbird

the endemic fiery throated hummingbird

It was time to move to Cinchona area as Loretta’s most wanted target was the emerald toucanet!
We drove past the Restaurante Cinchona and did a stop at La Paz Waterfall to look for black phoebe, torrent tyrannulet and american deeper, saw all but the last one.

After that another stop by the old “El Angel” plant/factory, this was great as we got golden-olive woodpecker, red faced spine tail, tufted flycatcher, red headed barbet as the highlights.
After that we turned around and got directions to the cinchona restaurant, we got there at about 2:30pm and wow! This was productive! They just put some fresh fruit and immediately silver throated, blue gray, palm, Passerini’s tanagers came in, then red headed and prong billed barbets, after other various birds our target came in! Not 1 but 3 emerald toucanets!

white hawk

white hawk

After a delicious soup for lunch it was time to call it a day, everyone was happy, we all got lifers and truly enjoyed the birds and the wonderful companion.

Birding Cinchona and Poas area is indeed great! not only for the wonderful scenery you get to see but the variety of habitats in which you will be will let you nice an interesting mix of species.

Emerald toucanet

Emerald toucanet

 

red headed barbet, a serious bird!

red headed barbet, a serious bird!

Prong billed barbet. Defending one banana!

Prong billed barbet. Defending one banana! Endemic to CR and W Pa.

Restaurante y mirador Cinchona, excellent birds, TASTY food!

Restaurante y mirador Cinchona, excellent birds, TASTY food!

Notice that recently they put this sign here, large cameras would be charge a $10 fee, I think if you consume at the restaurant they may charge less, this since lately a lot of large groups would come in with their cameras, take the entire space, photo and then leave not even consuming or at least donating a tip!

Notice that recently they put this sign here, large cameras would be charge a $10 fee, I think if you consume at the restaurant they may charge less, this since lately a lot of large groups would come in with their cameras, take the entire space, photo and then leave not even consuming or at least donating a tip!

Las cruses and Esquinas Rainforest lodge birding trip report; Part 5 of 5

On our last day, Jan 17th we were ready at 5:50 AM, this was our last day together, the end of any field trip it is always a sad day after meeting wonderful birders but above all nice new friends!

We birded some part of the gardens as usual, although this time we just focused on the bright-rumped attila which he heard every day but could not see, well, we could not see it at this time neither (high up on tree canopy and fog does not rhyme well) but managed to find one later on the morning finally!

Black striped sparrow, common garden, forest edge and roadside specie.

Black striped sparrow, common garden, forest edge and roadside specie.

After getting great looks at a black-bellied wren and rose-throated becard right behind Malcom’s and Eleanor’s room. We continued the road towards the Tropical station, as this road is productive most times, the forest edge, road side and pasture allowed views of southern-beardless tyrannulet, various tanagers, social and gray capped flycatchers and white-whinged becard among several others, time flew so fast! we walked fast back for breakfast so we would not miss it! (breakfast here is served from 7:00am to 8:00am). On a safety note, be careful if you plan to walk this road at night, the night before we saw a fer-de-lance (venomous snake) cross the road, although it does not mean there are snakes there all the time it is not bad to just watch were you step.

swallow-tailed kite

swallow-tailed kite

Although initially we were going to bird Coto 47 and after lunch we would do the species found at the town of La Gamba we decided to invert our plans, we then looked for one of out main targets; rusty-margined flycatcher which we got, a pair is known to hang out by the house with the corral, just 500-600 meters outside Esquinas. There we got several good birds we needed such as pale-breasted spine tail, yellow tyrannulet, and fork-tailed flycatcher, and other good birds we had seen already but nice to see again such as red-breasted meadowlark (blackbird), Baird’s trogon, ithsmian and riverside wrens, blue-ground dove, laughing falcon  and more.

Rusty-margined flycatcher, although this photo had been edited to compensate the awful light were the bird was at the brown margins are visibly, also notice the black cheeks and darker brown back.

Rusty-margined flycatcher, although this photo had been edited to compensate the awful light were the bird was at the brown margins are visibly, also notice the black cheeks and darker brown back.

Then, after some good birds near that house area we continued little more by car to the spot he had heard the striped-cuckoo some nights ago, and there it was! other good birds we got here where the best views of yellow bellied seedeater (a common bird in this region), white lined tanagers and streaked saltator. Then we continued to the town of La Gamba, turned left towards the Piedras blancas national park and drove for 400 meters only as I knew  a site to try great antshrike which we missed unfortunately but got a bright-rumped attila at last! After checking the river for a while we then went back for lunch.

striped cuckoo

striped cuckoo, one day I hope I can see the similar, yet improved-version pheasant cuckoo here in CR! one day as I owe that bird to a friend.

After lunch it was time to run, we needed to drive to Coto 47 near Villa Neily and had at least 35 min drive, our main targets were savanna hawk and sapphire, throated hummingbird. Soonest we got to Coto we found a small marsh drying out due to the normal summer conditions, birds everywhere! birds such as the typical herons and egrets, black bellied whistling ducks, blue winged teal, glossy ibis, spoonbills, storks, gallinules, jacanas (no wattled was seen although we looked hard for it) osprey, lesser yellowlegs and so much more, I really regret I did not take a picture as it would had been a nice memory!

We drove a few more kilometers and I heard brown-throated parakeet, one of our targets, we got at least 6 to 8 individuals and later in the afternoon we got a large flock.

Brown throated parakeet

Brown throated parakeet

We went to the site where I had seen Savannah hawk nest in the past, despite our efforts we could not see them and I fear that no matter how hard we look for the sapphire throated hummingbird at all sites, La Gamba, Coto and Ciudad Neily, the flowers all/most looked old and fading now, so we missed the hummer too. We got 3 kingfisher spp: ringed, green and amazon, as well as the common southern lapwing which was new for the trip.

A very productive day indeed!

Our day ended with a lovely dinner, we did the day’s list and counted all we saw during our five days together. Good birds, many lifers for miss Eleanor and Malcom who had visited the country various times now, on this field trip we all had great moments lived and the best, new friends!

From left to right: Malcom, Johan and miss Eleanor, from Portland, Maine. USA.

From left to right: Malcom, Johan and miss Eleanor, from Portland, Maine. USA.

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Las cruses and Esquinas Rainforest lodge birding trip report; Part 4

On Jan 16th we were up and ready at 6:00am, time to put on some lowland birds!

The morning was quite fresh given last nights rain, which was very nice to get during a classic hot January! it was foggy however and made it hard to get those distant, high-perching birds. The first hour we birded the gardens as there are several species that were on the wanted list that show up on the gardens regularly.

We immediately checked the caiman pond as once in a while the rare and elusive agami heron is reported at Esquinas, considered the best place in the south pacific for this beautiful heron (why do beautiful birds are always rare?!) Unfortunately we were not lucky and the pond itself only produced gray-cowled woodrail (former gray necked w.r) and cherrie’s tanager, meanwhile, the gardens where full of calls and songs! we then got extremely close ups to great curassow, Eleanor’s most wanted target!, well, this birds are so tame here at Esquinas we could had taken a selfie with them! they seem to like the area where they do the compos, plenty of worms to eat!

we got some hummers such as band-tailed barbthroat, long billed hermit, violet headed hummingbird, the local endemic charming hummingbird and the abundant Rufous tailed, all from the potterweeds, and heliconias around the gardens.

male charming hummingbird, after rufous tailed, the most common hummingbird of the trip.

male charming hummingbird, after rufous tailed, the most common hummingbird of the trip.

By 6:40 am the fog finally cleared out, and allowed views to the canopy of the trees, a small passing mixed flock produced red legged and shining honeycreepers, buff-throated saltator, golden hooded tanager, spot crowned euphonia, and finally! one of our targets, white-vented euphonia, although views were distant through the scope the white vent was clearly seen.

Just before breakfast we walked for 50 meters into the ocelot trail (entering behind the cabins, not by the riverbed trail-area), and were lucky to get good views of a pair of gray-chested doves, and then, at the first creek we got a quick look of the hard-to-see scaly-breasted wren!

As we walked back for breakfast a crested guan was awaiting for us, this was just the start of an excellent day!

Pond in front of the reception area, good for gray-cowled wood-rail, we even glimpsed a green kingfisher.

Pond in front of the reception area, good for gray-cowled wood-rail, we even glimpsed a green kingfisher.

After an excellent breakfast (food is always good here at Esquinas ) we walked to the Riverbed trail, we checked the small river hoping for the rare agami heron, we soon got red-capped manakin, band tailed barbthroat, a pair of scarlet-rumped caciques making their nest, some tropical gnatcatchers and wedge billed woodcreeper. After searching the lagoon area for the agami which we had to give up, it had not been reported lately here so time to flip the page, as we entered the River bed trail we luckily found a good mixed flock led by one one of the must-see targets to anyone who comes  birding Esquinas rainforest lodge, i.e black-cheeked ant-tanager. Black striped woodcreeper allowed clear views, various white shoulder tanagers, then the anttanagers, then for our surprise a stripe-breasted woodhaunter let Malcom and I see it well, which we then worked hard to ensure Eleanor would see it too, and she did later! Very excited to see it as I had only seen it near Esquipulas where I bird regularly, a place called Quebrada Arroyo but that’s another story.

first few meters of the riverbed trail

first few meters of the riverbed trail

We got good view of this male rufous-winged woodpecker, later Malcom and Eleanor found it's nest!

We got good view of this male rufous-winged woodpecker, later Malcom and Eleanor found it’s nest!

Female great curassow

Female great curassow

 

poor picture of the black cheeked ant-tanager

poor picture of the black cheeked ant-tanager

As we continued enjoying this flock we got rufous-winged woodpecker, and just after that a red-rumped woodpecker, 2 more targets checked!

After that bird frenzy we continued our walk with good sightings such as Bairds trogon, cocoa woodcreeper, ruddy quail-dove, yellow throated toucan and more, time flew by, we earned our lunch!

Male Baird's trogon, a target specie for this region, endemic to CR and Pa.

Male Baird’s trogon, a target specie for this region, endemic to CR and Pa.

After lunch and a short break we went back to the riverbed in hopes to see streaked-chested antpitta or a tinamou, as part of this trail is fairly flat and allows for good views of the forest floor, however it was not our luck, we then covered part of the trocha trail and it was a bit slow and the hilly terrain made birding a bit difficult.

Yellow-throated toucan (formerly known as black mandibled T)

Yellow-throated toucan (formerly known as black mandibled T)

how do you like my bracelet?

how do you like my bracelet?

From all of the trails here at Esquinas, the best for birds are the Riverbed and the bird trail due to it’s flatter terrain and and width, the last one unfortunately is closed as the river damaged a very good portion, I didnt feel like there were plans to repair it unfortunately.

The other trails such as the waterfall and particularly the ocelot trail are productive too but notice it is hilly and the lack of steps could be a limiting, highly suggested for rufous piha, scaly breasted wren, bairds trogon, and I am sure one or two forest-interior raptors.
Arter dinner we trieded some owls again, no luck but did heard a striped cuckoo calling, it was interesting to hear it call this late! After that and seeing some common pauraques it was bed time.

Map to Esquinas rainforest trails

Map to Esquinas rainforest trails

 

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Las cruses and Esquinas Rainforest lodge birding trip report; Part 3

On out third day, we went very early into the jungle trail (5:00am), the entrance near the soccer field as we had heard mottled owl at night, this time we heard the bird very close to us but despite our efforts we could not see it, too close but too far! Also heard distant calls of collared forest falcon.

As light made it through the forest we got some of the birds we had seen, with excellent look of buff-throated foliage gleaner, Scale-crested pygmy tyrant, crowned woodnymph, striped throated hermit, and various species more.

Lesson's motmot, formerly called blue crowned motmot

Lesson’s motmots, formerly called blue crowned motmot, common both at the feeders and grounds around Wilson’s.

After breakfast (served from 6:30am to 7:30am) we drove to the airport and San Joaquin March, both known as spots for bran-colored flycatcher, chiriqui yellowthroat (former masked YT) and Wattled Jacana (the last one had not been reported for quite a while) on the drive we got tropical mockingbird thanks to Malcom, a group of fiery-billed aracaries (only site we actually saw this somewhat common endemic specie), once at the lagoon across for the San Vito airport we got our first giant cowbirds (it was about time they showed up!) among the several birds seen here we got purple gallinule, common gallinule, northern jacana, gray-cowled woodrail (former gray necked w.r) and excellent views of mourning warbler, but no bran colored flycatcher nor yellowthorat. We drove to the San Joaquin Marsh, where we only got blue winged teals and black-bellied whistling duck, various herons, our first yellow-bellied seedeaters of the trip and the best looks of isthmian wren (this unpronounceable name is a split from plain wren, endemic to south CR and West Panama).

The San Joaquin Marsh is known as the spot for masked duck which is reported a few times a year here. Located east of San Vito, about 5 min/3-4km from the town, past the airport on the left hand side as you drive towards Sabalito. Look for the crested oropendola nesting colony across from the marsh, which we saw, dealing with some giant cowbirds who were trying to parasite the nests.

Once we returned for lunch, a beautiful ornate hawk eagle was soaring and calling, it allowed good (distant views) RUMORS are that David A Sibley was visiting the area same time we were here, at a property across from the Wilson's botanical gardens. The rumor says our black hawk eagle was heading that way and even perched for them to see! (maybe lured with mp3?) but it is just rumors after all

Once we returned for lunch, a beautiful ornate hawk-eagle was soaring and calling above us heading east, it allowed good (distant views) RUMORS from other birders we met are that David A Sibley was visiting the area same time we were here, at a property across from the Wilson’s botanical gardens. The rumor says our black hawk eagle was heading that way and even perched for them to see! (maybe lured with mp3?) but it is just rumors after all. Photo for illustrative purpose.

After lunch we left for Esquinas rainforest lodge with several stops that produced some birds we only saw once, including a least grebe (between San Vito and Ciudad Neily), and little tinamou near Rio Claro. As we arrived to Esquinas we heard a lesser elaenia which called from the forest edge near the reception area, unfortunately a heavy rain ruined our plans, but in the good side it helped with the heat for a good, fresh night!

Least grebe

Least grebe

I spent my first night at the Trompestation (tropical station) while Malcom and Eleanor stayed at Esquinas, after dinner we did some owling by car as I knew some spots for striped owl and were told of one for black and white owl by Fernando and Julia from Esquinas, however we missed those but luckily got tropical screech-owl! not to forget the super-common pauraques!

 

Tropical screech owl, last bird of the day!

Tropical screech owl, last bird of the day!

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Las cruses and Esquinas Rainforest lodge birding trip report; Part 2.

Las Cruses as commented before is a field station that also Covers the Wilson’s botanical Gardens. The rooms at this OTS station are the best of the 3 OTS stations in the country (La selva and Palo Verde are the other 2).

The Gardens are excellent and the feeder outside the dinner is very productive. The trails along the gardens are worth to check and the best trail inside the forest to look for birds is the Rio Java trail, a wider, more open trail that it is often birdy.

These maps are kind of hard to understand, although once you had been there a few times you kind of understand them, notice the Jungle trail near the soccer field, there are both the short loop and the long loop options. This is a forest trail that leads into advanced second growth, part of the Botanical garden.

These maps are kind of hard to understand, although once you had been there a few times you kind of understand them, notice the Jungle trail near the soccer field, there are both the short loop and the long loop options. This is a forest trail that leads into advanced second growth, part of the Botanical garden.

 

This map covers the trail at the Las Cruses reserve, notice the reception area highlighted for orientation, Rio Java is the best trail to bird due to it's flatter, more open habitat. There is also an observation tower right at the entrance of the Java trail.

This map covers the trail at the Las Cruses reserve, notice the reception area highlighted for orientation, Rio Java is the best trail to bird due to it’s flatter, more open habitat. There is also an observation tower right at the entrance of the Java trail which is ok.

On the next day, Jan 14th we birded before breakfast (notice breakfast here is served between 6:30am to 7:30am) so we used the time between 5:45 until breakfast to explore the feeder and gardens in search for garden species. It is great there as you can get great close up views of speckled tanagers, streaked saltator (one of our targets) red faced spine tail, various euphonias, crested oropendolas and blue headed parrots, right by our rooms and more. After breakfast our first forest adventure began.

Nice and early!

Nice and early!

streaked saltator, a target for this region

streaked saltator, a target for this region

Same as yesterday, the tree-fern hill never disappoints, we got tropical parula, riverside wren, white breasted wood-wren, slate throated redstars, olivaceous woodcreeper, orange billed sparrow, white throated thrush and more. Time to enter the forest, we looked had for marbled wood-quails which are found regularly foraging near the entrance to Java trail but were unlucky with that. We got several motmots, a road side hawk (from the tower) good looks at a male charming hummingbird, yellow bellied, slaty-capped and sulphur rumped flycatchers,  and some few more, however, the forest felt very quite and there were no fruiting trees, we even explored the Melissa’s meadow which is a narrower, steeper trail and part of the ridge trail hoping for more activity, luckily towards the end of the morning Eleanor found a fruiting tree and wow were we paid for the slow hours we spent! White ruffed manakin, white shoulder tanagers, gray capped and social flycatchers, philadelphia vireos, various warblers, silver throated, speckled and various tanagers and some honeycreepers made the morning!

Black faced antthrush, so nice to see it foraging in front of us for quite a while on the java trail

Black faced antthrush, so nice to see it foraging in front of us for quite a while on the java trail on the morning, best views Malcom and Eleanor had ever had during their trips to CR.

Rio Java trail

Rio Java trail

Tips/notes: Rio Java trail is the more productive trail of Las Cruses, nice open habitat, relatively flat terrain allows good birding, however most birds here move with mixed flocks so listen for white shoulder tanager, tawny crowned greenlet and silver throated tanagers. Or bicolored antbird, red-crowned anttanger or tawny winged woodcreepers. Melissa’s meadow is good for chiriqui yellowthorat, bran colored flyatchers and lesser elaenia, consider you need to cross 1 or 2 creeks but it represents no challenge, it only takes a couple of hopes. Trail there is steeper so bring walking sticks.

 

After lunch we decided to venture into the jungle trail, not known to be a productive trail but today we got proved wrong! this trail has a short loop which takes you back to the big, green bamboo which is located below the reception, near tree-fern hill, we did the long loop, hoping to venture deeper into the forest, we entered by the soccer field, this longer version loops back to the soccer field. This time we got really lucky, we found some bicolored antbirds and then I knew our luck had changed! I got a glimpse of gray headed tanagers, but we all saw bicolored antbirds, tawny winged woodcreepers, sulphur rumped flycatchers, plain antvireo, black hooded antshrikes, black faced antthrush, buff-throated foliage gleaner, and finally, today’s most wanted target, ruddy foliage gleaner!

This bird is found in a very limited range in Costa Rica, here at San Vito area, and like many furnarids it is often hard to see, in the past I had seen poor views of it in various occasions, not today, we saw everything we wanted to see of it! we all agreed it was the best bird of the day! time to cheer!

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Las cruses and Esquinas Rainforest lodge birding trip report; Part 1.

Las Cruses biological station is one of the three research stations administrated by the OTS, protecting 326 hectares of both primary and secondary forest, to many the site is also known for hosting the Wilson’s botanical garden. Located in San Vito de Coto Brus (South east CR), part of the southern pacific intermontane valleys with elevations ranging from 1400 to 1000 meters.

Between January 13th to the 18th I had the pleasure to guide a wonderful couple from Portlan, Maine USA. Miss Eleanor Goldberg and MR Malcom Burson , excellent, experienced birders with various trips to the tropics of Costa Rica, so we had lots of fun!

Our day began on January 13th when we met at Tiskita lodge, Located at Pavones (Punta Burica, southern most corner of CR!) at 7 a.m. and we soon put on some birds, with most common garden species such as Philadelphia lirio Baltimore Oriole, Great Crested Flycatcher, white necked jacobin, summer tanager, and more. Right after breakfast we departed on was started to be a great trip!

Air strip at Pavones near Tiskita, read the sign (NO parking, danger airplanes!)

Air strip at Pavones near Tiskita, read the sign (NO parking, danger airplanes!)

 

Pavones beach, a quick stop here produced royal and sandwich terns, semipalmated, wilson's and black bellied plovers, and more.

Pavones beach, a quick stop here produced royal and sandwich terns, semipalmated, wilson’s and black bellied plovers, and more.

After some stops along the road to get some birds (the highlight of the road trip was lesser goldfinch as we only saw it once as you drive up the road from V. Neily) and lunch we got to Las Cruses OTS /Wilson’s botanical garden and started birding on the gardens right away! We then got birds such as speckled tanagers, silver throated tanagers, lesson’s motmots, and several other common birds that attend to the feeders/gardens. The highlight of the day was a beautiful male golden-olive woodpecker, I was particularly glad for this one as Malcom and Eleanor are fond of woodpeckers! The busiest site was down towards the tree-fern hill, a good mixed flock passed including tropical parula, slate throated redstar, olive striped flycatcher, olivaceous woodcreeper, spot crowned euphonia, riverside wren, orange billed nightingale-thrush and more, a good start indeed! After dinner we went to look for owls although we were only able to hear a distant mottled owl.

A male golden olive woodpecker seen below the reception area, towards the tree fern hill.

A male golden olive woodpecker seen below the reception area, towards the tree fern hill.

from left to right: Clay colored thrush, fem Cherrie's tanager, male spot crowned euphonia and silver throated tanager.

from left to right: Clay colored thrush, fem Cherrie’s tanager, male spot crowned euphonia and silver throated tanager.

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Carara and La Selva Biological station Christmas bird counts.

CBC (Christmas bird counts) are annual bird census practiced by volunteer birders and administrated by Audubon society. The data collected during this events is used for scientific purpose so bird population in different sites can be studied.

Another great thing of CBC is that not only you get to see excellent birds or even learn from those advanced or even beginning birders who also volunteer but you get to catch up with friends from other regions of the country or even make new friends!

This year I only had the opportunity to participate in 2 of them, although both in opposite sides of the country they have one thing in common, both offer the best lowland birding experience in the country, i.e Carara NP (Central Pacific bird count) at the Pacific side and OTS La Selva in the caribbean lowlands.

Both Bird-counts were dedicated to the memory of an excellent birder, guide, artist and my closest friend Roy Orozco (RIP).

Art by Roy Orozco

Art by Roy Orozco

Carara is located on the central Pacific side, with more than 400 species recorded on the historical CBC records (Ten counts celebrated). Birding Carara is always very productive as it is located on a transitional zone where the dry forest meets the tropical rain forest, therefore it is always exciting to go there no matter how many times I had guided there! For the CBC on December 15th our group was made of 5, Karen Castillo, Kassandra Villalobos, Andres Martinez, Oscar Herrera and myself and were in charge of the Lagoon trail and the Limonal road.

The lagoon trail is located is located 1.5km north of the park headquarters and offers great birds, mostly good for Furnarids, orange collared manakin (might be the best site at the park for this sp) Antbirds/Antshrikes/Antwrens, wrens, trogons, motmots, king vulture, macaws as the main must-sees of this trail.

 

Male gartered trogon (Formerly known as violaceous)

Male gartered trogon (Formerly known as violaceous)

The lagoon trail is closed from September to November as it floods, it is best birded from late December to April. Although consider that when it is semi-flooded is good for boat-billed heron. Boots are for rent with the local guides.

The limonal road, our second half of the day is little north of the Cerro lodge entrance, good for dry-forest species although birders staying at Cerro lodge might find Cerro road more productive, despite that we got about 84 species for the afternoon including some common spp such as cinnamon hummingbird, nutting’s flycatcher and white fronted parrot that one does not get commonly at the lagoon trail, King vulture was the highlight certainly.

stripe headed sparrow

stripe headed sparrow

 

Carara’s most emblematic bird, scarlet macaws.

 

A regular target at this trail, boat billed herons at Carara are best searched for at the end of the lagoon trail

A regular target at this trail, boat billed herons at Carara are best searched for at the end of the lagoon trail

La Selva Biological station, located in the Caribbean lowlands is Carara´s counterpart, birding La Selva is always impressive as must birders would agree, it is perhaps the best, accessible lowland birding in the country! The CBC here has been done since 1985, making this the oldest, and most constant birdcount in the neotropics with more than 5000 species in the records.

Our team lead by Jimmy Trejos, was sent to the Sendero Tres Rios 2750 STR and Sendero rivereño SR, the STR is a well done cement trail which allows to walk silently (so are most trails at La Selva), the habitat we were on ranged from advanced secondary forest, primary forest, Scrub, rivers, creeks, swamp inside the forest, it has it all!

The soonest the sun came out it was a madness! we soon got some of the common caribbean species such as red-throated ant-tanager, black-crowned antshrike, black capped pygmy-tyrant (which is fairly common here), honeycreepers, and so, so much more. The highlight of our morning was perhaps seeing 2 sunbitterns, calling quietly from the swamp, allowing good looks and even audio recordings!

Sunbittern

Sunbittern

white collared manakin, a very common manakin specie on this side

white collared manakin, a very common manakin specie on this side

Great green macaws are the rarest species of the 2 that occur in CR.

Great green macaws are the rarest species of the 2 that occur in CR.

I did have a great experience comparing both sites on these events and can tell I love both sites, clearly La Selva has a much more developed trail system which gives you tons of access to so many trails it is very hard to actually get to bird them all! I must thank the organizers for allowing me to participate and hope it is not the last time I get to volunteer on these bird-counts.

La Selva has so much diversity not just birds but everything! here a barred leaf-frog Cruziohyla calcarifer

La Selva has so much diversity not just birds but everything! here a barred leaf-frog Cruziohyla calcarifer, one of my favorite frogs of CR.

 

 

 

 

Birding Chirripo National park — First kilometer

Chirripo National park is home to Costa Rica’s highest peak, at 3821 masl, the hike to Chirripo is certainly the biggest challenge for any hiker in CR as it takes about 8-10hrs to reach up there going from +-1500masl to 3821m in one ascend! but nope, we did not do that! we covered the first kilometer that leads there as we had been looking for a middle elevation spot to offer birding trips from Manuel Antonio, and what a found!

Picture taken from the web for illustration purpose. chirripo . org

Picture taken from the web for illustration purpose. chirripo . org

Location in the country, google maps.

Location in the country, google maps.

My friends Andres Chaves, Karen Castillo, Manuel Cabalceta and I left Manuel Antonio at 4:00am as the drive is approximately 2hrs to 2hr15min. 98% of the drive is paved and only 8km are gravel road, not accessible to sedan vehicles (or at least one that belongs to you!) NO 4WD is needed just good ground clearance.

Right at the entrance is Hotel Uran www.hoteluran.com  which is extremely convenient to leave your car at the parking so you can have lunch when you return, no parking fee is charged.

Restaurant area

Restaurant area

We got to the site at 6:25am as we did a 15min stop at San Isidro for coffee and the fun began right at the hotel/park trail area, Snowy bellied hummingbird, magenta-throated woodstar, scintillant hummingbird and violet-headed hummingbird all around the Verbena planted there. Later many other species were seen such as sulphur winged parakeet, various flycatchers, warblers, tanagers were seen, all basically at the entrance.

Male violet headed H.

Male violet headed H.

Male magenta-throated woodstar

Male magenta-throated woodstar

 

Snowy bellied hummingbird, a regional endemic found in the intermontane valleys of the South Pacific (General and Coto Brus).

Snowy bellied hummingbird, a regional endemic found in the intermontane valleys of the South Pacific (General and Coto Brus).

 

Black phoebe, a fairly common flycatcher at middle elevations.

Black phoebe, a fairly common flycatcher at middle elevations.

Sulphur winged parrakeet, another regional endemic.

Sulphur winged parrakeet, another regional endemic.

It is important to mention that the first few kilometers of this trail can be done at any hour, any day at no cost. But certainly (and I know it is another topic here but just saying!) one can not simply attempt to climb the Chirripo without a fee and reservation.

The trail goes through some nice pastures, scrub and forest interior and edge, which makes it great to see mixed flocks inside the forest, but also those seen better in open areas such as honeycreepers, euphonias, tanagers, etc. It is not too strenuous but good shoes and maybe walking sticks are a good idea, specially for the walk down.

Entrance

Entrance

 

Cloud forest

streak-headed woodcreeper

 

White-throated spadebill

White-throated spadebill

We walk approx 650 meters each way and the morning flew by so quickly with little more that 90+ species. Then we had lunch at the Hotel Uran, prices are extremely reasonable and food is very good indeed. We were very pleased with this and do think that anyone staying near San Isidro should bird here, also, anyone staying in Manuel Antonio who wont visit Monteverde or Dota region area and are looking for a good birding spot that gathers pacific middle elevation species this is the place!

eBird list of what we saw http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S32558959

From left to right: Karen Castillo, Johan Chaves, Andres Chaves "Socio" and Manuel Cabalceta. Photo courtesy of Socio.

From left to right: Karen Castillo, Johan Chaves, Andres Chaves “Socio” and Manuel Cabalceta. Photo courtesy of Socio.

 

Rufous-crested coquette at Rancho Naturalista

Rancho Naturalista as is known is one of Costa Rica’s best birding lodges, not only the infrastructure itself is nicely design but the birding here is superb and so are the great guides found at Rancho such as Harry Barnard, Herman Venegas, Luis Murillo and others.

Well, if Rancho was not great enough already, one of the 2 rarest hummingbirds in Costa Rica re-appears at Rancho, Rufous-crested coquette! According Skutch and Stiles (1989) […known from 4 captured birds in October on different years 1892-1906…]yes! little more than a century ago!

On October 30th one bird was noticed by a local guide; Ludovico Vega and photographed by a birder Beltran Lara (know in Facebook by his pseudonym Astro Natura) who generated an excellent alarm in all aspects, needless to say this caused what many might consider the best twitch in MANY years!

One thing that I must detach is that the birding ethics here at Rancho are second to no one, and while the owners Miss Kathy, mr John, and Lisa Erb are extremely wonderful and welcoming they make sure the birds are not stressed.

No flash, no playback, keep your distance.

No flash, no playback, keep your distance.

After some attempts I finally made it to Rancho on Nov 2nd to see this fantastic bird, we literally got out of the car at 2:35pm and Harry pointed the bird immediately! how pleasurable after a 5.5hr drive! I must thank Miss Kathy and mr John, Lisa Erb for being so generous and welcoming, to Harry Barnard for taking the time to bird with me on the trails!

Presumably a juvenile male, only one individual suspected to be on the site.

Presumably a juvenile male, only one individual suspected to be on the site.

 

This is how adult male looks like. This is a photo (AMAZING photo) taken by Miguel Siu, a photographer friend from Panama. Photo used with permission for illustrative purpose.

This is how adult male looks like. This is a photo (AMAZING photo) taken by Miguel Siu, a photographer friend from Panama. Photo used with permission ONLY FOR ILLUSTRATIVE PURPOSE. I highly suggest his blog http://panama-wildlife.blogspot.com/

 

I am not a photographer myself, but sure one enjoys taking photos of the hummers here at Rancho, the site is known as one of the best places in the entire country for Snowcap, and well, as of today the only site you could see all 3 CR coquettes i.e. white-crested, black-crested and rufous-crested coquettes! I truly enjoyed birding Rancho Naturalista once again, the trails are good and very productive.

Black-crested coquette female

Black-crested coquette female

 

Female green thorntail

Female green thorntail

 

Snowcap

Snowcap, a classic must-see here at Rancho!

 

 

 

Birding Coto 47–Wattled jacana.

The south Pacific is always an exciting place to bird-watch, many of the new Panamanian invasive species are often recorded here first, and some expected species are looked for here by many! Would crimson-backed tanager be first reported near San Vito or near Villa Neily? Time will tell.

On this time I went back since a wattled jacana was seen by some CR well known photographers but with no details of location. Coto 47, La Gamba and San Vito are known as the best 3 sites in the country for this south American bird, luckily a friend birder who lives at Coto 47; Daniel Hernandez knew where the bird was, I must thank him because without him I would had missed it.

Southern lapwing. Abundant here.

Southern lapwing. Abundant here.

Coto 47 is deforested and instead it’s vast lowland is planted with African palm oil, rice and some cattle pastures, tus creating plenty of flooded areas which favors many aquatic species and those associated with canebrake, scrub, rivers, canals, etc. Species such as Savanna hawk, striated heron (see my post), wattled jacana, lesser yellow headed vulture, yellow-headed blackbird (see post) and many more had been seen here. On Oct 8th 2016 we tried in the afternoon but the rainy weather did not allow us to do much, only highlights were white-faced ibis and 2 Savanna hawks. No jacana then but the temptation did not let me leave, we stayed at a cheap hotel and went back again the morning of the 9th with our friend Daniel. After searching we finally got back to where it was seen before and there it was! Finally a bird my wife, and my friend Roy Orozco (RIP) searched for so many times for our CR list! So many memories came to us of my friend while we saw it, hard to believe its has been only 2 months since he left.

wattled jacana Manuel Antonio birding

 

wattled jacana buena coto 47 share

This is the place to find wattled Jacana in Costa Rica, or at least the most recent sightings are these, here are the coordinates directly to the site we saw it 8.519337, -82.992536, once you get there the bird hangs out in the swap behind the warehouse at the Y junction, or the one on the left and/or in front of, as it kept moving to those sites during the time we were photographing it.

As is known by many, Coto has great birds to offer, Daniel, the local expert took us to some spots where he knew it was productive. Private road along a canal, no name to this site unfortunately but do have the coordinates 8.555414, -82.977125: The canals were bordered by Inga trees (Inga vera?) full of flowers and yes its was birdy! I got good picture of the uncommon red-rumped woodpecker, We got rusty margined flycatchers, sapphire throated hummingbird, various FC and more. After that We went to a sector known as Las Pangas where Daniel knew veraguan mango and red-rumped woodpecker would be and this is what we got!

Male red-rumped woodpecker. This male was seen on the tree line along the canal, unfortunately no name to location but here the coordinates 8.555414, -82.977125

Male red-rumped woodpecker. This male was seen on the tree line along the canal, unfortunately no name to location but here the coordinates 8.555414, -82.977125

veraguan mango

veraguan mango

Blue headed parrot... and oh yes!, a great tailed grackle!

Blue headed parrot… and oh yes!, a great tailed grackle!

Female red-rumped woodpecker at La Pangas, along Rio Corredor.

Female red-rumped woodpecker at La Pangas, along Rio Corredor.

 

Male sapphire throated hummingbird

Male sapphire throated hummingbird

 

After that, and so we could get a lifer Daniel knew the spot for a gray-lined hawk, a hawk that was split relatively resent from gray hawk, I personally wanted to see the differences myself and can now say that they are certainly noticeable! The gray barring on the head was noticeable while viewing through the spotting scope, the bird seemed longer tailed than I am use to see on gray hawks, giving it a larger look. Legs seemed slightly longer as well.

 

In resume, from the many times I had gone to both Coto 47 and La Gamba (both sites on single-day trips) I came to realize if you are to choose one that would be Coto 47, except from the birds you can get at Esquinas rainforest lodge you will find most/all southern Pacific specialties here, highly recommended!

Gray lined hawk

Gray lined hawk

 

Female barred antshrike we got early in the day.

Female barred antshrike we got early in the day.

 

Coto 47–Desviación campiña a cangrejo verde, Puntarenas, CR
Oct 9, 2016 7:35 AM – 9:55 AM
Protocol: Traveling
4.0 kilometer(s)
Comments:    Karina Segura, Daniel Hernández y yo. EL Marcador de este sitio esta justo donde se avisto wattled jacana
57 species

Marker on this list is EXACTLY on the site we saw the jacana, and presumably is the same site where it was seen a week ago by others who got great pictures. Seen singly, and we did not find any other individual. Black, body, yellow bill and red shield. Pictures attached
View this checklist online at http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S31997314

 

Coto 47–acceso restringido, Puntarenas, CR
Oct 9, 2016 10:45 AM – 11:15 AM
Protocol: Traveling
0.3 kilometer(s)
Comments:    Daniel Hernandez y yo
31 species
View this checklist online at http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S31997566

 

Coto 47–Las Pangas, Puntarenas, CR
Oct 9, 2016 11:30 AM – 11:45 AM
Protocol: Stationary
1 species

View this checklist online at http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S31997743

 

 

Coto 47–finca 41, Puntarenas, CR
Oct 9, 2016 11:55 AM – 12:10 PM
Protocol: Stationary
Comments:    buscando especificamente al gray lined hawk.
1 species

View this checklist online at http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S31997831

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