Global Big day 2018

On May 5th 2018 another Global Big Day was celebrated, I was able to join my friend Oscar Herrera and called our team “Solitary sandpipers”.

We visited La Marta Wildlife refuge, we left Manuel Antonio by midday and arrived by 7:00pm after some stops along the way. After dinner we immediately ventured into the forest to do some photography.


May 5th, up and ready just about sunrise. We were waken by the many birds near the open habitat right at the main building.

Tawny-crested Tanager, fairly common at this location.

The area by the gate and the road that leads towards the camping site is very, very productive, we got various flocks of tanagers where black and yellow tanagers and emerald tanagers were the highlights and also quite common. The flowers along the road produced snowcap, Bronze tailed plumeleteer, purple crowned fairy and crowned woodnymph. We found that spending the time here was quite good since it produced the largest amount of birds seen on the day thanks to the fruiting trees (Melastomataceae) on the area.


Black and yellow tanager

The forest at La Marta is quite interesting, La Marta is a large reserve and most of it used to belong to the Hacienda La Marta, a huge coffee and sugar cane plantation that used to operate between 1890s to 1920’s. One can still see the vestiges of what seems was a prosperous hacienda.

Most of the forest that can be accessed consists of advanced secondary growth, and the primary forest is quite far and we were told it would take 3-4hrs hiking to get to. Our expectations were a bit higher as we were comparing it with a nearby reserve; the amazing El Copal. However, this site is known as one of the best in Costa Rica for the rare Lanceolated Monklet, special thanks to PATRICK O’Donnell for the heads up! We got a bird reply to our playback and it flew over our heads, allowing only quick views but enough to count it in the GBD, however, we went back to the location and were able to see it, after a long and patience wait, this had been the second time I had seen this small, hard-finding bird.

Cellphone photo by Oscar H.


The lodging here is very, very simple (fine to us, and quite fun indeed), but if you are looking for some luxury this is not your place. We were the only ones and were able to use the kitchen to prepare our own meals, reservations must be made if you plan to stay here, however if you plan to visit for the day you can just drop by and pay the entrance fee, the road from the town of Pejiballe is in excellent conditions.


WARNING: If you plan to visit Tapanti NP after La Marta and are considering taking the short cut that leads towards El Copal, keep in consideration that the road to El copal is in excellent conditions, however, the road 3 km ahead of El Copal gets pretty bad, then it becomes a rally cross track (literally) we drove on it and I will NEVER will again, I just wish I knew that before.

This “mortal danger” warning sign did not stop us from birding

Oscar Herrera (right) and me at La Marta.




Birding Medio Queso and Caño Negro.

Caño Negro and Medio Queso, located Near Los Chiles in the northern zone of CR near the Nicaraguan border are (along with Palo Verde) known as one of the best marshlands in the entire country.

On April 9th I was able to join a group of birders, all friends and guides from the Manuel Antonio area, we left home at 1:00am and drove straight to Medio Queso, were Rafa was waiting for us. Map:

The canal at Medio Queso

We began our trip at 6:45am, inmediatly we got one of the highlights of the ride; Least bittern, perched on a reed at the edge of the canal, thus allowing us great looks, and why not? pictures! Naturally you can expect the typical herons such as boat-billed, yellow-crowned and Black crowned Night herons, etc.

Least bittern

Pinnated bittern








The boat ride took about 2hrs30min and we got most of the target species the group was looking for, including yellow-breasted crake, lesser yellow headed vulture, pinnated bittern, snail kite, ruddy breasted seedeater and other highlights such as canebrake, black-throated wrens, and bare-crowned antbird.

Snail kite

Yellow breasted cuckoo, this is a life bird for me! very exciting!

The boat used by Rafa is small, although enough room for us 9, although no roof so be ready for PLENTY of sun, or rain in the event of! Rafa has been a little irregular with his service lately, he sends a young man to ride the boat instead, this young man speaks no english just to keep in consideration, still this is the ONLY option for Medio Queso. Contact: Rafa Palacios +506-6385-3315


We then drove to Caño Negro which is Sout east of Los Chiles, about 21 KM but expect bad road conditions and it might take an hour to get there. Once we got there our lcoal guide and boatman Jimmy Guitierrez was waiting for us.

The boat here is different, spaceful and comfortable with a nice roof and 4 stroke engine. The habitat here at Caño negro is different, although there are some species in Medio Queso you wont otherwise get here, therefore doing both trips is an excellent way to get the most variety.

The view from the Tower at Caño Negro

With Karen at the Caño Negro tower

This trip was very productive and not only did get more variety but also got most quality, the best birds to me were American white Pelican, which had been showing to Caño Negro the last 3 years, Black-collared hawk, nonetheless other good birds include Jabiru, Costa Rica’s largest bird, green and glossy ibises, and sungrebe.

Both locations are a recommended, and it can be fitted in an itinerary if birding lactions such as La Fortuna and  Sarapiqui areas.

At the end of the trip, I ended with 4 new species for CR list, 3 life birds and several for the year list, what a fantastic trip indeed!


Black collared hawk

Spectacled caiman, common at Caño Negro

Looking for white pelicans

Our team! From L to R Edwin Castillo, Elias Mora, Oscar Herrera, Dixon, Eidel Chaves, Andres Chaves, Dennis Reyes, Karen Castillo, Johan Chaves


Trip report: Birding with Susan and Ian Hardy part 2:

Day 4. San Gerardo de Dota.

Trogon Lodge

Cold in the highlands of CR! Not my favorite part of a trip, just consider I am use to the hot and humid 34ºC/93ºF of the lowlands of the central Pacific where I live!

We were fortunate to see the resplendent Quetzal on our first day up close, so there was no need to go early to the well known spot where everyone sees the quetzal, so we focused our attention to new birds, after some garden species and a good breakfast we took the waterfall trail and got a couple of small mixed flocks that produced our first Flame-throated and Black-cheeked warblers, Sooty capped and common (super common should I say?) Chlorospingus. various thrushes and long-tailed silky-flyactchers were nicely posing for pictures.

Larger flocks were compound by  furnarids, including a buffy tufted-cheek, spotted barbtails along with gray brested woodwren and more, later we got a close pair of Torrent tyrannulet and  american Deeper, and just when we thought we were done a male resplendent quetzal was seen feeding on “little avocados”.


After a late lunch we spent some time at Miss Miriam’s cafe for some photography, and just before our dinner at Trogon we went our for Dusky nightjar, the only endemic nightjar/Caprimulgid we have.




Day 5. Time for hummingbirds! We had some new birds at San Gerardo, including hairy woodpecker, rufous-browed peppershrike. We then moved to the upper mountains, where the telecommunication towers are at to look for Timberline wren and Volcano Junco, which we got after half an hour of search, this at an elevation of 3400+ meters.

Our next stop was Paraiso Quetzal for lunch and hummingbirds, fiery-throated hummingbird of course was seen here. The feeders bring basically 3-4 species, good chances for photos, but notice Flash is COMPLETELY forbidden at the feeders, but if you pay the fee they charge then you can use flash! even set up multi-flash! (Sarcasm). There is a small building dedicated for hummingbird photography where you can set up your multiflash. Food here is really good and the trails produce Wrenthrush and timberline wren. After some photography it was time to our next lodge; Rancho Naturalista, with some stops for Sedge wren and fasciated tiger-heron.

Sooty thrush at Miriam’s

Ochraceous wren seen various times at San Gerardo

Day 6 Rancho Naturalista.

We started very early so we could enjoy the moth light, we got many of the regular species that attend to it, plain-brown and northern barred woodcreepers, red-throated anttanagers, white throated woodwren and many, many more.

The breakfast bell rang! So we walked back to the dinner, the bird feeders are quite active, many gray headed Chachalacas abound, thrushes, oropendolas, collared aracaries, motmots and more, and for our surprise a Chiriquí Quail-dove came under the feeders, a bird seen by Meche (Mercedes), a local birder at Rancho who reported this bird some days ago here.

The trails at Rancho are well known for many specialty birds, including Tawny-Chested Flycatcher, Checker-throated antwren, Dull-mantled antbird and more. The Verbena is well known for Snowcap, a Classic at Rancho. Also, there is access to some nearby birding sites; a guide friend Cali, was very nice on pointing a place for Sunbittern which thanks to his help we got, Ian has some beautiful pictures he got there!


Carlos Rodriguez “Cali” +506 8571-6877

Herman Venegas +506-889-34847

Both great local bird-guide for Rancho and surroundings. Great resident guides Mercedes Alpizar and Harry Barnard are available too.


Male crowned woodnymph


The food at Rancho is exquisite!

Day 7th and 8th. Our morning was spent on the gardens and some trails, the goal was to improve the pictures Ian had taken of the Snowcap, after lunch we then drove to El Copal, a reserve I was very keen to bird as it said to extremely good!

It was fantastic! we were received by a large flock of Tanagers, emerald, crimson collared, paserinni’s, black-and-yellow tanagers, euphonias, and the rare Rufous-browed tyrannulet, what a welcome we all said!

El Copal is a reserve owned by a cooperative of Farmers, who had decided to keep this place for conservation, and with it they manage to help maintain their economy. The place is nestled in the jungle, solar panels will help you keep your electronics charged, a weak wifi network, no cellphone reception, but extreme peace, great food, great birding, friendly hosts and a wonderful experience awaits for you here at El Copal!


Patricia +506-8880-0432 / +506 2531-2124


Lovely dinner at El Copal.

Day 8: We spent all morning birding EL copal, then drove to La Selva Biological Station.

Notice that the road from The town of El Pejiballe and el Humo is in percet conditions as some work is currently been done, but the road from the gate to the reserve still is in bad conditions, you need a 4WD vehicle to get there. If you are renting 2WD then consider hiring Mauricio, who can drive you in his 4WD to the place and pick you up for the way back, he can arrange a place to leave your rental car. CONTACT Mauricio +5068828-4561 NO english.


Keel-billed toucan

White vented euphonia

Day 9: La Selva.

Nothing new I can say here but to join the rest of the people that go to la Selva, it is SUPER!

Our day began with Great-green macaw which were feeding on an Tonka Bean/ almond tree (Dipterix panamensis)  then the famous great Currasows along with the common garden species. After breakfast we walked into the forest where we spent the rest of the morning.

Trail at La Selva


After lunch we visit Frogs heaven, a great place for frog (yes you guessed right!) photography.  Jose +506 8891-8589


Day 10: Last Day. We bird La Selva again in the am to getting the last few new birds for the trip, we birded some of the surroundings to get Nicaraguan Seed-Finch which was one of the top 3 requested species (and we got them all) after lunch we did a variation of the trip and decided to skip Braulio Carillo and visited Cope instead, so Ian could enjoy the last day doing some photography. Fortunately Cope was able to clear some hours for us and as usual he gave as a very warm welcome to his house! We got good birds there including Russet-naped woodrail, white-tipped sicklebill, various tanagers, woodthrush and more. Other creatures we photographed were Jesus Christ lizards, helmet headed lizard, three toed sloth and of course the spectacled owl and white tent-making bats on the trail he took us to.

Male black-throated trogon, the last trogon of the trip.

Nicaraguan Seed-finch


From right to left: Jose “cope” Ian, Susan, me.

The trip was very successful, 10 days, 5 lodges, 352 species, plenty of photos and wonderful experiences! and of course new friends in England!

Three toed sloth


Trip Report. Birding with Susan and Ian Hardy: Part 1

Between March 2nd to March 11th I had the opportunity to lead a 10-day trip for a couple of birders from England; Ian and Susan Hardy, well experienced birders who had been to the neotropic in various occasions.

Our itinerary included a nice combination of habitats, birding some of Costa Rica’s well known localities as we as those little more off-the-beaten path; Carara which includes lowland transition between dry forest to rain-forest. San Gerardo de Dota, Pacific middle and high elevation. Rancho Naturalista and El Copal reserve with it’s amazing caribbean middle elevation and foothills. Then La Selva biological station and its amazing Caribbean lowland VERY humid forest.

Day 1, we change our route slightly given Ian photography requests and we drove up to the mountains of Poas, stopping at Freddo Fresas for hummingbirds and coffee, although activity was very slow, our first birds of the trip were Baltimore oriole, mountain elaenia, sparrows, purple-throated Mountain-gem, purple sabrewings, and some others.

We then continued to the famous La Paz waterfall (El Angel). A quick stop here produced American deeper, after that and some good Costa Rican corn bread and snacks we continued to Mirador Cinchona; Ian’s main target of the day was awaiting.

The feeders at soda y mirador Conchona were, as usual, quite good. Red headed Barbet, Northern Emerald-toucanet, prong billed barbet were there along with the various common tanager species that fill the feeders. We also got some specialties such as the white-bellied Mountain-gem, green Thorntail, and coppery headed emerald. Unfortunately we did not see the famous Buff-fronted quail-dove that has been coming to feed under the feeders lately.

Male red-headed Barbet, this has got to be the best place in CR to photograph this bird!

Road to La Virgen Del Socorro.

On this day the activity was a bit slow, perhaps due to the hot hours on which we were there. Nonetheless we did see the rufous browed tyrannulet, on the exact same spot where I saw it with friends some days ago! Other birds were black Phoebe, tufted flycatcher, later emerald tanager, swallow-tailed Kite, and more tanager and honeycreeper species. Birding this road is quite good normally and it is a place you must stop if you are around.

On our return we stopped near Freddo Fresas again and were lucky to see a pair of resplendent quetzals near the road! what a way to end our first day with this beautiful bird!

Day 2: we stayed at Cerro lodge, this is an excellent lodge for those who are birding Carara and want to get the best of both worlds; Rainforest and dry forest habitats.
Our day inside Carara was very productive, we got slaty tailed, gartered, black-headed and Baird’s Trogons. Various wren species, orange collared and red-capped Manakins, some antbirds, although hard to choose we agreed our best birds were the close looks we had of Streak-chested antpitta and the young male Yellow-Billed cotinga we saw while returning to Cerro lodge!

Scarlet macaw at Cerro Lodge

Streak chested antpitta. This is what a Canon 300 f2.8 and 7D Mark II can do huh! Not my lens, Ian was so kind to let me use his lens for this picture!

The road of Cerro lodge is a good option for owling, on this night we got Pacific screech-owl and we heard the calls of spectacled owl up in Villa Lapas road.

Pacific Screech-owl

Day 3– we covered the Tarcoles river vicinity and Mangroves, also we birded the road to Cerro lodge and villa Lapas. We were fortunate to get most of the Mangrove specialists such as Mangrove vireo, Northern scrub FC and Panama Flycatcher, yellow (mangrove) warbler and more. Along our drive to San Gerardo de Dota (Trogon lodge) we did some strategical stops and got Double-striped Thickknee, mangrove hummingbird, American pygmy kingfisher and other species. Later while driving up to San Isidro fiery-billed aracary was seen, lucky us as I thought we would had missed this near endemic toucan specie already!



Ferruginous pygmy-owl

Turquoise-browed Motmot

Orange fronted parakeet

Double-striped Thickknee seen in Jaco area

It was fantastic, by the end of the day, we had a total of 187 species in 3 days! Now we were off to a different habitat!

Day 4. San Gerardo de Dota.

To be continued.

Birding the road to Virgen del Socorro.

Poas, Vara Blanca and Cinchona areas are well known and birded localities either as a one-day trip from San Jose or as the first stop for birders when driving from the airport area to sites such as La Fortuna or La Selva.

On February 24th my friends Karen Castillo and Oscar Herrera went there to bird the area and do some photography, our first stop was as usual, Freddo Fresas to see the hummingbird feeders and to have breakfast, lately the activity has been a bit slow but still worth it for Magenta-throated woodstar and the common hummers. On addition we got Long-tailed Silky-FlycatcherNorthern emerald Toucanet as a highlight, the common birds included mountain and clay colored thrushes, rufous-collared sparrows, hoffmans woodpecers and more. We did look for quetzal just 300 meters up the hill as the “little avocado” tree was loaded with fruits but no luck.

White-nosed coati – Be a responsible tourist, Do NOT feed wild animals. They do not need your food.

We continued to the little, but well known Restaurante Mirador cinchona, excellent for Emerald toucanet and red-headed barbet, which we saw along with many of the species that come to feeders. We did look for the Buff-fronted Quail-Dove that has been showing under the feeders but we were not lucky with it.

The bird activity here is good indeed, but for photography is ok, the perches are not the best but you can still get nice pictures of the 2 main targets, not to forget the hummingbird feeders produce good species such as Green Thorntail, White-bellied Mountain-gem and coopery-headed Emerald (the last 2 endemics).

Silver-throated Tanager abound here.

This barbet is a rockstar here in Restaurante Mirador Cinchona!

Later we went down to he road that leads to La Virgen del Socorro, a very productive place. We did some birding along this road and were lucky to get some small mixed flocks. The area near the first bridge is quite good and there we had various raptor such as white, short tailed and barred hawks. Also king vulture, swallow tailed Kite, but the best raptor we got there was Ornate Hawk-eagle which soared above us for a while at the entrance to this road.

picture taken from the first bridge. No worries! this is not the bridge you will cross! Good site for Black phoebe.

At this site we got Zeledon’s antbird (Formerly Immaculate antbird) along with many common mixed flock species such as slate throated redstar, tawny-capped euphonia and more.

Later, we moved the car a bit higher up the road and walked more, birds we got along the walk included Nightingale wren, black headed Tody-flycatcher, along with many others. This place seems to be one of the best in CR to find the rare Rufous-browed tyrannulet based on eBird reports. We were not even expecting this bird got so lucky and had nice looks at one , this is a bird that had been on my wanted list!

Rufous-browed tyrannulet a recording of the Rufous-browed tyrannulet, this seems to be the 3rd recording in Xeno-Canto for CR.




 Nightingale wren’s call Zeledon’s antbird call

Overall, birding there is excellent, a bit hilly so expect to do some good hiking along a wide gravel road, unless you plan to bird using your car doing some stops along the road as we did. We hope we can return soon but this time to stay and bird the Albergue El Socorro, which is said to be excellent!

Bat falcon, this place is excellent for raptors



Birding with Miriam and Shlomo Saish, Jan 29th-Feb 8th; Part 3/Last

Day 9. San Gerardo de RIVAS. Talamanca reserve.

Talamanca reserve is located in San Gerardo de Rivas, this town is the gate way to Costa Rica’s highest peak; Chirripó mountain with an elevation of 3821 meters.


The hotel is beautiful with nice rooms, the staff is very accommodating and always willing to make sure you are comfortable. The food is exquisite! But that is not all! the grounds are very birdy and loaded with many of the South Pacific specialists, the bird feeders are very, very well kept!

On this day we decided to go to a small project called Garden house bird observatory for breakfast +506 71630339 contact is Christopher Instagram

This little place is a small family business that believes in conservation and environmental education through the birds, I had been coming to this place lately, they are getting started with some reforestation, also they have WELL maintained feeders that are extremely productive.

During our breakfast and walk we got similar birds than  what we got at Talamanca reserve; speckled tanagers and many Tangara species, violet sabrewing, Lesson’s motmot, etc etc but we also got here red-headed barbet, snowy bellied hummingbird, stripe-tailed humingbird, orange-billed Nightingale-thrush and more which we missed at Talamanca, most during a short walk we took along a trail.

Tropical mockingbird


After that we then left for Carara/Macaw lodge along the coast, stops included El Rey rice field and marsh, a well known marsh near my home city Quepos, then a stop in Jacó to enjoy the sunset, this was our longest drive of the trip.


Day 10 and 11: Macaw lodge.

Charming hummingbird

Macaw lodge is an excellent lodge and has a beautiful setting, wonderful gardens and a well maintained trail system. We got our first few new birds off the balcony, including gray-cowled woodrail, least grebe, Muscovy duck (yes, had not seen one on the trip till then), charming hummingbird and more.

The trails are good and produced some good birds including a pair of Baird’s trogon, riverside wren, blue-crowned manakin, golden naped woodpecker, crested guan and gray-headed Chachalacas, tropical gnatcatcher, ferruginous pygmy-owl was seen on the gardens.


This lodge is not precisely close to Carara NP, the road that leads there is not always in good condition, although being here allows you to get most of the birds that you would normally see in Carara, therefore I would recommend you stay a minimum of 2 nights here, you will love the food too!

Black hooded antshrike

On our last day we left after breakfast and birded the road back down, here we got Black-hooded Antshrike, king vulture, plumbeous kite,  among other common birds,  we then made it to Tarcoles river area and explored the mangroves near the river mouth. Here we got (beside the many species expected for this habitat) Black headed trogon, mangrove (yellow) warbler, Panama Flyctacher, turquoise-browed Motmot. The mangroves are a  must do while birding near Carara, either by foot, or better yet, By boat.



Small mangrove patch near Tarcoles river

Black headed trogon

Mangrove Yellow warbler







Birding with Miriam and Shlomo Saish, Jan 29th-Feb 8th; Part 2

Day 5: February 2nd. La Selva Biological Station

The rain persisted during the early morning hours, so we had breakfast and saw the birds on the gardens, once the rain stopped we finally got our first sunny skies!

Soon we got the common garden birds, including white-ringed Flycatcher, Band-backed Wren, black-thighed Grosbeak, and more.

Once inside the trail we were greeted by Black-crowned Antshrike and then a group of white-collared Peccaries which are known to forage near the lag clearing area. Later we got white-throated wood-wren, rufous-tailed Jacamar, white-whiskered puffbird, after a while we got great tinamous and a male Slaty-breasted which slowly crossed the trail for us! Essentially we got the typical birds from la selva during our short walk, plus a gray catbird when we returned for lunch!

Great Tinamou

Rufous-tailed Jacamar

Slaty-tailed Trogon

Later at night, we walked back in to search for Vermiculated Screech-owl which we saw, along with common pauraque; Costa Rica’s most common nightjar.


Red-eyed Tree-frog

Day 6: Basically consisted of a morning bird-walk at La Selva, we got better looks at Great green Macaws and improved our views of white-collared manakin, along with various new species for our list. Then we drove to San Gerardo De Dota after lunch.

Crested Guans were commonly seen on the trip

Day 7, San Gerardo de Dota. Our first attempt to get the resplendent, unfortunately with no success, although we got many of the birds for this habitat, the highlights were Flame-throated warbler, long-tailed Silky-Flycatcher and a dark morph Broad-winged hawk. Most of our birding was done at the trails at Miss Miriam’s cabins (Miriam’s Quetzals) my favorite place to eat while at San Gerardo.

Broad Winged hawk Dark morph

Day 8, we got it! The Quetzal was not easy but we got good (distant) views though the spotting scope, after that we then focused our attention to get the most birds as possible once we checked the Quetzal off the list; The Waterfall trail as usual was very productive and got various highlights including torrent tyrannulet, American dipper, spangle cheeked tanager, various furnarids, warblers and more, it was time to move to our next Destination; Talamanca reserve at San Gerardo de Rivas, naturally we stopped at the telecommunication towers to get the regional endemic Volcano Junco, at 3400+ meters of elevation, which we did find!

Waterfall trail

The Volcano Junco is an endemic specie shared with Panama

The restaurante La Georgina in Villa Mills is an excellent option to stop for lunch and hummingbirds. Here a green crowned brilliant

Birding with Miriam and Shlomo Saish, Jan 29th-Feb8th Part 1.

During Jan 29th to Feb 8th I had the opportunity to lead an 11-day birding trip that included some of the common birding sites such as La Selva, La Fortuna and Carara area, but also other less visited such as Talamanca Reserve and Macaw lodge, our route covered Caribbean Middle elevation, Caribbean foothills, lowlands, then moving to the highlands of CR and Pacific middle elevation, then descending to Pacific foothills and finally Pacific lowland. Thus allowing a good mixture of habitats and species.

On day 1, – Jan 29th-  we meet bright and early at the hotel near the airport, after a good breakfast and a quick chat about how our trip would be like we started our adventure!

Our first stop at Fredo Fresas in route to Poas Volcano area produced little due to the windy conditions, however, here we got Magenta-throated Woodstar which we did not see again during the trip. We then moved to our next destination, the small-yet famous Cinchona restaurant which has very productive fruit and hummingbird feeders, here we got one of the best birds of the trip; Buff fronted Quail-dove. Also, other highlights include Red headed barbet, Coppery-headed Emerald, Northern Emerald Toucanet and more.


Prong-billed Barbet

After 40 minutes or so we continued to the road that leads down to La Virgen, here we got a good mixed flock and although we tried for American dipper we did get Black Phoebe which we only saw here on the trip. After that we drove to La Fortuna with a stop at Aguas Zarcas to look for sloths which we got.



Other non-avian creatures include Mantled Howler-monkey


On day 2, we saw the birds at the hotel feeders and garden during breakfast time, golden-olive Woodpecker was seen here and the only time we saw it during the trip, then we move to Sky Adventure park where we had some bad rainy weather, although we got our first looks of Rufous motmot and broad billed motmots, highlights were a distant nest of Ornate hawk-eagle, orange-bellied trogon, spotted antbird, and White-throated shrike tanager.



the amazing canopy












Day 3: We visited the Bogarín trail, a well known short trail just outside La Fortuna, activity was slow due to the rainy weather, however we got our first looks of collared aracary, excellent views of Crimson-collared tanager and of course white-throated Crake, our main target here. No uniform crake. NOTE: Bogarin has changed some things here lately, before he asked for a donation that would help maintain the short trail and the feeders, naturally as he gets more visitors we now he decided to charge an official fee of us$10 per person, I just felt that for $10 then he should improve the perches at least.

the very common Gray-headed Chachalaca

Crimson-collared tanager

After that we drove to Caño Negro, as usual, the road that turns to Caño Negro leaving route 35 is in awful conditions! On the drive we got Nicaraguan Seed-finch, rose-breasted Grosbeak, once in Caño Negro we got most of the typical waterfowl, along with Common potoo and Nicaraguan grackle.

Nicaraguan Seed-Finch

Spectacled caiman

Green ibis


Barnaby Romero, our boat/man and local expert guide has a very comfortable boat, you can contact him via

Day 4: After breakfast we visited the Dam road best known as the Peninsula road, most birding was done by car given the bad weather, we were treated with good views of white-fronted nunbirds, keel-billed Motmot, laughing falcon, and more. Time to drive to our next Destination; La Selva Biological station. Here we did very little birding, although we got (aside from the common garden birds) Great Curassow and Semi-plumbeous hawk.

Laughing falcon


enjoying some coffee at La Selva while waiting for short-tailed Nighthawks

To be continued.

Birding Talamanca reserve and cloudbridge reserve; San Gerardo de Rivas.

Cloudbridge reserve and Talamanca reserves are nestled right below Costa Rica’s highest peak; Chirripo mountain

with 3821 meters of elevation (Both reserves elevation is about 1500+ at the entrance area).

I visited this site with my wife and our baby on

Jan 10th 2018 as I needed to scout both places for upcoming birding and photography trips I will be leading here soon. Although I had birded the area in the past and I’m aware of the great birding here I needed to see the potential for photography.

Main parking site and entrance to the reserve.  Cloudbridge reserve has a nice trail system which allows for some productive birding, from the entrance we got red-headed barbets, white tailed emerald, red faced spinetail, speckled tanager and so much more.

There is no “official entrance fee” to the reserve and all they ask is a voluntary donation, they suggest us$6 per person, this is used to help maintain the reserve and reforest, so feel free to be generous.

The trails are wide enough to walk around. although a bit narrow and dark for photography.


There is no official schedule, so according to volunteers at the entrance you can get in at dawn but you must leave before dusk.

As is typical of this habitat birds come and go in mixed flocks where one can encounter tanagers, furnarids, some wrens, warblers, common chlorospingus, vireos, and more.

The birding here is very good and we got birds such as (Northern) emerald toucanet, black-faced solitaire, gray-breasted woodwren, slaty antwren, spotted barbtailed, chestnut-capped brushfinch, orange billed nightingale-thrush, scaly-breasted wren and many more.

The trails here are wide enough for birding, although, it is too narrow to shoot with a camera mounted on a tripod, the trails was a bit steep at parts to be looking around for birds with a tripod on the shoulder, too dark and the forest a bit too thick so I did not feel that this would be a good place to photograph. Still, a nice hike and impressive views of the cloud forest with almost zero crowds.



Chestnut capped brush-finch and black faced solitaire

A picture of the wall map at Cloudbridge.

We left the place to see Talamanca reserve, although on our way we were lucky to find a small bakery, a small touristic project called Garden house bird observatory. +506 71630339 contact is Christopher Instagram  This little place is a small family business that believes in conservation and environmental education through the birds. They are getting started with some reforestation, also they have WELL maintained feeders that are extremely productive, I got here golden-olive and red-crowned woodpeckers, red-headed barbet, white naped and chestnut capped brush-finches, tanagers, thrushes, snowy bellied hummingbird, white-tailed emerald crested coquette (nailed some SE-CR and W-PA endemics from the chair) and more!

I am really fond of small family business like this as people had learned that birds can provide an income and hence a better interest to protect them and their forest.

Red-headed barbet, a bird with attitude

My favorite off all CR tangara spp; Speckled tanager

After a nice chat with Christopher and 1000 clicks on my camera it was time to leave to Talamanca reserve. Once there we were received by Kenneth who is the manager of the place, I intermediately  saw the potential for birding and bird-photography; their feeders are full of gree, red leggued, shinning honeycreepers, speckled, silver-throated, cherrie’s tanagers, thrushes, lesson’s motmot, fiery billed aracary, gosh was it busy!

Lesson´s motmot. Portrait capture using Canon 7DMII + Swarovski TLS APO + Swarovski ATX scope. Subject at 10 meters. No flash. 1/125 ISO 1000. NO aperture nor focal length available with this technique

Fiery billed aracary

The grounds of Talamanca are beautiful for photography or simple to bird watch, the trails of the reserve, although as steep as Cloudbridge’s are somewhat wider, thus allowing good views. Apparently the chance to see Quetzals at both places are good during the right time of the year.



Snowy plover at Tarcoles and Yellow Bellied Sapsucker at Esquipulas.

During the 11th Christmas Bird Count at Carara area celebrated on December 22nd 2017 a team of birders were fortunate enough to see what to us is rarity; Snowy plover!

After the sighting, several birders kept going to the site and had been lucky to find it. I had been really eager to make the time to go, however it had been a few days since it was seen so I hesitated at a point. On January 2 after I finished to guide a morning birding trip to Carara for a family of Utah (David, Natalie and Jordan Tanner) I went on my own to the Tarcoles river mouth following my friend’s Diego Quesada and Johan Fernandez directions and boy was I lucky! Literally the 8th bird I put my binoculars own! It is so exciting to feel the thrill of finding a rare bird and more special when it is a new bird to the life list! Way to start 2018!


The location to the site can be found on this google maps link.’38.9%22N+84%C2%B038’14.0%22W/@9.780263,-84.6373509,15.25z/data=!4m6!3m5!1s0x0:0xa89a0b2d9b790cdd!7e2!8m2!3d9.7774555!4d-84.6372288?hl=es-419

Near the river mouth of Tarcoles, standing on the southern side of the mouth is a small “lagoon” or tidal pool, this is the site where the plover has been reported, many semipalmated, wilson’s and some collared plovers, along with many semipalmated, western, and spotted sandpiper as well as sanderlings, whimbrels and more.

the ocean is on the back, the river-mouth on the right and the water between is the spot.


now on the other side of the tidal pool. the ocean behind me, the river-mouth north of where I am standing and the plovers on the southern edge of the pool.


On the other hand, just today (January 4th), while guiding a birding tour at Esquipulas (my favorite Manuel Antonio bird watching

image digiscoped using iPhone 7 and Swarovski ATX 65mm

spot) for the Tanners we were lucky to spot a female Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (no picture unfortunately). This is a North American bird which I was hoping to see at a point, naturally I was so excited for it while David and Natalie just allowed me to enjoy my moment! Their moment was the fiery billed aracary!


Esquipulas is an excellent option for the birder coming to bird-watch Manuel Antonio and it often produces good Pacific foothills and lowland species with an excellent level of endemics.



Yellow throated toucan at Esquipulas.



What a way to start 2018!

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