Birding Carara national park and Manuel Antonio area.

Birding Carara national park is ALWAYS productive, its geographic position and combination of habitats and its surrounding areas makes this place a must see to any birder visiting Costa Rica. Target species/specialties here range from antbirds-ant thrushes, wrens, ant pittas, many ground dwellers etc but as well as king vulture, macaws, trogons an more. In the Other hand, bird-watching Manuel Antonio national park is less productive and can yield very little birds, nonetheless there are GREAT birding hot spots near this famous park that are only frequented by 2 guides and are kept hidden from the average nature lover. This sites are Esquipulas and El rey marshes, as well as La Gallega river. All with very easy access and located within 30-40 minutes drive from Manuel Antonio.

Carara: as known by many, the most see of the central pacific. One of the best experience while birding Carara is indeed to encounter the army ants, this fierce ants will clean a spot out of insects, therefore all those known as “antbirds” will join the chaos of caused by the ants so they can catch what tries to escape from the ants.

Black faced antthrush

Black faced antthrush

Above is a black faced ant-thrush, a ground dweller and very-hard to find bird specie due to its camouflage. I photographed this individual while leading a tour to Carara on the lagoon trail (AKA river trail) on February 2nd with Douglas Boyd; a client I had the pleasure to bird with on February 9th 2014.  it is seen relatively often if known where to look for him.

Streak chested antpitta

This antpitta is the oh! ah! of many birders coming here, yes very hard to find as is normal of antpittas due to small size and often shy behavior. This bird was photographed on Feb 2nd while birding with MR and Ms Winter on the lagoon trail, but it is best looked for at the araceas trail or Quebrada bonita trail near main ranger station, as seen with Aaron Kortenhoven last Feb 10th. an antpitta covered by leafs!

rufous tailed jacamar, a common bird, seen at any trail, but more often at the lagoon trail.

 

Black hooded antshrike

Other birds commonly seen at Carara include trogons, toucans, few hummingbirds, wrens manakins and much more. One of the nice features of Carara is the fact that very few people visit this park, so it is never crowded (except for the main headquarters trails during the morning hours) and the few people who visit Carara are for the most part birders so it is very quiet here.

Other birding sites near Carara that should be birded by any vising Carara are the Bijagual road, the tarcoles river, Cerro lodge road and tarcoles River mouth mangroves. For this I plan to post separately later.

Red capped manakin, best seen at the baths at the araceas trail

A hard find! Marbled wood-quail.

Great tinamou, a common yet hard-to find bird, luckily this bird was taking a bath at Carara last Feb 18th while birding with David and Christine Northrup, a couple of birders who I had the pleasure to bird with on January 2013. Amazing birds we had!

Esquipulas: This mountains are only about 45 minutes to the east of Manuel Antonio national park, a great option with a good level of endemism such as fiery billed aracary, river side wren, black hooded antshrike, white crested coquette and more. Other specialties here are king vulture, barred hawk, black mandibled toucan, baird’s trogon, and the various species of honeycreepers. Esquipulas has a good location at the foothills of the central pacific, where some species of middle-higher elevation descend to during the early dry season, e.g elegant euphonia, three wattled bellbird and others.

Chestnut-mandibled toucan, formerly known as black mandibled T. Common at Esquipulas, however best chances for this specie is the afternoon.

Bird-watching Manuel Antonio national park could be disappointing to many serious birders due to the crowd that comes to this park, how ever, Esquipulas is indeed the best option for the birder visiting Manuel Antonio with family as the park is one of the best destinations for the family and nature lovers. Also, those birders seeking for an off the beaten path location can find Esquipulas very convenient, easy to feet on a schedule when birding locations such as Carara national park and Dota/Savegre region and do not want to do the long drive and would prefer to spend a night at Quepos/Manuel Antonio.

Barred hawk, mostly seen on flight. Among with king vulture, white hawk and black hawk are the highlights of the sky at Esquipulas.

Elegant euphonia

 

 

 

 

 

 

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About Johan Chaves

I am a birding guide and naturalist, with a deep passion for birds. I got into birding nearly a decade ago thanks to a friend, then he was fighting leukemia, during his recovery we became great friends and very competitive birders, we did a lot of birding and twitching some rarities through the country, is amazing how much one can learn from a birder friend! he, Roy Orozco left us on August 4th 2016 leaving a huge hole in our hearts. From this point every bird now has a different meaning to me, not just their beauty but the fact that constantly brings the memory of him, whom I owe much of the birder I am today.

Posted on February 21, 2015, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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