Category Archives: Birds

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 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 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.




Surfbird – Rocas de Amancion, Dominicalito

The surfbird Calidris (Aphriza) virgata is a long distant migrant, breeding in Alaska – Yukon and can winter as far south as Chile. It is considered to be an uncommon passage migrant for Costa Rica, although it is perhaps more common that it is thought, as eBird shows a good amount of reports, this might be due to Costa Rican birders showing more interest on Scolopacids in the last decade or so?

Rarely seen inland, this species prefers coastal rocky shores bathed by splashing waves where it feeds on mollusks and barnacles as well as insects.

– 48 km South of Quepos is Dominicalito (south of Dominical, a small surfing town) the coast there is quite rocky and it serves as the perfect habitat to species like this as well as other good birds such as wandering tattler.

On September 19th, while leading a bird trip to Esquinas rainforest lodge Tom Dulski and I stopped here to look for it as he needed it for his list, sure enough we got about 5 individuals and I got some poor pictures through the binoculars.  I went back with my wife on the 28th, hoping to get better pictures and fortunately we did. Surprisingly this species allows one to get relatively close (compared to other Calidris species).


Surfbird, shot with a 100-400 canon lens @ 400mm about 18ft away

The habitat is excellent, and quite large as you get the rocky line starting south of Dominical all the way to about Hermosa beach. If you are birdwatching Manuel Antonio I highly recommend that you go there and explore the place between Late Aug to Oct, also if you are birding Baru which is nearer or simply driving from the south Pacific to the mountains or north to Carara do a stop here, you might get lucky!

Here is an eBird link to the hotspot, there you can get driving directions:





Paint billed crake at Coto 47.

    Paint-billed crake is, like most crakes, a secretive bird that dwells on thick grass rarely leaving concealment.

This particular crake has several reports on the Caribbean lowlands, including Sarapiquí area, Medio queso (Los Chiles) Turrialba near Rancho Naturalista, and Coto 47 near Villa Neily on the Pacific side.

Throughout the month of August, a birder friend Daniel Hernandez has reported repetitive sightings near Villa Neily, this located in the south Pacific of Costa Rica, at a site known as La Papayera road (the road that heads south of the hospital).

Thanks to his offers and helpful directions I finally decided to give it a try, this time accompanied by my wife Karina and  our son Edrian.

This map, taken from eBird shows the regions on which it has been reported.

We got to the spot little before 5:00am, what a wonderful moment did we enjoy with the different bird songs triggered by the sunrise! black-striped sparrow, streaked saltator, cherrie’s tanager and pale-breasted spinetail were among the first birds to sing.

After little less two hours finally the first crake responded to play back, this is the first part, the harder part was coming which is to actually get to see it! at about 7:20 I got the first glimpse of its back, although we needed better looks, something hard to achieve when you are holding a baby and trying to see a crake! Fortunately after 15 minutes we both finally got to see the bird much better, including one individual quickly crossing the road.

Paint-billed crake

What a treat to see this beautiful crake!

During our time there we got several birds including streaked saltator, pale-breasted spinetail, several migrating barn, and cliff swallows (accompanied by southern rough-winged swallows and gray-breasted martins) tricolored munias, large flocks of dickcissels, blue-headed parrots, brown-throated parakeets, a Savannah hawk and ruddy-breasted seedeater were among the favorites.

This road is quite birdy, and it should be visited if birding near sites such as Esquinas rainforest lodge, the road is known to produce other southern specialties such as sapphire-throated hummingbird, brown-throated parakeet, savannah and gray-lined hawks, ruddy breasted and yellow bellied seedeaters, and more.

This specie is quite common here.

Isthmian wren, a split from Plain wren.

Later we went to quickly explore the rest of the marshes at Coto 47, the place is huge and we were fortunate to finds a wattled Jacana not too far off the road near Colorado River, I had seen this specie in Panama on my 2 trips there, but only seen it in CR once only almost a year ago here at Coto 47.

Our quick morning visit produced an excellent lifer and some species for the annual list, I wonder now what would take us back to Coto 47, special thanks to Daniel Hernandez who not only knows where the good birds are at but is so kind to share his finds!

Male ruddy breasted seedeater

Following a Proverb: “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” Today I got to show him the way to birds



Birding trip to Cartago Part 2: Rancho Naturalista

Rancho Naturalista is unquestionably one of the best (if not the best) birding lodges in Costa Rica, not only loaded with a large variety of species, many of them specific targets when visiting CR, but also offers the visitors great lodging and top notch service.

After birding Tapanti we went to Rancho and spent the morning there, the gardens here are known to produce snowcap and black-crested coquettes with relative ease, sure enough after we parked our car we got our first 2 targets! While having our improvised breakfast we enjoyed the birds around the gardens such as black-headed saltator, various tanagers, green thorntail, keel-billed toucan, long-billed gnatwren and many more.

Male snowcap

White necked jacobin, a very common hummingbird here.

Black-crested coquette

Time to enter the forest, one of the things you must do here at Rancho is visit the moth light, which above the many birds that attend to feed here the highlight is Tawny-chested Flycatcher, until recently considered endemic to CR and Eastern Nicaragua, now apparently rare in eastern Honduras.

The party starts at down here!

Bright-rumped attila, normally hard to see on forest sub-canopy, here it literally comes to the ground level!

After enjoying some minutes here we started to walk the trails, soon after we entered we were fortunate to find a mixed flock, golden-crowned warblers, tawny-chested flycatcher, slaty antwrens, red-throated antwren, woodcreepers, slaty-capped flycatchers, common Chlorospingus various Tanagers and honeycreepers, but perhaps the best bird was a female Cerulian Warbler which allowed good views for some seconds (it’s been 2 years since my last cerulian!).

Then at the forest hummingbird feeder we got green-crowned brilliant, crowned woodnymph, green, and stripe-throated hermits, along with collared aracary, striped breasted wren and olive-backed euphonia.

Andres and I covered some of the trails here hoping to get some audio and were able to get clear (more and less) audio recording of the scaly-breasted wren (AKA southern nightingale-wren) a specie you hear quite often but to see is a whole different story!

Is not the quality of the picture what matters here, it is the specie in it! Scaly breasted wren


The forest hummingbird feeding station.

Rancho Naturalista

After some hours the activity slowed down, it was our time to leave and check other sites before returning back home, a stop at Hotel Casa Turire is a must as it allows access to La Angostura water reservoir, here we got at least 4 snail kites (juveniles and adults) a limpkin, along with the typical birds of this habitat.

At the end of the trip my favorite bird was rufous-rumped antwren, and my favorite phrase from Andres was “How fortunate we are to catch the sunrise birding with friends instead of catching the sunrise drinking at a bar, with no money, and issues”.

Andres and I scanning the water lilies from Casa Turire, photo by Oscar H.

From left to Right: Oscar Herrera, Karen Castillo, Eidel Chaves, Andres Chaves, Johan Chaves.


Birding trip to Cartago. Part 1; Aplomado falcon and Tapanti NP.

Aplomado Falcon (falco femoralis) is a casual to rare raptor that has been reported several times on the last few decades, with most sightings between 2010 to 2017.

Sunrise at 2500+masl


An individual has been reported lately in Coris, Cartago and it had been the best report of the month so far with many birders coming to see and many obtaining great shots of this beautiful falcon.

On September I had the chance to join some birding friends Karen Castillo, Andres Chaves (and son Eidel Chaves) and Oscar Herrera to search this species. We left Manuel Antonio at 1:45am and did some stops on the Talamanca/cerro de La Muerte mountain range to search for the rare Unspotted saw-whet owl which we did NOT see unfortunately but got at least one individual respond to our play back.

Once in Cartago we looked for the Falcon, which after 30 minutes or so Andres spotted hunting pigeons on a field right across Kimberly-Clark (see this ebird list for map details). The bird perches on the trees about 100 meters away from the fence, we failed obtaining permission to enter the field so we had to settle with distant (good though) views.

Other birds we did enjoy were some killdeers and mourning doves, which to North Americans might not be that special they sure are to Costa Rican birders!

Mourning dove.

Eastern meadowlark

After the joy of getting a new bird added to the life list we then went to look for sedge wren, a specie with an extremely reduced range, and unfortunately it’s habitat is disappearing rapidly, some say this is perhaps one of the species that might soon disappear if serious conservation efforts are not taken.

Once on site (a place I had seen it before thanks to a friend’s recommendation) we quickly got the bird, but better yet it allowed recordings, pictures etc! best view I had ever had of this wren.










Recording at:  

Celebrating it! I can read the boys thoughts….

After that we left for Tapantí National park where we would spend the rest of the day, activity was a very slow with some of the common birds showing up such as spotted woodcreeper, white bellied emerald, chlorospingus, bay headed tanagers and more, until we were lucky to find a mixed flock! (that is the typical way of birding here on the caribbean middle elevation, you just hope for a mixed flock) of all of the birds we saw on this flock the highlights were white-winged tanager (which I only had seen at Panama), Louisiana waterthrush, black and white warbler (good news, migration is starting!) and the best of the day to me; Rufous-rumped antwren.

Tapanti is certainly a great site, and it can sometimes produce good surprises, often is good to combine with a visit to Rancho Naturalista and explore some of the hotspots nearby….. which we did of course.

Forest at Tapanti NP



Taxonomy updates! 2017

As usual, every July, the AOU publishes the AUK magazine, I am always keen to read it as the July supplement often comes loaded with interesting taxonomic changes, this year is not the exception. Below you will find a short summary on the CR species affected by this changes, this includes splits, new common/english names, new families and sub families.



Blue-winged and cinnamon teals, as well as northern Shoveler. Formerly in the genus Anas, now Spatula.

American wigeon, formerly in the Genus Anas, now Mareca.

Northern shoveler and blue winged teals, Spatula clypeata and S. discor respectively.


Magnificent hummingbird (Eugenes fulgens) splits in 2, Rivoli’s hummingbird from South Arizona, New Mexico and Texas to North east Nicaragua. For Costa Rica: Talamanca hummingbird  (E. spectabilis) which is endemic to CR and Pa.


Emerald toucanet Aulacorhynchus prasinus: Split in 2, for CR Aulacorhynchus prasinus obtains a new common english name; Northern Emerald-Toucanet.

Northern emerald-toucanet


Prevost’s ground-sparrow splits in 2; White faced ground-sparrow M.biarcuata from MX, Guatemala, Salvador and Honduras. Costa Rica gets a new endemic Melozone cabanisi; Cabanis’s Ground-Sparrow.


Red breasted blackbird AKA red-breasted meadowlark (Sturnella militaris) Changes to genus Leistes. English name is Red-breasted Blackbird. L. militaris

Male Leistes militaris Red-breasted Blackbird.









New families:

Rhodinocinclidae; Rosy thrush-tanager

Passerellidae: members of the family Emberizidae (which disappears from CR) are now placed here, e.g finches, brush-finches, sparrows etc. Best known as New world sparrows.

Zeledoniidae: Includes one specie, wrenthrush (zeledonia) which was placed in Parulidae)

Icteriidae: this new family includes Yellow breasted chat, which was formerly placed on Parulidae.

Mitrospingidae: This new family includes Dusky-faced tanager which was placed in Thraupidae.

Rosy thrush-tanager gets a new family.

Subfamilies: see page 18 of the AUK supplement.


















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