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Corcovado National Park.

Corcovado is Costa Rica’s most biodiverse place in Costa Rica. Remote, pristine, paradisiac, unique. These adjectives don’t make justice to the uniqueness of Corcovado. For years, visiting Corcovado was nothing but a dream for many visitors due to the difficult access, often requiring to spend some nights at Puerto Jimenez to then embark in long, but excellent hike to the different park stations.

In the last few years Corcovado is more accessible partly thanks to the better roads, but also for the logistics from Sierpe River, which makes it possible for visitors based on Manuel Antonio to take a one-day trip, departing at 5:00am, and returning home for late dinner! Still, this is not for the faint of heart and is rather recommended for the keen nature enthusiasts.

The following trip report is written from a naturalist point of view, although it is impossible to skip the birds in such great place!

road trip adventures

On Oct 30th and Nov 1st 2018 I was able to take visitors to this park, an experience we will all remember for years!

The drive is little less than 2hrs, reaching Sierpe on time for breakfast. After some minutes of rest, we met our local naturalist guide and boat man, off we went with high expectations. Crossing the river mouth takes serious boating skills, our captain, Jose has done this for living for all of his life as a fisherman, now in the tourism industry for several years.


Once in the ocean we were fortunate to spot various Brown Boobies, pelicans and frigate birds, including some red-footed Boobies. Then, a Humpbacked whale bridged out in the distance! Our captain took us to enjoy that from a close, yet professionally respectful distance to the creature, which gave us one of the best shows I have seen of these animals.

Boat ride along Sierpe river

The boat ride is about 2hr15min to my favorite station; Sirena, where the probabilities for Tapir are higher. Here we did a wet landing, so shoes off and pants rolled up we dis-embarked.

Tapir is the holy grail and we got one on our first trip, but on the second trip we got 3! Some which allowed good close ups and also nice pictures. These animals are considered the largest terrestrial mammal of CR, noble and quite tame I found.

our first Tapir on trip 1, picture with a smartphone

Manuel Cabalceta and I on Corcovado

Yellow-throated toucan

Male Basilisk. AKA Jesus Christ Lizards.

Great owl butterfly

the great owl predator! Golden orb weaver spider


The trail remains parallel to the beach along most of its length, White-collared Peccaries, Yellow-throated toucans, and White-nosed Peccary were common. This is the only place in the country where one can see all 4 species of monkeys, oh don’t forget the Scarlet macaws which we got several times!

Lunch is included at the ranger station at noon, after some minutes of break we went back to explore a bit more. The second leg of the hike is productive, we explored some of the habitat near the river, nearby we heard the alarm calls of spider monkeys which brought us hope to find the Puma, unfortunately unsuccessful. Pumas are not seen every day, but the possibility is there, just hope for some good luck!

Male Great Curassow


My new English friends! Amy and Jasper.

White collared pecary

Great tinamou

Forgive the graphic details. Spider Monkey

Our ride back was ready at 2:30pm, with a quick stop at the mangroves of Sierpe to explain about this important habitat.

If you are keen to visit Corcovado, please contact me, visit and I will be happy to explore this place with you!



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


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, a classic must-see here at Rancho!




Eurasian Collared-dove near Quepos/Manuel Antonio.

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


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


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

Eurasian collared-dove

Eurasian collared-dove




Upland sandpiper at El rey marshes

ON April 16th, while birding with Mr Larry and miss Jan Boutelle at El rey, I was lucky enough to add another bird to my life list, upland sandpiper. Thanks to the good eye of Larry who spotted 5 individuals foraging on short grass.

The following day I went back with my wife as she had not seen this sp before neither and luckily we found 2 individuals not far form the original site.

I had always insisted that El Rey is a very important oasis nestled between a huge oil palm plantation where many south american and north american migrants occur on migration, home to some common birds but often surprises with some rarities or even new species for CR!

Aweful photo, but here are 2 of the 5 individuals seen on the site


Purple gallinules were there too, as usual, common but really pretty.



Red breasted blackbird near Quepos

The red-breasted blackbird is found in the caribbean slope and south pacific, nonetheless the specie occurs in the central Pacific for more then 6 years now. A good population is well established at La Gallega River, near Naranjito de Quepos.  If you ever find your self birdwatching Manuel Antonio national park and are missing this species in your life list this is your place. Look for it on tall grass on the eastern side of the river, be in the lookout for tropical mockingbirds as well!

March 26th, 2015.



Palm warbler at El Rey

El rey is a marshland and abandoned rice fields 17 km south of Quepos, following national route 34 (aprox 20 minutes). This marshes have surprised us local birders several times with interesting rare North american species as well as 2 species completely new to Costa Rica, this time on January 24th, 2015 wile birding with friends Arnoldo Garcia and Rodrigo Villalobos, excellent bird photographers who constantly visit different spots throughout Costa Rica in search for species to photograph, I was fortunate to find a palm warbler, a rare NA migrant, gladly my friends got on time to get a photo proof of the bird, thanks to Rodrigo for sharing his photo.

wonder what would El Rey bring for us next?….


Thanks to Rodrigo Villalobos for sharing the photo.

Thanks to Rodrigo Villalobos for sharing the photo.

Herring Gull and Forster’s tern in Quepos; 2 lifers!

Yesterday November 11th while I was in Quepos, I checked the river mouth of Boca vieja at Quepos beach, I then notice a big gull with the laughing and Franklin’s gulls and other birds. Despite the heavy storm I tried to get some looks at the bird, then I called my friend Roy who luckily was around and immediately dropped by to see the bird, with the spotting scope we were able to get photos using a point-and-shoot digital camera and phone at least for a record.

one of the first pictures I got. noticeably larger than other Larids

Today in the morning my wife and I went back to the site at about 10:30am to look for the bird for her to see, but no luck, in the other hand we located 3 foster’s terns with the gull, a lifer for both of us,

Foster’s tern

We came back at 4:15pm, which was about the same time I spotted it yesterday and there it was again, this time though much better weather and we were able to hire a boat man to take us close to the birds, and here is the result:

A better pic of the Foster’s tern in the afternoon

Herring Gull @ Manuel Antonio birding

Herring Gull




Yellow headed blackbird

Yellow headed blackbird

Yellow headed blackbird


We got this bird for a second day at Coto 47th, it seemed very comfortable.

This bird has some very few reports in CR with the last report from the 50’s presumably. One of the best birds of the year!

Yellow Headed Blackbird and “bobolink”? in Costa Rica.

Birding here in CR has been just amazing lately, 2014 has been a year full of great birds and surprises, rarities, new species, just superb!

Inca tern, black billed cuckoo, sooty shearwater, yellow backed oriole (new specie for CR), and today Bobolink (see clarification at the end) and yellow headed blackbird. Not to mention the many other species that to my wife, my great friend Roy O and to me had required hours of dedication to get.
Yesterday an AOCR member posted an alarm on yellow headed blackbird at Coto 47 (again Coto surprising us with quality birds!) So my friend Roy and I (unfortunately my wife who is a trooper couldnt go today) went today to try to find the bird based on directions provided by Leo Garrigues and other fellow birders who found it yesterday, and after some exhaustive search we found something almost as good, Bobolink! A rare passage migrant for CR.

Bobolink, a very rare passage migrant.

Bobolink, a very rare passage migrant.

After a while we went to a well known spot for a recent panama invasive specie; sapphire throated hummingbird which Roy had not seen yet, and we got to see! Then we returned to the spot and there was the blackbird! How amazing has our luck been!

Yellow headed blackbird, this would be the second individual reported for Continental CR apparently.

Yellow headed blackbird, this would be the second individual reported for Continental CR apparently.

Asociated with bronzed cowbirds and some shiny cowbirds, as well as grackles

Asociated with bronzed cowbirds and some shiny cowbirds, as well as grackles

The emotions of getting quality lifers aren’t the same without my wife, who is so jealous, so we are returning tomorrow!

If you are birding Manuel Antonio national park or if you are staying near by, a visit to Coto should be productive, particularly during the wet season, its a 3hr drive or so.

( EDITED) NOTE regarding to the “bobolink”:

Today the committee of rare birds of the AOCR confirmed that this bird is NOT a Bobolink, it is indeed a female RED BREASTED BLACKBIRD, we lost a lifer but gained experience, now thanks to their experience and suggestions we now know what to look for next time. Thanks to Jim Zook, Kevin Easley, Leo Guarrigues, Richard Guarrigues and others who helped to short this one out.  

More about Coto:





Crested oropendola, a recent Panama invasive, one of the many good reasons to keep birding coto area

Eastern meadowlark


New bird specie for Costa Rica, Yellow backed oriole.

On October 14th while visiting my mom in a town called Portalón, 24km south of Quepos, my wife spotted an unusual oriole so she called me immediately for me to see it, the views were with then necked eye since we had no optics at the moment, but lucky a notepad and a pen so I made a quick illustration of what was 15feet in front of me. The I called My colleague and great friend Roy Orozco for ID help as he was home and had access to his books, it ended being a yellow backed oriole based on my description!
On Oct 15th my wife Karina S, Roy O and I went back to find the bird and get proofs, and we located the bird again and got some photos, recorded its voice and a little bit of its behavior. What a treat, we had this luck almost a year ago now (October 5th 2013) when I found the first and so far only individual lined seedeater (Sporophila lineola) for CR at El rey, a marshland near Quepos.

Life is good, the effort and the countless hours in the field had been rewarded….twice!


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