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Birding Esquinas Rainforest lodge and Coto 47 – Field trip.

Between July 16th to July 18th I had the opportunity to lead a birding trip to the southern Pacific side of Costa Rica to my friends Jim and Gretchen Peterson whom I have had 4-5 consecutive years the opportunity to be their guide while during their last birding trips to Costa Rica.

After three years of trying Scaly-breasted Wren unsuccessfully we decided to try luck at Esquinas Rain-forest Lodge. My friends picked me up from Quepos and so another adventure began. We did some stops along the way,  including El Rey Marsh, where in just 20-30 minutes we got some of the common birds nevertheless the highlight was no doubt American Pygmy-Kingfisher.

A long drive we saw Gray and Roadside Hawks as well as a Double-toothed Kite perched on a wire (a bit unusual). We got to the town of La Gamba and began our Birding; our first birds included Red-crowned Woodpecker which is very common naturally, some of the typical Seedeaters, then Blue-headed Parrots flew over providing us some quick -poor views but fortunately later on we were able to spot some perched. As we continued we found Rusty-margined Flycatcher, one of our targets, then we stopped at River right before getting to Esquinas and we got entertained seeing a Band-tailed Barbthroat and then one of our targets showed up, Red-rumped Woodpecker, we began to run out of targets so soon! https://www.xeno-canto.org/426104 recording of the BTBT

Esquinas Rainforest Lodge

Curassows are the stars of the show here.

After dinner we went to do some owling which produced two owls; Black-and-white Owl and Tropical Screech-Owl, unfortunately we missed Striped Owl and potoos.

 

Gladiator tree frog

The next morning and with big expectations we decided to take the riverbed trail, soon enough we got one of the 2 main targets for Jim, Striped Woodhunter along with some of the common species including Great Curassow, Black striped and orange-billed sparrows, Bairds Trogon, the Costa  Rica only endemic Black-cheeked Anttanager and others.

After breakfast we had to focus on our next target; Scaly-breasted Wren, and taking Julia’s recommendation we took the waterfall trail looping back via la Fila trail and finally we were able to hear 1 singing! as we approached to its location our sudden moves and a bad maneuver from my part flushed the wren away, three years of effort flushed away in front of her eyes!! As rain came upon us we had to continue down the Fila trail and we found a small mixed flock feeding with an army ant swarm, after seeing a couple of Tawny-winged Woodcreepers, Bicolored antbirds, gray-headed Tanager, Lesson’s Motmot, another Scaly-breasted Wren sang so we knew we were back in the game!. After less than a minute of play back that little brown and elusive wren flew in front of us, walked up for 3 to 4 feet and began to call in front of us, great success!

On our Next day, after a short birding session and a good breakfast we left for Coto 47, a marshland south of Esquinas, not far from the Panama border. Although first we stopped at the Hospital road we got Sapphire-throated Hummingbird as the highlight. Later not one but three Gray-lined Hawks! We were just missing the famous Savanna hawk at this point.

Later we went to the sector known as Las Pangas, the flooded conditions where ideal for the thousands of Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks, hundreds of Northern Jacanas, however, we had to be so lucky to stop at a spot, where after some scanning I was able to spot a pair of Masked ducks! a new species to my life list, and new for Gretchen and Jim’s CR list! A duck I had tried many times at San Vito in the past!

A picture Gretchen got of me while digiscoping my lifer.

After that we then continued to another spot for more Red-rumped Woodpecker, unfortunately, given the floods suffered in the area some months ago the habitat is gone, nevertheless we got many Crested Oropendolas and a pair of Brown-throated Parakeet. After this, we checked another marsh and got a good glossy ibis, and right after that a bird that had characteristics of a Hybrid Northern x Wattled Jacana was foraging near the road.

The Hybrid Jacana, I saw, exactly on the same spot what I presume is the same individual (?) back in September

Followed that we had our last stop, Savanna hawk. I took Gretchen  and Jim to one of the spots and as we scanned the trees Jim asked – “Do they perched on the fence posts?” and soon enough a hawk was been harassed by some kiskadees and perched on the post – “now we know they do” I said!! (seconds before I just had said I had never seen them on posts, but only on trees, dead branches or the ground!).

Savanna Hawk

This is a trip I particularly enjoyed guiding, excellent and challenging at the same time due to the tough targets but above all for the wonderful companion. Enjoyed every minute of it.

 

Celebration selfie! From left to Right: Gretchen, me and Jim.

Photos by Jim and Gretchen.

 

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Cuba trip report: part 2, Birding Playa Larga with Angel Martinez

On May 17th I met my guide Angel Martinez just about sunrise and we drove to Soplillar, Angel’s favorite Birding spot, unfortunately due to the weather we had to skip the location for Zapata wren as the chances for rain were high and Angel wanted to get me as much of birds as possible so we had to sacrifice one for the others.

Female Fernandina’s flicker. Endemic to Cuba, forages on the ground,somewhat resembling an ani, often clings onto low trunks.

Once at the first spot the fun began and we got some of the birds I wanted to see the most just within 5-10min from our arrival; Cuban trogon which during the time I was there I learned that It was very common, great lizard cuckoo (which was seen several times at different sites we were at) and Fernandina’s flicker, which apparently is not too common here according to Angel.

Later, my first crow flew right in front of us! Cuban crow.

We walked a little more while having a nice chat and seeing some birds, Angel took me to a narrow trail he knew he could get more of my targets, sure enough Cuban tody was there followed by Cuban vireo! Also white-crowned pigeon which in Costa Rica is a rarity, here I enjoyed more than a dozen of them!

Great Lizard cuckoo

 

This location basically consisted of open scrub habitat with some partially flooded pastures, Angel mentioned that it will be unpassable some months later due to the flooded conditions.

Then back to our ride, Angel took me to a forested area where they regularly get the quail-doves, however we were not lucky at that moment, we walked out of the forest to an open marshy area and got one of the ducks I desired to see the most, and never ever thought I could see it in Cuba!; wood duck, what a beautiful duck! Later a Cuban pygmy-owl and various other birds more were seen here.

 

 

 

Bare-legged owl, formerly known as Cuban screech-owl

Later Angel took me to a spot to see the cuban screech owl (Bare-legged Owl) which we got. I did know of this location based on other bird- trip reports I read prior to my visit as well as eBird lists, I thought that I could find the owl on my own, NO WAY! you need Angel as your guide! He knows every perch and roost. Here we got a pair of Gray-fronted quail-dove (resent split from gray- headed q-D).

The rain started, nonetheless he was determined to get me more birds, at another location he took me to show me the nest of a bee hummingbird (extremely small naturally, we got La Sagra’s flycatcher, Cuban pewee and black-whiskered vireo, the later one is abundant here, however it is uncommon in Costa Rica.

Then the storm came in, putting an end to our trip, a pity because it was so exciting to get so many quality life birds, but also sharing with a colleague of another country. On our way back we got antilliant nighthawk.

Although it was only half a day due to the rain I enjoyed every moment, every bird and all the chatting with Angel.

Angel Martínez García Cellphone 01 5294 1853 email: angelczcuba@gmail.com

In PLaya Larga we stayed at a Casa Particular, since the last 3 years the Cuban government is allowing people to rent rooms, we found, through a recommendation a house named Casa Yaima https://es.airbnb.com/rooms/17680234?s=51

Yaima Reyes – Phone (0053) 54115198 email: yaima.reyes@nauta.cu Yaima is a wonderful host, and she went the extra mile to make sure we had all we needed, particularly since we had our son and getting somethings for him was not so easy. Her house/room is extremely clean, excellent location, you will be happy staying here.

Part 1: Introduction, logistics, recommendations, playa Larga, stygian owl and bee hummingbird

Part 2: Birding Playa Larga with Angel Martinez

Part 3:

Part 4:

 

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!

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

 

 

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

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.

Male

Male

Butorides striata-Striated heron in Coto 47.

Last September 5th Johan Fernandez and some friends went to the southern pacific of CR, to Coto 47 by Villa Neily looking for the already established Savanna hawk, which there were not able to find, but they did better! they found an striated heron, this extremely rare heron (once considered conspecific with green heron Butorides virescens) had been seen in CR apparently 3 to 4 times only, so of course we had to try our luck and try to locate it following Johan’s suggestions.

We went on the 8th and were very lucky to find it. The heron was in a big pond with floating vegetation, feeding and moving from place to place withing an area of approximately 50 square meters.

 

In addition to this already successful morning (considering that we found it at 7:05am) we got some other interesting birds including 3 lifers total for me; Northen harrier, striated heron and Savanna hawk which it was time to see after 2 previous trips I did just to look for it with no luck.

 

far in the distance Roy found his Savanna hawk (Buteogallus meridionalis) a relatively new bird to the CR list, and very recent change its status to breeding resident as one individual nested there in Coto 47.

Purple Gallinule

White-throated crake

Here what we saw at Coto 47:

Location
Coto 47 Marshes, Puntarenas, CR ( Map )
Mon Sep 08, 2014 6:15 AM
Protocol:
Stationary
Party Size:
4
Comments:
Karina S. Roy O. Mario B.
Species
66 species (+1 other taxa) total
X
Black-bellied Whistling-Duck
1
Muscovy Duck
X
Wood Stork
X
Neotropic Cormorant
X
Anhinga
1
Bare-throated Tiger-Heron
X
Great Egret
X
Snowy Egret
X
Little Blue Heron
3
Tricolored Heron
X
Cattle Egret
X
Green Heron
1
Striated Heron

one individual seen on floating vegetation, feeding, flying from vegetation to vegetation. Great views. Picture:
https://scontent-b-atl.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xfp1/v/t1.0-9/p180x540/1610784_10204771351752239_4494610353260457902_n.jpg?oh=05ea698a71fcb85f40439e8beab85faa&oe=54A06DDC

1
Black-crowned Night-Heron
X
White Ibis
1
Glossy/White-faced Ibis

an all dark ibis flew above us, was not able to confirm ID but definitively not green nor young white ibis.

2
Roseate Spoonbill
X
Black Vulture
X
Turkey Vulture
1
Northern Harrier

1 individual flying low with wings held above horizontal, head marks well noticed.

1
Savanna Hawk

an all rusty/reddish hawk. https://fbcdn-sphotos-h-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-xfp1/v/t1.0-9/p526x296/10672208_10204775865825088_9167196283829655319_n.jpg?oh=79922b19e7a07a9ad01ca4135dadc993&oe=5491715C&__gda__=1419349925_d7581e657e56fc0ac8a825b33c946ffa

X
Roadside Hawk
3
Gray-breasted Crake
X
Purple Gallinule
X
Black-necked Stilt
X
Southern Lapwing
X
Northern Jacana
X
Lesser Yellowlegs
X
Pale-vented Pigeon
X
Inca Dove
X
Ruddy Ground-Dove
X
Blue Ground-Dove
X
White-tipped Dove
1
Striped Cuckoo
X
Smooth-billed Ani
X
Rufous-tailed Hummingbird
X
Red-crowned Woodpecker
X
Crested Caracara
X
Yellow-headed Caracara
X
Orange-chinned Parakeet
X
Brown-throated Parakeet
1
Streak-headed Woodcreeper
X
Yellow-bellied Elaenia
X
Paltry Tyrannulet
X
Common Tody-Flycatcher
X
Great Kiskadee
X
Social Flycatcher
X
Tropical Kingbird
2
Scrub Greenlet
X
Lesser Greenlet
X
Gray-breasted Martin
X
Barn Swallow
X
House Wren
1
Black-bellied Wren
X
Plain Wren
X
Riverside Wren
1
Yellow Warbler
X
Cherrie’s Tanager
X
Blue-gray Tanager
X
Palm Tanager
X
Blue-black Grassquit
X
Variable Seedeater
X
Black-striped Sparrow
X
Great-tailed Grackle
X
Bronzed Cowbird
3
Orchard Oriole
2
Yellow-throated Euphonia

After birding in coto 47 for a few more hours and seeking for the wattled jacana with no luck we then went to La Gamba to look for some species for our friend Mario; rusty margined flycatcher and others, we were lucky to meet a farmer who told us a horse died in his land 2 days ago so did not hesitate to ask permission and were able to see 5 king vultures extremely close, the smell was totally worth it.

Unfortunately I wasnt lucky to get a good shot. 2 king vultures flying away.

Young king vulture

Who said birding has to be easy! We got sun, crossed rivers, walked on the mud and had suffered the pestilence of a dead horse, what a great day.

 

Right after the town of Coto we found this, here we saw a black crowned night-heron, a little out of its distribution range as it is usually found from Carara and north as well as in the caribbean slope.

Black crowned night-heron

Coto 47 is an excellent birding spot for those seeking for some of a unusual Panamanian invasive species, therefore I would encourage any birder either local or traveler to pay a visit to this place.

To get to the swamps what you have to do is drive towards the city of Neily known locally as Villa Neily when you get to the intersection of the town (on route 2) where there is a red light/stop light here make a right and follow the secondary paved road that leads to Laurele, on your way you will pass a big police station on your left, a few hundred meters you will pass what seemed to be the liquoir company on your left, and later the town of Coto 47, continue until the end of the paved road, as it turns into a gravel road continue until you find a 1 old formerly train bridge, then continue the next 2Km and you will get to the second old train bridge, the soonest you cross it you will see the swaps on your right.

And yes, we got Rusty margined flycatcher for Mario.

The team! from left to right, me, my wife Karina, Mario Brenes and Roy Orozco

 

 

 

 

 

Royal flycatchers are nesting in Carara again.

image

Many of the birders who have visited Carara during the dry season must have seen this beautiful birds who have been nesting in the lagoon trail (known for some reason by British birders as the river trail) only 150m away from the entrance right where the small cement trail is (abandoned). Well, the great news is that they are nesting again in the same spot but in the bad side this year the nest was built right above the trail, about 30 cm above the head.
So with this I’d like to encourage any birder visiting this trail to keep in mind the birding ethics,  do not disturb them with MP3 and Please walk around from the nest.

image

Royal flycatcher

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Lesser nighthaws are back in MA

As usual, between December to April a small group of lesser nighthaws roost on the branches of the beach aple trees close to the parks exit. Locate the bathrooms by the exit and look for the trees on the right of the bathrooms.
image

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Birding southern pacific CR: La gamba and Esquinas Lodge

On November 11th my wife and I went to bird the area of La Gamba in search for specific species which are often seen there: Black cheeked ant-tanager, rusty margined flycatcher, brown throated parakeet, and wattled jacana.

To Get here, as you drive south on route 2, once you reach the town of Piedras blancas, continue about 5 km until you pass the police station located on the left hand side of the road as you head south, take the next right once you pass the police station, there are signs that lead to Esquinas rainforest lodge.

The road to La Gamba

Once we got off the route 2 we pulled over and went out to explore the small cattle field on the left had side,we soon saw crimson fronted parakeets, a few tropical kingbirds and great kiskadee, I have never seen kiskadees, social flycatchers and gray capped flycatchers so detailed like that day, one of our target species, the rusty margined flycatcher is very similar to social FC,

Orange chinned parakeets showed up (they always do 😉 as well as crimson fronted parakeets, then I noticed there were 2 pearl kites in a tree in the distance, they are fairly common here and it is a very reliable place to find this small kite.

2 pearl kites

Tropical Kingbird

After checking the spot for 15 minutes we found a few social flycatchers and gray capped flycatchers perched on the utility wires and excitement invaded me for one second, here it is! oh! wait, nope, its just another social FC I said to my wife.

Gray capped flycatcher

Then we saw a blue headed parrot, fairly common in the southern pacific,

Blue headed parrot

Crimson fronted parakeet, an abundant species, here are 2 adults feeding juvenile.

Blue gray tanager

After seeing various common species a then notice 2 “social flycatchers flew by and perched on a small tree about 20 meters from us, but then it vocalized, a call I had never heard before from a social FC so I check and what a surprise! there were 2 Rusty margined flycatchers, a new for both of us

Rusty margined flycatcher

This photo is not good unfortunately (I use a Samsung smart phone for camera) but it clearly shows the brown on the wing,, white ring on the head and black cheeks, it recalls a miniature great kiskadee with a small beak.

These is the small pasture where we saw the rusty margined FC.

Then a few other species came out for us in the trees on the right hand side loaded with mistletoe.

Paltry tyrannulet

Blue dacnis

a glimpse of a shinning honeycreeper

Then we moved on a couple of KMs and found a few small marshes and abandoned rice paddies so we stopped as we hoped to find the rare wattled jacana.

We found a pair of southern lapwings

Southern lapwing

Fork tailed flycatcher

I really enjoyed seeing the fork tailed flycatcher, I had only seen it once before in my town, close to Quepos, interestingly Quepos is a little out of its range since is mostly found in the southern pacific and close to Cartago based on R Guarrigues, nonetheless ebird posting suggest some scattered views on the northern zone, northern pacific and southern Caribbean, I wonder how many of this reports re accurate/reliable and has not been scissor tail flycatchers.

Fork tailed flycatcher

2×1

Road side hawk

Great egret

Then we came across a pair of plain wrens who were alarmed since their nest was close, here a plain wren giving me an evil eye.

The plain wren giving me an evil eye…

…and then its back!!

Common tody-flycatcher was very common

common tody-flycatcher

Variable seedeater

Here is the list of what we saw along the road: 80 species in

La Gamba, CR-P
Nov 11, 2013 7:30 AM – 10:45 AM
Protocol: Traveling
4.0 kilometer(s)
Comments:    Bird watching the road from route 2 to the town of La gamba
80 species

Great Blue Heron  X
Great Egret  3
Little Blue Heron  X
Cattle Egret  X
White Ibis  9
Black Vulture  X
Turkey Vulture  X
Pearl Kite  3
Roadside Hawk  2
Gray-necked Wood-Rail  X
Purple Gallinule  1
Northern Jacana  2
Inca Dove  2
Ruddy Ground-Dove  X
Blue Ground-Dove  1
White-tipped Dove  2
Striped Cuckoo  4    3 heard 1 seen
Smooth-billed Ani  X
Groove-billed Ani  4
White-collared Swift  X
Long-billed Hermit  1
Stripe-throated Hermit  2
Charming Hummingbird  1
Rufous-tailed Hummingbird  X
Ringed Kingfisher  1
Fiery-billed Aracari  2
Black-mandibled Toucan  2
Red-crowned Woodpecker  X
Lineated Woodpecker  2
Crested Caracara  X
Yellow-headed Caracara  X
Laughing Falcon  2
Crimson-fronted Parakeet  100
Orange-chinned Parakeet  6
Blue-headed Parrot  2
White-crowned Parrot  X
Yellow-bellied Elaenia  X
Paltry Tyrannulet  X
Great Kiskadee  X
Boat-billed Flycatcher  X
Rusty-margined Flycatcher  2    Great views at them, vocalized. 2 Adults perched on  a dead branch close to palm oil plantation, close to small river.
Social Flycatcher  X
Gray-capped Flycatcher  X
Tropical Kingbird  X
Fork-tailed Flycatcher  3
Black-crowned Tityra  2
Masked Tityra  X
Yellow-throated Vireo  X
Red-eyed Vireo  2
Lesser Greenlet  X
Gray-breasted Martin  X
House Wren  X
Black-bellied Wren  1
Plain Wren  2
Riverside Wren  X
Clay-colored Thrush  X
Tennessee Warbler  X
Yellow Warbler  X
Chestnut-sided Warbler  X
Cherrie’s Tanager  X
Blue-gray Tanager  X
Blue Dacnis  1
Shining Honeycreeper  X
Green Honeycreeper  X
Blue-black Grassquit  X
Variable Seedeater  X
White-collared Seedeater  6
Bananaquit  X
Buff-throated Saltator  X
Black-striped Sparrow  3
Summer Tanager  X
Rose-breasted Grosbeak  2
Blue-black Grosbeak  2
Melodious Blackbird  X
Great-tailed Grackle  X
Shiny Cowbird  8
Baltimore Oriole  X
Yellow-crowned Euphonia  X
Thick-billed Euphonia  2
Spot-crowned Euphonia  X

Esquinas Rainforest lodge.

We got here about 11:00am, the place looks great! I hope I would spend a few nights here in the near future and explore the little visited Piedras  Blancas national park.

we signed up and picked up a trail map, I asked the receptionist if she knew about the black cheeked ant-tanager and she said yes, she pointed me the trail where it has been seen frequently, it its basically the first 200m of the ocelot trail.

Esquinas rain-forest lodge trail map

We checked the 200m suggested and there was no activity, after 500 meters we saw a female black throated torgon and a violet headed hummingbird

Female black throated trogon

violet headed hummingbird

We turned around to head back since it was going to rain very soon, in our way back we saw a few long billed hermits, some spot crowned euphonias, and a red capped manakin, the trail finally had some life!

Red capped manakin

There was a riverside wren calling not far from us, I decided to wait so we could see this common wren, chestnut backed antbird started to call, a buff throated foliage gleaner came to light, so I realized we found a small mixed flock, and finally our main target bird was there with them! a black cheeked ant-tanager

A bad picture of black cheeked ant-tanager

It was impossible to get a good photo (digi-scoping) since it keeps moving all the time, how ever, it did granted great views through the binoculars, this is the bird (new-to-me) I proposed myself I would find for 2013. The bird is endemic to the golfo dulce area only, and it is relatively common there.

Here is the celebration picture

This is what we saw in the lodge trails:

Esquinas Rainforest Lodge, CR-P
Nov 11, 2013 10:50 AM – 12:15 PM
Protocol: Traveling
1.0 kilometer(s)
Comments:    searching for black cheeked anttanager, found on ocelot trail
30 species

Turkey Vulture  X
Long-billed Hermit  2
Stripe-throated Hermit  1
Violet-headed Hummingbird  1
Rufous-tailed Hummingbird  X
Blue-throated Goldentail  1
Black-throated Trogon  1
Black-hooded Antshrike  2
Chestnut-backed Antbird  6
Buff-throated Foliage-gleaner  2
Ochre-bellied Flycatcher  X
Paltry Tyrannulet  X
Common Tody-Flycatcher  X
Black-tailed Flycatcher  2
Social Flycatcher  X
Gray-capped Flycatcher  X
Red-capped Manakin  1
Tawny-crowned Greenlet  2
Lesser Greenlet  X
Riverside Wren  4
Clay-colored Thrush  X
Tennessee Warbler  X
Chestnut-sided Warbler  X
Cherrie’s Tanager  X
Blue-gray Tanager  X
Blue-black Grassquit  1
Bananaquit  X
Orange-billed Sparrow  X
Black-cheeked Ant-Tanager  5
Spot-crowned Euphonia  3

At the end of the day we had 3 new species for us: Black tailed flycatcher, rusty margined flycatcher and black faced ant-tanager.

We still have to go back very soon before the end of the month as we did not see the brown throated parakeet and wattled jacana and there are some spots to bird there still.

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