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Birding Bajos del Toro and Boca Tapada areas. Part 1

I would like to start this post mentioning that although I do enjoy and admire a good picture I am not a bird photographer and prefer field identification rather than taking a photo and then ID it home, birding is not fun if it is easy right!? Birding and birding photography are similar-yet-totally different matters! However I do admit every now and then I enjoy those colorful tanagers at a feeders with my camera!
On April 8th my wife and I went to the Bajos Del Toro (catarata del Toro) and Boca Tapada area, up North in San Carlos area as I needed to get familiar with that area for future birding trips. Everyone knows that is a must visit to any photographer, amateur or professional.
We left home (Quepos) at 5:15am and drove up to Bajos del Toro via Sarchí as I needed to stop at Catarata Del Toro, the drive was very picturesque indeed but hilly and the road to Bajos Del Toro was in ok conditions. We got to Catarata del Toro at about 9:15am.

I had never seen a sign as wholehearted as this one, after such long drive it really made me happy! Notice this place is closed on Sundays.

After greeting Mr Wil we walked in to check the site, the waterfall is breathtaking and the gardens are nicely kept, there is one trail that loops for about 1km and it also takes you to another garden, I only got to bird this site quickly as we needed to move on, it was quite productive and got nice birds such as golden -browed chlorophonia, chestnut-capped brush-finch, slaty-backed nightingale-thrush, the endemic to-CR-only coppery headed emerald and more. Below the list of what we saw here.

Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus)  X
White-collared Swift (Streptoprocne zonaris)  1
Green Hermit (Phaethornis guy)  X
Green-crowned Brilliant (Heliodoxa jacula)  X
Violet Sabrewing (Campylopterus hemileucurus)  3
Coppery-headed Emerald (Elvira cupreiceps)  3
Rufous-tailed Hummingbird (Amazilia tzacatl)  2
Prong-billed Barbet (Semnornis frantzii)  X
Spotted Barbtail (Premnoplex brunnescens)  1
Olive-striped Flycatcher (Mionectes olivaceus)  1
Scale-crested Pygmy-Tyrant (Lophotriccus pileatus)  1
Lesser Greenlet (Pachysylvia decurtata)  X
Brown Jay (Psilorhinus morio)  X
Gray-breasted Wood-Wren (Henicorhina leucophrys)  2
Black-faced Solitaire (Myadestes melanops)  1
Slaty-backed Nightingale-Thrush (Catharus fuscater)  2
Swainson’s Thrush (Catharus ustulatus)  10
Clay-colored Thrush (Turdus grayi)  X
Common Chlorospingus (Chlorospingus flavopectus)  3
Chestnut-capped Brushfinch (Arremon brunneinucha)  3
Melodious Blackbird (Dives dives)  X
Montezuma Oropendola (Psarocolius montezuma)  2
Yellow-throated Euphonia (Euphonia hirundinacea)  2    male and female.
Golden-browed Chlorophonia (Chlorophonia callophrys)  1

Chestnut-capped brush-finch

female coppery headed emerald

 

Male green crowned brilliant, a fairly common hummer here. Photo taken using digi-scoping technique. Swarovski ATX 65mm+ Swarovski TLS APO+canon 50D

10:40am Time to move on, our next stop was lunch at the small town of Pital, once on the road 744 it was all gravel although in ok conditions, once here the landscape include vast pineapple and yucca plantations, not many towns in between until you reach Pital so it is good to make sure you have water and any necessary snacks for the drive. It is convenient to have colones as dollars are not commonly accepted (at least experienced that at lunch time).

We finally got to Maquenque lodge which is where we spent our time at about 2:30pm, soon as I got there I saw the potential, nice trails, lagoons and gardens, after checking in I immediately went out to bird the gardens and feeders, like the other lodges here lagoons are an important part of the lodge, hosting common birds such as jacanas, gallinules, anhingas and various herons, I was hoping for agami heron but I was not lucky. Although a near by green ibis was nice. The feeders produced all the common birds, honeycreepers, oropendolas, tanagers, gray-headed chachalacas etc. the garden produced white ringed flycatcher, crimson-collared tanager, yellow-bellied elaenia, canebrake wren (recent split from plain wren), slaty spinetail, all 3 toucans species for this area, great green and scarlet macaws, long-tailed tyrant and many more!

The hotel is very nice, beautiful rooms, all rooms are separate and surrounded by gardens. Most/all facing the lagoons.

green ibis


Red legged honeycreeper and long tailed tyrant

king vulture is not exactly rare here at Boca tapada, this afternoon I saw at least 9 perched on a tree.

I was pleased with this site, rooms were nice, food good, staff was excellent and very accommodating. I was so looking forward to sunrise to go out and bird again!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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 http://panama-wildlife.blogspot.com/

 

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

Snowcap, a classic must-see here at Rancho!

 

 

 

An unforgettable day at Esquipulas.

Two days ago I had the opportunity to bird Esquipulas with Susan Newman and Scott Haber, an ornithologist from Cornell University. We had previously visited the Manuel Antonio national park for a nature history tour but with some successful time including pale-billed woodpecker, double-tooth kite, northern-barred woodcreeper and common potoo!, among other good birds for a total of 47 birds during our tour.

Our birding day began the soonest we got to the road to Naranjito with some of the common species; blue black grassquit, variable seedeater, yellow headed caracara, then to the more interesting ones including ferruginous pygmy-owl, mealy parrot, and black crowned tityra and others. This was just the start of a wonderful day.

Weather was overcast but no rain which made the morning just perfect with nice temperature, and weather held until our walk back to the car

The morning yielded about 117 species but the best experience and perhaps one of the top quality moments I’ve had while birding with clients was saved towards the end of our walk, after seen a rufous tailed jacamar, Susan spotted a male turquoise cotinga (one of the top wanted in the list), well over 1000ft away from us up on a tree top! that was an amazing spot by Susan! but if that wasnt enough I spotted a gorgeous male white crested coquette just about 15ft above our heards, no words to describe the experience…

Let this picture explain the moment we lived

Let this picture explain the moment we lived

After that exiting moment we continued and were able to see nice white hawks, white ruffed manakin, and heard a great antshrike which didn’t cooperate at all.

We ended our day with chicharrones and great memories of a day we will never forget; quality birds, quality birders and great companion!

Scott And Susan

Scott And Susan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

Panama beach and birding. 5 Parque Metropolitano (Last).

After our morning exploring the town of Gamboa we arrived to Panama city where we spent 2 nights. The next day (May 16th) we visited the Parque Metropolitano, we were told chances of seeing green-shrike vireo and lance tailed manakin were high (my wife’s most wanted), it was true indeed.

The map

Since the forest its not too tall here the shrike-vireo stays relatively close to the ground, we saw our first one just at the entrance of the El roble trail.

The trails we covered were El Roble, cieneguita and mono titi.

Anyone who has seen a green shrike-vireo knows how hard is to see them from the forest floor.

southern beardless tyrannulet

 

Crimson backed tanager, fairly common tanager which presumably is making its way north, hopefully one day making its way to CR.

49 species total
Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture
Short-tailed Hawk
White-tipped Dove
Squirrel Cuckoo
White-vented Plumeleteer
Snowy-bellied Hummingbird
Rufous-tailed Hummingbird
Slaty-tailed Trogon
Black-throated Trogon
Whooping Motmot
Broad-billed Motmot
Crimson-crested Woodpecker
Orange-chinned Parakeet
Fasciated Antshrike
Black-crowned Antshrike
Dot-winged Antwren
Dusky Antbird
Heard only

White-bellied Antbird
HEARD ONLY

Cocoa Woodcreeper
Plain Xenops
Southern Beardless-Tyrannulet
Greenish Elaenia
Yellow-bellied Elaenia
Southern Bentbill
Common Tody-Flycatcher
Ruddy-tailed Flycatcher
Dusky-capped Flycatcher
Social Flycatcher
Streaked Flycatcher
Tropical Kingbird
Eastern Kingbird
Lance-tailed Manakin
Golden-fronted Greenlet
Lesser Greenlet
Green Shrike-Vireo
Gray-breasted Martin
House Wren
Rufous-breasted Wren
Rufous-and-white Wren
Bay Wren
Clay-colored Thrush
White-shouldered Tanager
Crimson-backed Tanager
Plain-colored Tanager
Blue Dacnis
Rosy Thrush-Tanager
Buff-throated Saltator
Red-throated Ant-Tanager

The proximity to the city makes this park extremely easy to get to, I highly suggest any birder vising Panama visit this park to complement their list.

Broad billed motmot, it was nice we got it here since it was the only time we saw this specie in Panama, lots of whoopings and rufous motmots dough.

My wife’s highlight! a lance tailed manakin

An abandoned USA military building

 

After this, our friend Guido Berguido called us by the phone and offered to take us around the city and show us around which was so nice, certainly he knows the city extremely well as well as its history, he also knew I was interested in seeing Cocoi Heron so he took us to the spot, I owe a HUGE thank you to Guido since that made our experience in Panama city much more valuable.

 

 

Scaled antpitta, my best bird of 2014.

Atpittas are probably one of the funniest looking birds of Costa Rica and perhaps the american tropics; long legs, big eyes, short tail and chubby body, not the mention the way the hop in the forest ground makes them look like a hyperactive mouse!

These are some of the hard finding birds, often elusive, silent throughout the day vocalizing mostly early in the am or late in the pm. The Scaled antpitta is considered rare an middle elevations from 800 meters to 1600 meters (Garrigues 2007).

Today, after a birding tour in the morning in Esquipulas I decided to go with my wife and a friend; Oscar Herrera, since another friend had seen this antpitta 3 days ago and gave me directions to the place. We got here at 3:50pm and went straight to the exact spot and waited. Our antpitta showed up until 5:20pm and what an encounter! So far I consider this the best bird of the year.

Not the best photo but at least for the record

Its always good to see a snake, specially if its eating! Here is presumably a Rhadinea decorata pink bellied leaf litter snake AKA salmon bellied Leaf litter snake.

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.

Birding the property of Canopy el Santuario, a great birding spot for those in Manuel Antonio

I have been birding Manuel Antonio for more then 6 years now and have many local hot spots which are so worth to try, Manuel Antonio park itself is a great destination for the naturalist and animal lovers (one of the best indeed), nonetheless I personally thing this park will disappoint any avid birder visiting with the hope of seeing good birds.

So I currently offer birding tours completely off the beaten path, in the mountains of Esquipulas, La gallega river area as well as the marshes of El rey. Most of this places are accessible by 2WD car but the best is the upper part of Esquipulas where a 4WD is a must.

Now, in order to offer closer options, on November 5th I explored this place and what a found! the birding here in canopy el santuario superb, my wife and I got to the site later than planned, we arrived at 7:30 am and the guides there pointed us a black and white owl with its baby in a tree nearby, a great start!

Black and white owl

After that we saw several Montezuma oropendola on flight, a double tooth kite

Montezuma Oropendola, they were abundant in this site

Montezuma Oropendola, they were abundant in this site

Juvenile double tooth kite

One of the good things of the site is that there is a nice combination of habitats, there is a small creek, flooded pastures, great for white throated crakes and pale breasted spinetails, montezuma oropendolas are abundant here, we saw at least 80 individuals or more, I think this is indeed the one place I have personally seen that many in one area. Nice pastures yielded variable, white collared seedeaters, gray crowned yellowthroat, blue black grassquits, black striped sparrow, pale breasted spinetail and others.

Pale brested spinetail

Find the yellow warbler!

the very common yellow warbler!

cherri's tanager

Road side hawk

Road side hawk

The trees have a lot of mistletoe, excellent for euphonias, we saw yellow crowned, thick billed and spot crowned euphonias. Paltry tyrannulet, several tanagers like golden hooded are common here thanks to the mistletoe and some bromeliads in the place, their gardens full of heliconias are good for hummingbirds including the very common rufous tailed hummingbird, also scaled breasted hummingbird, long billed and striped throated hermit are found here as well as the violet crowned woodnymph and I am sure many more species.

Golden hooded tanager. A common tanager in the area

Spot-crowned euphonia

A female Spot crowned euphonia

Guess whose legs are those!

Guess whose legs are those!

Male thick billed euphonia

Male thick billed euphonia

A very important thing is that the site has a good patch of primary rain forest, excellent for tinamues, we heard the little tinamu but I am sure there should be great tinamu, black faced anthrush and I think the elusive streaked breasted antpitta could be seen here.

Streaked flycatcher

Garden

Garden

Restaurant for the zip lining tour.

Restaurant for the zip lining tour.

Bathrooms

Lineated woodpecker

Lineated woodpecker

I hope to do more birding time in the interior of their property, we only birded 2h45min and saw 54 species, and we only walked 700 meters but most things were seen in 200 meters! This place was much better that I expected, I mean, for being close to Quepos and surrounded by oil palm plantations in one side, this is truly a must see for birders visiting Manuel Antonio Area who don not want to drive 45 minutes to Esquipulas as the site is about 25 Minutes from MA. Currently the place is only open for those participating in the zip lining tours but hopefully the guys of santuario and I can work something out.

Zip lining

Zip lining

Costa Rica flag, up high in the trees!

Pasturelands, lots of seedeaters, woodpeckers, a road side hawk as well as barred antshrike were seen here.

Here is the list of what we saw:

Canopy el santuario, CR-P
Nov 5, 2013 7:30 AM – 10:00 AM
Protocol: Traveling
0.7 kilometer(s)
Comments:    Checking the place’s potential for eventual bird tours.
54 species

Little Tinamou  1    Heard only
Cattle Egret  X
Black Vulture  X
Turkey Vulture  X
Double-toothed Kite  1
Roadside Hawk  1
White-throated Crake  X    Heard only
Ruddy Ground-Dove  X
White-tipped Dove  1
Smooth-billed Ani  8
Black-and-white Owl  2    1 adult and 1 baby, it was pointed by local workers who say it has been there with the chick for a while now.
Scaly-breasted Hummingbird  1
Red-crowned Woodpecker  1
Lineated Woodpecker  1
Crested Caracara  1
Yellow-headed Caracara  2
Crimson-fronted Parakeet  25
Barred Antshrike  2
Chestnut-backed Antbird  X
Cocoa Woodcreeper  1
Streak-headed Woodcreeper  3
Pale-breasted Spinetail  X    2 individuals well seen, at least 3 more heard.
Southern Beardless-Tyrannulet  1
Yellow-bellied Elaenia  2
Paltry Tyrannulet  X
Western Wood-Pewee  X
Eastern Wood-Pewee  X
Great Kiskadee  6
Boat-billed Flycatcher  1
Social Flycatcher  X
Streaked Flycatcher  1
Tropical Kingbird  X
Lesser Greenlet  X
Brown Jay  1
House Wren  1
Rufous-naped Wren  X    Heard only
Clay-colored Thrush  1
Yellow Warbler  X
Chestnut-sided Warbler  X
Cherrie’s Tanager  X
Blue-gray Tanager  2
Golden-hooded Tanager  2
Red-legged Honeycreeper  2
Blue-black Grassquit  5
Variable Seedeater  3
White-collared Seedeater  1
Black-striped Sparrow  X
Summer Tanager  4
Melodious Blackbird  X
Baltimore Oriole  1
Montezuma Oropendola  80    a rough estimation of 80 individuals, these specie is abundant here.
Yellow-crowned Euphonia  X
Thick-billed Euphonia  2
Spot-crowned Euphonia  2

Birding Durika, Southern pacific intermountane valleys and Buenos Aires.

As part of our adventures and in order to find some new species for our life lists My friend Roy and our our wives decide to go to explore this remote areas in the mountains of Buenos Aires, located in the southern pacific of CR. And I can say, What an adventure!!!

Our main goal was Rosy thrush-tanager, ocellated crake, wedge tailed spine tail

We left Quepos at about 2:20am so we could be there by sunrise. This is not really a place to visit for those who are in the country for 8 or even 15 days, unless you are specifically looking for this species as this is about the best place to find them.

Directions: To get here we drove from Quepos taking the 34 south towards Palmar norte, here you take a left in the intersection, following the signs to Buenos Aires, route 2 heading east. Once you leave the route 2, the entrance to buenos aires is on the right hand side, follow this road which Will tace you thru the small town, this is the central avenue, follow it to the end, in this T intersection take a right, go one block, take a left in this T intersection and continue about 1.5km and take a left on the road to durika. From here is about 12 KM to the next intersection to Durika, in the forest found in this intersection is where the rosy thrush tanager lives.

Once we reached the savannas we did a few stops to search for some birds, and what a surprise! the first day of the day was a new-to-new  White-throated Flycatcher, this small Empidonax is found in 2 areas of CR: the Guanacaste, Tilaran and central cordilleras where is considered fairly common and in southern pacific intermontane valleys where is considered very rare (According R. Garrigues and Dean).

Savannas Sun rise Sun rise in the savannas

Once we got to the place, our number one bird was singing not far from us, how exiting to think that we could see it so soon!! the history was different, this is extremely hard to see, it is very elusive and lives and forages in dense growth, impossible! we tried different sites  where we would just sit and hope for the bird to get accustom to our presence, we did see an orange billed nightingale-thrush which was new to me and my wife as well as other forest interior species we had seen before.

Great owl butterfly

Great owl butterfly

After trying some spots we decided to take the car down the road to try other places, as we where going down the road another individual was calling from the right side of the road, we stopped to look for it and it flew across the road and only My wife Karina was lucky to see it, non of the others had such luck.

While birding this road we saw a black hawk-eagle, magnificent! a lifer for my wife, we saw barred parakeets, broad winged hawk and others.

Broad winged hawk

Broad winged hawk

We found a small ant swarm and there was some good bird activity with them, bicolored antbird, which is more oftenly seen foraging with the ants

buff throated foliage gleaner

buff throated foliage gleaner

Bicolored antbird

Bicolored antbird

Buff throated foliage gleaners were all around,  as well as the red crowned ant-tanagers

blue crowned motmot

blue crowned motmot

As we kept driving down the road the “road” became a river!! It was crazy! Once we realized the road was too bad for a 2WD car we turned around to go back to the first spot better, too late, we where stock in that little river, we struggled for about 1.5 hr to get out of here, moving rocks here and there, at the end we re-made the river to clear access for the car, I am just so glad the car was rental.

Once we got back to the first place we again sat on the ground and waited, the bird called a few times but never allowed us to see, but that is what bird-watching is about, go out explore, enjoy and try your luck 🙂

After that we left back and stopped a few times in the savannas to try for ocellated crace and others, we heard the crake several times but it is impossible, this Tiny little mini crake dwells in the grass, moving through tunnels made by the grass and rarely leaving concealment, just impossible, although it was nice to heard it and know it was there.

biridng

Savannas

Savannas

Yellow faced grassquit

Yellow faced grassquit

Everything for a crake.

Everything for a crake.

We found lesser elaenias, scaled pigeons and lesser goldfinch, all new to me. At the end of the day I had seen 5 new species, my wive got 8 and Roy 1.

 

Here is a list of what we saw that day (copied form my ebird posting)

Dúrika–entrance road (last 3.5 km), CR-P
Nov 3, 2013 5:45 AM – 9:45 AM
Protocol: Traveling
3.0 mile(s)
Comments:    Trip in search for rosy thrush-tanager
50 species

Cattle Egret  X
Black Vulture  X
Turkey Vulture  X
Black Hawk-Eagle  1
Broad-winged Hawk  1
Scaled Pigeon  8
White-tipped Dove  X
Rufous-tailed Hummingbird  X
Black-throated Trogon  1
Blue-crowned Motmot  1
Fiery-billed Aracari  4
Barred Parakeet  X
Black-hooded Antshrike  X
Buff-throated Foliage-gleaner  6
Pale-breasted Spinetail  X
Lesser Elaenia  X
Paltry Tyrannulet  X
Sulphur-rumped Flycatcher  2
White-throated Flycatcher  2
Tropical Kingbird  X
White-ruffed Manakin  2
Yellow-throated Vireo  X
Lesser Greenlet  X
Rufous-breasted Wren  X
Riverside Wren  X
Orange-billed Nightingale-Thrush  3
Swainson’s Thrush  X
Clay-colored Thrush  X
Tennessee Warbler  X
Gray-crowned Yellowthroat  1
Yellow Warbler  X
Chestnut-sided Warbler  X
Rufous-capped Warbler  X
Cherrie’s Tanager  X
Blue-gray Tanager  X
Palm Tanager  X
Golden-hooded Tanager  X
Bay-headed Tanager  2
Blue Dacnis  X
Variable Seedeater  X
Bananaquit  X
Yellow-faced Grassquit  X
Buff-throated Saltator  X
Orange-billed Sparrow  X
Black-striped Sparrow  X
Summer Tanager  4
Red-crowned Ant-Tanager  4
Eastern Meadowlark  1
Baltimore Oriole  X
Lesser Goldfinch  2

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