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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 https://www.instagram.com/gardenhouseobservatory/?hl=es  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.

Enjoy.

 

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My 2017 Top ten birds.

We are only 7 days away from the end of 2017! It is time to be with family and friends, to think of everything we had done this year and what will we do on the next year, learning from the positive and negative things the year brought to us.

2017 has been a beautiful year, I have had the chance to meet many wonderful people that had leaved a positive impact on my life, both personal and professional.

 

In terms of birds, 2017 has been a bit of a slow year for my personal birding, being a father brought me different priorities which I greatly enjoy, and I hope as Edrian grows up I can catch up with my hardcore birding style on 2018. Simply being a father is the best thing it has ever happened to me!

 

 

Roy Orozco

On the other hand, I really, really miss my friend Roy with whom I chased birds all around the country, birding simply has not been the same to me since he left.  Although close friends had been there for me and I had really had fun with them birding, I am thankful for their friendship and for all they had thought to me.

 

Karen Castillo, Andres Chaves, Oscar Herrera, Johan Chaves, South CR endemics. Global big day,

From Left to Right:
Karen Castillo, Andres Chaves, Oscar Herrera, Johan Chaves. Photo By Andres Chaves.

From left to right: Karen Castillo, Johan Chaves, Andres Chaves “Socio” and Manuel Cabalceta. Photo courtesy of Socio.

I am very excited for 2018! and looking forward to the birding tours I will be leading but also looking forward to birding with my peeps.

Here is a list of my favorite birds of 2017.

10: Cedar Waxwing. A bird we chased quite a bit back in 2015 and 2016, but finally I managed to see it early in the year while leading a birding tour in Carara NP.

9 Rufous-rumped antwren:

We saw this bird in Tapanti NP with my friends Oscar H, Andres Ch. and Karen C. on Sept 1st. A bird I was hoping to see at one point.

8 – Yellow-rumped warbler:

A bird I had seen at El Rey in the past, but this warbler are certainly always a good bird to Costa Rican birders! I saw one at Maquenque eco-lodge on early December while I was working as the naturalist guide on a photo tour.

7- Hooded warbler:

My first lifer of the year! I got this bird at El Rey on Jan 05th while birding with a friend Andres E.

6- Plain chachalaca:

A bird Roy and I chased in Guanacaste are but we failed to see it back in 2014-2015.

5- Hermit warbler.

A surprise bird to me, while leading a tour to a friend and client Miss Loretta P. near Poas volcano area.

 

4 Central american pygmy-owl.

A nestling bird at Laguna Lagarto lodge during a visit there on April 9th.

3- Pain billed Crake.

Oh big thanks to my friend Daniel Hernandez! who insisted I should go to see this bird! Coto 47 Sept 14th

2- Agami Heron.

A bird I had seen only once ever back in 2006. A bird had been seen regularly in Cahuita Natinal park, my wife and I happen to be there during that time and thanks to the directions given by a friend Daniel Martinez we got the bird.

 

1- Aplomado Falcon

A bird got established for several days in Coris De Cartago back in Late Jul early Sept. thanks to my friend Johan Fernandez for the heads up.

 

Have a merry Christmas and may the 2018 bring you health, peace and prosperity, but also excellent birding!

Johan Chaves.

Johan Chaves- Photo courtesy of Nancy Barcelo

 

 

 

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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