Blog Archives

Birding with Miriam and Shlomo Saish, Jan 29th-Feb 8th; Part 3/Last

Day 9. San Gerardo de RIVAS. Talamanca reserve.

Talamanca reserve is located in San Gerardo de Rivas, this town is the gate way to Costa Rica’s highest peak; Chirripó mountain with an elevation of 3821 meters.


The hotel is beautiful with nice rooms, the staff is very accommodating and always willing to make sure you are comfortable. The food is exquisite! But that is not all! the grounds are very birdy and loaded with many of the South Pacific specialists, the bird feeders are very, very well kept!

On this day we decided to go to a small project called Garden house bird observatory for breakfast +506 71630339 contact is Christopher Instagram

This little place is a small family business that believes in conservation and environmental education through the birds, I had been coming to this place lately, they are getting started with some reforestation, also they have WELL maintained feeders that are extremely productive.

During our breakfast and walk we got similar birds than  what we got at Talamanca reserve; speckled tanagers and many Tangara species, violet sabrewing, Lesson’s motmot, etc etc but we also got here red-headed barbet, snowy bellied hummingbird, stripe-tailed humingbird, orange-billed Nightingale-thrush and more which we missed at Talamanca, most during a short walk we took along a trail.

Tropical mockingbird


After that we then left for Carara/Macaw lodge along the coast, stops included El Rey rice field and marsh, a well known marsh near my home city Quepos, then a stop in Jacó to enjoy the sunset, this was our longest drive of the trip.


Day 10 and 11: Macaw lodge.

Charming hummingbird

Macaw lodge is an excellent lodge and has a beautiful setting, wonderful gardens and a well maintained trail system. We got our first few new birds off the balcony, including gray-cowled woodrail, least grebe, Muscovy duck (yes, had not seen one on the trip till then), charming hummingbird and more.

The trails are good and produced some good birds including a pair of Baird’s trogon, riverside wren, blue-crowned manakin, golden naped woodpecker, crested guan and gray-headed Chachalacas, tropical gnatcatcher, ferruginous pygmy-owl was seen on the gardens.


This lodge is not precisely close to Carara NP, the road that leads there is not always in good condition, although being here allows you to get most of the birds that you would normally see in Carara, therefore I would recommend you stay a minimum of 2 nights here, you will love the food too!

Black hooded antshrike

On our last day we left after breakfast and birded the road back down, here we got Black-hooded Antshrike, king vulture, plumbeous kite,  among other common birds,  we then made it to Tarcoles river area and explored the mangroves near the river mouth. Here we got (beside the many species expected for this habitat) Black headed trogon, mangrove (yellow) warbler, Panama Flyctacher, turquoise-browed Motmot. The mangroves are a  must do while birding near Carara, either by foot, or better yet, By boat.



Small mangrove patch near Tarcoles river

Black headed trogon

Mangrove Yellow warbler








Snowy plover at Tarcoles and Yellow Bellied Sapsucker at Esquipulas.

During the 11th Christmas Bird Count at Carara area celebrated on December 22nd 2017 a team of birders were fortunate enough to see what to us is rarity; Snowy plover!

After the sighting, several birders kept going to the site and had been lucky to find it. I had been really eager to make the time to go, however it had been a few days since it was seen so I hesitated at a point. On January 2 after I finished to guide a morning birding trip to Carara for a family of Utah (David, Natalie and Jordan Tanner) I went on my own to the Tarcoles river mouth following my friend’s Diego Quesada and Johan Fernandez directions and boy was I lucky! Literally the 8th bird I put my binoculars own! It is so exciting to feel the thrill of finding a rare bird and more special when it is a new bird to the life list! Way to start 2018!


The location to the site can be found on this google maps link.’38.9%22N+84%C2%B038’14.0%22W/@9.780263,-84.6373509,15.25z/data=!4m6!3m5!1s0x0:0xa89a0b2d9b790cdd!7e2!8m2!3d9.7774555!4d-84.6372288?hl=es-419

Near the river mouth of Tarcoles, standing on the southern side of the mouth is a small “lagoon” or tidal pool, this is the site where the plover has been reported, many semipalmated, wilson’s and some collared plovers, along with many semipalmated, western, and spotted sandpiper as well as sanderlings, whimbrels and more.

the ocean is on the back, the river-mouth on the right and the water between is the spot.


now on the other side of the tidal pool. the ocean behind me, the river-mouth north of where I am standing and the plovers on the southern edge of the pool.


On the other hand, just today (January 4th), while guiding a birding tour at Esquipulas (my favorite Manuel Antonio bird watching

image digiscoped using iPhone 7 and Swarovski ATX 65mm

spot) for the Tanners we were lucky to spot a female Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (no picture unfortunately). This is a North American bird which I was hoping to see at a point, naturally I was so excited for it while David and Natalie just allowed me to enjoy my moment! Their moment was the fiery billed aracary!


Esquipulas is an excellent option for the birder coming to bird-watch Manuel Antonio and it often produces good Pacific foothills and lowland species with an excellent level of endemics.



Yellow throated toucan at Esquipulas.



What a way to start 2018!

Birding Carara National Park / Headquarter trails.

It is finally slow season to us who work in the tourism industry here in CR, it is also the start of the rainy season, and on the bitter side, the end of the NA bird migration.

We constantly joke on how the next few months we are restricted to see toucans, macaws, tanagers, cotingas and trogons, so warblers, waxwings, peeps, orioles, ducks, empids, hawks, buntings etc will be missed greatly, but oh well, I can live with that!

On April 26th, my friends Andres Chaves (socio) and Karen Castillo took the day and went to Carara National park, yes, our local patch where we go very, very often, but this time is different as it s not the same to lead a trip to clients than to do your own personal birding, our main interest was to look for the species we seldom see, but above all to play with our toys, cameras and recorders! In short, do what we love.

We were basically focused on the headquarter trails (Universal, Encuentro de ecosistemas, Quebrada bonita and Araceas) and rather passed on the lagoon trail. We were specifically looking for scaly-throated leaf-tosser,  long tailed woodcreeper, and yellow-billed cotinga.

We got to Carara at 7:15am and spent the entire day (Notice that Carara opens from 7:00am to 4:00pm from December to April and from 8:00am to 4:00pm from May to through November), soon after we entered we were lucky enough to spot a leaftosser, doing ti’s thing; tossing leafs from side to side in search for food, we tried to get some photos but despite our attempts this is the only one I could get, also recordings were ok as this is a bit of an elusive bird.

A bad quality photo but here is the leaftosser. Canon 50D + Canon 100-400 4-5.6 lens. ISO cranked way up to 3200 to at least get documentation photo.


One of the best things about birding Carara NP is that unlike other parks like Manuel Antonio this site is not too crowded and particularly now on slow season. The trails here consist on a series of loops, well maintained, with some gravel which allows a silent approach to birds, and are wide enough to allow the free pass to other walkers and use tripods etc but narrow enough to not disturb the habitat.



A recording I managed to get from the leaftosser.

Green and black poison-dart frogs are very, very common during the transition to wet season. 

As we continued we got basically various mixed flocks where white-shoulder tanager was present, so it produced bay headed tanagers, lesser and tawny crowned greenlets, some woodcreepers, rufous-capped warblers, and more, also, we saw on various occasions small groups of chestnut backed antbirds foraging with river side, rufous breasted wrens, orange billed sparrows and many black-faced antthrushes, the last ones are common, but, today we saw at least 18 individuals (actually seen, plus those we heard) normally on a birding trip and points them 2 to 3 times then you flip the page to the next bird.


Call recording I got of Black-faced antthrush.

Northern bentbill, picture taken using an iPhone 7 and a ATX Swarovski telescope #digiscoping. This little one was quite cooperative indeed but normally it is found above eye level and is quite active.

Gray headed tanager carrying food to its nest. Photo Taken using digi-scoping technique using Canon 50D + Swarovski TLS APO + Swarovski ATX 65mm telescope.

After various birds and hours later we were fortunate to find and group of army ants foraging (Eciton burchelli) and then we knew we were going to spend some good time there recording and photographing, however the colony was a bit small and we got basically chestnut backed antbirds, black faced antthrushes, northern barred, cocoa, streak headed and tawny winged woodcreepers, ruddy tailed flycatcher, white whiskered puffbird, lesson’s motmot (former blue crowned) and sulfur-rumped flycatcher.

Bicolored antbird, besst looked for with the ants.

Buff-throated foliage gleanner posed for the picture.

One of the at least 5 Tawny winged woodcreepers that attended the swarm.

White whiskered who?   We continued back and needed one more bird for Karen, streak chested antpitta which fortunately she got to see quite well, although we could not photograph we managed to get a recording, here a short recording of the bird calling naturally:


We all had a fun time in the field and truly enjoyed Carara, as I always do no matter how many times I had been here, we now hope our next trip would be May 13th so we can join the global big day, I hope we can work that out.

Slaty tailed trogon excavating a nest inside a termite nest.

Male baird’s trogon. It is simple, Carara is trogon country.

food break!

Posing at the new Carara sign with friends Karen Castillo and Andres Chaves.


150 species while birding Carara area!

Carara national park area is known as one of the must sees to any birders coming to CR, it’s position on a transition area offers a great variety of habitats of both life zones; Dry and wet forests.

No matter how many hundreds of times I had been to Carara I always enjoy leading trips here or just simply birding on my own to locate those sought after species as I know the area can bring surprises any time, after all Carara has a max list of 482 so there is always good stuff (data from the X-mas bird-counts organized by my friend Johan Fernandez).

On February 28th 2017 I had the opportunity to bird for a full day with miss Christine Kozlosky, an excellent-advanced birder from Athens, GA, USA. We met at her villa here in Manuel Antonio at 4:45am and after meeting each other we left onto what happened to be an extraordinary day!

Along the way we got some birds such as brown jay, scissor tailed flycatcher, yellow headed and crested caracaras and a gray hawk. Then by 6:15 we arrived to our first spot; Villa Lapas road.

The road to leads to Bijagual (mostly known by birders as the Villa Lapas road or the waterfall road) is an excellent birding site (one can perfectly spend an entire morning here), and often produces species that are either hard to see or just unlikely seen inside the park itself, our first bird at this site was a male blue grosbeak followed by an indigo bunting! then gray-crowned yellowthrhoat, northern and southern rough-winged swallows, macaws and more, although for the moment the best bird had been a striped cuckoo! although I did enjoy seen my first-for-the-year yellow-green vireo.

We then moved up the road a little, 1 mile from villa Lapas precisely. At this site you will see a nice new restaurant with an amazing view to the gulf, tarcoles river and Carara in general, I had never been disappointed here! Yellow-throated toucans (former black mandibled) and fiery-billed aracary were seen almost simultaneously, then gartered trogon and later crested guan! rufous naped wren, baltimore oriole, yellow billed cacique,  hold on! not done yet! turquoise-browed motmot, blue black grossbeak, and the typical seedeaters and several more birds, I felt like I didnt want to leave the site, but it was time to move to Carara, it was 7:45am after all!

Philadelphia vireo

Philadelphia vireo

Squirrel cuckoo

Squirrel cuckoo

Gartered trogon, crested guan and fiery billed aracary.

Gartered trogon, crested guan and fiery billed aracary.


After paying our fees we drove 1 more mile to the river trail (best known as the lagoon trail) I prefer to bird the morning here for those dry (ier) forest species species since as the day warms up it offers good chances to see raptors, which otherwise would be missed since at the headquarter trails the forest is so thick and does not allow much views of the sky. Soonest we parked we got lucky with a pair of pale billed woodpeckers, the first 50 meters were a bit slow, but once reaching the first fig tree there was some activity, we got northern bentbill, clay colored thrush, we heard rufous tailed jacamar, royal flycatcher and streak chested antpitta, and missed a female orange-collared manakin, although 10 minutes later we got a goo looking male! After a few “regular” birds we worked hard to find a calling Baird’s trogon, our second trogon of the day!

Orange collared manakin, bairds trogon and long billed hermit

Orange collared manakin, bairds trogon and long billed hermit

For those who had never been to Carara and are planning a trip here, the lagoon trail is nice, fairly open trail, mostly shady but with some sunny patches, we did the “short cut” to the lagoon and looped back via the main trail, the short cut is only suggested with a guide as it is easy to take the wrong turn. On our way we saw white-whiskered puffbird, macaws of course, black bellied and rufous breasted wrens, dot winged antwrens (which are common here) golden hooded tanagers, plain xenops and various other birds. On our way back we got scrub greenlet, 2 black headed trogon and later near the exit a black throated trogon! at this point we had seen 4 out of 5 trogons species that occur here, slaty tailed trogon should not be that hard I said to Christine! its 11:00am after all!

Black headed trogon

Black headed trogon

scrub euphonia, a common dry forest specie

scrub euphonia, a common dry forest specie

At 11:15am after seen king vulture on a thermal as we drove to Tarcoles, we got to the Mangroves near the southern side of Tarcoles river mouth, here we got Panama Flycatcher, mangrove vireo, common black hawk, bare throated tiger heron, some peeps and birds associated to this habitat, then we got american pygmy kingfisher, and orange fronted parakeet, all which we only saw here.

Orange fronted parakeet, panama fc, common black-hawk and mangrove vireo.

Orange fronted parakeet, panama fc, common black-hawk and mangrove vireo.

american pygmy KF.

american pygmy KF.

After that we then went back to Carara, this time to cover the head quarter trails, now at 1:00pm we hoped to get the most out of it as Carara closes at 4:00pm (a bit too early in my opinion). We soon saw bicolored antbird and gray headed tanager, we knew it! army ants were there! although it seemed the flock (and ants) were a bit too far from the trail, fingers crossed for our return. Our priority was manakins tinamous and antpitta!

Great tinamou, scarlet macaw and gray headed tanager

Great tinamou, scarlet macaw and gray headed tanager, Carara is got to be about the best site in the west coast fro tinamou and antpitta.

We then continued to the famous “manakin baths” located on the Quebrada Bonita trail, and there it was! red capped manakin! both male and female. We waited for the blue crowned to show up but unfortunately it did not, we needed to head back as we hoped the ants would come down so we could get those nice ant specialists! Getting some birds such as white whiskered puffbird, macaws, streak chested antpitta, great tinamous and more along the way.


(Play the video in the highest resolution possible)

Finally as we returned out (3:20pm) we got the ant swarm come down the trail! time to enjoy the birds! we got pretty much all the common birds that join this fierce swarms, highlights included black-faced antthrush and northern barred woodcreeper.

Now, once out of Carara, and because there is always room for more birds we decided to stop at Los Sueños Marriot as I know there is a pair of thick-knees there as well as least grebes at the golf course, we did see them as well as southern lapwings and some herons on the ponds! Not every day you go to a gold course from any of the Marriott hotels to find a bird right?!

At the end we sat to work on today’s list and what a surprise! we counted 150 species total, this includes all the species that were actually seen, including the villa lapas road, the mangrove path at the river mouth of Tarcoles and Carara NP, it excludes species that were heard only such as green shrike-vireo, rufous tailed jacamar, royal flycatcher, slaty tailed trogon and others.

white whiskered puffbird

white whiskered puffbird



Carara and La Selva Biological station Christmas bird counts.

CBC (Christmas bird counts) are annual bird census practiced by volunteer birders and administrated by Audubon society. The data collected during this events is used for scientific purpose so bird population in different sites can be studied.

Another great thing of CBC is that not only you get to see excellent birds or even learn from those advanced or even beginning birders who also volunteer but you get to catch up with friends from other regions of the country or even make new friends!

This year I only had the opportunity to participate in 2 of them, although both in opposite sides of the country they have one thing in common, both offer the best lowland birding experience in the country, i.e Carara NP (Central Pacific bird count) at the Pacific side and OTS La Selva in the caribbean lowlands.

Both Bird-counts were dedicated to the memory of an excellent birder, guide, artist and my closest friend Roy Orozco (RIP).

Art by Roy Orozco

Art by Roy Orozco

Carara is located on the central Pacific side, with more than 400 species recorded on the historical CBC records (Ten counts celebrated). Birding Carara is always very productive as it is located on a transitional zone where the dry forest meets the tropical rain forest, therefore it is always exciting to go there no matter how many times I had guided there! For the CBC on December 15th our group was made of 5, Karen Castillo, Kassandra Villalobos, Andres Martinez, Oscar Herrera and myself and were in charge of the Lagoon trail and the Limonal road.

The lagoon trail is located is located 1.5km north of the park headquarters and offers great birds, mostly good for Furnarids, orange collared manakin (might be the best site at the park for this sp) Antbirds/Antshrikes/Antwrens, wrens, trogons, motmots, king vulture, macaws as the main must-sees of this trail.


Male gartered trogon (Formerly known as violaceous)

Male gartered trogon (Formerly known as violaceous)

The lagoon trail is closed from September to November as it floods, it is best birded from late December to April. Although consider that when it is semi-flooded is good for boat-billed heron. Boots are for rent with the local guides.

The limonal road, our second half of the day is little north of the Cerro lodge entrance, good for dry-forest species although birders staying at Cerro lodge might find Cerro road more productive, despite that we got about 84 species for the afternoon including some common spp such as cinnamon hummingbird, nutting’s flycatcher and white fronted parrot that one does not get commonly at the lagoon trail, King vulture was the highlight certainly.

stripe headed sparrow

stripe headed sparrow


Carara’s most emblematic bird, scarlet macaws.


A regular target at this trail, boat billed herons at Carara are best searched for at the end of the lagoon trail

A regular target at this trail, boat billed herons at Carara are best searched for at the end of the lagoon trail

La Selva Biological station, located in the Caribbean lowlands is Carara´s counterpart, birding La Selva is always impressive as must birders would agree, it is perhaps the best, accessible lowland birding in the country! The CBC here has been done since 1985, making this the oldest, and most constant birdcount in the neotropics with more than 5000 species in the records.

Our team lead by Jimmy Trejos, was sent to the Sendero Tres Rios 2750 STR and Sendero rivereño SR, the STR is a well done cement trail which allows to walk silently (so are most trails at La Selva), the habitat we were on ranged from advanced secondary forest, primary forest, Scrub, rivers, creeks, swamp inside the forest, it has it all!

The soonest the sun came out it was a madness! we soon got some of the common caribbean species such as red-throated ant-tanager, black-crowned antshrike, black capped pygmy-tyrant (which is fairly common here), honeycreepers, and so, so much more. The highlight of our morning was perhaps seeing 2 sunbitterns, calling quietly from the swamp, allowing good looks and even audio recordings!



white collared manakin, a very common manakin specie on this side

white collared manakin, a very common manakin specie on this side

Great green macaws are the rarest species of the 2 that occur in CR.

Great green macaws are the rarest species of the 2 that occur in CR.

I did have a great experience comparing both sites on these events and can tell I love both sites, clearly La Selva has a much more developed trail system which gives you tons of access to so many trails it is very hard to actually get to bird them all! I must thank the organizers for allowing me to participate and hope it is not the last time I get to volunteer on these bird-counts.

La Selva has so much diversity not just birds but everything! here a barred leaf-frog Cruziohyla calcarifer

La Selva has so much diversity not just birds but everything! here a barred leaf-frog Cruziohyla calcarifer, one of my favorite frogs of CR.





Birding Carara national park and Manuel Antonio area.

Birding Carara national park is ALWAYS productive, its geographic position and combination of habitats and its surrounding areas makes this place a must see to any birder visiting Costa Rica. Target species/specialties here range from antbirds-ant thrushes, wrens, ant pittas, many ground dwellers etc but as well as king vulture, macaws, trogons an more. In the Other hand, bird-watching Manuel Antonio national park is less productive and can yield very little birds, nonetheless there are GREAT birding hot spots near this famous park that are only frequented by 2 guides and are kept hidden from the average nature lover. This sites are Esquipulas and El rey marshes, as well as La Gallega river. All with very easy access and located within 30-40 minutes drive from Manuel Antonio.

Carara: as known by many, the most see of the central pacific. One of the best experience while birding Carara is indeed to encounter the army ants, this fierce ants will clean a spot out of insects, therefore all those known as “antbirds” will join the chaos of caused by the ants so they can catch what tries to escape from the ants.

Black faced antthrush

Black faced antthrush

Above is a black faced ant-thrush, a ground dweller and very-hard to find bird specie due to its camouflage. I photographed this individual while leading a tour to Carara on the lagoon trail (AKA river trail) on February 2nd with Douglas Boyd; a client I had the pleasure to bird with on February 9th 2014.  it is seen relatively often if known where to look for him.

Streak chested antpitta

This antpitta is the oh! ah! of many birders coming here, yes very hard to find as is normal of antpittas due to small size and often shy behavior. This bird was photographed on Feb 2nd while birding with MR and Ms Winter on the lagoon trail, but it is best looked for at the araceas trail or Quebrada bonita trail near main ranger station, as seen with Aaron Kortenhoven last Feb 10th. an antpitta covered by leafs!

rufous tailed jacamar, a common bird, seen at any trail, but more often at the lagoon trail.


Black hooded antshrike

Other birds commonly seen at Carara include trogons, toucans, few hummingbirds, wrens manakins and much more. One of the nice features of Carara is the fact that very few people visit this park, so it is never crowded (except for the main headquarters trails during the morning hours) and the few people who visit Carara are for the most part birders so it is very quiet here.

Other birding sites near Carara that should be birded by any vising Carara are the Bijagual road, the tarcoles river, Cerro lodge road and tarcoles River mouth mangroves. For this I plan to post separately later.

Red capped manakin, best seen at the baths at the araceas trail

A hard find! Marbled wood-quail.

Great tinamou, a common yet hard-to find bird, luckily this bird was taking a bath at Carara last Feb 18th while birding with David and Christine Northrup, a couple of birders who I had the pleasure to bird with on January 2013. Amazing birds we had!

Esquipulas: This mountains are only about 45 minutes to the east of Manuel Antonio national park, a great option with a good level of endemism such as fiery billed aracary, river side wren, black hooded antshrike, white crested coquette and more. Other specialties here are king vulture, barred hawk, black mandibled toucan, baird’s trogon, and the various species of honeycreepers. Esquipulas has a good location at the foothills of the central pacific, where some species of middle-higher elevation descend to during the early dry season, e.g elegant euphonia, three wattled bellbird and others.

Chestnut-mandibled toucan, formerly known as black mandibled T. Common at Esquipulas, however best chances for this specie is the afternoon.

Bird-watching Manuel Antonio national park could be disappointing to many serious birders due to the crowd that comes to this park, how ever, Esquipulas is indeed the best option for the birder visiting Manuel Antonio with family as the park is one of the best destinations for the family and nature lovers. Also, those birders seeking for an off the beaten path location can find Esquipulas very convenient, easy to feet on a schedule when birding locations such as Carara national park and Dota/Savegre region and do not want to do the long drive and would prefer to spend a night at Quepos/Manuel Antonio.

Barred hawk, mostly seen on flight. Among with king vulture, white hawk and black hawk are the highlights of the sky at Esquipulas.

Elegant euphonia







Carara NP. Christmas bird-count

4 days ago (Dec 15th) the 5th Carara national park Christmas bird-count was celebrated, in my opinion a well done activity with excellent logistics from my friend Johan Fernandez. My wife and I were sent to the rain-forest aerial tram near Jaco, our team was 6 total and had to opportunity to bird with excellent companion, Noemi Tomás G, Nancy Nelson, Dan Fender and Francisco C.

view from the tree top!


Our day yielded 108 species and a lifer for my and my wife; a juveile male western tanager, I know right! a western tanager…

western tanager

Northern barred woodcreeper at a small ant swarm found by Dan and Nacy

The tram is located about 4.5km north or Jaco, the road towards the entrance of the tram is very productive and can yield a good amount of species, including both types of toucans, wrens, jays, hummingbirds, tanagers, honeycreepers, tyrannids, woodpeckers, raptors, emberizids and much more, on the other hand the tram trip is good for canopy species, in past years I had seen the green shrike vireo extremely close, something really hard to achieve from the ground, unfortunately this time we were not lucky with it.


Marbled wood-quail, in my opinion this site is the best in the locality to find this specie.

Fasciated tiger-heron found towards the waterfall road, up the hill from the tram promises.

of course! toucans never miss the appointment!

Teleferico del pacifico, CR-P
Dec 15, 2014 4:45 AM – 3:45 PM
Protocol: Traveling
6.0 kilometer(s)
Comments:    Carara birdcount con Nohemi Tomás, Nancy Nelson, Dan Fender, Francisco C. and Karina Segura
108 species

Great Tinamou  1
Little Tinamou  1
Crested Guan  1
Marbled Wood-Quail  5
Fasciated Tiger-Heron  1
Bare-throated Tiger-Heron  3
Cattle Egret  1
Black Vulture  18
Turkey Vulture  13
Broad-winged Hawk  3
Gray Hawk  3
Short-tailed Hawk  1
Zone-tailed Hawk  2
Double-striped Thick-knee  2
Pale-vented Pigeon  3
Short-billed Pigeon  1
Inca Dove  2
White-tipped Dove  5
Squirrel Cuckoo  1
Groove-billed Ani  4
Common Pauraque  22
Spot-fronted Swift  4
Costa Rican Swift  2    thre might had been more, we just IDd this ones
White-necked Jacobin  2
Long-billed Hermit  1
Stripe-throated Hermit  1
Violet-headed Hummingbird  1
Scaly-breasted Hummingbird  9
Rufous-tailed Hummingbird  7
Blue-throated Goldentail  22
Slaty-tailed Trogon  1
Black-headed Trogon  1
Gartered Trogon  2
Black-throated Trogon  3
Blue-crowned Motmot  3
Fiery-billed Aracari  3
Black-mandibled Toucan  8
Red-crowned Woodpecker  2
Hoffmann’s Woodpecker  4
Lineated Woodpecker  1
Pale-billed Woodpecker  3
Crested Caracara  1
Yellow-headed Caracara  10
Orange-chinned Parakeet  23
White-crowned Parrot  28
Red-lored Parrot  2
Scarlet Macaw  10
Black-hooded Antshrike  5
Dot-winged Antwren  1
Chestnut-backed Antbird  8
Northern Barred-Woodcreeper  1
Cocoa Woodcreeper  2
Streak-headed Woodcreeper  3
Ochre-bellied Flycatcher  3
Paltry Tyrannulet  6
Common Tody-Flycatcher  6
Eye-ringed Flatbill  1
Yellow-olive Flycatcher  2
Golden-crowned Spadebill  3
Acadian Flycatcher  4
Bright-rumped Attila  1
Dusky-capped Flycatcher  2
Great Crested Flycatcher  6
Great Kiskadee  5
Boat-billed Flycatcher  3
Social Flycatcher  7
Streaked Flycatcher  1
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher  4
Blue-crowned Manakin  2
Orange-collared Manakin  1
Black-crowned Tityra  1
White-winged Becard  2
Rose-throated Becard  8
Yellow-throated Vireo  5
Philadelphia Vireo  7
Lesser Greenlet  15
Brown Jay  12
Rufous-naped Wren  13
Plain Wren  4
Riverside Wren  5
Wood Thrush  1
Clay-colored Thrush  8
Tennessee Warbler  31
Yellow Warbler  6
Chestnut-sided Warbler  6
Buff-rumped Warbler  1
Gray-headed Tanager  2
Blue-gray Tanager  6
Golden-hooded Tanager  11
Blue Dacnis  1
Red-legged Honeycreeper  17
Green Honeycreeper  8
Blue-black Grassquit  3
Variable Seedeater  2
Yellow-faced Grassquit  1
Buff-throated Saltator  4
Orange-billed Sparrow  3
Black-striped Sparrow  1
Summer Tanager  15
Scarlet Tanager  1    a non breeding individual was found, feeding on tree branch about 3 meters above ground
Western Tanager  1
Rose-breasted Grosbeak  1
Blue-black Grosbeak  1
Melodious Blackbird  4
Baltimore Oriole  9
Yellow-crowned Euphonia  7
Yellow-throated Euphonia  5
Spot-crowned Euphonia  8

View this checklist online at


Carara birding, the spot for the antbirds in the central pacific. Birding with Laurie Mattle.

As well known by many, Carara national park is by far one of the best sites in the pacific for antbirds and allies. Today I had the opportunity to share a full day in the field with Laurie, a client whom I enjoyed to spend a day in a nature tour in Manuel Antonio about 2 years ago. Now as a birder, thing were very different and what a day we got! An impressive 77 at the end of the day!

After I picked her and her friends up from Los Sueños at Herradura we headed for Bijagual road, an excellent birding hotspot near Carara, a convenient place to spend an hour or so before the park opens.

There we saw: 24 species total

Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture
Fiery-billed Aracari
Black-mandibled Toucan
Scarlet Macaw
Barred Antshrike
Black-hooded Antshrike
Buff-throated Foliage-gleaner
Acadian Flycatcher
Great Crested Flycatcher
Great Kiskadee
Brown Jay
Rufous-naped Wren
Tennessee Warbler
Yellow Warbler
Blue-gray Tanager
Golden-hooded Tanager
Red-legged Honeycreeper
Blue-black Grassquit
Variable Seedeater
Buff-throated Saltator
Orange-billed Sparrow
Blue-black Grosbeak
Great-tailed Grackle

Blue black grosbeak

Barred antshrike, a really beautiful and common antshrike found at Carara.

After that we went to Carara to try for the lagoon trail, were despite the mud and water birding was good here, highlights were golden crowned spadebill, black throated trogon, ruddy tailed flycatcher and Orange collared manakin.

Black Vulture  X
Turkey Vulture  X
White-tipped Dove  1
Long-billed Hermit  4
Purple-crowned Fairy  1
Scaly-breasted Hummingbird  1    Pointed to Laurie By Mauricio
Black-throated Trogon  1
Rufous-tailed Jacamar  2
Pale-billed Woodpecker  2
Black-hooded Antshrike  X
Dot-winged Antwren  X
Dusky Antbird  X
Chestnut-backed Antbird  X
Cocoa Woodcreeper  X
Streak-headed Woodcreeper  X
Plain Xenops  X
Golden-crowned Spadebill  X
Ruddy-tailed Flycatcher  2
Bright-rumped Attila  1
Great Crested Flycatcher  1
Streaked Flycatcher  3
Orange-collared Manakin  1
Yellow-throated Vireo  1
Lesser Greenlet  X
Rufous-breasted Wren  X
Riverside Wren  X
Clay-colored Thrush  X
Tennessee Warbler  X
Yellow Warbler  X
Chestnut-sided Warbler  X
Spot-crowned Euphonia  1

Chestnut backed antbird, a very common antbird at Carara

male Dot-winged antwren. there is no day you go to Carara and dont get to see this guy!

male Black throated trogon

rufous tailed jacamar

After Lunch we did the Quebrada bonita trail so we could get to the bird baths before the park closes, here highlights were Blue crowned manakin, green shrike-vireo, slaty tailed trogon and collared forest falcon.

33 species

Squirrel Cuckoo  1
Costa Rican Swift  X
Steely-vented Hummingbird  1
Slaty-tailed Trogon  1
White-whiskered Puffbird  1
Pale-billed Woodpecker  2
Collared Forest-Falcon  1
Black-hooded Antshrike  X
Dot-winged Antwren  X
Chestnut-backed Antbird  X
Wedge-billed Woodcreeper  X
Cocoa Woodcreeper  X
Plain Xenops  1
Buff-throated Foliage-gleaner  1
Ochre-bellied Flycatcher  X
Eye-ringed Flatbill  1
Great Kiskadee  X
Boat-billed Flycatcher  X
Streaked Flycatcher  X
Tropical Kingbird  X
Blue-crowned Manakin  1
Lesser Greenlet  X
Green Shrike-Vireo  1
Rufous-breasted Wren  X
Tennessee Warbler  X
Yellow Warbler  X
Buff-rumped Warbler  X
White-shouldered Tanager  X
Blue-gray Tanager  X
Palm Tanager  X
Red-legged Honeycreeper  X
Buff-throated Saltator  X
Yellow-crowned Euphonia  1


white whiskered puffbird


Plus some we saw on the road

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck  X
Crested Guan  1
Magnificent Frigatebird  X
Brown Pelican  X
Bare-throated Tiger-Heron  2
Great Egret  1
Cattle Egret  1
Common Black Hawk  1
Gray Hawk  1
Crested Caracara  X
Scarlet Macaw  X



Birding Manuel Antonio area and Carara, 2 full days with Mike and Suzzane Britton. Part 2

This day (March 10th) we went to Carara for a full day of birding, after our other full day at Manuel Antonio surrounding areas (see here). Carara is only 1.5 hrs drive but along the way we stopped in 3 spots along the way that are worth stopping for, as I knew one of Suzanne’s target was the anhinga, and guess what?!

Anhinga, its very possible to find it between the towns of Parrita and Quepos, 14km norht of Quepos, on swamps on the right hand side (as you head north)


Roseate Spoonbill

Ringed Kingfisher

Belted Kingfisher

Amazon Kingfisher

Red-lored Parrot

Yellow Warbler

Our next stop was at the lagoon near Hermosa beach, here we saw:

red lored parrot (yellow cheecked raze)

Playa Hermosa. Lagoon at the end of the road, CR-P
Mar 10, 2014 6:30 AM – 7:15 AM
Protocol: Stationary
32 species

Wood Stork X seen a few KM before site
Magnificent Frigatebird X
Bare-throated Tiger-Heron X
Great Blue Heron X
Great Egret X
Black Vulture X
Turkey Vulture X
Gray Hawk X
Northern Jacana X
Western Sandpiper X
Groove-billed Ani X
Crested Caracara X
Yellow-headed Caracara X
Crimson-fronted Parakeet X
Scarlet Macaw X seen 2 km north of site
Red-lored Parrot X
Common Tody-Flycatcher X
Great Kiskadee X
Boat-billed Flycatcher X
Tropical Kingbird X
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher X
Black-crowned Tityra X
Gray-breasted Martin X
Mangrove Swallow X
Tennessee Warbler X
Gray-crowned Yellowthroat X
Red-legged Honeycreeper X
Blue-black Grassquit X
Variable Seedeater X
White-collared Seedeater X
Melodious Blackbird X
Great-tailed Grackle X

PN Carara–Sendero La Meandrica, CR-P
Mar 10, 2014 8:15 AM – 2:30 PM
Protocol: Traveling
2.0 mile(s)
50 species

Lagoon at the end of the trail, The lagoon trail is known in spanish as Laguna meandrica, oftentimes known by British and europen birders as the river trail.

Bare-throated Tiger-Heron X
Tricolored Heron 1
Green Heron X
Boat-billed Heron X
Black Vulture X
Turkey Vulture X
King Vulture X
Gray Hawk 2
Northern Jacana 1
Short-billed Pigeon X heard
White-tipped Dove X
Squirrel Cuckoo 1
Long-billed Hermit X
Scaly-breasted Hummingbird 3
Violet Sabrewing X
Rufous-tailed Hummingbird X
Slaty-tailed Trogon X
Gartered Trogon 1
Turquoise-browed Motmot 3
Green Kingfisher X
Rufous-tailed Jacamar X HEARD ONLY
Scarlet Macaw X
Barred Antshrike X
Black-hooded Antshrike X
Dusky Antbird X
Chestnut-backed Antbird X
Wedge-billed Woodcreeper 1
Cocoa Woodcreeper X
Plain Xenops X
Ochre-bellied Flycatcher X
Yellow-olive Flycatcher X
Royal Flycatcher X
Bright-rumped Attila 1
Dusky-capped Flycatcher X
Great Kiskadee X
Streaked Flycatcher X
Tropical Kingbird X
Orange-collared Manakin X
Lesser Greenlet X
Black-bellied Wren 1
Tropical Gnatcatcher 1
Clay-colored Thrush X
Northern Waterthrush X
Tennessee Warbler X
Yellow Warbler X
Chestnut-sided Warbler X
White-shouldered Tanager X
Golden-hooded Tanager X
Blue Dacnis 1
Orange-billed Sparrow X

The lagoon trail is known as the best birding spot in this park and shoub be visited when you come to this park. Notice this trail is un-doable during part of the rainy season.

Plain xenops

White shouldered tanager

Not the best photo but below is a yellow olive flycatcher, its sibilant tssip similar to that of eyering flatbill is commonly heard in this trail.

A nice royal flycatcher, the nest is doing great even do its right at the middle of the trail and it has to suffer photographers and people simply walking right by them, thy seem to be “ok”. See Royal flycathers nesting in Carara post

A well know lek of orange collared manakins is establish at this trail for a few years now, here what we got, I am sure Suzanne’s pictures were better!

at the lek

And here the grand finale! Suzanne’s favorite bird and one of her most wanted, boat billed heron.

After this wonderful morning we then went out for lunch so we could get some energy for the rest of the afternoon.

During Lunch time

Magnificent Frigatebird  X
Neotropic Cormorant  X
Brown Pelican  X

Our retun to Carara was more specific and basically consisted to reach the small creek at the araceas trail where birds come to take a batch before night, so we had to be here about 4:00pm where we saw:

PN Carara–Sendero Quebrada Bonita, CR-P
Mar 10, 2014 4:00 PM – 5:45 PM
Protocol: Traveling
1.0 kilometer(s)
Comments: Birding tour with Mike and Suzanne Britton. Ottowa, CA.
20 species

Great Tinamou X HEARD ONLY
Long-billed Hermit X
Black-throated Trogon X HEARD ONLY
Black-mandibled Toucan 1
Mealy Parrot X HEARD ONLY
Black-hooded Antshrike X
Dusky Antbird 1
Chestnut-backed Antbird 3
Black-faced Antthrush 1
Sulphur-rumped Flycatcher 1
Red-capped Manakin 5
Blue-crowned Manakin 2
Northern Schiffornis 1 FORMERLY KNOWN AS thrushlike schiffornis or thrushlike manakin
Riverside Wren 2
Wood Thrush X
Clay-colored Thrush X
Black-and-white Warbler 1
Chestnut-sided Warbler X
White-shouldered Tanager X
Orange-billed Sparrow 4


While to Suzanne and Mike liked the red capped manakin the best for this spot to me it was no doubt the northern schiffornis AKA thrushlike schiffornis.

Northern schiffornis

A great birding week part 2

ON MONDAY 13th, John, Marcia and I went to Carara for a full day of bird-watching. On our way we stopped on a lagoon at Playa Hermosa as this spot often yields some good birds during a quick time. We saw here a little more than 20 species in about 30 minutes, a must do stop to anyone heading to Carara from Quepos/MA area.

A gray hawk caught breakfast just in front of us

Common black hawk

Once in Carara we took the lagoon trail AKA Meandrica trail or river trail. That its well known as the best birding place in the entire park, we birded from 8:00am until 11:45am when we walked out for lunch, these more than 3 hrs were very productive and saw about 47 species:

Wood Stork X
Black Vulture X
Turkey Vulture X
White-winged Dove X
Inca Dove X
Squirrel Cuckoo X
White-collared Swift X
Long-billed Hermit X
Stripe-throated Hermit X
Blue-throated Goldentail X
Slaty-tailed Trogon X
Black-throated Trogon X
Turquoise-browed Motmot X
Black-mandibled Toucan X
Hoffmann’s Woodpecker X
Crested Caracara X
Yellow-headed Caracara X
Scarlet Macaw X
Barred Antshrike X
Black-hooded Antshrike X
Dot-winged Antwren X
Dusky Antbird X
Bicolored Antbird X
Wedge-billed Woodcreeper X
Northern Barred-Woodcreeper X
Cocoa Woodcreeper X
Streak-headed Woodcreeper X
Plain Xenops X
Northern Bentbill X
Common Tody-Flycatcher X
Ruddy-tailed Flycatcher X
Great Crested Flycatcher X
Great Kiskadee X
Boat-billed Flycatcher X
Streaked Flycatcher X
Tropical Kingbird X
Orange-collared Manakin X
Red-eyed Vireo X
Rufous-naped Wren X
Rufous-breasted Wren X
Tennessee Warbler X
Yellow Warbler X
Chestnut-sided Warbler X
White-shouldered Tanager X
Blue-gray Tanager X
Baltimore Oriole X
Yellow-crowned Euphonia X

Not the best picture as it dosnt show good colors, but here is a female Black throated trogon

The lagoon trail was excellent as usual we saw a few of the common species such as black hooded antstrike dot- winged antwren, some lesser Greenlets, Rufus breasted wrens, plain xenops and many others. We even got to a spot where there were some army ants, the swarm has past and very few were left but still we got some ants specialists such as bicolored antbird.

After lunch we came back to the cement trail for some quick birding and saw 19 more species.

The cement trail is completely renewed as a result of several months of work to make carara  the lieder park on handicap-accessibility, a job well done!

%d bloggers like this: