Blog Archives

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

 

 

Advertisements

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 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
X
Turkey Vulture
3
Fiery-billed Aracari
2
Black-mandibled Toucan
X
Scarlet Macaw
1
Barred Antshrike
1
Black-hooded Antshrike
1
Buff-throated Foliage-gleaner
1
Acadian Flycatcher
2
Great Crested Flycatcher
X
Great Kiskadee
2
Brown Jay
X
Rufous-naped Wren
X
Tennessee Warbler
X
Yellow Warbler
X
Blue-gray Tanager
2
Golden-hooded Tanager
X
Red-legged Honeycreeper
X
Blue-black Grassquit
1
Variable Seedeater
2
Buff-throated Saltator
X
Orange-billed Sparrow
1
Blue-black Grosbeak
X
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)

Anhinga

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: