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Birding Rainmaker park. Quepos – Manuel Antonio.

   If you are birding at Manuel Antonio National Park and have already visited the park itself, El Rey, and Esquipulas but still you would like to birds other surrounding areas you might find a visit to Rainmaker park convenient!
   Rainmaker is in nature park with a well-maintained trail system including little more than a dozen hanging bridges on the canopy of the primary rain-forest, which in my opinion can yield some good looks to species such as trogons, bright-rumped Attila, and others which otherwise you would see their under parts from the forest floor. However, this site will not produce big lists, I will rather think of it as a place for the birder visiting with family or non-birding friends so you can feed two birds with the same seed! I.E enjoy the trails and waterfalls and also get 2 or 3 birds to your list.
The road to Rainmaker, the gravel road is usually in good condition, a sedan-type-vehicle should be able to get you there no problem.
   The trails are relatively steep but all with some nice steps and side railing, thus making it easier, I  don’t suggest to bring telescopes or even a tripod for your camera, not a good idea (yes today I carried mine) when you are in this kind of trails, binoculars are the key here.
   Also, I would invest more time at the hanging bridges trails rather than those near the streams and waterfalls, it is a bit noisy and the water sound wont let you hear the birds, however do look for buff-rumped warbler and fasciated tiger-heron at the river. On the smaller creeks look out for sulphur-rumped flycatcher and riverside wren. And hey! good luck (REAL good luck!) with the pair of crested-owls who typically roost before the first hanging bridges!
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Fasciated tiger-heron, unlike the common bare throated T.H. this one favors fast running creeks or rivers instead of canals and lagoons. (  Picture for illustration)

 

Today we got a nice wood thrush, Sitting quietly in the dark understory of the forest.

 Target species:
Great and little tinamous, Fasciated tiger-heron, King vulture, Gray headed kite, white-crested coquette (at the gardens) trogons, bright rumped attila, red-capped and blue-crowned manakins, yellow-bellied tyrannulet, sulphur rumped flycatcher,tawny-crowned greenlet, buff-rumped warbler, blue-black grosbeak. Scaled antpitta has been seen here in the past!
Suggestions: Park fee is about $20 per person. The administration of this park quite is interesting, while the trails are nicely kept all the time, its hard to speak of operating hours, normally you will see staff at the entrances after 7:30am and will leave about 1:30pm, but the gate does not close so you can leave after that. If you enter and do not see personnel at the trail entrance, you can pay the fee at the house located right next to the gate. You need to sign a waiver.
oh! why it’s called Rainmaker? let this picture taken today Jan 30th explain, this is CR’s summer months!
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San Gerardo de Dota, Savegre lodge, Quetzal paradise and the Communications towers

After a pretty busy holiday season we finally had a day to go birding l, so on the 4th of January my wife Karina and my great Friend Roy Orozco went to the highlands of Costa Rica to look for the species of that area for our annual list, and why not some lifers as well!

Mountains at San Gerardo

The areas we covered where San Gerardo Area, specifically Savegre lodge, then Paraiso Quetzal and the communication towers at the Cerro de la Muerte, yes! Volcano junco and Timberline wren were on the bucket list.

long tailed silky-flycatcher.

Our morning hours were good in Savegre lodge, we got the common birds of the area, i.e volcano hummingbird, yellow thighed finch, large footed finch and more, then we when to a spot near Truchas real to look for spotted wood-quail, a bird I havent seen and got better! An scalled antpitta, a bird I had seen once only last year at Rainmaker near Manuel Antonio, but this time the bird was relatively close and granted great views!

Scaled antpitta, a hard bird to get due to typical antpitta’s secretive behavior.

This is the entance to Truchas reales, the place we got the antpitta is 50 meters down the road from this entrance (folow the sign Hotel Suria), cross the small bridge and then take a left, follow the improvised path that goes parallel to the river for about 30 meters, antpitta hangs out here.

Sulphur-winged parakeet, one of the 2 only parakeets of CR highlands

Yellowish flycatcher

Yellow winged vireo, a common resident and endemic vireo on the highlands of CR

Here we also got ruddy capped nightingale-thrush a common bird of this elevation which I had never seen, probably one of those cases where you go “oh its just a nightingale thrush again”.

Ruddy capped nightingale-thrush

 

Savegre river

Gray-breasted wood-wren

By middday and after lunch we went to the Quetzal paradize, where birding was really slow and didnt get too many birds, just the common ones of this locality, maybe the zeledonia AKA wrenthrush was the highlight, this is one of the best sites I know for Zeledonia as any time I come here we get to see it or heard it.

black faced solitaire

sooty-capped chlorospingus

Ochraceous wren

nope! that is not a mustache! just the wings of this collared redstar’s lunch!

Black billed nightingale-thrush

The last stop was we did was at the telecommunication towers, here we got volcano junco, peg billed finch (lifer for Roy) and timberline wren which was a lifer for Karina and I

Mission accomplished! This stop is highly suggested for any birder driving this road, we got the birds we were looking for in about 10 minutes!

2014, great year of birding. A top ten of my best birds.

2014 had been no doubt a great year for birding, lifers, new species for CR, vagrants, rarities, simply couldn’t ask for more. During this year I also had the opportunity to meet excellent CR birders as well as foreigners, with whom I had the pleasure to bird with, I thank them for using my services during this year.

I am thankful for the companion of my wife Karina S. on the field, as well as my excellent friend Roy Orozco who has always been there in the battle field and his wife Magaly, and of course! our friend Johan Fernandez who has shared knowledge and time at the field with us.

In this post I want to highlight a top ten of the best birds I got this year, some of the birds featured here deserve to be here either because they are rare, vagrants or simply quality lifers, those “simple” lifers that are common within their distribution are not included.

Now without further ado:

10- Sedge wren: (No picture).

A specie with a critical status due to its extremely small habitat which has been declining over the years. A bird which I saw on December 10th, 2013 at Lagunas de Doña Ana, Cartago, but this year we got 2 different individuals at 2 different sites; Lagunas de Dona Ana and at Paraiso de Cartago, near the RTV headquarters.

9- Brown billed scythebill: (No picture)

I saw this bird at Altamira de Bioley, At Parque Internacional La Amistad on October 1st, 2014 during a trip we did with Roy O. and Johan F. We were looking for it as well as bran colored Flycatcher, spotted wood-quail and more.

8- Red billed tropic bird:

Red billed tropicbird, picture taken at Panama

A bird I really wanted to see during our trip to Panama on May 8th 2014, we got good looks at Swan kay AKA isla pajaros, we also got to see one in Quepos, Costa Rica during a pelagic trip we took on September 3rd.

7- Ocellated crake: (No picture).

I got this bird at Durika on September 16th, where its well known to be found, boy! this bird is extremely hard get as it is very small and lives well hidden under tall grass.

6- Yellow billed cotinga:

One of the most endangered species of birds of CR, endemic to CR and Panama, possibly extirpated in Panama. Seen at Rio Rincon de Osa. Nov 21st.

5- Yellow headed Blackbird:

Yellow headed blackbird

A bird not reported in CR since 1950’s, we got this one at Coto 47 on the 26th of October with Roy O. back then my wife couldnt go so I then took her on my second trip this time accompanied with Johan F. as well. Thanks to Leo Garrigues and Kevin Easley for the report.

 

4- Scaled antpitta:

This beautiful antpitta was seen on February 24th at Rainmaker, near Manuel Antonio, then I called it “then best bird of the year” not knowing what was cumming for us later on.

3-Rosy thrush-tanager:

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A bird that is considered common to uncommon in the southern pacific. Really wanted to see this bird for a few years now and tried a trip to Durika on Nov 3, 2013 with no luck,  then my wife and I got the bird at Panama, at the pipe line road and Metropolitan park several times, and the bird cooperated a lot, however we tried Durika again on Set 16th 2014 and finally got it for our CR list, oh boy that bird is hard to see! Considered by R. Garrigues as the hardest-to-see in CR.

2- Inca tern:

 

I just love this tern, my favorite of all terns, a vagrant from south America, first reported in northern pacific CR during the months of December and Januray, 2 times only, and then reported in Quepos by a local catamaran tour guide on May 22nd. Next morning during a tour to MANP clients showed me this picture of a bird the guide had never seen before, I couldn’t believe my eyes!, we booked a tour with the exact same company my clients were with and after long time searching the bird came to our boat towards the very ending of the tour, we are just the luckiest guys!

1 –yellow backed oriole:

A new specie for our country, found by my wife Karina at my mother’s town/house! at Portalon, near Quepos on Oct 14th 2014.

Interestingly this bird specie is found from Mexico to Colombia, Venezuela and Guiana, but until now it has never been recorded in CR.

Thank you all for checking my humble blog during this year, hoping that you had found some helpful information here for your birding in CR, during this year, now I am looking forward to the next year hoping that this year is better than the one that is about to end.

Happy birding and happy new year!

Johan Chaves

 

Johan Chaves

Johan Chaves

 

 

 

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.

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