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Costa Rica Trip Report

J une 2014 Andy Walker 1

Costa Rica Birding Trip Report

J une 7

Andy Walker
http:/ / awbirder.blogspot.co.uk

Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, Costa Rica
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Outline Itinerary
This two week birding tour of Costa Rica set about visiting many different habitats in the incredibly
bird rich country the size of Wales in search of a number of sought after endemic and near endemic
species. This was a tour I guided back in 2004.

Following is a brief summary of the daily schedule from this tour with accommodation also listed:

Day 1: International flight from UK, evening arrival in San J ose. Night Bougainvillea Hotel.
Day 2: Pre-breakfast birding in Bougainvillea Hotel Grounds. Drive to La Paz Waterfall Gardens for
lunch. Continue to Selva Verde Lodge. Night Selva Verde Lodge.
Day 3: La Selva Biological Station. Night Selva Verde Lodge.
Day 4: La Selva environs. Night Selva Verde Lodge.
Day 5: Braulio Carrillo National Park. Continue to Rancho Naturalista. Night Rancho Naturalista.
Day 6: Full day birding Rancho Naturalista. Night Rancho Naturalista.
Day 7: Morning birding Rancho Naturalista. Afternoon birding Tuis Valley. Night Rancho
Day 8: Morning birding Tapanti National Park. Continue to Savegre. Night Savegre.
Day 9: Full day birding Savegre. Night Savegre.
Day 10: Drive to Villa Lapas. Afternoon birding Villa Lapas area. Night Villa Lapas.
Day 11: Full day birding Tarcol environs. Night Villa Lapas.
Day 12: Full day birding Carara National Park. Night Villa Lapas.
Day 13: Morning birding Carara National Park. Afternoon birding Tarcol environs. Night Villa Lapas.
Day 14: Drive to Airport for International Flight.
Day 15: Arrive in UK.

Below is a daily report from the trip. As I was guiding a group on this tour I didnt really get the time
for much photography so some of the pictures in this report are taken on my many other trips in the
country, most are digi-scoped.

Daily Log

Day 1

The day was spent travelling from the UK to Costa Rica. On arrival to San J ose, Costa Rica in the
evening we transferred to the nearby Hotel Bougainvillea for our overnight stop.

Day 2

Pre-breakfast birding around the grounds of the Bougainvillea produced some very good views of
birds such as Blue-crowned Motmot, White-eared Ground-Sparrow and the sought after and localised
Prevosts Ground-Sparrow. The grounds also provided a very good introduction to some of the more
commonly found species present in the country that were to be recorded almost daily during the tour
such as Rufous-tailed Hummingbird, Blue-grey Tanager, Great Kiskadee and the national bird of Costa
Rica, Clay-coloured Robin, a drab thrush with a beautiful song that soon becomes very familiar!

After breakfast we set off to La Paz Waterfall Gardens driving up between Volcans Barva and Poas.
En-route we made one productive stop-off that produced our first Blue-throated Toucanet being
mobbed by Long-tailed Silky-Flycatchers and Sulphur-bellied Flycatchers. On arrival at the waterfall
gardens we came to grips with some incredible hummingbirds including the first endemic of the trip,
Coppery-headed Emerald, with males and females of this species showing closely on the many
feeders. Other hummingbirds present at this location included Violet Sabrewing, Green and Brown
Violet-ears, Green-crowned Brilliant, Purple-throated Mountain-gem, Magnificent Hummingbird and
two Green-fronted Lancebill, one somewhat confused with how to feed when perched on the
hummingbird feeders!!

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It wasnt only hummingbirds that provided good views here; we also had incredibly close views of
Silver-throated Tanager, Yellow-thighed Finch and Prong-billed Barbet all feeding on bananas on the
bird tables! However it was during our lunch that provided the most fascinating bird, a juvenile
Ornate Hawk-Eagle that drifted low over a ridge before landing in view for a few minutes before
gliding out of sight once again.

After leaving the waterfall gardens to continue our journey to Selva Verde Lodge a few strategic
roadside stops produced some astounding birds such as three Barred Hawks, our first Crimson-
collared and Passerinis Tanagers, American Dipper, White-naped Brush-Finch, White-bellied
Mountain-gem, Grey-crowned Yellowthroat and most impressive of all a King Vulture cruising along a
nearby ridge giving incredibly close-up views of this master of the skies.

On arrival at Selva Verde Lodge in the Caribbean Lowlands late afternoon we made our way to the
Rio Sarapiqui, the river that cuts the lodge grounds in two and a place that over the next few days
would produce some incredible memories for us.

Blue-grey Tanager (left) and Blue-crowned Motmot (right)

Day 3

An hour around our rooms pre-breakfast produced many new species, the highlights being Ringed
and Amazon Kingfishers, Rufous Mourner, Bright-rumped Attila, male White-collared Manakin, Streak-
headed Woodcreeper, Masked Tityra and Cinnamon Becard. Our first Keel-billed Toucan and
Sunbittern vied for attention as we made our way to breakfast, a good way to start the day!

A full day was spent birding in the La Selva Biological Station grounds. A day spent here is a truly
remarkable experience; it is not only the birds that form highlights but also the plants and other
animals. We were not disappointed with our time here and had incredible views of Great Tinamou,
Collared Forest-Falcon, Squirrel Cuckoo, Grey-rumped Swift, Western Long-tailed Hermit, Slaty-tailed
Trogon, Collared Aracari, Black-mandibled Toucan, Broad-billed Motmot, Rufous-winged Woodpecker,
Northern Barred Woodcreeper, Fasciated Antshrike, the miniscule Black-capped Pygmy-Tyrant,
Dusky-faced Tanager, Olive-backed Euphonia, Shining Honeycreeper and the incredible Montezuma
Oropendola, whose bubbling call was heard throughout the forest. Non-avian highlights included
Green Iguana, Basilisk Lizard, Strawberry Poison-Dart Frog, Central American Agouti, Tarantula sp,
Golden Orb Spider and Bullet, Leaf-Cutter and Fire Ants. After spending a day in this intense place
we were all impressed by the diversity of the ecosystem we had walked within. On our return to Selva
Verde lodge we came across a Brown-throated Three-toed Sloth hanging about in the trees, this
combined with a fly-over of five Great Green Macaws proved a fitting finale to the day

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Day 4

The day was spent birding the La Selva environs. A pre-breakfast walk around the Selva Verde Lodge
grounds brought more new birds, this time in the form of Olive-throated Parakeet, White-crowned
Parrot, Lineated Woodpecker, Green-breasted Mango, Violet-headed Hummingbird, Bronze-tailed
Plumeleteer, Bay Wren and both Keel-billed and Black-mandibled Toucans.

First stop on this mornings route was the La Selva entrance road, a very interesting walk that
produced many good birds. The highlights being Anhinga, Grey Hawk, Blue Ground-Dove, Red-lored
Parrot, Striped Cuckoo, Pied Puffbird, Rufous-winged Woodpecker, Plain Xenops, Barred Antshrike,
Yellow Tyrannulet, Canebrake Plain Wren, Black-striped Sparrow, Thick-billed Seed-Finch and Black-
faced Grosbeak.

Lunch produced tantalising views of a young male Black-crested Coquette that unfortunately did not
hang around long enough for all to see well.

Post lunch we moved to El Gavilan Lodge grounds where some of the expected species were not
evident, possibly due to a great deal of storm damage that had obviously occurred recently.
However, this did not dampen our spirits as we watched both a juvenile and an adult Long-tailed
Tyrant, a pair of Rufous-tailed J acamars, Plain-coloured Tanager and probably the highlight of the
day, a pair of Snowy Cotinga at close range. We had amazing views of this pair, the snow-white
plumage of the male bird glowing in the face of an approaching storm cloud.

The storm approached during the late afternoon so we made our way back to Selva Verde Lodge and
the Sunbittern River. Again we were not disappointed with views of another Sunbittern and a
Fasciated Tiger-Heron both feeding in front of us at the same time. It was during this time that one
of the mammalian highlights of the trip occurred, a Neotropical River Otter sat in the river right in
front of us eating a huge catfish.


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Day 5

An early start this morning took us to the Braulio Carrillo National Park and the Quebrada Gonzalez
trail system. En-route we stopped off at a flooded field which produced some good birding for an
hour with highlights including Pale-vented Pigeon, Roadside Hawk, Bat Falcon, Muscovy Duck, Green
Ibis, American Purple Gallinule and Giant Cowbird.

Once at Braulio it wasnt long before we started to connect with mixed feeding flocks and new birds
started arriving thick and fast, especially when we found a set of fruiting trees. Highlight birds here
included Black-faced Grosbeak, Tawny-crested Tanager, White-throated Shrike-Tanager, Ashy-
throated Bush-Tanager, Tawny-capped Euphonia, Emerald Tanager, Speckled Tanager and Green
Shrike-Vireo. Another mixed feeding flock moved through the undergrowth of the forest. Species
recorded in this particular flock included Striped Woodhaunter, Russet Antshrike, White-shouldered
Tanager, Spotted and Wedge-billed Woodcreepers, White-breasted Wood-Wren, Stripe-breasted
Wren and Masked Tityra.

Other species found within the forest included three Black-crested Coquettes, White-whiskered
Puffbird, Black-headed Nightingale-Thrush, Rufous Motmot and another area speciality, Lattice-tailed
Trogon. A great forest experience, made especially memorable by the family troop of Mantled Howler
Monkeys that took a shine to us!

After leaving the National Park we headed for our next lodgings at Rancho Naturalista at mid-
elevation on the Caribbean Slope. One stop for a landscape panoramic photographic opportunity
produced a staggering view of an American Swallow-tailed Kite feeding on the wing serenely gliding
around with sheer ease, seemingly unaware of the group below gazing up in awe of this wondrous
bird. An instant favourite, and one of my favourite birds in the world!

On arrival at Rancho late afternoon we checked in and made our way to the famous balcony where
we watched the sun go down excited by the prospect of more new and unusual birds over the next
few days.

Day 6

We made our way to the balcony at dawn where the feeders were already filled with bananas. Over
the two hours before breakfast many species were observed coming close in to feed. Highlights off
the balcony included Long-billed Starthroat, Hoffmanns and Golden-olive Woodpecker, Montezuma
and Chestnut-headed Oropendolas, Black-throated Wren, Collared Aracari, Golden-hooded Tanager,
Yellow-green Vireo and a family party of Grey-headed Chachalaca. All of the above set in front of
staggering views of Volcans Turrialba and Irazu.

After breakfast we entered the forest area where we made our way to the Hummingbird forest
feeders where we came to grips with many new species such as Violet-crowned Woodnymph, Green
Hermit, Green Thorntail, Band-tailed Barbthroat and the area speciality Snowcap. We found a mixed
feeding flock moving through one of the trail systems that brought a feast of new birds thick and fast,
Olive Tanagers led the way closely followed by Smoky-brown Woodpecker, Buff-throated Foliage-
gleaner, Spotted Woodcreeper, Slaty Antwren, Russet Antshrike, and Ruddy-tailed and Tawny-
chested Flycatchers. Once the flock had passed us on their way down the valley yet more interesting
birds were seen including Rufous-tailed J acamar, Rufous Motmot, Black-headed Tody-Flycatcher and
Scale-crested Pygmy-Tyrant.

After lunch we went back into the forest to see what else we could find and we were not
disappointed with two Zone-tailed Hawks and an American Swallow-tailed Kite accompanying a large
flock of Black and Turkey Vultures. Other noteworthy species recorded included Crested Guan,
Spotted Antbird, Giant Cowbird, Green Honeycreeper and Red-throated Ant-Tanager.

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Day 7

Another early start was split between the balcony and the white light area that had been set up
overnight to attract in some of the numerous insects present in the area, and what a show there was.
A huge Harlequin Beetle sat on the corner of the white-zone while a Bulls-eye Silk-Moth and a Prey
Mantis were also present, along with a myriad of crazily decorated moths and insects twisting our
imagination in every way possible.

Further striking birds were observed off the balcony including a nest-building pair of Common Tody-
Flycatcher, Ochre-bellied Flycatcher and Tropical Parula. The good thing about birding off the
balcony at Rancho is that there is a large number of species that come daily but there are also very
many species that are a great deal more irregular, like the Long-billed Starthroat seen the previous
day. Today was no exception to this rule with a pair of Yellow-throated Euphonia present.

The morning walk into the forest produced yet more phenomenal species and incredible views of
them. We saw male White-ruffed and White-crowned Manakins feeding and leking, looking like small
black and white tennis balls. We also caught up with Plain Antvireo, Checker-throated and Dot-
winged Antwrens feeding in hanging dead leaves with a flock of Lesser Greenlet, Golden-crowned
Warblers and Plain Xenops. Other intriguing forest birds observed well included Stripe-breasted
Wren, White-breasted Wood-Wren, Long-billed Gnatwren and Slate-throated Redstart.

We took an afternoon birding excursion to the Rio Tuis Valley and yet more stunning birds were
evident. We photographed Black Phoebes catching insects over the river as Sulphur-winged
Parakeets flew overhead and an Amazon Kingfisher perched nearby awaiting some prey. As we
encountered another mixed feeding flock of birds such as Bright-rumped Attila, Olive-striped
Flycatcher and Golden-olive Woodpecker the clouds came down and brought with them three very
different swifts, the giant White-collared with the tiny Vauxs and also a few of the medium-sized
Chestnut-collared Swifts. As we reconnected with the river a little further along the valley we came
across American Dipper, Torrent Tyrannulet and yet more Black Phoebes. As we stood in one
location with a 360
view of the mountains surrounding us we counted a dozen elegant American
Swallow-tailed Kites drifting about over the treetops. Keel-billed Toucans sat on open dead branches
as Montezuma Oropendolas and Brown J ays mobbed them.

As we returned to Rancho as the rain started to come down in the Tuis Valley but we found that the
rain was yet to reach the lodge grounds so we made our way down to the Hummingbird Pools where
we sat and admired Snowcaps and Violet-crowned Woodnymphs bathing at close range, an intriguing
insight into the behaviour of these tiny birds. As we left the cover of the forest for the final time we
were treated to views of a Double-toothed Kite drifting over the lodge.

Snowcap (left) and Green-breasted Mango (right)

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Day 8

The earliest start of the tour saw us leaving Rancho for our next lodgings at Savegre up in the
highlands. But first we headed for Tapanti National Park in the Orosi valley. Our first stop was at Rio
Birris where we found Killdeer, White-collared Seedeater and a late drake breeding plumaged Blue-
winged Teal, a nice surprise! As we made our way to the next stop, the Orosi Dam we connected
with a pair of Bat Falcon, many Green Heron and an Osprey on the dried up reservoir. On arrival at
Tapanti National Park we met a huge mixed feeding flock that took an hour or so to pass, it included
some sensational birds including Golden-bellied Flycatcher, Tropical Parula, Red-headed and nest
building Prong-billed Barbets, Silver-throated and Spangle-cheeked Tanagers and a family party of
Collared Trogons. We gazed up the mountain slope at the right time as an American Swallow-tailed
Kite flew overhead; this led our eye to a large raptor displaying overhead, a Black Hawk-Eagle which
in no time at all was being mobbed by four Barred Hawks! As the mixed flock continued to make its
presence felt Common Bush-Tanager, Brown-capped Vireos and White-winged Tanager came into
view followed by a secretive Azure-hooded J ay which was scared off by a White-faced Capuchin

Bat Falcon (left) and Brown J ay (right)

After the flock moved on its way so too did we, on the drive to our next birding area we came across
a few Slaty-backed Nightingale-Thrushes, Black-faced Solitaire and a juvenile Hook-billed Kite sat up
in a roadside tree. As we arrived at one of the trails in the park it wasnt long before we came across
more activity with a pair of Grey-breasted Wood-Wren, Chestnut-capped Brush-Finch, Spotted
Barbtail, Olivaceous and Wedge-billed Woodcreepers, Eye-ringed Flatbill, a large family group of
Slate-throated Redstart and Dark Pewee.

We left the park after our picnic lunch and made our way to the next lodgings at Savegre for our two
nights stay, cutting through the central valley cities of Paraiso and Cartago, where we found bird of
the trip, a male House Sparrow! As we climbed in altitude to approximately 12,000ft we could feel
the temperature drastically drop until we started our decent down by 2000 feet in 9 km! The road
down to the lodge produced some interesting birds such as a family group of Long-tailed Silky-
Flycatcher and Sooty Robins with many juvenile-plumaged birds. As we approached Savegre lodge
the light began to fade so we checked into our brand new and very impressive rooms and made our
way to the fire to warm up, it was like being back in England in the middle of winter!

Day 9

We spent a couple of hours before breakfast birding the grounds near our rooms and we came across
many of the highland specialities in a loose mixed flock comprising of Spot-crowned Woodcreeper,
Sooty-capped Bush-Tanager, Flame-coloured Tanager feeding young and more Spangle-cheeked
Tanagers. A walk by the highland river produced a pair of Torrent Tyrannulets fly-catching between
the rapids as a Red-tailed Hawk and Blue-and-white Swallows flew overhead. Trees along the river
were dripping with the bizarre Yellow-thighed Finch an all dark bird with bright yellow thigh tufts, a
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useful name! As we made our way back to the restaurant area we came across a male Grey-tailed
Mountain-gem, a beautiful hummingbird that showed incredibly well down to inches when on the

After breakfast more of the same followed with many new and exciting birds appearing before us, for
example who can fail to be impressed by the peculiar bill of the Slaty Flowerpiercer or the shear
flamboyance of the Flame-throated Warbler, which looks like a drab little bird, until it turns to face
you! However, as remarkable as all of these birds were there is one that makes them all pale into
obscurity, at least for a few minutes! Arguably one of the most impressive birds in the world
Resplendent Quetzal is at home in the huge oak forests of Savegre and it didnt take too long to find
a fine male bird feeding and showing at close range, it is difficult to describe just how extraordinary
this bird is, you really need to see it to believe it!

Unfortunately as the morning progressed the cloud came down (as is typical at these altitudes) and
brought with it some persistent rain. Luckily at Savegre there are many things to see whilst it is
raining, Sulphur-winged Parakeets were much in evidence feeding on the fruit trees growing in the
farm area of the lodge. We made the most of the rain and spent some time photographing the many
species of hummingbird visiting the feeders on the balcony such Green Violet-ear, the huge
Magnificent Hummingbird, Grey-tailed Mountain-gem and the tiny Volcano and Scintillant
Hummingbirds. Highlight here however was the slightly lower than expected Fiery-throated
Hummingbird of which two were present, possibly forced lower by the inclement weather higher up
the mountain.

Between the showers we added Ruddy-capped Nightingale-Thrush, Mountain Thrush, Tufted and
Yellowish Flycatchers that presented a few photographic opportunities.

Fiery-throated Hummingbird (left) and Green Violet-ear (right)

Day 10

We transferred from Savegre to the Pacific Lowlands for our next four nights stay, en-route however
we made a couple of birding stops to catch up with a few more highland specialities. We drove up to
the Cerro de la Muerte where we were amazed by views of Chirripo, the highest point in Costa Rica
and also views of the Pacific Coast way below us. Birds in this windswept paramo zone tend to skulk
low to the ground but it didnt take too long to find the dainty Black-billed Nightingale-Thrush and the
rather plump Volcano J unco, a bird restricted to the very high areas within the country. We dropped
down a little lower and found more interesting species such as Acorn Woodpecker, Fiery-throated
Hummingbird, Flame-throated Warbler, Sooty-capped Bush-Tanager, Ruddy Pigeon and Black-and-
yellow Silky-Flycatcher.

We continued our journey down through some incredible scenery adding White-tailed Kite, Short-
tailed Hawk, Crested Caracara and Blue Grosbeak as roadside birds. After checking in to our rooms
at Villa Lapas we were pleased to find that all beverages were included in the price! After a short
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drinks break, which produced a White Ibis, we walked the road behind Villa Lapas, always interesting
in the evening. We were not disappointed with our first Scarlet Macaws, their raucous calls being
heard as they came closer and closer. Other impressive birds included Fiery-billed Aracari, Grey
Hawk, and Black-headed and Violaceous Trogons.

After our evening meal on the walk back to our room we found a plethora of wildlife including a Cane
Toad, Central American Smooth Gecko, Masked Tree-Frog, an Opossum sp., a Long-nosed Bat and
most impressive of all a Red-eyed Leaf Frog.

Day 11

We spent the early morning birding in the grounds of Villa Lapas finding breeding Yellow-olive
Flycatcher and Rose-throated Becard with Piratic Flycatchers trying to stake a claim on the nests of
their counterparts. After breakfast we drove to Tarcol Lodge where we spent some time birding off
the balcony before heading through the mangroves to the scrub. Birding the estuary at Tarcol Lodge
produced many herons, egrets and other waterbirds, the highlights being Snowy Egret, Wood Stork,
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Neotropical Cormorant and most impressive of all Roseate Spoonbill.
Mangrove Swallows were also noted hawking over the water.

As we walked through the mangroves Panama Flycatcher, Mangrove Warbler, Rufous-naped Wren
and Scrub Greenlet became evident, as too did another endemic of the trip, Mangrove Hummingbird.
As we reached the coast many Brown Pelican were gliding over then plunging into the sea to feed.
Magnificent Frigatebirds started to gather overhead as the temperature started to rise. Offshore
many gulls and terns were passing though, Laughing and Franklins Gulls and Royal and Gull-billed
Tern much in evidence.

Roseate Spoonbill (left) and Panama Flycatcher (right)

As we moved off into the scrub we found Melodious Blackbirds, Groove-billed Ani, Orange-chinned
Parakeet, Yellow-headed Caracara and the cryptically plumaged Inca Dove. As we approached a
small lagoon containing a dozen or so cows we found that it was also full of birds; Black-bellied
Whistling-Duck, over 200 Cattle Egret, displaying Red-winged Blackbird, Northern J acana all as three
Mangrove Black Hawks displayed overhead.

As the day progressed we continued to find new and interesting species, for instance Stripe-headed
Sparrow, Brown-crested Flycatcher, Masked Tityra, Scaly-breasted Hummingbird and a very obliging
Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl that sat out in the open for us as it scanned looking for prey. We made our
way back to Tarcol Lodge, the tide had come in and brought with it both Semi-palmated and Collared

As the sun went down we were treated to a displaying Common Pauraque on the road, a great end to
the day.

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Day 12

A full day was spent birding Carara National Park. During the morning we went along the river trail,
which as always produced many interesting target species. As we started walking the songs of many
different species of wrens and antbirds became audible. The first to break cover was a pair of
Chestnut-backed Antbirds, closely followed by Black-hooded Antshrike and Dusky Antbird. Further
along the trail we coaxed out Rufous-naped, Rufous-breasted and Rufous-and-white Wrens, the later
found breeding. Another species found breeding a little further along the trail was a pair of eye-
catching Northern Royal-Flycatchers; one even raised its crest for a short period, their nest found in
amongst a hive of activity as a mixed feeding flock moved through the area including Cocoa, Wedge-
billed and Northern-barred Woodcreepers, other species moving through with the flock included
White-winged Becard, Tropical Gnatcatcher and the bizarre Long-billed Gnatwren.

As we walked further into the forest the far carrying calls of Collared Forest-Falcon and Rufous Piha
could be heard. A pair of the local Golden-naped Woodpecker were the next to come into view and
so the pattern continued with new birds popping out all over the place such as stunning Red-legged
Honeycreepers, Blue-black Grosbeak and Cherries Tanager.

We came across a small lagoon that was home to a pair of roosting Boat-billed Herons, while other
birds here included a pair of very tame nest building Slate-headed Tody-Tyrants , Anhinga, Green
Kingfisher, Costa Rican Swift and most impressive of all a pair of the very local Bairds Trogons which
showed incredibly well at close range. The walk back to the trailhead produced more interesting
species including Orange-collared Manakin, Blue Ground-Dove, Mealy Parrot and a group of three
Scarlet Macaws feeding on palm nuts.

Scarlet Macaw

This park always produces many intriguing sights and this day was no exception with another couple
of White-faced Monkey, Central American Agouti and a White-nosed Coati all seen well. A deadly
Fer-de-Lance snake was unfortunately dead in the trail but at least it posed no threat! It also gave
good opportunities to learn how to identify this dangerous snake. There were also many interesting
lizards ranging in size from the small Anoles to the gigantic Ctenosaurs, a large Iguana-like lizard.
Over lunch back at Villa Lapas we were treated to views of King Vulture and Zone-tailed Hawk drifting
by on thermals in amongst the commoner Turkey and Black Vultures.
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In the afternoon we walked a different trail system in the primary forest area of the National Park
where new birds were awaiting us. Some of the highlights here included Black-tailed Flycatcher,
Riverside Wren, Black-faced Antthrush, Dot-winged Antwren, Crested Guan, Great Tinamou, Grey-
chested Dove but as the afternoon came to a close most impressive of all was a Streak-chested
Antpitta which sat in the centre of the trail for about five minutes allowing all to get awesome views
of this bird. What an end to an action packed day.

Day 13

We spent the morning back in Carara National Park where we searched for more new and exciting
birds. The early morning sky seemed to be filled with Scarlet Macaws on their way to feeding
grounds as Orange-chinned Parakeets and Mealy Parrots did the same. The previous nights
rainstorm had meant that there was a lot of sitting water on the trail, this didnt seem to deter both
White-tipped and Grey-chested Doves from showing well on the trails. As we progressed along the
trail we were given incredibly close-up views of a pair of Slaty-tailed Trogons. Another pair of
Northern Royal Flycatchers was found, as too was a juvenile Collared Forest-Falcon. There seemed
to be a great deal of hummingbird activity occurring with Western Long-tailed Hermit, Scaly-breasted
Hummingbird and Blue-throated Goldentail all vying for nectar and insects.

Two Golden-naped Woodpeckers dropped close by allowing good views; they were soon joined by a
group of iridescent male Red-legged Honeycreepers and a couple of Buff-throated Saltators. Another
highlight was a female Long-tailed Manakin that seemed to show signs of nesting in the area. As the
morning drew on our eyes were drawn skywards because circling with the many Turkey and Black
Vultures were a pair of Crested Caracara and several Plumbeous Kites. As we walked along the trail
we picked up a strange odorous smell that led us to a Collared Peccary, a forest pig!

During the afternoon we birded the Tarcol environs again and managed to find more new birds in this
species rich area. Yellow-naped Parrots gained our attention with their bubbling contact call. Stripe-
headed Sparrows and Melodious Blackbirds perched up in the treetops as a juvenile Yellow-headed
Caracara dropped in to scavenge for prey amongst the freshly cut field.

There were again many herons and egrets present on the estuary including a few different waders to
the previous day such as Short-billed Dowitcher, Hudsonian Whimbrel, Black-bellied Plover and Ruddy
Turnstone. There were also many White Ibis, Great Egrets and Wood Storks feeding on the
fishermans off-cuts.

As we walked along the coast we put up a group of Grey-crowned Yellowthroats as an adult
Mangrove Black Hawk sat in front of us and demolished a crab for its supper. As the evening drew
closer many Lesser Nighthawks took to the sky, a great sight as they bounded along the coastline like
avian butterflies.

Day 14

This was the last day of the tour and we left Villa Lapas after breakfast on our way to the airport and
our International Flight home. En-route we made a few strategic birding stops. The first stop was at
the Rio Tarcoles bridge where we found Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, Roseate Spoonbill, Collared
Plover and a Tri-coloured Heron. However, the clear highlight here was a group of at least 20
American Crocodiles that were lingering along the river, just waiting for something unsuspecting

A further stop at a flooded field produced Northern J acana, American Purple Gallinule, Green Heron
and cryptically camouflaged Bare-throated Tiger-Herons that blended into the grass as if they were
not even there. Other interesting species here included a pair of the giant Ringed Kingfisher and a
flock of Chestnut-collared Swift. A sunbathing Spectacled Caiman was also very popular here.

On the return journey to the airport we picked up some interesting species such as Blue Grosbeak,
White-collared Swift, Cinnamon Hummingbird, White-winged and Mourning Dove and a (feral?)
Costa Rica Trip Report
J une 2014 Andy Walker 12
Muscovy Duck. Most interesting however was a very low altitude Blue-crowned Motmot that flew
across in front of our vehicle almost leaving its tail behind!


Another excellent trip to Costa Rica; we recorded numerous highly-sought species with many
highlights including a number of national and regional (Chiriqui) endemic birds with a good
supporting cast of non-avian highlights.

If you would like any further information please drop me an email to andywalker1000 AT hotmail.com
subject Costa Rica Birding.

Thanks, Andy
J une 2014.

NB: This is a 2014 update/edit of a 2004 trip I made. Note Ive not gone through updating taxonomy
of the birds names which follows Stiles and Skutch (1989) A Guide to the Birds of Costa Rica.

Great Kiskadee