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Costa Rica Trip


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CR is a very small country with many different habitats.  I've been there 6 or 7 times, 10 days each visit and still ill can't get enough.  A good guide REALLY helps.

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7 minutes ago, BigOly said:

CR is a very small country with many different habitats.  I've been there 6 or 7 times, 10 days each visit and still ill can't get enough.  A good guide REALLY helps.

I do have a guide for a few days. The trip isn’t entirely for birding, so I couldn’t stay with a guide the whole time, but I’m booked with guides as much as I can be. 

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4 minutes ago, Connor Cochrane said:

I do have a guide for a few days. The trip isn’t entirely for birding, so I couldn’t stay with a guide the whole time, but I’m booked with guides as much as I can be. 

Some areas, especially the lowlands are full of chiggers really bad so be prepared.

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I went to the Guanacaste province and had a house in a small town called Sámara, I wasn’t too familiar with the whole birding thing, so can’t say I did too well. We pretty much stayed in town besides going to another small town a few minutes away called Carillo (amazing beach, barely anybody and full on white sand and palm trees, highly recommend—watch for crocodiles). Since this area is a dry forest and we went the end of December-January, it was the height of the dry season  so the trees were more or less bare making it pretty easy to spot things. I was hoping to make it to the cloud forest (Quetzals!) but maybe this year.

My birding mostly consisted of waking up just before sunrise and wandering around the town and walking along the beach for 2-3 hours. This area was pretty safe, but there were lots of feral dogs and horses. Horses were sorta iffy, but the dogs were more or less fine. At 5am it was already above 20c, so it gets quite unbearable later on in the day. Most of my success was down quite dirt roads, and around river mouths. After the walk, I’d just keep an incidental/incomplete checklist for the rest of the day.  
I’d definitely research some good fruiting/flowering plants beforehand. There were a few plants that attracted more birds than others:

This type of palm tree, was fruiting. It was always full of birds. Mostly Kiskadees, but Hoffman’s woodpeckers and tanagers also liked it.B963D05B-33B1-45D2-A08A-5064C29C417A.thumb.jpeg.783497a382d6af95300a9c341cd4746b.jpeg

This other small tree/shrub, which I don’t have a direct photo of also was a bird magnet. Kisakadees, blue-gray tanagers, orange-chinned parakeets, black-headed trogons, melodious blackbirds and more were always in here eating its fruit. 
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Scarlet macaws like the almond trees. I never got lucky with them. The majority of the hummingbirds I saw were around Heliconia sp. I was going to bring an empty hummingbird feeder with me next time just to see what would happen. Most birds are fruit eaters down there, so might pay off to cut up some fruit and leave it out. There’s quite a few YouTube videos of platform feeders in Costa Rica. Absolutely full of Aracaris.

I’d also never over look the large circles of black vultures flying over head. There’s quite a few hawks that blend in with them quite well. I almost missed a zone-tailed hawk because of that. 
Every night about 30 minutes before sunset, several species of Orioles, kingbirds, and tanagers would perch  together for about 20 minutes and then they’d all leave. Maybe an area specific occurrence, but I’m sure other places might experience a similar thing. 
 

But yeah, as I’m sure it is with most areas, the majority of the bird species I saw were between 6-9 am. You don’t really have to try too hard to find birds as they are quite literally everywhere. I probably saw around 50-60 species just in my yard over 8 days. 
 

Costa Rica is a really fun place.

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Obtain a copy of The New Neotropical Companion and read it before you go. (Disclaimer: I have no financial interest in the product.)

Comfortable rubber boots (with two pairs of socks), which are useful in all sorts of ways (muddy trails, chiggers, crossing creeks, etc.)

Look BEFORE you put your hand on ANYTHING.

The rest of my suggestions, in no particular order:

Learn the vocalizations of the obligate ant followers (e.g., Bicolored Antbird) and the mid-level mixed-flock leaders (White-throated Shrike-Tanager), as these can lead one to a host of interesting species.

If you're under canopy and there's a bare patch of ground around a small tree, DON'T grab onto the tree if you start to fall! Unless you like being attacked by ants.

Pay attention to monkey troupes, as Double-toothed Kites often hang around them in anticipation of them flushing large insects.

Be very aware of elevation and habitat, as there are species pairs that replace each other across habitat changes.

Be aware of which side of the cordillera you are on, as there are species pairs that replace each other, Pacific vs Caribbean.

If you find yourself at Monteverde, go up onto the Ventana Trail at night. From there, given appropriate viewing conditions, you can see both the Pacific and the Gulf of Mexico (although the latter solely by knowing that those little lights out there are on boats).

Look at stuff other than birds. There are fish-eating bats and frog-eating bats (I've seen both in Corcovado NP). There are Tent Bats. There are Red-eyed Tree Frogs. What there isn't is cats. I just don't believe in 'em! Big-assed weasels (Tayra), but no freaking cats. A couple species of sloths, but no freaking cats.

If you're traveling at night between Manuel Antonio and Carara, watch for Striped Owl in the long stretch of coconut-palm plantations.

At low elevations in humid-forest areas, watch for Black-and-white Owls hunting at the mercury-vapor lights in small towns.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...
4 minutes ago, Connor Cochrane said:

I’ll be getting on a plane for the first time in almost two years tomorrow and will be heading down to Costa Rica. I don’t know how the wifi situation will be, so I probably won’t be doing daily updates. 

Have a good time!

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1 hour ago, Connor Cochrane said:

I’ll be getting on a plane for the first time in almost two years tomorrow and will be heading down to Costa Rica. I don’t know how the wifi situation will be, so I probably won’t be doing daily updates. 

Good luck! Stay safe and hope you get some good birds!

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1 hour ago, Connor Cochrane said:

I’ll be getting on a plane for the first time in almost two years tomorrow and will be heading down to Costa Rica. I don’t know how the wifi situation will be, so I probably won’t be doing daily updates. 

Have fun!!!

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  • 2 weeks later...

I guess it's time to start the trip report. Unfortunately, this first day isn't going to be too interesting sense it was just a travel day. 

Day 1

Day 1 started with a 5 o'clock wake up call, not too early if you take into account how early I often get up to go birding. However, the rest of the family was not used to it, so it was slow to get out of the house, even though all we had to do was load up the car. My first eBird checklist actually was still at my house, while waiting for everyone else to get to the car. There was a pretty decent morning chorus going on at 5:30 in the morning, nothing interesting was calling, but I got most of the expected species: https://ebird.org/checklist/S90317209. After that it was the hour drive to the San Francisco airport, parking the car, shuttling over, and going through a very busy security. We hopped on our 10:00 flight to Houston with no real problems, and landed around 2:50 central time. After landing I saw some pretty common Texas birds on the tarmac, the highlight being a Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher, a bird I've only seen twice. After we exited the plane, I made the risky decision to do some Texas birding. We had a 5 hour layover, so I took an uber to a nearby park to squeeze in some birding. As soon as I left the uber I was struck by the Texas heat. Living in California, I was not foreign to 98F temperatures, however the high humidity was something I'm not that used to. Despite birding during the worst time of day (and year), I managed to find 33 species in the heat, including one rare bird (Blue-gray Gnatcatcher). eBird checklist here: https://ebird.org/checklist/S90342807. It was fun to see some of the east coast species that I rarely see, such as Acadian Flycatcher. I was also able to photograph some birds that I previously haven't in the ABA such as Tufted Titmouse (not pictured), Yellow-throated Vireo and Red-eyed Vireo. 

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Right as I was running out of time I ran into a good mixed flock, where I heard a Yellow-billed Cuckoo, a bird that still to this day I've not seen with my eyes. I count heard only birds on my life list, but I was really hoping to see it. It was acting a lot like a Sapsucker, just sitting still at the top of one tree, and I could never locate it. I had to leave after that to make sure I made my flight. I made it back to the airport in time, and we breezed though security (only took 5 minutes!) and reconnected with the rest of my family with time to pick up dinner before our flight to San Jose (Costa Rica). We borded our later flight, and in four hours we were down in Costa Rica. After waiting a long time to get our rental car (every foreign country I've been to they've tried to scam you with hidden packages with rental cars), we finaly got it, made the 5 minute drive to the airpot hotel, and made it into bed around 11:00. It was a long 17 hours of travel, but everyone was exited to wake up in the morning and see Costa Rica for the first time.

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Now it's time for the beginning of birds that are actually interesting for most of you. For this post and for the rest of this series, species bolded mean they are lifers.

Day 2 (though really day 1)

I woke up very early (4:00, which is 3am where I live) out of anticipation for getting out the door. However, the rest of the family was really slow, and it felt like it took ages for them to wake up. I started with a skywatch out of the hotel room window (checklist here). While there wasn't much variety of species, every bird that flew by was interesting and exiting, even if I knew I would see many of them throughout the trip. Birds I got on the skywatch included many White-winged Dove and Great-tailed Grackle. As the sun came out a few Tropical Kingbirds started flying around, and my first lifer of the trip, Blue-and-white Swallow started coming out of their nests in the building across the street. A Rufous-collared Sparrow was foraging in the parking lot, and some Clay-colored Thrush started to fly by. The sun started to climb further up over the hills surrounding the city of Alajuela, and the rest of my family started to get up. I was able to grab a room key and walk outside to see what else was around. I was only out for 15 minutes, and I was overwhelmed by the amount of bird calls that were around, and quickly came to the realization that these birds that breed in the tropics don't respond to pithing. I was able to recognize Blue-gray Tanager songs coming from some palms as it was one of the few birds I studied on the plane ride down. A few other birds were around the hotel grounds, such as Hoffmann's WoodpeckerGreat Kiskadee, Blue-black Grassquit, and Grayish Saltator. A species that caught me off guard was House Wren, which I would end up seeing many more of in the next few days, even more then I usually see up here.I brought my camera out for the first time and managed to get a pretty decent photo of one of the many Rufous-collared Sparrows that I would see and hear for the rest of the trip.

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I went in and grabbed a quick breakfast, before the family started to head out. We took the Hour and a Half drive to a place called Tirimbina Rainforest Center (ebird checklist here). It was my first real birding experience in Costa Rica, and this being one of the first times I've been in a rainforest (except for Mexico two years ago), almost everything I saw was new to me. As soon as I entered I saw a Rufous-tailed Hummingbird. It's Costa Rica's most common hummingbird, and I would definitely get bored of seeing them later on in the trip was I was looking for new species. However at this point, it was still fresh and exiting. 

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Soon afterwards I got my first Costa Rican sparrow, an Orange-billed Sparrow, which in my opinion is a very cool looking bird. However, they were difficult to photograph, and throughout the whole trip I was never able to get anything that decent of them.

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For most of our time there we explored the deep jungle, which got us a few interesting species, and even some ones that we didn't see for the rest of the trip. However, in total we probably saw 10 birds there. Once we got out of the Jungle where we started to get to more open rainforest, we ran into a giant mixed flock where we picked up many species. I'm not going to write everything out and all my photos (all of that is visible on the checklist above) however I will add some highlights. Our first two interesting species were river birds, where we got not one, but two of the rare river species that many birders to Costa Rica try for, Fasciated Tiger-Heron and Sunbittern

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Once we entered the deep forest we picked up a few interesting birds, such as our first Broad-billed Motmot, Slaty Antwren, and Black-crowned Antshrike. Here is the first instance where you can see what will become regular later on, photos of birds that have a shutter speed of 1/100 and a ISO of 10000, sense the rainforest is so dark.

Motmot - This Broad-billed Motmot was perched silently in a branch near one of the rivers. Motmots are interesting birds, they make very low hooting calls, similar to an owl, and dig very long deep burrows into the ground like puffins. 

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Slaty Antwren

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Black-crowned Antshrike (Audio)

https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/348767031

After exiting the deep forest, we started to run into what would become our first large mixed flock that we encountered. For 15 minutes the trees around us were full of many birds of a large variety of species until they immediately vanished. I'm sure we missed a few species in the flock, however I was able to pull some interesting species out of the flock including White-collared Manakin, White-whiskered Puffbird, Bay Wren, and our first Green Honeycreeper of the trip. 

Manakins are interesting birds. The males seem to be almost constantly displaying to the females, and make some weird noises. While White-collared Manakin display their wings make a very loud clapping sound, as well as making a sound that is surprisingly similar to a horse. 

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Puffbird

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Bay Wren, a very pretty wren in my opinion, and a bird I only saw twice on my trip. I barely managed to get a photograph of this one.2400?__hstc=264660688.8c01dac64b377f41cb

Green Honeycreeper

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Around 11:45 the rain started to come down. Luckily for us it didn't rain for too long our first day (only a little more then an hour), and we made our drive to the hotel that we were staying at. We drove slowly (as everyone seems to do in Costa Rica) with our windows rolled down stopping when we saw birds in the surround farmland. Here I got my first hawks and Toucans of the trip, as well as a few interesting songbirds.

Roadside Hawk - the first hawk for us on our trip. Interestingly enough, it might have been the most abundant hawk I saw throughout the trip. 

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During our drive I managed to get photos of both Yellow-throated Toucans and Collared Aracari, I never realized how abundant Toucans were before I visited. I imagined that they would be fairly rare and hard to see, however it turned out to be quite the opposite. Many times in the lowlands it was actually hard to escape Toucans.

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Collared Aracari

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Here's the link to the checklist for the road we drove up: https://ebird.org/checklist/S90389644. A few other birds of interest included Grovw-billed Ani, White-crowned Parrot, Variable and Morellet's Seedeaters, as well as the only Blue-black Grosbeak of the trip. While the native rainforest that would have existed here before European conquest probably held more species, it was nice to have an open area that had a surprising abundance of birds in the area. 

Ani

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White-crowned Parrot

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Variable and Morelett's Seedeaters

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Blue-black Grosbeak

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After we started to gain some elevations, birds started to become a lot less active, and we decided to quickly head up to where we were going to stay in Bajos del Toro. After a half an hour long drive winding up the mountain, we arrived at out hotel where we were going to stay our first 3 nights. He went in and the service was immediately great. We really enjoyed our hotel, however, this is about the birds, and I'm sure most of you don't want to hear about lodging. During our late lunch I picked up some of my first species for the hotel which included Golden-browed Cholorphoinia, a very pretty bird, as well as Black Phoebe and American Dipper, two American birds that I'm sure some people don't realize make it down that far south. 

Black Phoebe

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We were all really tired, and so that was most of the birding for the day. However after taking a short nap I took a short walk around part of the property during the evening. I found a good few lifers: https://ebird.org/checklist/S90398749, but didn't get that many photographs as it was very dark out. However, I do have some photos of Lesser Violetear and Purple-throated Mountain Gem.

Mountain-gem

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Violetear

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After that we had dinner and I went to bed, but not before setting my alarm for the 5:00 wake up call to go birding in the morning.

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  • 5 weeks later...

Day 3

Time to finally get around to writing this post (these take a long time). I still have to upload some photos from this day, so maybe I'll link them later. This day I spent my time around El Sliencio Lodge where we were staying. We stayed here because the rest of the family wanted to do some activities that they would enjoy before we headed off to a more birder centric hotel. Because there weren't many people here because of COVID, we were upgraded to one of the suites, and it was a great experience. The birding also turned out great. I wandered the property and some surrounding roads before the rain started pouring around noon. 

I got out early (5:10 AM) and started walking the property. I started picking up many of the mid-elevation birds including the abundant Common Chlrorspingus, the loud Sulpher-bellied Flycatcher and the tiny Slate-colored Redstart. However, the most interesting bird of the early morning came when we were walking along a road near a divide between a field and the forest and flushed a bird off the ground. I didn't got a good look at it, so I made the deciscion to bushwhack up the hill where it went (I would not recommend doing this in the tropics). I did so and it ended up being a Common Paraque. This was an incredible find because of the elevation, this is one of the highest reports of the species in the country. When I birded with one of the biggest birders in Costa Rica the next day, he believed it was due to climate change. I haven't uploaded many photos to this early morning checklist yet because of the low light at the time, but I probably will soon. Here is the checklist. 

Paraque

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After walking the property, I decided to head out to one of the two roads that head up and out into the forest. I decided to walk the road that headed towards Bosque de Paz, a famous birding hotel. Even though I never was able to reach the hotel, I did find many good birds along the was. As I was to learning, roadside birding is great in the tropics, and I would recommend anyone going down there to walk roads early in the morning if it seems safe. Anyways, while walking around this road we gained around 200 feet in elevation, and while that might seem like a small amount, it actually resulted in a whole new set of species, which shows how birds in the tropics are extremely linked to elevation. One of the most prevalent birds here was the Gray-breasted Wood Wren, a secretive bird with a loud song that took awhile to get good looks at. Some other interesting birds included Violet Saberwing, Brown-capped Vireo, Tufted Flycatcher, Barred Becared, Ruddy Treerunner, and Red-headed Barbet, all of which will be picured below. I wish I had more time to bird the road, as we were running into mixed flock after mixed flock, however I had to get back to the hotel in time for breakfast. On the way back I ran into a nice man who was out Mountain Biking who wanted his photo taken. I was able to use my broken Spanish skills (You would think I'd be a lot better after taking Spanish for 8 years, but let's just say before last year my Spanish education has been a bit subpar...) to figure out what he was asking and to get his email address. We made our way back to the hotel just in time for breakfast, after which I headed to our room to identify the unknowns from the outing. Here is the checklist from that outing. As with most of my lists, I'm sure I would have had a lot more species there if I knew how the calls of the birds in the area.

Gray-breasted Wood Wren

Audio: https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/349000021

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Violet Saberwing -- Though it is a little hard to tell from the photo, it's an all purple hummingbird, definitely one of the coolest birds of the trip.

Audio (Very odd sounding for a hummingbird): https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/349001041

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Brown-capped Vireo

(Poor) Audio - Sounds pretty similar to an eastern WAVI: https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/348999841

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Sulpher-bellied Flycatcher 

Audio: https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/349000631

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Tufted Flycatcher

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Barred Becard

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Ruddy Treerunner

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Red-headed Barbet

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After I ate breakfast and identified most of my unknowns of the trip, I went to the yard behind our room where I some birds came up close for photos, some of which ended up being some of my best photos of the trip.

Slaty Flowerpiercer

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Mountain Elaenia

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Volcano Hummingbird

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After that the rain started to pour so I took a nap and relaxed around the room. During a break my family went down the waterfall hike and came back reporting many birds. With the rain starting to break, and being more interested in heading out birding then heading out with the rest of the family to head to the main building to socialize, I headed out. This ended up being a poor decision, but I'll get to that later. I headed out to the waterfall trail. The birds were pretty quiet on the way there, but as soon as I entered the forest in the afternoon I realized why people don't go birding in the middle of the forest in the tropics. At times it was so dark I needed my phone flashlight. Of course soon after I entered the forest a thunderstorm started, but stupid me was determined and continued on. I hiked the whole trail, at times having branches fall within feet of me, but escaped the forest without harm. On the way back lightning struck so close I could hear it rippling away from me. I made the mile and a half trek back in open areas to the room unharmed. I was soaked when I got back, but I did get a few lifers on the hike, so I would say it was worth it. Some of those included Slaty-backed Nightingale Thrush, Yellow-thighed Brushfinch and Streaked-breasted Treehunter. One cool bird that I couldn't document was Black-breasted Wood-Quail,. During the storm a covey ran right in front of me (within touching distance) as I happened to cross the creek bed they were climbing up at the prefect time. The checklist can be seen here

Slaty-backed Nightingale Thrush

Audio: https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/348948331

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Yellow-thighed Brushfinch

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Streak-breasted Treehunter (no photo due to the rain).

https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/349002841

Costa Rican Wabrler

Audio: https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/348953511

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After that it continued to violently rain all night. The locals said that it was rare to see a rain storm that large in the area. After dinner I set my alarm early again, because tomorrow was going to be my first guided birding day. 

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  • 4 weeks later...

I think it's finally time I get around to making the post for the 4th day. I don't know why I'm doing it now, especially since I have to wake up early tomorrow to go birding and have a ton of homework to do... but I'm bored.

Day 4

I was really exited waking up today because this was going to be my first time I was going out with a guide. Prior to this day, I've never gotten a guide when I've travelled to very unfamiliar places because I like the challenge of going out and finding everything myself, however I knew I'd get on way more birds if I had a guide this trip, so I bit the bullet and got one. I went out with Patrick O'donnel, and he was a great guide. I'd highly recommend him for anyone visiting the central part of Costa Rica. He's extremely knowledgeable with the birds down there, and is a very friendly guy. His website is here: http://birdingcraft.com/wordpress/

 

We left our hotel at 5:20 to get down from the mountains. Our plan was to spend most of the day in the Caribbean lowlands picking up species that would be hard for me to get elsewhere, then finish our day up in the highest of the highlands on Poas volacano. We met Pat at a random intersection around 6:10, and started our way to La Selva. I picked up some lifers from roadside birding along the way including Green Ibis and Southern Lapwing. We were at La Selva at 7:00, and we were immediately met by a thick fog that turned into on and off rain. That however did not stop us from racking of my best list of the trip, getting 97 species at the end of our four hours there. Almost immediately after we arrived we ran into some good birds like. Gray-rumped Swift and Chestnut-collared Woodpecker (pictured below).

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We headed down to the river to see if we could pick up anything along the river. We didn't find many river specialties, however we did manage to spot some very noisy Green Ibis perched up in a tree (Poor photo below).

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We headed back up to the entrance road where we started to rack up many species. We got at least brief looks at almost all of them, and I obviously can't go through all of them here, put I'll add photos below of some of the highlights. 

Rufous Motmot

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Pied Puffbird

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We managed to get great looks at two singing Rufous-tailed Jacamar. I think these would rank in my top 5 of favorite birds of the trip. They're kind of like a kingfisher that's terrestrial.

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I was able to get my first good looks at Keel-billed Toucan, the one that everyone wants to see when they go to Costa Rica.

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We had many flocks of parrots fly-by throughout the course of our time there, such as these Mealy Parrot pictured below. I was never able to get any looks at perched parrots other then at a very far distance during the trip, even though they seemed to be constantly flying by.

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Along with the parrots, we had two pairs of the much larger, endangered, Great Green Macaw

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After hearing them call for a while, we were able to briefly get a female Faciated Antshrike to come out in the open. Antshrikes are very difficult birds to see, and this ended up being the only one I saw (though I heard some more) for the rest of the trip.

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The best bird of the day (by rarity), and possibly of the entire trip as well was this Nicaraguan Seed-finch that we saw. They are very sporadicly seen throughout the Caribbean side of the county, and one hadn't been seen where we were for almost a decade. 

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One of the more aggravating birds there was the Little Tinamou. They constantly made very loud calls from the forest to the side of you, but like any gamebird, they never came out into the open. I was lucky enough to catch a brief view of one flying across the road, and was able to obtain good audio that will be attached below. 

https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/349505021

I saw many more birds at La Selva, which you can see on this checklist here: https://ebird.org/checklist/S90548403

After finishing up there we were all very hungry since none of us had any breakfast, so we stopped at a little restaurant on the side of the road where no one spoke any English. Luckily Pat could speak prefect Spanish, because I don't know if my two years of high school Spanish would've been enough. The resurant had some gardens, and we were actually able to get some pretty decent birds while eating lunch. The coolest for me was a wild Muscovy Duck flying up the river. It's crazy how different they look from the domestics. Unfortunately, I wasn't quick enough to grab the camera and I couldn't get any photos. However, some other birds like this Slaty-tailed Trogon decided to pose for some photos.

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Common Tody-flycatcher, a tiny little bird about the size of a hummingbird, which had been evading me for much of the trip perched up in front of us on a leaf. 

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After Lunch we slowly started to climb in elevation, making many quick stops along the way. I was able to see a few raptors, but they definitely seemed to be way less abundant then they are in California. We managed to get looks at Swallow-tailed Kite, Gray Hawk, and Short-tailed Hawk. While none were lifers, most were new for the trip and cool to see again. Our next major stop as at some hummingbird feeders, where we got great looks at many hummingbird species in our brief time there. I think this would be a great spot for photographers if you can get there when there's some light around. 

Green Thorntail

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Green-crowned Brilliant

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White-bellied Mountain-Gem

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Coppery-headed Emerald

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Black-bellied Hummingbird

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We kept working our way up higher getting a few more species at a time until we got on the road for Poas Volcano. By this point we transitioned into high elevation birds which was almost an entirely different set as what we were seeing earlier. The volcano we extremely tall compared to the surrounding valleys, looking down from up top it seemed like you were on the top of the world. I'll have to see if I can find any landscape photos on one of our phones. Up there we picked up some nice high elevation species, such as Black-capped Flycatcher

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Golden-browed Cholorphonia

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Sooty-capped Cholorospingus

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Collared Redstart

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We drove up to the top of the hill where we were supposed to end our day, and picked up what were going to be our last new birds of the day. Before we said our goodbyes, we decided to quickly check one finally spot a little down the road. While we were driving down I saw a bird with a giant tail fly up into a tree and yelled to stop the car. I got out, and sitting right infront of me was a Resplendent Quetzal. It stayed in the tree for no more than 10 seconds before it silently flew down into the canyon below. 

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We decided to end the day on the high note, said our goodbyes and headed back to the hotel. Our drive back to the hotel was pretty sketchy, but that's a story for another time sense I'm getting tiered and don't really feel like writing it out. Sorry that this post was slightly shorter than usuall for the trip posts, however I didn't have all the time in the world to write this out. Hopefully I can get day five done in less than a month this time.

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Finally getting around to the next post, at this rate it's going to take me a year to finish this trip report. High school Water polo will be over for me soon, so I'll up the rate of posts after that's done. 

Day 5

This was a travel day, so it's always difficult to fit a ton of birding in. It was my last day in the central highlands, so I walked up a random road that went straight up into the mountains to try to pick up more species that I missed before we had to get on the road. Unfortunately I don't really have any photos during the afternoon, as it was raining on and off and I couldn't bring my camera out. Unfortunately, I missed photos of some cool birds.

I started off at 5:40 in the morning like always, and decided to head straight out of our hotel to hit the roads that went into the mountains. While still on the hotel grounds I picked up some interesting birds, such as these unidentified flyover swifts. I think they might be Chestnut-collared, but my photos aren't good enough to tell. 

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This was the only day I really noticed any birds flying over the valley. Some large groups of parrots also flew over, such as these White-crowned Parrots. It was interesting how high up these birds were, as they usually aren't in big numbers like this in such a high elevation.

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While walking out a male Bay-headed Tanager caught my eye and posed for a good photo. The sun hadn't made it's way over the mountains yet, so I had no real light to get this photo, so it isn't as good as it could've been.

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There were a few other birds around the property that were interesting, including singing Ruddy-capped Nightingale-Thrush. I also got my first Spangled-cheeked Tanager of the trip, but I was never able to get any good photos of them. They always were high up in the trees. As I was leaving, one of the ubiquitous Slate-throated Redstart perched out in the open for a somewhat decent photo. 2400?__hstc=264660688.6a5b4bf6128e7052d3

I headed out of the hotel grounds and started walking up the road. The first bird to pop out was one of the Costa Rican Hairy Woodpeckers. Walking up the road I found one of the only flagged birds I had on the trip, a male Olive-crowned Yellowthroat on territory in a couple reeds on the side of the road. This bird is supposed to be down in the lowlands, yet it was way up in the mountains in a tiny little reed patch. It's interesting how different they sound from Common Yellowthroat despite looking so similar. 

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Audio: https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/349358451

Also at that spot was a Tropical Parula (which you can hear in the background of the audio above). It was the only one I actually got a look at on the trip, though I heard many of them

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I was able to get some decent high-elevation species that I couldn't photo on the way up the mountain such as Black-cheeked Warbler, Chestnut-collared Brushfinch, Mountain Thrush, and Black-faced Solitaire. These birds are all either understory or canopy feeders, so are pretty impossible to get good photos of unless you get really lucky. After seeing those birds I was running out of time before I had to leave, so I had to turn around. On my rushed walked down I picked up some good birds. The first to show up were Prong-billed Barbet. These odd sounding birds travelled in large groups, and I saw them from a distance a few days back entering a nest cavity, but these birds came closer.

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Right after that, a bird I thought I was going to missed popped out, a Northern-emerald Toucanet. 

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I was going to be really late after this, but on the way down I heard an odd high pitched squeak call, and it turned out to be a White-winged Tanager. It was one of the birds I really wanted to see up in the mountains, and I was able to get it at the last moment.

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Checklist for the hike up the mountain: https://ebird.org/checklist/S90543252

When I walked back on the hotel grounds, a small flock of Brown Jays appeared. Oddly enough, this would be my only close encounter with them. I saw them from the car multiple times, but this was the only time I saw one when I was out birding.

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After that, I went back to my room and packed up before the long drive to the Arenal area. On the way I made a stop where I saw some of my first Great Currasow of the trip. Photos of them will be posted on the next days list. There were a few other interesting birds at the stop including Gray-headed Chachalaca almost 80 feet up in a tree, Black-crowned Tityra, and two species of Saltator. After that we drove over to our next hotel, the Arenal Observatory Lodge, a classic with birders going to Costa Rica. I'm not going to write a big review about it tonight, but maybe I'll do it later if anyone is interested in visiting there. There were many interesting birds there when I first wandered the area around my room before I headed out the next day. Some interesting ones were 4 species of Honeycreeper, including one uncommon Blue Dancis. Buff-rumped Warblers, which behave very similarly to waterthrush were common. My favorite birds of the day were a group of three Ocellated Antbirds, which I got extremely lucky to see. Unfortunately, it was close to pitch black in the forest, so I wasn't able to get any photos. Luckily the next day I got photos of other antbirds and antpittas to make up for it. After my quick search of the property, I headed back to unpack and have dinner. I got to bed early since the next day was going to be another long day of birding. 

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