Costa Rica 2009 Trip Report

 

Costa Rica, January 18-26, 2009 - Trip Report

I had the opportunity to visit Costa Rica for 9 days between January 18th and January 26th of this year.  Here’s a brief recap and highlights of my time down there.

This trip was arranged without much notice when I got some unexpected free time at the start of the year and also coincided with my 50th birthday.  My wonderful wife suggested that I take a field trip somewhere while I had the time and so I decided to go to Costa Rica to  try to track down a couple of long-standing photographic targets of mine, namely the Resplendent Quetzal and Scarlet Macaw.  I also wanted to increase my portfolio of Hummingbirds and what better place to start than the mountains of Costa Rica (of course Ecuador would be nice, but that’s going to be another trip someday…)

I was traveling solo on this trip and the pure purpose of the trip was to do some wildlife photography so I chose two main locations to set up a base and decided to divide my time equally between the two.  The first half of the trip would be in the higher elevations to the north of San Jose and the second half would be in the Pacific lowlands.

I departed San Diego in the morning of the 18th and flew through Dallas to San Jose, Costa Rica, arriving at the airport there a little before 10:00 P.M.  Picked up my rental car and checked in to my airport hotel a little after 11:00 P.M. to get a bit of rest before heading to my first destination early the next morning.

My first destination was an Eco-lodge operation in the volcanic highland region to the Northwest of San Jose.  A wonderful place called Bosque de Paz (Forest of Peace).

Bosque de Paz is about a 2 hour drive from the San Jose airport and a 30 minute drive from the town of Zarcero.  It is located near the small village of Toro Amarillo nestled at the base of the Juan Castro Blanco National Park.  The lodge is located in the volcanic highlands along a permanent stream at an elevation of around 1,800 meters (about a mile high) and the area is located in a true cloud forest.   From their website, the description is as follows:  “Bosque de Paz is a 1000-hectares (3000-acres) privately-owned Biological Reserve that, as a natural biological corridor, connects the Poás Volcano National Park with the Juan Castro Blanco National Park. It is a spectacularly rich ecosystem because of its privileged location. It is located on the Continental Divide with altitudes ranging from 1450 to 2450 meters above sea level.”   I have included a link to their website here for more information and details regarding the operation:  http://www.bosquedepaz.com/

For anyone wishing to have a great experience in this type of environment I would highly recommend the operation!  The owners, Federico Gonzalez-Pinto and his wife, VanessaI make you feel welcomed and immediately at home.  The staff is also courteous and there to assist with anything that you need and as a bonus, the food is great!  I had a wonderful time here and as you will see below, the birding was excellent despite some uncooperative weather.

This is another true “turn-key” operation, one price includes your accommodations as well as your meals.  An expert bird guide for the day is a nominal extra $25 and there are enough trails and habitats to keep you quite busy for several days. 

January 19th

I left San Jose early in the morning on Monday, January 19th and arrived at the town of Zarcero around 9:00 A.M.  After stopping briefly to stock up on a few suppliers/snacks at one of the local stores I headed toward my first destination, stopping many times along the way to so some bird watching and photography.    It’s an amazing transition that you go through as you climb the mountain road that leads to Bosque de Paz, you go through very beautiful, pastoral scenery and small farming operations and suddenly, you are in the clouds, literally.  Once you reach the summit of the road and start to descend into the valley where Bosque de Paz is located you enter into the Juan Castro Blanco National Park, you are first stuck by the beautiful vegetation and a feeling of remoteness as you descend the steep mountain road to your final destination.

Following are a few highlights from my drive there during the late morning hours of the 19th.

Rufous-capped Warbler

Wilson's Warbler

Red-billed Pigeon

Clay-colored Robin

House Wren

Rufous-collared Sparrow

Yellow-faced Grassquit

Slaty Flowerpiercer

Rufous-collared Sparrow

Scintillant Hummingbird

View of area near Zarcero

Road to Bosque de Paz

I stopped at a little pull-out in the bend of the road pictured directly above.  The reality was that nature was calling me but it turned into a nice long stop as a large mixed flock of birds came cruising through as I was stopped there.  Great variety from an Orange-bellied Trogon to Spot-crowned Woodcreeper, several species of Warblers including a Blackburnian and a Tropical Parula plus two neo-tropical species, the Collared Redstart and Flame-throated Warbler, Ruddy Treerunner, Yellow Vireo, a Hairy Woodpecker and more, and all the while this beautiful female Purple-throated Mountain-gem was attending to a small patch of flowers just off the road.

Purple-throated Mountain-gem (female)

Collared Redstart

Female Purple-throated Mountain-gem

Flame-throated Warbler

Spot-crowned Woodcreeper

Ruddy Treerunner

Yellow-winged Vireo

Eye-ringed Flatbill

I spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the area around the hotel and getting to know the place a little better.  It was also quite cool and we had a bit of rain during the afternoon hours with overcast conditions that made some photography a bit challenging but none-the-less exciting!  Here are some additional highlights from my first day at Bosque de Paz:

Violet Sabrewing

There are a number of feeding stations at the lodge including an array of Hummingbird feeders which attracted at least six species during my short stay there.  The crew maintained a regular schedule of feeding not only the feeders, which were filled every morning but also for the seed eaters.  A large population of Black Guan inhabit the area as do several other spectacular birds such as the Chestnut-capped Brush-Finch (both seen below). 

 

You can see the numerous Hummingbird feeders, the platforms at either end were used to distribute seed as well.

Chestnut-capped Brush-Finch

Green-crowned Brilliant

Magnificent Hummingbird

Violet Sabrewing

Black Guan

Magenta-throated Woodstar

Green-crowned Brilliant (female)

Agouti

January 20th

I spent today, January 20th hiking around the various trails and mainly walked the road that leads from Bosque de Paz to the town of Toro Amarillo.  It’s about a 3km walk to the edge of town and I ended up doing this every day that I was there.  I think I found the most species walking along the road and the photography was better because I usually had a better view and better light.   I also had to drive into Zarcero every day to check in on things back at the home office, there is no cell phone service in the valley where I was staying and phone calls are made collect from there.  This was no big deal for me because it also gave me a chance to bird the various locations along the road at different elevations as well. 

As I mentioned earlier, the weather was a bit challenging while I was there.  We had quite a bit of real rain, not like I had in Panama but it was a bit reminiscent, considering that it was the start of the dry season.  If you go to this area, you can expect damp and overcast conditions quite a bit of the time, it is after all, in a cloud forest.  However, while I was there, there was a low pressure system sitting off the Caribbean cost and it pumped additional moisture into the atmosphere creating actual rainy conditions.  There was enough time however in between the periods of rain to be quite productive and one has to expect rainy conditions in the tropics anyway.

Here are some of the highlights from my day:

Yellowish Flycatcher

Yellow-faced Grassquit

Mountain Robin

Lineated Foliage-gleaner

Slaty Flowerpiercer (male)

Blackburnian Warbler

Moth

Coati

Tufted Flycatcher

Three-striped Warbler

Male Purple-throated Mountain-gem

Yellow-thighed Finch

Green-crowned Brilliant

Dark Pewee

Prong-billed Barbet

Barred Becard

Red-faced Spinetail

Prong-billed Barbet

Red-faced Spinetail

Mountain Elaenia

Olive-crowned Yellowthroat

Golden-bellied Flycatcher

Violet Sabrewing at Banana bloom

Ruddy-capped Nightingale-Thrush

Coati

Green-crowned Brilliant

Black Guan

Here are a few shots I took of the area around the lodge.  As you can see, it’s quite nice and one could literally spend the entire day just strolling the grounds, visiting the feeders and the river and scanning the trees for passing species.

There are only 12 rooms at the lodge so even if the lodge is fully booked there aren’t a lot of people there.  The first two days I was there the lodge was basically full, a birding tour group was visiting, I think there were 10 people in their group however I only saw them at dinner time as they had their own agenda throughout the day.

Bosque de Paz

Bosque de Paz

Bosque de Paz

View from above of the village of Toro Amarillo

Bromeliads were everywhere!

Around noon, a couple from The Netherlands checked in, they were doing an eco tour of Costa Rica and at lunch, the resident bird guide asked if we were interested in seeing the Quetzal!  Yes, of course I said!  Later that day the four of us piled into my rented Jeep and drove up the side of the mountain, not too far, really within a long walk of the lodge (uphill) to an area where there were substantial numbers of Avocado trees baring fruit.   I should note that there are not the sort of Avocados  that you see in the local grocery store of the ones you use to make Guacamole!  The guide told me that there are over 80 species of Avocados and that the Quetzals like the small Avocados that we were looking at on the side of the hill.  They were about the size of a large pecan or perhaps a date and yes, they were quite abundant on about a ½ mile stretch of road with thick rain forest around it.  We looked for quite some time in dreary, drizzly conditions but to no avail, there would be not Quetzal sightings today… however, now I knew where to look.

January 21st

Today, after breakfast, I took my usual drive up the hill and toward to town of Zarcero to make my phone calls however I stopped at the location previously mentioned to see if I could get lucky and spot a Quetzal…  I was there for a few minutes, gazing out the passenger side of my car window trying to see something when it caught my eye and I gasped!  There it was, the bird of birds, the bird worshiped by the ancient inhabitants of this land, the “oh my god” bird…  Not only did I spot it but I also spooked it, it immediately took flight as I opened my car door to try to get a picture.  However, instead of flying away from me, it flew toward me and landed not 20 yards from where I was standing.  It looked at me, as I took several nervous pictures and then turned its back on me, as if disinterested in what I was doing.  It started to flit from branch to branch to tree to tree, obviously looking for the right food source and not so much as a little concern about what I was doing.  I finally had my first look at and decent shots of the Resplendent Quetzal.  First half of mission accomplished!  Here are some highlights, oh yea, and by the way, while I was taking pictures of the Quetzal, a nice Blue-throated (Emerald) Toucanet came through and tried to hog the spotlight, actually had the audacity to try to chase the Quetzal from a perch, apparently interested in the same food source.  Great place!

Resplendent Quetzal

Resplendent Quetzal

Resplendent Quetzal

Resplendent Quetzal

Emerald (Blue-throated) Toucanet

Emerald (Blue-throated) Toucanet

Resplendent Quetzal

Resplendent Quetzal

Resplendent Quetzal

I got back to the lodge around noon, in time for lunch of course!  The afternoon was a bit of a wash-out but that was fine as you couldn’t really beat the morning!  I drove down to the town of Toro Amarillo and then up the side of a mountain on a very scary mountain road during the afternoon.  The conditions were pretty interesting, dense fog and rain mixed with a narrow, somewhat paved mountain road with landslides and erosion mixed in, there was one area where the road had fallen down the side of a very steep hill and there was just enough room to pass without the tires getting nothing but air.  The problem was that I had to drive in one direction for several miles before I could find a place to turn around.  I am actually glad I couldn’t see much as I probably didn’t want to see how bad the conditions really were! 

I should mention here that the area I was staying in was not very far from the epicenter of the large earthquake that struck the area early in the month.  Since the area is primary volcanic and since many of the volcanoes are still active, it’s not surprising to get an earthquake but this one did a lot of damage and people lost their lives a mere 20 miles from where I was staying.  We actually had a couple of aftershocks while I was staying at the lodge.  One of the workers pointed it out as we were having breakfast one morning and showed us the hanging lights swaying gently back and forth. 

Rain washed out the rest of the day, had another great meal and headed to bed early, anxious for what tomorrow would bring.

January 22nd

Today was my last full day at Bosque de Paz, I decided to walk as many trails as possible throughout the day and pretty much accomplished that goal.  I started out of course in the morning walking the dirt road that leads to Toro and then grabbing breakfast followed by my drive into Zarcero.  The weather started out quite beautiful today with patches of bright blue sky and puffy white clouds.  As the day progressed the weather returned to a more drizzly pattern but still, overall, the best weather day of the trip so far. 

When I returned to the lodge I walked the rainforest trails that lead up into the mountains a bit, there is a lot of land at the lodge and I didn’t come close to covering all of the trails but I did get to see a few additional species of interest.   I chased a Solitary Eagle for quite some time trying to get a shot of it as it perched at the top of very tall trees and called out.  Also caught a glimpse of a Zone-tailed Hawk I believe but was not able to get any decent pictures of either.   One of the highlights was seeing a pair of Long-tailed Silky-Flycatchers foraging in trees right next to the lodge.   After lunch I took another walk on the road, walking all the way to town this time.  By the time I got back near the lodge it had started to rain but I was able to get some decent looks at both Orange-bellied and Collared Trogons as well as a nice smattering of other birds.   Here are the highlights:

Long-tailed Silky-Flycatcher

White-throated Flycatcher

Yellowish Flycatcher

Slate-throated Warbler

Red-faced Spinetail

Magenta-throated Woodstar (female)

Green-crowned Brilliant (female)

Green-crowned Brilliant (young male)

Violet Sabrewing

Common Bush-Tanager

Chestnut-capped Brush-Finch

Green Hermit

Green-crowned Brilliant (male)

Silver-throated Tanager

Prong-billed Barbet

Orange-bellied Trogon

Collared Trogon

January 23rd

Phase 2 of my Costa Rica Trip started today.  I packed early and grabbed breakfast and was on the road by 8:00 A.M. heading to the Pacific Coast and the Hotel Villa Lapas where I would spend the remainder of my trip in and around Carara National Park.  On the way out I took a couple of additional photos, below.

Summer Tanager

Long-tailed Silky-Flycatcher

The drive to the Tarcoles area of Costa Rica was uneventful but quite long, it took well over 4 hours for me to get to the general area that I was going to spend the next few days, traffic was quite heavy until I got to around Orolina but the scenery was great, the day was bright and sunny and quite warm, approaching 90 degrees as I neared Jaco.  I arrived at Carara National Park a little after noon and had a few hours to kill before checking into the Hotel Villa Lapas  (http://www.villalapas.com/) which is just a couple of miles south of the park entrance.  I decided to drive toward Jaco and stop somewhere to get a bite to eat. 

General area I spend the next few days

I never quite got there as I ran into a large and boisterous group of my other target species, Scarlet Macaws, a mile or two from Tarcoles.  There were at least 10 pairs working the general area, there are something in the neighborhood of 200 pairs of these birds living in the Carara area, and the seem to be doing quite well!  They were feeding in what appeared to be some sort of fig trees, eating large, green fruit, right along the road and quite visible.  You could hear them from quite a ways away.   My last trip to Costa Rica in 2005  I saw several of these magnificent birds but never got the opportunity to take any photos of them as they were always either in flight or very far away, this trip was quite different!  Below are a few shots of the first Scarlet Macaws I encountered on this trip.

Scarlet Macaw

Scarlet Macaw

Scarlet Macaw

I went back to the Hotel Villa Lapas after my photo session with the Macaws and was able to check in and get my room a little after 2:00 P.M.  After settling in and getting a little organized I took a quick walk around the expansive hotel grounds.  Here are a few shots of the local residents there.

Gray-capped Flycatcher

Great-crested Flycatcher

Female Slate-colored Seedeater

Boat-billed Flycatcher

Yellow-bellied Flycatcher

Common Basilisk

Common Basilisk

Clay-colored Robin

Philadelphia Vireo

Blue-gray Tanager

Red-hooded Woodpecker

Great Kiskadee

A while later I decided to take a drive up the road from the hotel.  There is a dirt road that leads up to the top of a mountain with great views of the Pacific Ocean, Jaco in the distance and miles and miles of rainforest.  There is a series of waterfalls that have been somewhat commercialized and the road leads to these establishments as well as a very nice private botanical garden near the summit and finally to a small village about 20k from the hotel.  It's a great little road that cuts through many micro-habitats and I drove it many times over the next few days and usually saw something different and/or of note each time.  Today was no exception, finding the spectacular Crested Guan perched in trees not too far off the road.  Here are the highlights of my drive for the afternoon.

Rose-throated Becard

Crested Guan

Crested Guan

Barred Antshrike (female)

Barred Antshrike (male)

Baltimore Oriole

Blue-throated Goldentail

After returning to the hotel, cleaning up from the days activities and grabbing a meal at the hotels restaurant (this is another all-inclusive deal where meals are included, just on a much larger scale than at Bosque de Paz) I decided to try my luck at night-driving for reptiles and amphibians and was on the road by 8:00 P.M. heading south toward Quepos on the main road.  Unfortunately, the traffic was very heavy in both directions which made looking for small critters crawling across the road nearly impossible and very dangerous.  I drove nearly all the way to Quepos before deciding to turn around.  By then it was approaching 10:00 PM and the traffic had thinned out somewhat.  Last time I was down in this direction there was hardly any traffic on the road after dark, it was either the combined fact that it was a weekend and tourist season or there are just a lot more people down here now.  In any event, on the way back I was at least able to see a few things of interest.  The first was a small Spectacled Caimen that was crossing the road.  Unfortunately by the time I was able to stop and get out of the car with the camera, it was long gone!  I found a freshly run-over snake (Cat-eyed Snake) that I didn't care to take pictures of as well as a frog (Forrer's Grass Frog), which I did take a few photos of even though it was injured, with it's front left foot missing, probably from a very close encounter with a car.   Highlight of the evening was when I turned off on this side road that said "Monterrey" and ran into a very cooperative Striped Owl that allowed close approach as it was perched on a utility wire.  Close enough for me to get off several shots with a flash and capture decent enough images (see below).  I got back to the hotel a little after 11:00 P.M. and a little frustrated that I was pretty much shut out.  Last time I was here I had several good outings at night, this was not to be the case on this trip... 

Striped Owl

January 24th

The plan today was to spend the morning at Carara National Park's west side (there are two main areas that you can hike through).  The park doesn't open it's gates until 8:00 A.M. and since I was up, out and about by 7:00 I took a quick drive up the hill by the hotel before going to Carara.  I was rewarded with some excellent views of a Squirrel Cuckoo which posed for many pictures!  This is one of my favorite birds in the area and this one was either not yet awake or just not too concerned with my presence which allowed me to take many photos.  After completing that photo shoot I headed over to Carara, the day was beautiful with a brilliant blue sky, warm sun and no wind.   Quite a contrast from what I was used to in the mountains the first few days of my trip and a pleasant change of pace.

 

Squirrel Cuckoo

Squirrel Cuckoo

I arrived at the entrance to Carara National Park and was a little surprised to see that there were only a few cars in the parking area.  It was a Saturday and with all of the traffic I had seen and the amount of people in the hotels I thought there would be more people there but I was not about to complain!  I paid my $10.00 entrance fee and started off down the trails.  Had a good morning birding and actually saw a few reptiles as well.  I had several encounters with Trogons, the Scarlet Macaws were constantly flying overhead, several pairs of Black-hooded Antshrikes and Barred Antshrikes provided nearly constant companionship with there calls to each other.  There was an obvious over-abundance of Cicadas and the insect eating birds, including the Trogons, were feasting on them!  The racket was nearly deafening from the Cicadas as the day warmed up.  I actually was there to hear the chorus start up and go from a single Cicada calling to the entire forest, it was quite an amazing sound and I am not sure how to describe it in words other to say that it was amazing to listen to.  I spent about four hours hiking around and as usual, as the day warmed up, the activity slowed down and by noon, it was pretty still inside the park, I made my way back to the hotel to change clothes, take a quick breather and grab a bite to eat before exploring some more.  Here are the photographic highlights from my first morning at Carara National Park:

Greenish Elaenia

Red-legged Honeycreeper

Red-legged Honeycreeper

Northern Bentbill

Blue-throated Goldentail

Blue-throated Goldentail

Black-hooded Antshrike (female)

Black-hooded Antshrike (male on left, female on right) - note the Cicada skeleton on the branch as well...

Black-throated Trogon (female)

Black-throated Trogon (male)

Black-throated Trogon (male)

Delicate Ameiva

Baird's Trogon

Solider Army Ant

Small Army Ant Swarm - there are several different species, this is not the one you typically hear about in large colonies...

Bay-headed Tanager

Rufous-tailed Hummingbird

Yellow Warbler

After lunch I was downloading photos and checking on some bird ID's from the morning's outing when a pair of Chestnut-mandibled Toucans decided to drop by for lunch...  this was right outside my window.

Chestnut-mandibled Toucan

Chestnut-mandibled Toucan

Chestnut-mandibled Toucan

The afternoon was spent taking a quick stop in Jaco in search of an ATM machine that would work as I was running low on cash...  This was not easy to do.  For whatever reason my ATM card does not work in Costa Rica, didn't last time I was here either, despite the fact that the ATM's say they work with several of the interlink symbols on the back of my card, B of A doesn't like them!  Other people didn’t seem to have any problems but I sure did.  Had to resort to a cash advance on a credit card which of course is much more expensive than a cash withdrawal but you gotta do what you gotta do...  anyway, after finally securing gas money, I drove down to another nature reserve along the coast in the afternoon, spending a couple of hours at the Playa Hermosa wildlife reserve, this is a turtle mating/research station at the end of a very poorly maintained road that runs along the beach for several miles...  Most plentiful and interesting species down there were the Black Spinytail Iguanas which were EVERYWHERE!   There was a long series of old fence posts that were overgrown by tall grass, I counted 14 straight posts with an Iguana perched on top of it like the one pictured below.  Several very large specimens also crossed the road in front of me, the area was thick with them!   On the way back to the hotel I was lucky enough to hear the familiar squawk of parrots squabbling and pulled of the road to find a rather large and noisy flock of Crimson-fronted Parakeets setting up shop in a few trees just of the road.  Also had a nice flyover of about 7 pairs of Scarlet Macaws while I was photographing the Parakeets.  I got back to the hotel around sunset and pretty much crashed, downloaded my pictures and backed them up and hit the sack.  Highlights from afternoon session below:

Black Spinytail Iguana

Scarlet Macaws

Crimson-fronted Parakeet

Crimson-fronted Parakeet

January 25th

Today's plan was to hit the other half of Carara National Park in the morning.  This park of the park is a little more remote and runs along the edge of the Tarcoles River.  My understanding is that at certain times of the year, primarily during the rainy season parts of this part of the park are not even accessible due to high waters and extremely muddy conditions.  The trail at this time however was quite good with only a couple sections of some deep muck that needed to be navigated around.  I had made arrangements the day before with the folks at the Carara park headquarters to get into the park early.  I paid in advance for a permit to enter and they told me that I could get there as early as sunrise, which I did.  I was quite surprised to run into a group of birders that were ahead of me and was even more surprised when I realized that it was the same group that I had the pleasure of meeting at Bosque de Paz several days earlier.  To be quite honest, today was not one of my best days in the field.  Have you ever had one of those days where nothing seems to work and/or go right?  Well, today was that day for me.  Not sure why but I kept missing pictures, missing birds, taking bad photos, tripping over stumps, cutting myself, etc. yet it was still a great day.  Even thought I didn't get a lot of fantastic photos, there was a tremendous amount of activity early in the morning, topped of with the arrival of a Three-wattled Bellbird that came in and started it's strange and wonderful pinging call from the highest branches of a very tall tree.   I spent well over an hour trying to get a shot of it but all I ever got was a few quick glimpses of it as it finally flew off to parts unknown.  This is one bird that will have to wait for another trip to make the pages of my website...:o)   As you can see from the pictures below, there was quite a different variety of life on this side of the park as well.  Beside the rainforest species you also got to glimpse the aquatic species that favor the rivers edge.   This is also a famed spot for reptiles and amphibians but again, today, I was nearly skunked with only one small Anole and a Crocodile or two to show for the day.  I was back at the car around 12:30 PM and back at the hotel for lunch by 1:00 and getting ready for the afternoons adventure.  Following are the highlights from my morning session:

Western Long-tailed Hermit

Boat-billed Heron

Black-necked Stilt

Northern Jacana

Great Blue Heron

Bare-throated Tiger Heron

Blue-spot Anole

Tri-colored Heron

Scarlet Macaw - pair inspecting a potential nesting site

Scarlet Macaw

American Crocodile

Green Kingfisher

Barred Antshrike

Chestnut-sided Warbler

The afternoon consisted of my driving back up the dirt road to the top of the mountain and searching for wildlife.  Here are a few shots from the afternoon...

Waterfall area above Jaco

White-fronted Parrot

Muscovy Duck

January 26th

Today was my last full day in Costa Rica and it was going to be a full one at that!  I started the day by chartering a boat to take me on the Tarcoles River.  Luis, the owner of Mangrove Birding Adventures picked me up at the hotel a little after 6:00 A.M. and by 6:30 we were cruising the waters of the Tarcoles River.  Actually, I didn't really charter the boat, it turned out that I was just the only one on the 6:30 A.M. tour so I had to pay a little extra to go out ($50 instead of $40), it was well worth it...  We picked up all of the typical species you'd expect to see, all of the herons and egrets were seen:  Great Blue Heron, Green Heron, Bare-throated Tiger-Heron, Tri-colored Heron, Little Blue Heron, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Boat-billed Heron, Snowy Egret, Great Egret and Cattle Egret along with a smattering of other water specialists.  We saw four species of Kingfisher (Belted, Ringed, Green and American Pygmy), Roseate Spoonbill, Mangrove Gray-Hawk, Northern Waterthrush, Mangrove-Yellow Warbler, Protonotary Warbler, Scarlet Macaw, Toucans, Crocodiles, etc.  Highlight of the day for me was getting to see a Mangrove Hummingbird.  Unfortunately I could not get my camera to focus on it, we were in the middle of a small inside channel of the mangrove system in dark conditions and I just couldn't get a picture but did get great looks.  Maybe next time.   Here are highlights from the morning in the mangroves...

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck

Tri-colored Heron

Tri-colored Heron

Ringed Kingfisher

Bare-throated Tiger Heron

Little Blue Heron and Green Heron

Green Heron

Green Heron

Tropical Kingbird

Boat-billed Heron

Chestnut-mandibled Toucan

Green Kingfisher

Turkey Vulture

Mangrove Black-Hawk

Green Kingfisher

American Pygmy-Kingfisher

Crab-eating Raccoon

American Crocodile

Roseate Spoonbill

Northern Waterthrush

As soon as I got back to the hotel (a little before 9:00 AM) I headed back to Carara to bird the first area I had visited the day before yesterday.  I was there by 9:30 and hit the trail immediately.   Had a decent morning there as well with Scarlet Macaw, Violaceous Trogon, White-whiskered Puffbird, Chestnut-backed Antbird and Band-tailed Barbthroat at the top of the list.  See highlights below:

Scarlet Macaw

Common Tody-Flycatcher

Violaceous Trogon

White-whiskered Puffbird

White-whiskered Puffbird

Chestnut-backed Antbird

Chestnut-backed Antbird

Band-tailed Barbthroat

I finished up the day and the trip by driving, one more time, up the side of the mountain finishing the day with a close encounter with another pair of Chestnut-mandibled Toucans.  As the sun started to set I started the long drive back to San Jose and to my hotel next to the airport to catch my 10:00 A.M. flight back to San Diego the next day.  All in all a memorable trip!  Thanks for looking... - Brad

Chestnut-mandibled Toucan

Chestnut-mandibled Toucan

 

Bird Species Seen:

Brown Pelican                        

Anhinga                              

Magnificent Frigatebird              

Great Blue Heron                     

Great Egret                          

Reddish Egret                         

Tricolored Heron                     

Little Blue Heron                    

Snowy Egret                          

Cattle Egret                         

Green Heron                          

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron           

Boat-billed Heron                    

Bare-throated Tiger-Heron            

Roseate Spoonbill                    

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck         

Muscovy Duck                         

Black Vulture                        

Turkey Vulture                        

Osprey                               

Mangrove Black-Hawk                  

Solitary Eagle                       

Broad-winged Hawk                    

Gray Hawk                            

Crested Caracara                     

Yellow-headed Caracara               

American Kestrel                     

Crested Guan                         

Black Guan                           

Purple Gallinule                     

Northern Jacana                      

Black-necked Stilt                   

Semipalmated Plover                  

Spotted Sandpiper                    

Royal Tern                           

Pale-vented Pigeon                    

Red-billed Pigeon                    

White-winged Dove                    

Plain-breasted Ground-Dove           

Ruddy Ground-Dove                     

White-tipped Dove                    

Scarlet Macaw                        

Crimson-fronted Parakeet             

Orange-chinned Parakeet              

White-fronted Parrot                 

Yellow-naped Parrot                  

Squirrel Cuckoo                      

Groove-billed Ani                    

Striped Owl                           

White-collared Swift                 

Band-tailed Barbthroat               

Green Hermit                         

Western Long-tailed Hermit            

Stripe-throated Hermit               

Scaly-breasted Hummingbird           

Violet Sabrewing                     

Fiery-throated Hummingbird           

Blue-throated Goldentail             

Rufous-tailed Hummingbird            

Mangrove Hummingbird                 

Purple-throated Mountain-gem         

Green-crowned Brilliant              

Magnificent Hummingbird              

Magenta-throated Woodstar            

Scintillant Hummingbird              

Baird's Trogon                       

Violaceous Trogon                    

Collared Trogon                      

Orange-bellied Trogon                

Black-throated Trogon                

Resplendent Quetzal                  

Belted Kingfisher                    

Ringed Kingfisher                    

Amazon Kingfisher                    

Green Kingfisher                     

American Pygmy Kingfisher            

White-whiskered Puffbird             

Prong-billed Barbet                  

Blue-throated Toucanet               

Chestnut-mandibled Toucan            

Acorn Woodpecker                     

Red-crowned Woodpecker               

Hoffmann's Woodpecker                

Hairy Woodpecker                     

Red-faced Spinetail                  

Ruddy Treerunner                     

Lineated Foliage-gleaner             

Plain Xenops                         

Cocoa Woodcreeper                    

Spot-crowned Woodcreeper             

Barred Antshrike                     

Black-hooded Antshrike               

Chestnut-backed Antbird              

Three-wattled Bellbird               

Greenish Elaenia                     

Mountain Elaenia                     

Northern Bentbill                    

Slate-headed Tody-Flycatcher         

Common Tody-Flycatcher               

Eye-ringed Flatbill                  

Yellow-olive Flycatcher              

Golden-crowned Spadebill             

Yellow-bellied Flycatcher            

White-throated Flycatcher            

Least Flycatcher                     

Yellowish Flycatcher                 

Black-capped Flycatcher              

Dark Pewee                           

Tufted Flycatcher                    

Black Phoebe                         

Social Flycatcher                     

Gray-capped Flycatcher               

Great Kiskadee                       

Golden-bellied Flycatcher            

Boat-billed Flycatcher                

Tropical Kingbird                    

Dusky-capped Flycatcher              

Great Crested Flycatcher             

Barred Becard                         

Rose-throated Becard                 

Mangrove Swallow                     

Blue-and-white Swallow               

Barn Swallow                          

Long-tailed Silky-flycatcher         

Rufous-naped Wren                    

House Wren                           

Northern Mockingbird                 

Tropical Mockingbird                 

Ruddy-capped Nightingale-Thrush      

Mountain Robin                       

Clay-colored Robin                   

Brown Jay                             

Yellow-throated Vireo                

Yellow-winged Vireo                  

Warbling Vireo                       

Philadelphia Vireo                   

Yellow-green Vireo                   

Lesser Greenlet                      

Rufous-browed Peppershrike           

Yellow-bellied Siskin                

Golden-winged Warbler                

Tennessee Warbler                    

Flame-throated Warbler               

Tropical Parula                      

Yellow Warbler                       

Chestnut-sided Warbler               

Blackburnian Warbler                 

Black-and-white Warbler              

American Redstart                     

Prothonotary Warbler                 

Northern Waterthrush                 

Louisiana Waterthrush                

Olive-crowned Yellowthroat            

Wilson's Warbler                     

Slate-throated Redstart              

Collared Redstart                    

Rufous-capped Warbler                

Three-striped Warbler                

Common Bush-Tanager                  

Gray-headed Tanager                  

White-shouldered Tanager             

Summer Tanager                       

Western Tanager                      

Cherrie's Tanager                    

Blue-gray Tanager                    

Silver-throated Tanager              

Bay-headed Tanager                   

Golden-hooded Tanager                

Red-legged Honeycreeper              

Slate-colored Seedeater              

Variable Seedeater                   

Thick-billed Seed-Finch              

Yellow-faced Grassquit               

Slaty Flowerpiercer                   

Yellow-thighed Finch                 

Chestnut-capped Brush-Finch          

Stripe-headed Brush-Finch            

Rufous-collared Sparrow               

Buff-throated Saltator               

Blue-black Grosbeak                  

Melodious Blackbird                  

Great-tailed Grackle                 

Bronzed Cowbird                      

Giant Cowbird                        

Baltimore Oriole                     

 

Herp Species Seen:

 

Black Spinytail Iguana                        

Green Iguana

Border Anole

Blue-spot Anole

Common Basilisk

Northern Cat-eye Snake

American Crocodile

Spectacled Caimen

Forrer's Grass Frog

 

Mammal Species Seen:

 

Mantled Howler Monkey

White-throated Capuchin

White-nosed Coati

Northern Raccoon

Crab-eating Raccoon

Central American Agouti

Verigated Squirrel

 

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