Brooklyn Bird Club
Long Pond Greenbelt
|Our Trip to Costa Rica Jan 7-14, 2010
Jan 7: Betsy and I left Newark Liberty airport and flew on Continental Airlines direct to San Jose Costa Rica. The flight
both leaving and arriving was right to the minute. We were met at the airport and taken to our hotel the Don Carlos.
Jan 8: After an excellent breakfast we met our guide Noel Urena from Tropical Feathers. He took us in his van to the
Caribbean side of Costa Rica. Noel would stay with us for the next six days. We birded on the way picking up great views of
a Bare-throated Tiger Heron. We stayed at the Sarapiquis Neotropical Center which was right next to La Tirimbina
Rainforest Reserve. Birding started in the afternoon. In the reserve we saw Violaceous Trogon, Slaty-tailed Trogron and
Black-throated Trogon. And that was just for starters. I was also impressed by the Black-capped Pygmy-Tyrant, the smallest
flycatcher in Costa Rica. We picked up many other species but for color nothing could beat the Golden-hooded Tanager,
Green Honeycreeper and many Passeriniís Tanagers that we saw daily at the feeders set up in the lodge. Montezuma
Oropendulas called and flew in the trees all round us.
Jan 9: We had an early start and we were on our way to La Selva Biological Station, one of the key venues of the trip.
Before entering we stopped on the entrance road and saw two Gray-necked Wood-Rails and a flyover of two Great Green
Macaws. These were two special species of the trip. We had breakfast at the cafeteria at La Selva. Before crossing the
suspension bridge to the trails of La Selva we took the trail to the right and birded the area. Here we saw many special birds
including White-necked Jacobin, Pied Puffbird and Crimson-collared Tanager. We crossed the bridge seeing more species
such as Black-cowled Oriole and Black-faced Grosbeak. We had lunch at the La Selva cafeteria and returned to our lodge.
Noel and I went out in the afternoon back to La Tirimbina crossing two suspension bridges and getting to an area where
many ant birds were known to be. We had excellent looks at Western Slaty-Antshrike and Chestnut-backed Antbird. Also
seen, from the suspension bridge, were Rufous Piha and White-fronted Nunbird.
Jan 10: The day started off rainy. We drove to Quebrada Gonzalez Station in Brauillo Carrillo National Park but the rain
was so bad that we left this area only checking off a Black-and-yellow Tanager, seen from shelter. We drove to the entrance
road of La Selva and birded that area again. We saw the Great Green Macaw again and had excellent looks at Rufous-
winged Woodpecker and Chestnut-colored Woodpecker. This area was full of birds and we saw both Fasciated Antshrike and
Barred Antshrike. Two male Rose-breasted Grosbeaks were taking a bath in a recently formed puddle. We made our way to
some grasslands in the area seeing different species in this other kind of habitat. We had excellent looks at Nicaraguan
Seed-finch, Thick-billed Seed-finch , Olive-crowned Yellowthroat and Yellow-faced Grassquit. It was nice to see some
North American migrants such as Baltimore Oriole and Orchard Oriole. We went back to the lodge for lunch and a siesta.
Noel, Betsy and I did a late afternoon-to-dusk ride. We went to some marshy ponds in the area; again this was a different
habitat. We picked up Green Ibis, Purple Gallinule, and Muscovy Duck. On the way back we did some owling clearly
hearing a Vermiculated Screech-Owl and seeing at least 15 Pauraque.
Jan 11: We heard heavy rain all night and when we awoke it was still raining. We made our way to the entrance of La Selva
but the road was flooded and we could not enter. A decision had to be made. We decided to give up our last nightís stay at the
lodge and our city tour of San Jose and journey over the mountains to the Pacific side of Costa Rica. Noel made this
suggestion and it was a very good suggestion. We traveled back through San Jose and headed towards San Isidro, a village
located in the southwest part of Costa Rica. The journey was most interesting. We saw many swollen rivers, downed trees,
and some general flooding. As soon as we passed the summit of the mountains and the continental divide the weather
changed and the sun was out to stay. Noel took us down a mountain road to yet another habitat where we saw different
birds. We picked up Flame-colored Tanager, Mountain Elaenia, Golden-bellied Flycatcher, White-winged Tanager and from
North America we saw Golden-winged Warbler, Tennessee Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler and Wilsonís Warbler. To top
it off we had excellent looks at Red-headed Barbet and a good look at Silvery-fronted Tapaculo. We checked in to the Hotel
Thunderbird and had dinner in a local cafe.
Jan 12: After breakfast at the hotel we were on our way to Los Cusingos, the home of Dr. Alexander Skutch. Dr. Skutch,
who passed away in 2004 at the age of 99 wrote the book ĎThe Birds of Costa Ricaí. Both Betsy and I were very much
impressed by his humble house and beautiful surroundings. Betsy, a writer in her own right, felt a very special attachment
to the home. We were in a different habitat and we would again see different birds. I had excellent looks at Orange-collared
Manakin, Blue-crowned Manakin, Bairdís Trogon, and Riverside Wren. The feeder at the house held Bay-headed Tanager,
Speckled Tanager, and Cherrieís Tanager. It seemed though that the Green Honeycreeper held sway over the feeder and
continually chased away other birds. After walking through the woods and coming back to the house we saw one last bird, a
beautiful male Turquoise Cotinga. We left this area, took a lunch break and went out again for an afternoon bird walk. We
visited stream side habitat, a cattle ranch and finally a coffee processing plant with spillage ponds. This was again a
different habitat and again we saw different birds. Most noteworthy were Fiery-billed Aracari, Black-bellied Whistling-
Duck, Blue-winged Teal, Southern Lapwing, and Rufous-breasted Wren. The final bird of the day was a Bat Falcon. It was
seen at dusk, on an exposed perch, feeding first on a dragonfly and then on a katydid. A few bats flew by but the bird didnít
pursue them. We went back to our hotel and had dinner at a local restaurant.
Jan 13: The next morning we left San Isidro and headed back to San Jose. Along the way we stopped at a mountain rest stop
picking up a few last species. While having lunch we saw Green Violet-ear, Fiery-throated Hummingbird, Magnificent
Hummingbird and Volcano Hummingbird. Last but not least was a cooperative Rufous-collared Sparrow. We checked back
into the Don Carlos and spent the night.
Jan 14: We were picked up at 4am and taken to the airport for our flight back to New York. The Continental flight departed
to the minute and landed at Newark 5 minutes before schedule. One fantastic trip!