Brooklyn Bird Club
Long Pond Greenbelt
|Dates: Jan. 19-26, 2011
Location: Costa Rica
Reported by: Joe Giunta
Our group consisted of Joe, Elyse, Al, Eileen, Alison, Jennifer, and Barbara. Except for Joe, our leader, it was the first time any of our birders had been in Costa Rica. It was also the first time that Happy Warblers LLC had ever sponsored a trip to Costa Rica. The trip was highly successful with a total of 245 species of birds being seen by most members of the group. At the end of the trip it was wished that we could have stayed longer and just enjoyed the wildlife, venues, food, and friendships that were made on the trip. A slide presentation of the trip can be found at
Jan. 19: Our Continental Airways flight, out of Newark/Liberty Airport, took off right on schedule. We were greeted at the airport by our guide, Noel Urena , and our driver Luis. Noel and Luis would remain with us for the next eight days.
Jan. 20: We had breakfast at our first Hotel the Buena Vista. We began birding in their backyard where we saw Brown Jay, Rufous-tailed Hummingbird, and Blue-gray Tanager. This tanager would become very common for us and we would see it at almost every venue we stopped. We left our hotel and started the ride to Sarapiqui Neotropical Center. This would be our lodge for the next few days. Along the way we saw the more common birds like Tropical Kingbird and Great Kiskadee. At Sarapiqui we would have lunch and then bird the grounds of the nearby La Tirimbina Nature Reserve. Here we would see great birds like: Violacious Trogon (renamed Gartered Trogron), Keel-billed Toucan, Chestnut-mandibled Toucan, Lineated Woodpecker, and Chestnut-backed Antbird. Masked Tityra, which we nicknamed, Mr. Googles, became a common bird for us. Our tanagers increased to include Golden-hooded Tanager, Passerini’s Tanager, and Palm Tanager. They were all seen at close range as they were on a nearby feeder. Also on the feeder were colorful birds like Blue Dacnis and Green Honeycreeper. We had dinner at the lodge and prepared for our next day of birding.
Jan.21: We set out very early in the morning in order to do some birding along the way to our destination, La Selva. On the gravel road before the entrance to La Selva we would stop and see: Fasciated Antshrike, Long-tailed Tyrant, Olive-crowned Yellowthroat along with other species. We would have breakfast at the research stations cafeteria. We would split up the day into two parts, first taking the trail on the right before the bridge and later in the afternoon taking the trail over the bridge. The morning trail produced a tremendous number of birds. The highlights were: Crested Guan, Slaty-tailed Trogon, White-whiskered Puffbird, White-necked Puffbird, Plain Xenops, Great Tinamou, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (only the second time ever reported at La Selva) and my personal favorite Snowy Cotinga. What a morning we had!
Lunch followed at the research station cafeteria. The entire cafeteria was cleaned out in a matter of one minute at a report that a Crested Eagle was perched outside. We did not find the bird but we did find a Black Hawk-Eagle perched. In its talons was an Iguana. We had excellent scope views.
In the afternoon we would take the trail that goes over the bridge and then to the left. Here we would see Sungrebe, and Eye-ringed Flatbill among other species. We returned to the lodge, had dinner and prepared for the next day.
Jan. 22: We would again go to La Selva, stopping at the gravel road before the entrance, having breakfast at the research station but this time we would go over the bridge and take the trail to the right. Some highlights were Ochre-bellied Flycatcher and Black-capped Pygmy-Tyrant. We saw some North American warblers which winter in this area. We picked up Golden-winged Warbler, Tennessee Warbler as well as the very common Chestnut-sided Warbler. We also saw a few Summer Tanagers which also winter here. In the afternoon we would bird some farm fields near our lodge. This would be a different habitat and we would see different birds. We picked up: Thick-billed Seed-finch, Variable Seedeater, Blue-black Grassquit, and White-lined Tanager. At the end of our farm road we would find a small marshy area. Here we saw Ringed Kingfisher, Amazon Kingfisher, Purple Gallinule, Gray-breasted Crake (very briefly) and Northern Jacana. On our way back we would see two of the highlights of our trip. We very clearly saw many Common Paraques and one Vermiculated Screech-Owl. We went back to our lodge, had dinner and prepared for our next day.
Jan.23: After breakfast at the lodge we would leave and head towards San Isidro, on the Pacific side of Costa Rica. We made some stops along the way. The first stop was at Braulio Carrillo National Park. Here we would walk the trails seeing White Hawk, and Black-and-yellow Tanager. Our next stop was at the top of the mountains that were part of the central range. Here we would see many hummingbirds including Magnificent Hummingbird, Volcano Hummingbird, Fiery-throated Hummingbird and Green Violetear. Some thrushes and finches were also present and we saw Large-footed Finch, Sooty Thrush and Orange-billed Nightingale Thrush. We also made another stop at high elevation seeing Timberline Wren, Rufous-colored Sparrow and Volcano Junco. Lunch was at a mountain top restaurant where the food was excellent especially the guacamole. We arrived at our next lodge, the Talari Lodge, had dinner and got ready for our next day of birding.
Jan.24: Today we would visit Los Cusingos, the home of Dr. Alexander Skutch. He was the famous ornithologist who first came to this area in the 1930’s. Among the many books that he wrote was the ‘Birds of Costa Rica’. It is the classic field guide that is still used today. Los Cusingos has the most beautiful birds. At the feeder near the entrance were Bay-headed Tanager, Speckled Tanager, Green Honeycreeper and Cherries’s Tanager. On the grounds were Blue-crowned Manakin , Orange-collared Manakin and best of all, four male Turquoise Cotingas perched in one tree at one time. For colors and beauty this place cannot be beat! We had lunch at an excellent pizza parlor in the village of San Isidro. The individual pizza was excellent, even better than most that I get in New York. After lunch we returned to our lodge, took a break and then birded the grounds of the Lodge. The evening routine was the same, go over the list, have dinner and get ready for the next day.
Jan.25: After breakfast we started our return trip to San Jose. We would make three birding stops along the way. At the top of the mountain we would again stop at a roadside restaurant and view the numerous hummingbirds at their feeders. Repeaters like Volcano Hummingbird and Fiery-throated Hummingbird were easily seen. Next we went to Noel’s Secret road. This is a lower elevation spot where we would see great birds like Golden-browned Chlorophonia, Collared Redstart and a close flyover of an Ornate Hawk-eagle. After this stop we went to Quetzal Valley. Of course our target bird was the Resplendent Quetzal. Unfortunately we did not see this bird but we did see Long-tailed Silky-flycatchers, many Swallow-tailed Kites, Yellow-thighed Finch and feeder views of both male and female Flame-colored Tanagers. Finally we made our way to San Jose and the Don Carlos hotel where we would have dinner and spend the night.
Jan. 26: Luis picked us up at 7am and we were on our way back to the airport. We returned on the 10am Continental flight and touched down at Newark/Liberty airport about 4pm.
Great Blue Heron
Little Blue Heron
Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture
Lesser Swallow-tailed Swift
Western Long-tailed Hermit
Great Crested Flycatcher
Black-throated Green Warbler
Species seen - 245