Brooklyn Bird Club
Long Pond Greenbelt
|Date: March 6-13, 2012
Location: Costa Rica
Reported by: Joe Giunta
Our group consisted of Joe, Kathy, Debbie, Kathi, Gina, Sandy and Andrew. Except for Joe it was the first time any of our birders had been in Costa Rica. It was the second time that Happy Warblers LLC had sponsored a trip to Costa Rica. The trip was highly successful with a total of 284 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.
March 6: Our United/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. We stayed the first night at the Hotel Bougainvillea, which was fairly close to the airport.
March 7: We were up early for breakfast and then some birding on ten acres of gardens which surrounded the hotel. We easily saw our first bird which was a Rufous-tailed Hummingbird. This was followed by great views of a pair of Blue-crowned Motmots. Many more of the common birds of San Jose, like Red-billed Pigeon and Blue-gray Tanager were seen. We also saw the national bird of Costa Rica the Clay-colored Robin. We left the gardens and headed towards Sarapiqui Lodge and birding at La Selva. Along the way we made a stop at a beautiful mountain waterfall. Here we would have great views of a Painted Redstart. With the redstart we also saw other warblers like Rufous-capped and Three-striped. We drove some more and made another stop at a flowering tree that had about 10 different species of hummingbirds. We saw White-bellied Mountain Gem and Green Violet-ear. At the top of the tree was a perched White Hawk. We continued along our way stopping for lunch at Catarata del Toro for lunch. The restaurant was nicely located next to another waterfall and the grounds had many hummingbird feeders. The eating area was open and hummingbirds flew right around us as we sat for lunch. We walked the grounds seeing Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher, Golden-bellied Flycatcher and Spangle-cheeked Tanager. We finally made it to Sarapiqui Lodge. We had dinner and started a nightly ritual which was to ‘do the list’.
March 8: We were up early and in the van just a little after 5am. The skies started to brighten and birds were hungry after their nighttime fast and were looking to feed. We would bird an area outside of La Selva concentrating on some fruiting trees. Birds were everywhere. Most notable was a Northern Barred Woodcreeper. This bird put on a real show for our group. We birded until 7am and then headed towards the cafeteria at La Selva. We had breakfast and then picked up another guide, Christian. Each group using La Selva gets assigned a guide in addition to their own. As we approached the forest we had two Snowy Cotingas fly over us and give us a great show. Before going over the bridge we took the trail to the right. This area was very birdy and we saw Cinnamon Woodpecker, White-colored Manakin and Red-throated Ant Tanager. One of the highlights was the Orange-billed Sparrow, which was very nicely seen. We had a Great Tinamou and as luck would have it the bird appeared and walked on the ground parallel to the path. Many birders have only heard this bird but we actually heard and saw the bird. A definite ‘lifer’ for most all. After a good three hours of birding we headed back to the cafeteria and lunch.
After lunch we headed back to the forest at La Selva, this time going over the bridge. We would explore a different park of the park and we would see different birds. We saw Masked Tityra, Blue Dacnis and Scarlet-rumped Cacique. Interestingly the front of our birding group had an ocelot walk rapidly across the trail. It happened so quickly no one was able to get their camera out in time for a photo. After a full day of birding we left the park but instead of going immediately back to the hotel we scoped out a location where Green Macaws were known to nest. After waiting for about 15 minutes the pair of macaws flew in and settled in for the night. Their flight to the nest was very nicely seen by all of us. For the day we registered 101 species. This would be our highest day count.
March 9: We were up early and headed back to La Selva. We birded the gravel road that leads in to the park. On this road we saw Long-billed Gnatwren, Black-crowned Tityra and Barred Antshrike. We again had breakfast at La Selva’s cafeteria and then over the bridge and into the forest. For those who like big showy birds we saw Slaty-tailed Trogon, Violaceous Trogon, Collared Aracari and Keel-billed Toucan. While on the bridge we saw Sungrebe in the river below. After about four hours of birding we returned to Sarapiqui Lodge for lunch and a siesta. In the afternoon we went to Sarapiqui Bird Observatory. This is a new place close to our lodge that was trying to drum up business. They had a nice sitting area overlooking some feeders. The birds at the feeders were "old" to us as we had already seen them except for one. We had excellent views of a Rufous-tailed Jacamar. This bird made our trip to this venue worth it. Our group walked one of their trails down to the river but there were hardly any birds. We left this spot and headed towards La Tirimbina, a preserve adjacent to our Sarapiqui Lodge. We walked their trails and crossed two suspension bridges. The birding was slow compared to the morning but we did see a Chestnut-backed Antbird very well.
We had dinner at Sarapiqui Lodge and went out for some owling. We were on the grounds of Sarapiqui Lodge and then went over to La Tirimbina. We did not get any owls but had a Great Potoo fly over. Not the best of views. For the day we registered 99 species, second highest of our trip.
March 10: We had an early breakfast, packed up our stuff and we were on our way to the west side of Costa Rica. Just after leaving Sarapiqui Lodge we stopped in some nearby grass fields and located a key bird of the trip, the Nicaraguan Seed-finch. After a half hour in the van we reached Braulio Carrillo National Park. We birded on both sides of the highway that bisects the park. On the first side we walked along a mountain stream having good views of a Dull-mantled Antbird and a very cooperative Buff-rumped Warbler. On the other side of the park we searched for a reported Spectacled Owl without luck. We left this park and headed towards San Jose. We made a stop at La Casa de Donatella for lunch and the best guacamole ever. We left this place, drove through San Jose and headed towards the mountains of Cordillera de Talamanca. We reached the very top, Cerro de la Muerte, at a height of 11,400 feet. Here we found three great birds only found at high altitudes. We saw the Timberline Wren, Volcano Junco and the Sooty Robin. Our group left this spot and had a break at a mountain rest stop that had many hummingbird feeders. Here we saw Fiery-throated Hummingbird, Magnificent Hummingbird and Large-footed Finch.
Leaving the mountains we arrived at Talari Lodge. Before dinner we did some birding near the lodge and we called in a Common Potoo. It was a good view for everyone and we saw the light reflected in the bird’s eyes. We had dinner and prepared for our next day’s birding.
March 11: We had an early breakfast and headed towards Los Cusingos which had been the property of Dr. Alexander Skutch. The area is now a park and the birding is superb. The feeders held such birds as Speckled Tanager, Bay-headed Tanager and Green Honeycreeper. This was very easy birding as we just sat and watched the various tanagers and honeycreepers come to the feeders. We did a walk on the loop trail passing through different habitats. First the gardens, then the river view and finally the forest. We would see Orange-collared Manakin, Blue-crowned Manakin, Red-capped Manakin. These were all key birds of the trip. Coming back to the entrance we would tour Dr. Skutch’s house and see how he lived. Before we left the property we luckily feasted our eyes on a perched male Turquiose Cotinga. The bird is turquoise in color with a purple throat and purple belly patches. We left Los Cusingos and had lunch at a pizza parlor in San Isidro. The pizza was excellent and enjoyed by our group. We returned to Talari Mountain Lodge, had a short siesta and then prepared for some afternoon birding on the grounds. We saw North American migrants like Red-eyed Vireo, Summer Tanager, Chestnut-sided Warbler and Rose-breasted Grosbeak. Again just before dinner Noel was able to call in a Common Potoo. The bird was very cooperative and this time gave everyone excellent views. Dinner was at the lodge and we prepared for tomorrow’s birding.
March 12: After an early morning breakfast we left Talari Lodge and traveled to Noel’s Secret Road. It’s a very nice spot, not known by many people and would be impossible to relocate without our guide. Here we saw Golden-browed Chlorophonia, Rufous-browed Peppershrike and overhead many Swainson’s Hawks. We left this spot and traveled to Savegre Lodge. We had lunch at the lodge and then we went after one of the key birds of the trip, the Resplendent Quetzal. Noel had knowledge of the location of a quetzal nest. We made our way to the nest spot picking up Torrent Tyrannulet and Slaty Flower-piercer along the way. When we reached the nest spot we saw two tail feathers of the male quetzal sticking out of the nesting cavity. We had to wait until the bird decided to turn around and come out. After about one half hour the bird moved, showed its head and came to the entrance hole. We all had excellent looks. The bird flew some distance and out of sight. We gave chase but were stopped by the sighting of an American Dipper. Our group did a 180 and chased the dipper down the river. After some stops and starts we were able to catch up with the dipper and had excellent looks. Now we were back to get better looks at the quetzal. Our group headed back towards the lodge, crossed a bridge and saw the male Resplendent Quetzal completely in the open. The bird put on some show. About 40 other birders were also present and everyone was satisfied with their views. We went back to the van and headed towards San Jose and our hotel, the Bougainvillea.
March 13: Since our homebound flight was not until noon we were able to do some morning birding. Before breakfast we birded the 10 acres of gardens that surrounded the Bougainvillea. Noel was sure that he heard a Ferruginous Pygmy Owl. After a few minutes of searching and listening we were able to locate the bird. What a nice way to end a fantastic birding adventure. After breakfast Luis picked us up and took us to the airport. We boarded our Contintental/United flight and made it home about one hour late.
Great Blue Heron
Great Green Macaw
Western Long-tailed Hermit
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Southern Rough-winged Swallow
Black-throated Green Warbler
Species seen - 284