NYC Audubon


Brooklyn Bird Club


     Long Pond Greenbelt
Location: Costa Rica, 2013

Reported by: Joe Giunta

Our group consisted of Joe, Kathy, Al, Isabel, Debbie, Mary Jane, Wolfgang and Ardith.  It was the third time that Happy Warblers LLC had sponsored a trip to Costa Rica. The trip was highly successful with a total of 288 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.

Feb. 24: 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.

Feb. 25: We were up early and did some birding on the grounds of our hotel.  The Bougainvillea Hotel has about 10 acres of gardens which are richly planted to attract birds. It was a great place to stay and only 25 minutes from the international airport in San Jose. We saw some of the more common birds of San Jose area including Red-billed Pigeon, Blue-crowned Motmot, Grayish Saltator, Blue-gray Tanager and Clay-colored Robin. North American migrants were well represented with Baltimore Oriole, Tennessee Warbler and Yellow Warbler being well seen.  After breakfast at the hotel we started our journey towards Celeste Mountain Lodge. We made stops along the way picking up many species. One excellent stop was the La Paz Waterfall Garden. They had many hummingbird feeders and we would see 9 species of hummers very close. Included in these hummers were Brown Violet-ear, Green Thorntail and Purple-throated Mountain Gem. Besides hummers there were a good number of tanagers, including Crimson-collared Tanager. We had lunch at their restaurant. We made another stop at a location where the highway crossed over a river. We picked up American Dipper and Torrent Tyrannulet. The Tyrannulet was on a nest. There was a lot of driving this day and Luis did an excellent job.  We came very close to the Nicaraguan border passing through the small town of Upala. We finally reached our hotel, Celeste Mountain Lodge, and prepared for dinner. This hotel has a “French” feel to it and the food is described as “Costa Rican-French Fusion”. This was unique for me. After dinner we went out owling. No owls this night but many pauraques.  They sang in the evening and again just before dawn.

Feb. 26:  We started the day by birding before breakfast. The Celeste Mountain Lodge has many trails and we birded the short one just down the road. We saw many great birds. Easily seen were Broad-billed Motmot and Slaty-tailed trogon. We went back to the lodge for breakfast and then a ride in the van to another section of trails. We were in mixed habitat with a trail through the woods and then into open area. We saw Rufous-tailed Jacamar and above us an Ornate Hawk-Eagle. White Hawk became a daily occurrence at this lodge. A marshy area produced so-so views of a White-throated Crake. We went back to the lodge for lunch, a break and then out again. We redid the trail that we visited in the early morning. We were looking for Tody Motmot. Unfortunately we came up empty but we did see a male Purplish-backed Quail-Dove. We also saw the female. She was on a nest. It was a great birding moment.  We had dinner at the lodge and went owling again. No owl and no Potoo but again many pauraques.

Feb. 27: We were up early and again birded around the lodge before breakfast. This day we would take the van and visit a nearby lodge, Heliconias Lodge. This other lodge had new trails for us to explore. Heliconias Lodge was one of the first eco-lodges in Costa Rica and has preserved an area of about 175 acres. This lodge has nice trails with three aerial bridges. We saw a good number of flycatchers including Paltry Tyrannulet, Scale-crested Pygmy-Tyrant and Yellow-bellied Flycatcher. Woodpeckers were also nicely represented with Golden-olive, Black-cheeked and Cinnamon well seen. Probably the best sighting at this lodge was an Immaculate Antbird. The bird just sang and sang and remained within 10 feet of our group for excellent views. Also seen was an immature Long-tailed Manakin. Not the best view but OK. We went back to our regular lodge, the Celeste, had lunch and prepared for some late afternoon birding. We took the van and traveled about a half mile down the road. We got really lucky as we came upon a feeding flock. The birding was great! We saw Emerald Tanager, Rufous-winged Tanager and Scarlet-thighed Dacnis. But the best sighting was reserved for a Lovely Cotinga, a beautiful bird and a lifer for everyone except Luis our driver.

We had dinner and again when out for some owling. This time we went to the same area where we had the feeding flock and this time we hit it big.  First we heard a Mottled Owl and then we called in a Crested Owl for fantastic views. We went back to the Celeste Lodge and some more pauraques.

Feb. 28: On this day we would leave the Celeste Mt. Lodge and head for the lowlands of the Pacific Slope and Cerro Lodge. We would drive through much open and very dry habitat finally arriving at the humid and hot area around Carara National Park.  On the way we stopped at some grassland areas in Guanacaste province seeing a small flock of Crested Bobwhites, a few White-throated Magpie-jays and a flyover of a Brown Jay. Continuing our drive we stopped at the Salt Ponds near Punta Morales. There were over 500 birds at this location consisting of Laughing Gulls, Royal Terns, Gull-billed Terns and Sandwich Terns. There was also a good collection of shorebirds holding 12 species including Stilt Sandpipers and Wilson’s Plovers. Another section had a wooded/scrub area holding a good collection of land birds. The best was Lesser Ground-Cuckoo of which we had excellent looks. Also present were Turquoise-browed Motmot and Streak-backed Oriole. We finally arrived at our destination, Cerro Lodge. The temperature difference was quite noticeable. While we were in Celeste Mt. Lodge the weather was cool, but now we would be hot and humid. Of course the difference in temperatures and areas would give us different species.

March 1:  Before breakfast we birded around the lodge. They had many feeders and we would see Rufous-naped Wren and Baltimore Oriole coming to the feeders. In the distance, visible through the scope, we saw the Yellow-billed Cotinga. Not the best of views but still an all white bird perched in the top of a bare tree. Clearly visible from the lodge were pairs of Scarlet Macaws as they flew by.  Also visible were numerous Muscovy Ducks flying by our lodge and visible from our dining room. We left the lodge and headed towards Carara National Park. This park has the reputation as being one of the best birding spots in Costa Rica.  We got to the park and started birding immediately. There are two main trail systems in the park. We would do one in the morning (River Trail) and one in the afternoon (Headquarters Trail). Some of the first birds we saw were: Chestnut-backed Antbird, Gray-necked Wood-Rail, Golden-crowned Spadebill, Eye-ringed Flatbill, and great views of a Royal Flycatcher. The Royal Flycatcher was voted as one of the favorite birds of the entire trip. Walking down the trail we picked up more species like Tawny-crowned Greenlet and Long-billed Gnatwren. North American migrants were also well represented with Chestnut-sided Warbler and Kentucky Warbler being seen. One of the more interesting sightings was that of a leaftosser. We were trying to call in an antpitta but all we got was this pile of leaves continually being tossed up and down.  Finally we got looks at the cause of action, it was the Scaly-throated Leaftosser. We left Carara and headed back to the lodge. On the way back we had a good look at a Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl. We went back to our lodge, had dinner and then another round of owling. We were just going to do the area near the lodge. We were able to call in a Pacific Screech-Owl. We heard the owl coming closer and closer and then somehow without being seen it flew over us. We then relocated it and put the flashlight on it for a better view but it flew away, not to be seen again.

March 2: This was our last day of birding and we would make the most of it. After early morning birding and breakfast at Cerro Lodge we took the van and drove to Golfo de Nicoya.  Along the way we saw Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Ruddy Ground-Dove, Common Ground-Dove and Inca Dove.  Noel was searching for the tree that held the Yellow-billed Cotinga that was seen from the dining room of our hotel, Cerro Lodge, but we could not find it. When we finally reached the gulf we could see all the way to the Pacific Ocean. We added many species to our trip list including Ruddy Turnstone, Whimbrel, Magnificent Frigatebird and many Black Vultures cleaning up the remains of a pilot whale that had washed ashore. We went back to the lodge, had lunch and checked out. We were heading towards what some considered the best part of the entire trip, our boat ride on the Tarcoles River.

The Tarcoles River separates the dry north Pacific slope from the wet south Pacific slope of Costa Rica. Because of this the area held many bird species. The boat ride was about three hours and our group had the boat all to ourselves. We would see: 5 Kingfisher species (Belted, Ringed, Green, Amazon, Pygmy), 11 shorebird species (inc. Double-striped Thick-knee), 13 heron species (inc. Roseate Spoonbill, Boat-billed Heron), 7 raptor species (inc. White-tailed Kite), and 3 warbler species (inc. Prothonotary and Mangrove). We also had excellent looks at a Rufous-browed Peppershrike.  We finally left this spot and headed towards San Jose and the Bougainvillea Hotel for our last night, but Noel had one surprise for us. On the way we made one stop just outside of San Jose for great looks at a Black-and-white Owl. We arrived at our hotel and had dinner. What a great birding trip!

March 3: We left our hotel at 7am arrived at the airport for our 10 am departure back to Newark Liberty airport. With a strong tailwind we arrived back in the NYC area one hour early.


Great Tinamou
Brown Pelican
Neotropic Cormorant
Magnificent Frigatebird
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Tricolored Heron
Little Blue Heron
Snowy Egret
Cattle Egret
Green Heron
Black-crowned Night-Heron
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron
Boat-billed Heron
Bare-throated Tiger-Heron
Wood Stork
White Ibis
Roseate Spoonbill
Muscovy Duck
Blue-winged Teal
Ring-necked Duck
Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture
King Vulture
Swallow-tailed Kite
White-tailed Kite
Plumbeous Kite
Crane Hawk
White Hawk
Mangrove Black-Hawk
Gray Hawk
Broad-winged Hawk
Short-tailed Hawk
Zone-tailed Hawk
Ornate Hawk-Eagle
Crested Caracara
Yellow-headed Caracara
Laughing Falcon
American Kestrel
Bat Falcon
Crested Guan
Crested Bobwhite
White-throated Crake
Gray-necked Wood-Rail
Northern Jacana
Black-necked Stilt
Double-striped Thick-knee
Southern Lapwing
Black-bellied Plover
Semipalmated Plover
Wilson's Plover
Short-billed Dowitcher
Greater Yellowlegs
Spotted Sandpiper
Ruddy Turnstone
Western Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper
Stilt Sandpiper
Laughing Gull
Gull-billed Tern
Sandwich Tern
Royal Tern
Rock Pigeon
Red-billed Pigeon
Ruddy Pigeon
White-winged Dove
Common Ground-Dove
Plain-breasted Ground-Dove
Ruddy Ground-Dove
Inca Dove
White-tipped Dove
Purplish-backed Quail-Dove
Ruddy Quail-Dove
Scarlet Macaw
Crimson-fronted Parakeet
Orange-fronted Parakeet
Orange-chinned Parakeet
Brown-hooded Parrot
White-crowned Parrot
White-fronted Parrot
Red-lored Parrot
Yellow-naped Parrot
Mealy Parrot
Squirrel Cuckoo
Groove-billed Ani
Lesser Ground-Cuckoo
Pacific Screech-Owl
Mottled Owl
Black-and-white Owl
Crested Owl
Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl
Lesser Nighthawk
White-collared Swift
Gray-rumped Swift
Vaux's Swift
Green Hermit
Western Long-tailed Hermit
Stripe-throated Hermit
Scaly-breasted Hummingbird
Violet Sabrewing
White-necked Jacobin
Brown Violet-ear
Violet-headed Hummingbird
Green Thorntail
Coppery-headed Emerald
Black-bellied Hummingbird
Rufous-tailed Hummingbird
Cinnamon Hummingbird
White-bellied Mountain-gem
Purple-throated Mountain-gem
Green-crowned Brilliant
Magenta-throated Woodstar
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Black-headed Trogon
Violaceous Trogon
Black-throated Trogon
Slaty-tailed Trogon
Lattice-tailed Trogon
Belted Kingfisher
Ringed Kingfisher
Amazon Kingfisher
Green Kingfisher
American Pygmy Kingfisher
Blue-crowned Motmot
Keel-billed Motmot
Broad-billed Motmot
Turquoise-browed Motmot
Rufous-tailed Jacamar
White-whiskered Puffbird
Prong-billed Barbet
Collared Aracari
Keel-billed Toucan
Black-mandibled Toucan
Black-cheeked Woodpecker
Hoffmann's Woodpecker
Golden-olive Woodpecker
Cinnamon Woodpecker
Slaty Spinetail
Red-faced Spinetail
Plain Xenops
Scaly-throated Leaftosser
Wedge-billed Woodcreeper
Northern Barred-Woodcreeper
Cocoa Woodcreeper
Spotted Woodcreeper
Streak-headed Woodcreeper
Barred Antshrike
Black-hooded Antshrike
Dot-winged Antwren
Chestnut-backed Antbird
Dull-mantled Antbird
Immaculate Antbird
Lovely Cotinga
Yellow-billed Cotinga
Long-tailed Manakin
Red-capped Manakin
Yellow Tyrannulet
Yellow-bellied Elaenia
Torrent Tyrannulet
Olive-striped Flycatcher
Paltry Tyrannulet
Northern Scrub-Flycatcher
Scale-crested Pygmy-Tyrant
Common Tody-Flycatcher
Eye-ringed Flatbill
Golden-crowned Spadebill
Northern Royal-Flycatcher
Sulphur-rumped Flycatcher
Tufted Flycatcher
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher
Rufous Mourner
Nutting's Flycatcher
Great Crested Flycatcher
Brown-crested Flycatcher
Great Kiskadee
Boat-billed Flycatcher
Social Flycatcher
Streaked Flycatcher
Tropical Kingbird
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
Cinnamon Becard
Rose-throated Becard
Masked Tityra
Gray-breasted Martin
Mangrove Swallow
Blue-and-white Swallow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Southern Rough-winged Swallow
Barn Swallow
American Dipper
Band-backed Wren
Rufous-naped Wren
Rufous-breasted Wren
Riverside Wren
Stripe-breasted Wren
House Wren
Ochraceous Wren
White-breasted Wood-Wren
Slaty-backed Nightingale-Thrush
Black-headed Nightingale-Thrush
Wood Thrush
Clay-colored Robin
White-throated Thrush
Long-billed Gnatwren
White-lored Gnatcatcher
Tropical Gnatcatcher
White-throated Magpie-Jay
Brown Jay
Mangrove Vireo
Yellow-throated Vireo
Brown-capped Vireo
Philadelphia Vireo
Tawny-crowned Greenlet
Lesser Greenlet
Rufous-browed Peppershrike
Golden-winged Warbler
Tennessee Warbler
Tropical Parula
Yellow Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
American Redstart
Prothonotary Warbler
Northern Waterthrush
Kentucky Warbler
Gray-crowned Yellowthroat
Wilson's Warbler
Slate-throated Redstart
Golden-crowned Warbler
Common Bush-Tanager
Olive Tanager
White-shouldered Tanager
Hepatic Tanager
Summer Tanager
Crimson-collared Tanager
Passerini's Tanager
Blue-gray Tanager
Palm Tanager
Scrub Euphonia
Yellow-throated Euphonia
Olive-backed Euphonia
Golden-browed Chlorophonia
Emerald Tanager
Silver-throated Tanager
Bay-headed Tanager
Rufous-winged Tanager
Golden-hooded Tanager
Spangle-cheeked Tanager
Scarlet-thighed Dacnis
Green Honeycreeper
Shining Honeycreeper
Red-legged Honeycreeper
Variable Seedeater
White-collared Seedeater
Thick-billed Seed-Finch
Yellow-faced Grassquit
Orange-billed Sparrow
Olive Sparrow
Black-striped Sparrow
Stripe-headed Sparrow
Rufous-collared Sparrow
Grayish Saltator
Buff-throated Saltator
Black-faced Grosbeak
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Blue-black Grosbeak
Red-winged Blackbird
Eastern Meadowlark
Melodious Blackbird
Great-tailed Grackle
Streak-backed Oriole
Baltimore Oriole
Orchard Oriole
Black-cowled Oriole
Scarlet-rumped Cacique
Chestnut-headed Oropendola
Montezuma Oropendola

Species seen - 288