Brooklyn Bird Club
Long Pond Greenbelt
|Location: Costa Rica, 2014
Reported by: Joe Giunta
The Happy Warbler Birding group had its fourth consecutive annual trip to Costa Rica. The trip was highly successful with a total of 268 species of birds being seen by most members of the group. Members of our flock were: Joe, Kathy, Carol, Wolfgang, Leila, Ardith, Irene, Susan and Maggie. With us were our guide Noel, an assistant Werner and our driver Luis. The trip was different from previous trips in that we birded areas in and around the Osa Peninsula.
Jan. 29: 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, Werner and Luis. They would remain with us for the next nine days. We stayed the first night at the Hotel Bougainvillea, which was fairly close to the airport.
Jan. 30: 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 the San Jose area including White-winged Dove, Melodious Blackbird, Rufous-naped Wren and the ever present Rufous-tailed Hummingbird. North American migrants were well represented with Baltimore Oriole and Tennessee Warbler being well seen. After breakfast at the hotel we started our journey towards Talari Mountain Lodge and the city of San Isidro. We made stops along the way picking up many species. One excellent stop was the Paraiso Quetzal Lodge. Male and female Resplendent Quetzals were just 30 feet from us and everyone had fabulous looks. Noel said that the pressure was off as we had seen the number one sought after bird in Costa Rica. They had some hummingbird feeders and some very colorful hummers including Magnificent Hummingbird, Green Violet-ear and Fiery-throated Hummingbird. Besides hummers there were some nice flycatchers including Black-capped and Black-and-yellow Silky-flycatcher. We had lunch at their restaurant. Leaving this venue we headed further south making a stop at Cerro de la Muerte for Timberline Wren and Sooty Robin. Both were seen nicely but we missed Volcano Junco. We finally reached Talari Lodge, had dinner and prepared for our next day. But first there was a Tropical Screech-Owl to be seen and heard. The bird was right outside our rooms and was asking to be included in our trip list.
Jan. 31: We were up early and did some birding on their grounds. North American migrants like Summer Tanager, Rose-breasted Grosbeak and Yellow-throated Vireo were seen. Then Werner picked out a flock of Red-fronted Parrotlets. These birds are somewhat rare in Costa Rica but here they were eating berries and fruit above our cabins. We packed up our stuff and headed towards one of my favorite birding venues, Los Cusingos. This was the home of Dr. Alexander Skutch, author of many books about birds and birding in Costa Rica. His house is now a museum and the grounds are now a park for birders and naturalists. On the grounds we would see Speckled Tanagers, Bay-headed Tanagers, Green Honeycreepers and Shinning Honeycreepers. One of the highlights of the trip was when we saw two male Red-capped Manakins on an exposed branch “dancing.” This a major part of their mating display. Noel knew the location of a Common Potoo. We followed him about 50 feet into the forest and there was the Potoo looking just like an extension of a tree branch. Just outside of Los Cusingos was a Turquoise Cotinga, feeding from a fruiting tree. We had lunch in San Isidro in my favorite pizza parlor. After lunch we headed towards Las Cruces Biological Station, just a few miles from the Panamanian border.
Feb. 1: We were up early and birded around the lodge before breakfast. There was a very nice feeder station right outside the lodge’s cafeteria. We easily saw Bay-headed Tanager, Speckled Tanager, and Buff-throated Saltator. After breakfast we birded some of the numerous trails that are found on the grounds of the lodge. Some of the birds seen were: Collared Trogon, Black-mandibled Toucan, Masked Tityra and a flyover Black Hawk-Eagle. We had lunch at the lodge and after a short break we were back birding again. We did some birding on the grounds and then took the van a few miles to San Joaquin Marsh. At this location we saw some water birds like Purple Gallinule, Blue-winged Teal and Northern Jacana. Also at this location we saw Scaled Pigeon and Yellow-faced Grassquit. Dinner was at the lodge and then preparation for our next day.
Feb. 2: On this day we would leave the Las Cruces and head towards our next venue, Esquinas Lodge. On our way we stopped at a special location that Noel knew about. I would call it kingfisher central as we saw Ringed Kingfisher, Green Kingfisher, Amazon Kingisher and American Pygmy Kingfisher. In addition to these birds we also saw Fiery-billed Aracari, White-winged Becard and a ‘lifer’ for me, Mangrove Cuckoo. We had box lunches with us so we kept driving and birding on the road. Birds seen along the road were: Laughing Falcon (with snake in its talons), Bare-throated Tiger-Heron, King Vulture and Wood Stork. Arriving at La Gamba, the city where Las Cruces is located, we birded the rice fields seeing many species. Some highlights were: Red-breasted Blackbird, Blue Ground-Dove, Gray-necked Wood-Rail and Smooth-billed Ani. We finally arrived at the lodge and started to bird the grounds. We did have our only rainy period, about a one hour downpour. We were in a rainforest and it felt like it. Dinner was in their lodge and we prepared for our next day of birding. We would be out early because Noel knew the morning location of a pair of Spectacled Owls.
Feb. 3: At 5:30 we were in position to see the owls and right on time they appeared. Two large owls calling back and forth to each other was a highlight of the trip for many of our group. After breakfast we birded one of the numerous trails on the property. It was a really great trail and we saw birds there that we saw nowhere else. Some birds seen were: Black-hooded Antshrike, Striped Woodhaunter, Eye-ringed Flatbill, Yellow Tyrannulet and Plain Xenops. It was my favorite trail on the entire trip. We had lunch, took a break, and traveled back to the rice fields. We were looking for the Gray-breasted Crake. The bird was heard very well but no matter how hard we tried we couldn’t get to see it. We did see other birds like Lesser Nighthawk and Pauraque. Another bird we were searching for was the Striped Owl. No luck with that bird. We headed back to the lodge but just before the entrance the Striped Owl was found just perched perfectly for all of us to see. Dinner was at the lodge and we prepared for our next day of birding and travel.
Feb. 4: We had breakfast and did some birding at the lodge. Our group added birds like Rufous-tailed Jacobin and Orange-billed Sparrow. We left the lodge and traveled towards San Gerardo de Dota and the Savegre Mountain Hotel. Our group made stops along the way. One stop was an area of mangroves where we added different birds seen nowhere else on our trip. We picked up: Mangrove Black-Hawk, Mangrove Hummingbird and a North American favorite, Prothonotary Warbler. We did more birding along the way and made a very interesting stop at a roadside restaurant. From this location we had great views of the entire southwest part of Costa Rica even to the Pacific Ocean. For birding we saw a pair of Scarlet Macaws fly in and land right on the bar of the restaurant. We timed our travel to Savegre perfectly arriving there a little after sunset. We traveled down the road to the hotel as night was settling in. First bird picked up was the Dusky Nightjar. Everyone had great views. The next bird was the Bare-shanked Screech-Owl. We never did see the bird but had it calling back to us within 30 feet. Dinner was at Savegre and their restaurant.
Feb. 5: We had breakfast and birded the grounds. We were in a different habitat and different location for our trip. Birds seen were: Long-tailed Silky-flycatcher, Sulphur-winged Parakeet, Torrent Tyrannulet, Ruddy-capped Nightingale-Thrush, Slaty Flowerpiercer and Gray-breasted Wood-Wren. The hotel had hummingbird feeders and we recorded Green Violet-ear and White-throated Mountain-gem among others. We did not have lunch at the hotel but at Miriam’s, a Costa Rican restaurant close to the top of the Savegre valley. A different place means different birds: We recorded: Mountain Robin, Flame-colored Tanager and Big-footed Finch. Leaving the valley we traveled back to San Jose and checked in at the Buena Vista Hotel. Dinner was at the hotel and we settled in for our last night in Costa Rica.
Feb. 6: We left our hotel at 10am and arrived at the airport for our 12:30 pm departure back to Newark Liberty airport. With a strong tailwind we arrived back in the NYC area one hour early. Another great birding trip filled with many great sightings and memories.
Little Blue Heron
Costa Rican Swift
Lesser Swallow-tailed Swift
Western Long-tailed Hermit
American Pygmy Kingfisher
Southern Rough-winged Swallow
Black-throated Green Warbler
Species seen - 268