Brooklyn Bird Club
Long Pond Greenbelt
|Location: Costa Rica, 2017
Reported by: Joe Giunta
The Happy Warbler Birding group had its sixth annual trip to Costa Rica. The trip was highly successful with a total of 306 species of birds being seen by most members of the group. Members of our flock were: Joe, Sharon, Sandy, Mary Jane, Frank, Janet, Sid, Barbara, Al and Bets. With us were our guide Noel and our driver Juan Carlos. Even though Costa Rica is a small country the diversity is tremendous. This year’s trip was unlike any other as we visited: deep jungle, river and lake habitat, and two volcanoes. A photo history of our trip was made by Frank and can be viewed at:
Jan. 19: 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 and driver Juan Carlos. They would remain with us for the next ten days. We stayed the first night at the Hotel Bougainvillea, which was fairly close to the airport.
Jan. 20: 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 common birds of San Jose, including Rufous-naped Wren, White-winged Dove, Buff-throated Saltator and Rufous-collared Sparrow. We also recorded two hard-to-see birds of NYC, the Philadelphia Vireo and the Tennessee Warbler.
After breakfast we headed towards our first birding destination, La Selva. We made stops along the way, each time seeing many birds. Our first stop was at the house of Cope, a friend of Noel. He has made the habitat around his house into a tropical rainforest. Cope had many feeders around his house, where we saw White-necked Jacobin, Long-tailed Hermit and other hummingbird species. He even had a White-collared Manakin in his yard. He took us about a mile down the road and showed us two great birds: Spectacled Owl and Crested Owl. What a way to start a birding trip!
We finally arrived at La Selva Biological Research Station. We spent the next two nights at the station. Before retiring for the night we did some late afternoon birding. We saw Blue Dacnis, Rufous Mourner, and Cinnamon Becard among other birds.
Jan. 21: The accommodations at La Selva were somewhat basic because it is a research station being run by the Organization for Tropical Studies. The food was good, served buffet style. We spent the entire day on the grounds of this venue. Birding started early in the morning, actually before breakfast. Then breakfast, more birding, lunch, a siesta, afternoon birding, dinner and then the list and prepare for the next day. Some of the birds we saw on the grounds of La Selva were: Great Tinamou, Violaceous Trogon (now called Gartered Trogon), Black-throated Trogon, Slaty-tailed Trogon, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Snowy Cotinga and Masked Tityra. Some 70 species for the day. Going through the trogons is always fun. Looking at the breast color, eye-ring and bill color helps tell them apart.
Jan. 22: After some early morning birding and breakfast we left La Selva and headed towards Cano Negro. We made stops along the way picking up more species, 94 species for the day. Two highlights occurred before we arrived at Cano Negro. Along the road in some waterlogged fields we heard and saw the White-throated Crake, a bird that proved to be quite difficult to locate in past years. We saw about 5 of them, easy. Just before sunset and about a mile from our destination Noel stopped us and indicated that we should look at a particular pole. He was expecting the Great Potoo to arrive. Right on schedule the bird appeared as if out of nowhere. It was a fantastic show as the bird hunted moths and continually returned to its favorite spot. Dinner was at Natural Lodge, our home for the next two days.
Jan. 23: On the grounds of the lodge we saw two Pacific Screech Owls before breakfast. They were regulars on the grounds. After breakfast we set out on our first boat ride. It was on the Rio Frio. The conditions were not the best this year but we did see numerous egrets and herons. Noel said that Hurricane Otto passed through the area in November and added too much water, which made finding some species difficult. We went back to the lodge, had lunch, a siesta and some of us went for a swim in their pool. In the late afternoon we had another boat ride going in an opposite direction on the river. Again we saw many egrets and herons and we did we see a specialty of the area, the Yellow-breasted Crake. On our way back we were escorted by many Lesser Night-hawks. This evening we did some owling along the road. We had great views of two Black-and-white Owls. A “lifer” for many.
Jan. 24: Noel was not happy with the boat ride of the previous day so we tried it again. We added Sungrebe, Purple Gallinule, and 5 Kingfisher species including American Pygmy. We returned from the boat ride, got our stuff and headed towards our next lodge, Arenal Observatory Lodge. Along the way we passed some wet farm fields and saw, very nicely, a key bird of the trip, the Jabiru. It was the best look ever for me as the bird was very close to the road. We had lunch on the road at a place called Rancho-Perla. Feeders were very close by where we saw: Golden-hooded Tanager, Red-legged Honeycreeper, Olive-backed Euphonia and Crimson-collared Tanager. For the day we recorded 105 species. We arrived at our lodge, had dinner and prepared for the next day.
Jan. 25: We had breakfast on the veranda in front of their feeders. We had good views of a female Great Curassow. Not far from the dining area was a berry tree that held many tanagers. We saw: Emerald, Silver-throated, Bay-headed, Golden-hooded, Summer and Hepatic Tanagers. The habitat was just right for wrens and we recorded: Band-backed, House, White-breasted Wood, Song and Striped-breasted Wrens. Also popular on the grounds of the lodge were a good number of North American Warblers. We saw: Tennessee, Golden-winged, Yellow, Chested-sided, Black-and-white and Wilson’s. After breakfast we had a walk in the forest, lunch, a siesta (some went for a swim), afternoon walk and dinner followed by the list. We prepared for the next day.
Jan. 26: After some morning birding on the grounds we left Arenal and headed towards Poas, another volcano. First we had a stop at Lake Arenal and while doing some birding we picked up more species. Notable was another look at a Great Potoo. Also close by was a Black Phoebe, a species that so far had eluded us. Along the road we made a stop hoping for some antbirds, which had so far been difficult to find. We did manage so-so looks at a Chestnut-backed Antbird. We made another stop at a roadside restaurant with good feeders. We recorded both Red-headed Barbet and Emerald Toucanet among other birds. Late in the afternoon we arrived at Poas Volcano Lodge, a very fancy place located in the middle of some farm fields. For décor and service one would have to rate it five stars. We did some nighttime birding and had great looks at Bare-shanked Screech-owl and Dusky Nightjar. We recorded 86 species for the day.
Jan. 27: It was our last full day of birding and it began with birding on the grounds, then breakfast and then a ride to Poas Volcano. The weather was clear and after about a ¾ mile walk to the rim on the volcano we got to see the actual crater. It was very impressive and the area was very crowded with tourists. Noel took us on a side trail so we could do some birding. We were hoping for views of a Resplendent Quetzal but that part of the trail was closed probably also due to damage from Hurricane Otto. For lunch we went to LaPaz Waterfall Gardens. After lunch we visited their huge hummingbird feeder garden. We recorded: Violet Sabrewing, Fiery-throated Hummingbird and White-bellied Mountain-gem among the 10 species of hummers we saw. We left the gardens and headed towards our last hotel, The Buena Vista.
Jan. 28: The Hotel Buena Vista is located on the grounds of an old coffee plantation. The location afforded us great views of the city of San Jose. The hotel is also very close to the international airport. We did some morning birding on the grounds, had breakfast and prepared for our trip back to the US. We left our hotel at 11am and arrived at the airport shortly thereafter for our departure back to Newark Liberty airport. We arrived back in New York right on time. Another great birding trip filled with many great sightings and memories.
Great Blue Heron
Little Blue Heron
Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture
Great Green Macaw
Central American Pygmy-Owl
Western Long-tailed Hermit
American Pygmy Kingfisher
Great Crested Flycatcher
Southern Rough-winged Swallow
Black-throated Green Warbler
Species seen - 306