Brooklyn Bird Club
Long Pond Greenbelt
|Location: Costa Rica, 2018
Reported by: Joe Giunta
The Happy Warbler Birding group had its seventh annual trip to Costa Rica. The trip was highly successful with a total of 230 species of birds being seen by most members of the group. Members of our flock were: Joe, Sharon, Sandy, Chee, Frank, Janet, Gerry, Eleanor, Sid, Barbara, Mariannick, Michele, Jean-Pierre 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 yearís trip concentrated on the southern part of Costa Rica visiting great venues in and around the Osa area and staying at some of the top lodges in the country. A photo history of our trip was made by Gerry and Chee:
From Gerry: https://gerrymcgee.smugmug.com/2018-Happy-Warblers-trip-to-Costa-Rica
From Chee: https://1drv.ms/f/s!AoyYqvh0v7-PgYVc9sTP7mAo5AubRQ
Feb. 27: 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 nine days. We stayed the first night at the Hotel Buena Vista, which was fairly close to the airport.
Feb. 28: We were up early and did some birding on the grounds of our hotel. The Buena Vista was once a coffee plantation which has a few acres of gardens that are richly planted to attract birds. It was a great place to stay and only 20 minutes from the international airport in San Jose. We saw some of the common birds of San Jose, including: Clay-colored Thrush, Blue-gray Tanager, Palm Tanager and a personal favorite, the Summer Tanager.
After breakfast we headed towards our first birding destination, Providenca and the Paraiso Quetzal Lodge. Here we had lunch and visited their feeder platform which concentrates on Hummingbirds. We saw: Lesser Violetear, Long-billed Starthroat, Fiery-throated Hummingbird and Talamanca Hummingbird. Also present were some North American migrants. We saw: Wilsonís and Black-throated Green warbler. Other nice birds picked up were: Yellow-thighed Finch, Rufous-collared Sparrow and Mountain Elaenia.
We finally left this area and headed towards Cerro de la Muerte, one of the highest spots in Costa Rica. We saw very special birds including: Timberline Wren and Volcano Junco. We drove through the city of San Isidro and headed towards our second lodge the Talari Mountain Lodge.
March 1: For me the highlight of the entire trip occurred at dawn at the Talari Lodge. The morning dawn chorus was the most vocal Iíve ever heard. Song came from everywhere. Some of the familiar birds singing included: House Wren, Summer Tanager, Baltimore Oriole, Great Kiskadee, Social Flycatcher, Red-legged and Green Honeycreepers. They had a feeder station which gave everyone excellent views of Tennessee Warbler. After breakfast we left the lodge and headed towards Los Cusingos. This reserve is the former home of Alexander Skutch, a famous Costa Rican naturalist. The birds were amazing. At their feeder station we saw: Bay-headed Tanager, Speckled Tanager and Golden-hooded Tanager. The color combination of these birds cannot be matched. We walked the forest trail and for the first time ever I saw three Manakin species in one walk. We had excellent views of: Red-capped, Blue-crowned and Orange-collared Manakins. We had our first trogons as the group saw both the Slaty-tailed and Bairdís Trogons. Woodcreepers were well represented with nice views of Tawny-winged, Wedge-billed, Cocoa and Streak-headed. Los Cusingos is not well known on the birding circuit but actually has amazing birds with great looks.
We left this venue and headed towards a Pizza Parlor in San Isidro for lunch. We left this spot and headed towards Esquinas Lodge near the Osa area. On the way we passed a pond that had some ducks and shorebirds. We saw: Solitary Sandiper, Black-necked Stilts, Black-bellied Whistling-ducks and Blue-winged Teal. Dinner was at the lodge and we prepared for our next day of birding.
March 2: After some early morning birding and breakfast we birded the grounds of the lodge. They had many trails and Noel picked a trail, Lagoon and Riverbed, which had a good number of tropical lowland song birds. We saw: Chestnut-backed Antbird, Orange-collared Manakin and Black-hooded Antshrike. Lunch was at the lodge and then a siesta and for some a dip in their pool.
After this break it was into the van for a ride. New for me was a trip to the bridge at the River Ricon. Our target bird was the Yellow-billed Cotinga. It was expected to arrive at 4:30. By that time we were in position for viewing and at 4:30 the bird arrived. How does the bird know that? The view as distant but we all saw the pure white body and the yellow bill. Other birds seen from the bridge included: Bare-throated Tiger Heron, White Ibis (many), flyover Magnificent Frigatebird and flyover Wood Storks. We also had two Scarlet Macaws flyover. After a good hour and a half at the bridge we went for gas at a near-by gas station. Noel had this all lined up. At the gas station was a huge tree which was the nighttime roost spot for the Macaws. We saw about 20 of them, flying around, perching and looking like they were just having a good all time.
We went back to the lodge, had dinner and then out for some night time birding. We were interested in owls. On the grounds of Esquinas Lodge we heard three Crested Owls but seeing them did not happen. We drove a little bit down the road but found no owls. We did find a Common Potoo. The bird responded to a caller and then flew in for great views. Everyone got good looks. Two other Potoos could be heard calling back. It was an excellent night for birding.
March 3: We did some early morning birding on the grounds of our lodge, then breakfast and then began to head towards our next lodge, Las Cruces. The road out of the lodge, called the road to La Gamba, provided us with some birding opportunities. We saw: Blue ground Dove, Red-breasted Blackbird, Crested Oropendola.
For lunch we eat at Mirador La Torre . This place has beautiful views of the entire country side plus great food. Birds we saw were the Swallow-tailed Kite and Magnificent Frigatebird. We arrived at sunset at Las Cruces and immediately when to their feeders. We saw many tanager species including: Golden-hooded, Silver-throated and Blue-Gray. Also present at their feeders was the Green Honeycreeper and the Scarlet-thighed Dacnis.
March 4: We were up early and did some birding on their Rio Java Trail. We saw: Marbled Wood-Quail, Red-faced Spinetail, Piratic Flycatcher and Masked Tityra. The grounds include the Wilson Botanical Garden. Some of us did a tour of their grounds. Before dinner Noel took us on a short drive to a nearby marsh. We were searching for a Masked Yellowthroat. The bird was heard but never seen. Down the road we went to the private property of a neighbor. He has a very secretive Common Potoo perched in a tree. After a while we all were finally able to see the bird. Dinner was at the lodge. After dinner we when out for some nighttime birding. This time we were very successful in seeing a Mottled Owl. We saw one and heard two more.
March 5: Up early and we headed towards the observation tower of Las Cruces. At dawn we were at the top of the canopy and we recorded the following: Blue Dacnis, Paltry Tyrannulet and Yellow-bellied Elaenia. Back to the feeders and breakfast we recorded: Red-legged Honeycreeper, Speckled Tanager and Buff-throated Saltator. We left this lodge and headed towards San Isidro and then Sevegre Valley.
There were stops along the way. One was the mouth of Terraba River. The place was loaded with birds. We saw: Brown Pelican, Great Egret. Tri-colored Heron and Osprey. For land birds we saw: Yellow-green Vireo, Scrub Greenlet and Tropical Mockingbird.
With Noel we are always birding, be it on the trail, at the lodge or just driving. One special bird that we had missed at Los Cusingos was the Turquoise Cotinga. Noel know a spot where Cotingas usually perch in the city of San Isidro but timing was important. At 4 pm we were in position on some side road with a few bare trees. At the appointed time a male Turquoise Cotinga appeared. It was like magic. Now we could go to our next lodge, Suenos del Bosque Lodge, in Sevegre.
Noel knew a spot on the Sevegre Road where special night birds could be found. In the darkness he called in three Bare-shanked Screech-Owls. We had excellent looks. At the same time he called in a Dusky Nightjar. Again we all had excellent looks. Great way to end the day.
March 6: It will be known as the day of the Quetzal. We went out before breakfast to a location where the Resplendent Quetzal had been reported the day before. No luck! Then we got a phone call that two Quetzals had been spotted about a mile away. Into the van and the chase began. Arriving at this spot were about 150 people waiting for the bird. Nobody saw it. It was heard in the distance but no visual. Back to the lodge for breakfast. Noel had a feeling that the bird would return to our first location at 10am, the time it was spotted before. At 10am in the first location there it was, male and female feeding on some wild avocados. We spent about one hour with the bird. Looking at it, taking photos, watching it feed. It was the highlight of the trip. Everyone had great views. During the day we also recorded many other birds. We saw: Black Guan, Ruddy Treerunner, Spotted Wood-Quail, Sulphur-winged Parakeets, and Golden-browed Chorophonia. We saw North American migrants like: Wilsonís Warbler, Philadelphia Vireo, Black-throated Green Warbler and Summer Tanager. We finally left our lodge and headed towards San Jose and the Bougainvillea Hotel.
March 7: It was our last day. We had birding at 6:30 and then breakfast at the Bougainvillea. The grounds of this hotel include 10 acres of beautiful gardens. We saw some common birds of San Jose like: Baltimore Orioles, Red-billed Pigeons, Brown Jays and Philadelphia Vireo. We also saw and heard a Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl. Everyone had great views and many photos were taken. At about 9:30 we gathered our stuff and left for the airport. Our United flight took off right on time and landed a few minutes early in a snowy Newark airport. It was a great trip, we saw great birds, made new friends and are already looking forward to do it again next year.
Great Blue Heron
Little Blue Heron
Costa Rican Pygmy-Owl
Western Long-tailed Hermit
Black-throated Green Warbler
Species seen - 230