Brooklyn Bird Club
Long Pond Greenbelt
|Location: Costa Rica, 2019
Reported by: Joe Giunta
The Happy Warbler Birding group had its eighth annual trip to Costa Rica. The trip was highly successful with a total of 265 species of birds being seen by most members of the group. Members of our flock were: Joe, Nancy, Gerry, Eleanor, Sue, Ed, Susan, Gillian, Mariannick, Michele, Jean-Pierre and Isabel 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 concentrated on the northern part of Costa Rica visiting La Selva, Cano Negro and Arenal. A photo history of our trip was made by Gerry and can be found at
An ebird listing (35 files) of our trip was made by Gillian and can be found on the ebird website
Jan. 22: 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 our 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.
Jan. 23: We were up early and did some birding on the hotel grounds. First bird seen on our trip was the Rufous-tailed Hummingbird. We would see many of them throughout the trip. For North American migrants over wintering in Costa Rica we saw a Baltimore Oriole and a Yellow Warbler. After breakfast we packed our stuff and headed towards La Selva, our first venue. Before getting there we stopped at La Paz Waterfall Gardens. A beautiful place with many hummingbird feeders. We saw seven different hummingbird species at their feeders. The group's favorite was the Violet Sabrewing, because of its size and beautiful color. We had lunch at their restaurant and then moved on. Another stop was at Cinchona-Mirador La Cascada. They also had feeders and at their feeders we saw: Red-headed Barbet, Prong-billed Barbet and Black-cowled Oriole among the 20 or so species feeding there. Tennessee Warbler was well represented. We finally made it to La Selva, had dinner, did the list and prepared for the next day.
Jan. 24: We were up early, again, about 5:30, did some birding on the grounds and then breakfast at their cafeteria. Some special birds seen in the morning were: Long-tailed Tyrant, Slaty-tailed Trogon, and Cinnamon Becard. Toucans were well represented with good views of: Keel-billed, Yellow-throated and Collared Aracari. It was great to see so many large birds with great colors. We were out in the field for about three hours. We followed this walk with a boat ride on Rio Sarapiqui. Birders love boat rides as the ride gets us close to so many great species. We were on the boat for about two hours and saw Amazon Kingfishers, Green Kingfishers, Bare-throated Tiger-Heron and the spectacular Great Green Macaw. We totaled over 20 species for the ride. We had lunch and then a siesta.
We went out again about 3pm and did birding on the La Selva grounds. We saw more species highlighted by the Rufous-winged Woodpecker and the Dusky-capped Flycatcher. We had dinner in their cafeteria and went out for some owling. We had nice views of the Middle American Screech-owl. Time for bed and get ready for the next day.
Jan. 25: It was our usual routine, up early, some birding on the grounds of La Selva, then breakfast. Today we explored another part of the La Selva reserve and our total number of birds was amazing at over 60 species and most with excellent looks. Noel found a feeding tree and called in many species. We saw: Bananaquit, Golden-hooded Tanager, Summer Tanager, Squirrel Cuckoo, Golden-winged Warbler, Masked Tityra and Mistletoe Tyrannulet among other species. We took a walk down a farm road until we reached a large tree where Great Green Macaws were nesting/roosting. We saw five Macaws, maybe the most beautiful birds in all Central America.
We had lunch, a siesta and then out again for more birding. We visited an area known as El Tigre wet fields off of the Sarapiqui river. Some highlights were: White-throated Crake, Melodious Blackbird and as it started to get dark we saw Lesser Nighthawks and Common Pauraque.
Jan. 26: Same routine for the morning but birding another area in La Selva. Different area and we saw different birds. Flycatchers were high on our list as we saw: Black-headed Tody, Social, Piratic and White-ringed. We also had excellent looks at a Rufous-tailed Jacamar. We picked up our stuff and headed towards our next birding venue which was Cano Negro. Along the way we stopped for lunch at Tiajari and a look at their feeders. Not too much happening here as we only saw the usual Blue-gray and Scarlet-rumped Tanagers.
The entrance road to Cano Negro was much more interesting. We saw over 30 species. Some highlights were: Crested Caracara, Red-breasted Meadowlark, White-tailed Kite and Northern Jacanas. What we saw next might have been the best birding moment of the entire trip. At about 6pm we positioned ourselves at a small bridge next to a lamppost. At exactly 6:10 a Great Potoo flew in and posed for everyone. It was totally amazing. We checked into our lodge, the Natural Lodge Cano Negro, had dinner and prepared for our next day.
Jan. 27: Cano Negro has two major advantages, the River Frio and the great entrance road. This morning we took a boat ride on the Rio Frio. We were on the water a good two hours. We saw many water birds and good numbers of them. Highlights were: Sungrebe, Boat-billed Heron, White Ibis (50), Roseate Spoonbill and Russet-naped Wood-Rail. We saw almost all the herons including: Green, Black-crowned, Little Blue and Great Blue. Egrets were well represented with good numbers of Great, Snowy and Cattle. We had a breakfast break and then went back to the river. We got in the boat, went across the way, got out of the boat walked across a grassland/marsh and had spectacular views of Wood Storks, about 100, and at least six Jabirus. Mixed in were many Roseate Spoonbills. The color, number of the birds made for me the best of the entire Costa Rica Birding trip. On our way back across the grassland/marsh a rare Collared Plover flew in. We all had great looks.
After lunch and a siesta we went back to the river again. The boat went in a different direction and we saw different birds. This part of the river was highlighted by kingfishers. We saw: Ringed, Amazon, Green and Pygmy. For North American migrants we saw three Prothonotary Warblers. We totaled almost 40 species on the afternoon boat ride. Back to the lodge for dinner and then out for some owling. We were very lucky as we saw two Black-and-white Owls and a Pacific Screech-Owl.
Jan. 28: This was our last day in Cano Negro. We did some morning birding before breakfast, 25 species, and then breakfast, picked up our stuff and head towards our next venue, Arenal. We made a stop at a spot called Medio Queso wetland. It was the first time I've ever been here. We saw good birds. At least five Purple Gallinules, a few Snail Kites, and the highlight of the area, a Pinnated Bittern were all seen. The bittern was hard to see as it looks just like the reeds in which it hunts and feeds. Also interesting was a manual operated ferry that goes across a small creek. Leaving this spot we made our way to Arenal. Of course there was another stop along the way. At Rancho Cerro Azul we stopped and Noel exited the bus. Told us to get out and then he called in a family of White-throated magpie Jays. It was a very special birding treat. We finally got to Arenal Observatory Lodge, saw a few species at their feeder, including many Montezuma Oropendolas, had dinner and got ready for our next day.
Jan. 29: Breakfast was in their restaurant and we looked at their feeders. It was hard to miss the eight Great Curassows as they dominated the feeder. Another bird present was an Emerald Tanager. After breakfast we walked four hours on one of their many trails. We saw almost 50 species. Some of the highlights were: Orange-bellied Trogon, Pale-billed Woodpecker, Spotted Antbird (4), Dull-mantled Antbird (with a red eye) and Tawny-capped Euphonia. We spent a good amount of time with the Spotted Antbird because at first we were only seeing females. Finally we got a good look at a male.
We had lunch at their restaurant, took a siesta and then a ride to the Arenal Lake dam. Birding was very slow but we did pick up Black Phoebe and Broad-billed Motmot. Dinner, the list and get ready for another day.
Jan. 30: Up at our usual 6am, breakfast and some birding on the grounds. The feeders again had Great Curassow and Montezuma Oropendola. They were joined by a Collared Aracari. We left Arenal and headed back to San Jose and the Hotel Buena Vista. Noel wanted to get in some birding. We stopped at Virgin del Socorro. A great place with no people and no cars, just a bridge over a fast moving stream. We were looking for American Dipper but came up empty. We did see another Black Phoebe. In the forested area we did see a Zeledon's Antbird (poorly) and a Gray-breasted Wood-Wren. Chestnut-sided Warblers were also present. Of all the North American migrants overwintering in Costa Rica the Chestnut-sided Warbler was the most common and seen at almost every birding venue. We left this spot and arrived at our hotel and had dinner.
Jan. 31: It was our last day. We had a packed breakfast from the Hotel Buena Vista. At about 6am 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 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
Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture
Great Green Macaw
Middle American Screech-Owl
Lesser Swallow-tailed Swift
American Pygmy Kingfisher
Great Crested Flycatcher
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Southern Rough-winged Swallow
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Costa Rican Warbler
Species seen - 265